Totally Tubular: YouTuber Develops Rotational 3D Printer

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YouTuber & Software Engineer Humphrey Wittingtonsworth IV recently dazzled his audience twith an amazing creation: a rotational 3D printer. This printer, a modified Creality CR-10, is capable of printing tubular objects onto a rotating 8mm rod. He describes it as a “simple mod” involving 3D printed brackets and a few ball bearings to support the modified printing surface. Due to its unique design, the printer is able to create springs, screws, discs, gears and even solid rods.

The addition of custom 3D printed sheaths for the printing rod functions as rafts for the rotational prints, while making them easier to remove from the print surface.

Humprey showcasing an air gun barrel created on his modified rotational printer.

Humphrey states in his video description that the aim of this project was to create “the sickest air gun possible,” so it was no surpise when he showed off a printed barrel. This is sure to make elected officials even jumpier about the possibilities of at-home 3D printing.

It’s worth mentioning that Humphrey is not the first person to devise a method to print on a rotational axis. Dutch maker Jonas Duteloff showed off a similar concept in 2021, dubbed the 3D Rotoprinter. Unfortunately, both his personal website and the site for the project appear to be defunct. Duteloff’s YouTube channel is still active, but there have been no updates on Rotoprinter since it was posted in 2021.

A screen from a demonstration of the 3D-Rotoprinter

Diabase showcased a similar functionality on its H-Series printer and CNC mill back in 2020. There are some similarities to Humphrey’s design, including the use of a sheath for build adhesion and removability. Sadly, Diabase’s websites are no longer functioning and the company’s social media presence seems to have gone quiet in 2022.

A group of medical researchers released a paper in 2020 about the use of rotational printing for the creation of tubular implants. Their research was based around the use of a modified Roland EGX-360 rotary gift engraver. The applications for tubular bioprinting proved substantial enough that Desktop Health even released a rotational variation of its bioprinter earlier this year.

So, what makes Humphrey’s printer so special? The Diabase H-Series was a $5,000 piece of hardware. The Roland, which isn’t even a 3D printer, seems to retail from somewhere between $6,000-12,000. The 3D-Rotoprinter was a custom built device whose exact specs and modified firmware were never made available to the public. In contrast, Humphrey’s rotational mod has been done on a widely available, popular and, not to mention, extremely affordable home printer. This reveal has moved rotational printing out of the realm of medical science and CNC rigs, to something achievable by a wider community of makers. Theoretically, these modifications could be applied to other printers, including other Creality machines.

According to his own comments on YouTube, while Humphrey doesn’t think the software he wrote is good enough for a wide release, he believes that other engineers can easily replicate his work. Still there appears to be strong interest from YouTube viewers in seeing his code, which will encourage him to release it. Humphrey appears interested in showcasing more features of his modified printer. Here’s hoping this idea doesn’t go dormant like previous efforts.

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