We’ve developed an innovative tool-changing system for delta 3D printers, and we very much enjoyed presenting it at VERRF 2020. We call this project the DeltaMaker Halo, and it just might be the coolest tool-changer announcement this year. The DeltaMaker Halo is built on our DeltaMaker 3D Printer, which we think has one of the best and most robust delta motion systems ever used on a desktop 3D printer.
As we complete the DeltaMaker Halo project’s R&D phase and begin transitioning into the manufacturing phase, we want to get your comments and figure-out which configurations you guys would like to get your hands on. Sign up on our information list, share your insights, and be one of the first to hear about the DeltaMaker Halo System pre-order special.
There are two distinct parts to the DeltaMaker Halo System: the Halo toolchanger and the DeltaMaker motion system. The two go hand in hand; the precision DeltaMaker motion system is a fundamental part of what makes the Halo toolchanger work, and the Halo toolchanger opens up immense possibilities for the DeltaMaker motion system.
Why a Delta?
The DeltaMaker Halo project was designed with several goals in mind: High speed motion, great positional accuracy, rugged construction, and a scalable design for custom-size work volumes. Delta robots excel in all of these areas, and have been used for decades in industrial automation applications. In addition to their high speeds and precise motion, delta robots are easily scaled to produce smaller or larger motion systems.
Why Interchangeable Tool Heads?
In addition to the obvious ability to print multi-color objects, a toolchanger gives a 3D printer several powerful capabilities that are not possible with other multi-color printing solutions. Automatically changing tool heads during a print, enables printing with multiple nozzle sizes and/or combining several different materials into a single print.
In addition to 3D printing, interchangeable tool heads also allow the motion system to be used for a variety of other applications. By changing-out the 3D printer extruder and hotend, any number of CNC fabrication activities may be performed with the appropriate tool head.
How we do it
For the past year, we’ve been working on an innovative approach to automated tool changing on a delta-style motion system. Most available approaches are optimized for traditional CNC motion systems and/or cartesian-style 3D printers. Very little information, approaches, or designs are available for toolchangers on delta motion systems, so we’ve thrown our hat in the ring. We’ve designed a collection of components which provide the core functionally needed for interchangeable tools on the DeltaMaker Motion System. These components include:
- Kinematic Coupling -- precise location coupling mechanism for interchangeable tools. Using “exact constraint” to achieve a repeatability of better than .001” between tool changes.
- Tool locking and unlocking -- mechanism to secure the tool to the motion system while it is in-use, and release the tool so it may be removed from the motion system when it’s use is complete.
- Tool Docking Station -- a standard tool docking method to provide storage for multiple tools on a delta motion system. The docking station is located near the work volume of the motion system to allow quick access to the tools when they are selected for use.