It was the worst of times. It was the best of times. After struggling for a few days trying to get the thick stock parts file into a format that someone (anyone!) with a laser cutting machine could deal with, I was about at wits end. The gentleman I originally planned to work with could only use older formats I do not have access to. I finally called a local larger scale vendor (TAP Plastics) to see if they could handle a small job from IGES or STEP format. They could, but it would be pricey. To their great credit, however, they referred me to a new, small company in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood: Metrix Create Space. TAP said it would probably save me a lot of money and be a lot faster. After trying to call a couple of times on my lunch break, I resolved to head there after work since they are open until midnight. First, though, I output the layout file in as many formats as I could in the hope that one of them would work…
The drive into Seattle was quick, but I then spent the next 20 minutes trying to find a parking place and looking for the shop. I finally found a space and got on foot, almost walking past the entrance which is down a flight of stairs. I walk in the door and, lo and behold, the proprietor (Matt) is sitting behind the counter working on (wait for it) a Mendel. Fully assembled, on the virge of first print. We talked for a bit and he wound up cutting out a set of parts for me out of plywood, as well as an additional acrylic printing surface with larger screw holes to fit over the bolt heads and protect my (eventual) extruder. All of this at a very reasonable price (half of what my earlier plan was when materials were figured in), and I didn’t need to have a template file – Matt already had the file from his own Mendel. Also got some good advice about extruders and such, as well. MCS is a cool concept: a space for geeks to congregate, share experiences and imaginations, and get access to tools that would otherwise be hard to find or afford. Check them out!
So, what do the final parts look like?
Note the optional sixth acrylic build table that will sit on the plywood build table. With these done, I’ve got a clear path forward on the mechanical construction. Good thing, too, since I’ve been busy:
This shot shows the leadscrews for the z-axis, as well as the y-axis motor and idler, and the y axis bearing sets. The bearing sets will get mounted to the small rectangular and larger chicken-shaped board in the previous picture to complete the Y axis assemblies. The leadscrews are combined with the z-axis motor, tensioner, and leadscrew brackets, already mounted on the end frames
to complete the z-axis assemblies. Things are starting to come together quickly now, but at the same time more care is required: Dimensions count and I spent a lot of time getting the leg lengths right on the end frames.
I think that brings everything up to date. I’m looking forward to working on this most of the day Friday (a day off for me) and getting most of the mechanical construction done. Then I will retest the opto-stops and it will be time to start work on the rest of the electronics. For now, though, ZZZZzzzzz…..