Hybrid Machine Head for 3D Printers

My name is Nathan Fuller, and I am a mechanical engineering student at Oregon State University. I have been working with a team of students and advisors over the past year to develop a hybrid tool head for 3D printers. The goal of this printhead is to increase print accuracy and finish by machining both in process and as a finishing step. We have partnered with Autodesk Inc. to help manage the complexity of the software required to make this vision a reality, and wanted to ask your opinion on the concept. We are currently gearing up for a kickstarter campaign, and are hoping to gauge interest in our product. Our goal is to deliver a product that turns new or existing 3d printers into a tool capable of delivering high tolerance parts through the addition of a CNC spindle.

Our Technical Summary is as follows:
Size: 140mm x80mm x 80mm (HxWxL
Weight: 250g
Print Head: Retractable E3D All Metal Bowden capable of printing PLA, ABS, Nylon and Polycarbonate
Spindle: 150W Brushless Motor with a ER11 Collet Chuck
Software: Generate and combine printing and machining g-code all within the same tool, as well as custom firmware to manage the transitions from additive to subtractive.

Please respond with any questions, or ideas regarding our product. Our goal is to become a provider of hybrid tool heads as well as eventually release a optimized printer designed specifically for hybrid machining.
Current Prototype:

Ok, I’ll bite

  1. Is it going to be open source?
  2. How are you intending to use this thing? Most complex 3d printed parts that could benifit from surface finishing are not something that your average 3 axis mill is going to be able to reach unless you are doing a pass each layer, and if you are doing a pass in between each layer thats going to have some very entertaining thermal and layer adhesion consequinces.
  3. How are you planning to keep the object you are milling clamped to the machine? (hint - relying on heated bed plastic adhesion is not the correct or adequate answer)
  4. What are you going to do with all the dust and debris to keep it out of the printer workings.
  5. That seems like alot of mass to add to a print head.
  6. Most printers have a belt driven print head. Belt drive and machineing don’t necessarily work well together on the small scale that most 3d printers use.

Guys, this is interesting, but more info is needed, do you have a working prototype showing this device in use or better renderings…I agree with all of peircets questions…I’ll add, I can see a whole whack load of technical issues with this design but again, if you can demonstrate a working prototype then I might be more convinced… also, does this really solve an issue that needs solving? You can throw all the money and R&D in the world at a product or project but if it doesn’t solve a problem then it could all be for nothing…

thanks for sharing, keep us posted.

I don’t really know about needing this to finish out plastic products. I know that there is a lot more material out there other than plastic that can be printed, but (and I could be wrong here) I think that most people are printing pretty much different types of plastics on their printers. I think it would be fascinating to have however. I’ve seen some videos where people have made ways to use their 3d printer as a CNC machine, but it always takes recalibrating and quite a bit of set of time in these videos. If you could make a good quality hot end that is part of this, it would really be pretty handy to have. People wouldn’t have to worry about jury rigging their printers, or set up time, etc. just flip over to CNC and have at it.