by Natalie Nelms
Weve all heard about the trend of 3D printing thats on the rise and breaking into many different industries, from automotive to fashion, Makers have embraced 3D printing on a whole new level and many have presented their creations to the public. At least thats what maker Robert Berger did. He demonstrated his 3D printing project, Emmelia, at the Embedded Linux Conference 2014 at the Yocto booth. Berger began the project after purchasing a 3D printer kit.
The software included open source, which he said was quite stable, and not Linux (8-bit AVR) so he saw room for improvement and Maker innovation. The components Berger used in the device included:
- Mechanics, bed, motors, thermistors, power supp.
- Sitara-processor-powered BeagleBone Black
- Five A4988 Stepper Motor Driver Black Edition
For software, Berger stated that he ran Machinekit over Yocto and not over Debian, as Machinekit runs out-of-the-box on Debian, but with the default (axis) user interface it tends to run out of memory. This gave him more RAM, which means you can print bigger/more complex designs.
Berger and his colleague Costas created a device which is a robust solid construction, reliable with great repeatability and low-maintenance. This allowed Emmelia to achieve high resolution when printing at high speeds. Furthermore the solid construction allowed the Makers to make use of the device in applications that require greater mechanical strength like PCB milling and drilling which gives the end user the ability to prototype a simple PCB, populate it and print the case.
Berger also explained in detail why he went with BeagleBone Black for his project. I used BeagleBoards from the early days on for my trainings: BeagleBoard, BeagleBoard-xM, BeagleBone and most recently, BeagleBone Black. The BeagleBone Black is truly open source and other solutions would most likely not be open or significantly increase the bill of materials.
The final product came with its fair share of challenges, however. Since Machinekit on Debian with the default axis interface consumes a lot of memory, he knew he would start to run out of memory with complex or big prints. This is why he decided to use a web server based solution.
This Maker also has future plans for this project and more. A printed circuit board rapid prototyping add-on is in the making for the 3D printing protype, but his main business is (Embedded) Linux and real-time trainings.
For more information on Emmelia and to stay up-to-date with Bergers latest endeavors or register for training sessions to assemble your own 3D printer, visit: http://vlabsystems.com/.