Friday, May 16, 2014

Types of 3d Printing Motion Pros and Cons

If you are just getting into 3d printing you might have noticed that there are many different types of 3d printing motion.  At current there are four kinds, I plan on listing the pros and cons of each style of movement.

1. The Print bed does the X motion, and the extruder does the Y and Z motion, lets call this one Mendel Style.
Image Courtesy of 3ders
Mendel style movement is currently the most popular style.  I attribute this to it's ability to have a fairly large print volume, and its low cost.  This style requires the least amount of smooth rods, and short belt lengths which make it one of the lowest cost methods of movement.

Low Cost (You can get one of this style for as cheap as $200)
Simplicity (Less parts; less can go wrong)
Print volume(Up to 12X12)

Low speed(Print beds usually weigh a lot, the printer can only go as fast as it's slowest axis(Z doesn't count).  Max speed of around 90 mm/s).
Lower print quality(The more weight on any one axis, reduces print quality, as it's belts stretch under the extra weight the layers might not line up absolutely perfectly.
Large Footprint (this style of movement makes the bed move on the X so you must have room for the bed to go all the way backwards and forwards off of the base of the printer)

  2. The print bed doesn't move at all, the extruder does all movement, with 3 motors for the X and Y, and a single one for the Z, this one is called Delta. 
Image Courtesy of 3ders
Delta style 3d printers tend to be very unpopular at current, I believe this is because of there high cost.  Personally I really like these printers, they are fast, excellent print quality, and have a small footprint.  They also look amazingly cool while in motion.  They are growing in popularity, lower cost versions seem to be on the way.

Fast(A print speed of up to 200 mm/s)
Large Print volume(The print volume is nearly unlimited, I have see versions of this that are around 4 feet in diameter)
Small footprint(The print volume is only slightly smaller than the foot print)
Looks Awesome(It just looks awesome while going, it is amazing that it swing a nozzle around with such high accuracy)

Price(The lowest cost one is around $700)
Large Z Axis height(The X and Y are really efficient in terms of space, but Z has a few extra inches over the print volume)

3. The print bed moves only in the Z, the extruder move in the X and Y directions, lets call this one Ultimaker style.
Image Courtesy of Baracles
This style is gaining quickly in popularity, as the Ultimakers become more popular.  Ultimaker is the main manufacturer that uses this method, it is fast, reliable, and offers great print quality. 

Speed(Slower than Delta, but still quite quick for a 3d printer)
Amazing print quality(Light weight carriage means better print quality)
Small footprint(It is really efficient in the X, Y, and Z)
Large print volume(I have seen printers using this motion method that are meant to print full sized furniture)

Price(Ultimaker V2 is the most popular in this category and costs around $2000)

4. This one is a really new kind of motion, the print bed moves in the X and Y, and the extruder moves on the Z, lets call this on MOD-t style.
Image Courtesy of 3ders
I had never heard of this type of motion until yesterday, no one is doing this except a new start-up called MOD-t, the printer launches on the 28th of May.  It moves the bed on all axis except Z.  It seems like it will be really slow and inefficient, but I do not know for sure yet.  It also takes up a huge area for a small print volume.  Due to this printer not being released yet please take all this with a grain of salt.

Price(Less than $300)
Simplicity(The most simple of all the print types)

Large footprint(Due to the nature of the beast it takes up 4 times the build plate size)
Speed(Is the slowest of all the methods by far, about 30 mm/s max(Note this number is based of the size of the bed, and amount of seconds it takes to travel an around 40 mm, thus this is a very rough estimate)
Limited print volume(It is confine because with a print bed of around 12 x 12, it would require foot print of 24 x 24 which is unpractical)

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