Raspberry Pi has become quite the useful tool in creating projects which involve 3D printing. In fact, close to 3 million Raspberry Pi boards have been sold so far, and each and every day designers, engineers, and students come up with even more unique uses for this credit-card sized, single-board computer. With a cost of only $25-$40 per device, the Raspberry Pi is perfect for those of us who love creating our own electronics from the ground up. We’ve seen people come up with some very intuitive ideas when combining the boards with 3D printing, but one man may have come up with the ultimate machine.
Owen Jeffreys, a level 3 engineering student, took a Raspberry Pi board and combined it with the technology of 3D printing. He came up with what he claims to be the very first Raspberry Pi 3D printer.
“If you Google Raspberry Pi 3D printer, you will find several people who claim to have made “Raspberry Pi *Powered* 3D Printers”, but if you examine them in detail, they are not actually *powered* by the Raspberry Pi at all,” explained Jeffreys. “These people use the standard firmware which comes with the 3D printer and replace the PC interface with the Raspberry Pi – hence the Pi is not controlling/powering the printer at all, but simply sending buffered GCODE commands to the pre-built printer and acting as a neat user interface to display print progress etc. This unique 3D printer is not like those; the PI actually controls every part of the machine including, but limited to the motors, heaters and temperature sensors.”
It took Jeffreys 8 full months to develop and build, not only the 3D printer from the ground up, but also the C++ program that runs the Raspberry Pi. Just about every part on his 3D printer has been made from scratch. This includes the aluminium frame, the drive system, and even the circuit board.
The Raspberry Pi can be hooked up to a laptop or other HD display in order to show details of the print progress or other information. At the same time though, it doesn’t require an additional display in order to run. Currently the printer only runs at a quarter of the speed of typical consumer-level 3D printers, but that is mainly due to Jeffrey’s selection of stepper motors and gears. He is still looking to improve upon his machine by increasing its speed, and adding on features such as an additional extruder head. “One such improvement which is underway is to modify the interface board used to connect the PI to the 3D printer from a hand-etched, double-sided PCB to a compact ‘shield’ which will stack neatly on top of any PI,” explained Jeffreys.
It should be very interesting to see his final results. This just goes to show you that the Raspberry Pi is a lot more powerful than most people give it credit for. It is truly amazing what a $35 computer can do when the right person gets their hands on it. Will Jeffrey’s design encourage more manfacturers, and DIY’ers to begin using a Raspberry Pi as a control system for other 3D printers?? Only time will tell.
Let us know what you think about Jeffrey’s incredible ground-up built 3D printer in the Raspberry Pi controlled 3D Printer forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below of this incredible 3D printer.