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Building the Vulcanus

 

I’ve been a fan of 3d printers for years now, and finally ended up getting myself one a year ago, an M3D. This tiny printer transformed my desire to own a printer, into a love of building things.

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So tiny and adorable

So of course the next logical step is to buy a printer kit? Maybe a larger one. Right?

Wrong.

The next logical step is to build a monster 3d printer from scratch, using only a tutorial I found on Instructables and the parts I can buy/print.

So of course that’s what I’m doing.

Over the next… well weeks and months most likely. I’ll be taking you through the trials and tribulations of building this behemoth of a printer, complete with pictures, and quite possibly angry and rage inducing videos as I try to figure out how to wire things.

So first off, what exactly am I building? Well it’s the Vulcanus V1 , an attempt by a 16-year-old German student to make a professional grade 3d printer on a budget of under 300 Euros (roughly $450 CAD). It’s not exactly what he built though, it’s an upscaled version. Using a Sketchup file from another Instructables page, I got the dimensions for everything I needed.

As well as a few helpful google docs with a bill of materials I was able to find. You can find those here and here. Those two docs were very helpful in finding some cheaper places to purchase materials, but for some things I was limited to asking on various 3d printing forums, Reddit, and Facebook. It doesn’t really help to find something that’s 100 USD but also costs almost that much to ship. So I had to find both the best quality for price, and cheap shipping costs.

Now, the build volume of the Vulcanus V1 is 20cm³. Pretty big, but not big enough for my purposes. So the one I’m building has a build volume of double that, 40cm³. Build volume is exactly how large the space that the 3d printer can print in. My current M3D has a tiny build space, roughly 5cmx5cmx7cm, good for making little figurines, but if I wanted to make something bigger I had to print in little parts and assemble them. Something that is much less fun than it seems to be. The larger build space that this will provide me with will not only let me build larger things in one piece, but also print them faster and in higher resolution than my current one.

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I’m probably going to end up printing a Batman suit once I can. Why not right?

So, first things first. I needed my frame. Looking around there were a few places I could find, but they were all priced in USD and the shipping to Winnipeg was pretty ridiculous. That’s not even mentioning any possible customs fees, so I had to find something Canadian, if not local.

I needed something specific as well, what’s called a T-Slot Aluminum extrusion. The T-Slot refers to, well the slot in the middle where the hex nuts go to hold everything in place. That specific size needed to be 20mm by 20mm. It was a difficult task to accomplish.

Thankfully, I managed to find Faztek in Quebec. Not only were they reasonably priced ($0.20 an inch) but the shipping cost was only $35. So I went ahead and ordered it. It only took two days to get to our house, pretty fast if I do say so myself.

So much aluminum
So much aluminum

While I was waiting for them to arrive, I had to make the decision; would I buy corner brackets from the hardware store? Or would I print them? Well what’s the use of having a 3d printer if you don’t print as many things as possible? Even though it probably would have been much cheaper to just buy 44 brackets that would work, I printed them. Each and every one. Each bracket took an hour and 10 minutes to print on my little M3D, thankfully I’ve got a lot of experience with this little machine and there were no misprints.

Three days of printing
Three days of printing

 

So now that that was done, all I had to do was assemble the frame, and that’s what I have to do now. I just managed to finish printing all the brackets a day ago, so my next step is to take a trip to Home Depot and purchase roughly 200 M5 hex nuts and M5 10mm bolts.

That’s a lotta nuts.

 

Tune in next week when I will most likely injure myself multiple times making this frame.

 

What have I gotten myself into.

 

Yves Hacault is a content creator for AYB, we foresee much blood loss in his future.

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