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My first Servo motor based 3d printer

Posted by vova 
My first Servo motor based 3d printer
March 10, 2014 12:17AM
Hi All
I am new to this forum. I have been reading a lot here for inspirations and ideas finally decided to post my project, hoping on some input.
I have some AC Panasonic servo motors and controllers for them that I would like to use on my printer. But that is not without a challenge as it appears there have not been any build 3d printers using servo motors
One of the challenges finding an interface board that would sent drive commends to the servo controller. So far I have been only finding all for stepper motors. So I would defiantly need help there.
I am using extruded Aluminum for my frame.
Linear Rails and a Lead screw for Z drive and linear rail with integrated belt for X & Y Drive
3 MINAS AC Servo Motors and Driver
As far as extruder and base heating element still need so input (All suggestion would be greatly appreciated)
Interface electronics that would that would sent printer commands to motor controllers is something that I need lots of help and suggestions

Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
March 10, 2014 12:38AM
Very nice-looking built good industrial quality components if you going to go with servos I think I would go with gecko drivers and Mach 3 software for machine with standalone temperature controllers for hot end and bed here is a picture of mine. Check out the CNC zone and other people that are building CNC machines printers use G code so do CNC machines

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/10/2014 12:43AM by cnc dick.
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
March 11, 2014 07:40AM
I agree with the gecko drives, or something similar, that is, unless you already have drives with your servos.

Most people don't use servos because they are expensive. It is the same reason most consumer printers don't use servos, they get by just fine with steppers. The mass of the hot end is so low relative to a mill, and you are not actually using torque for the process itself unlike milling, so torque needs are minimal.

With that said, if you have the motors already, they may be worth implementing. Keep in mind you'll need a way to drive the extruder, which even if you have an extra servo motor, may just not be worth the effort. I had an extra NEMA23 stepper that I wanted to use for my extruder, but I've never found a 3d printable design that uses a Nema 23, at least not for sale pre-printed. Once my printer is up and running, if I have trouble with torque I may design a modified NEMA23 based extruder.

Anyway, find some drives that support step and direction mode. After that you can run from a typical RAMPS board using those step and direction pins to run the drives, or as cnc_dick mentioned, use Mach3, or EMC2 to generate them from an old PC.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/11/2014 07:40AM by Tired2.
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
March 12, 2014 03:18PM
cnc dick. That is some nice setup you have there. The reason I want to use the servo motors is I already have servo driver for them so I would not need gecko drives. But will need some sort of interface that will give commends for them to drive.
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
March 12, 2014 04:35PM
Will they take step and direction control?
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
March 12, 2014 05:22PM
Here are the specs for it. I am not sure how to make the the photo show up on the post but the link works

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/12/2014 05:29PM by vova.
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
March 12, 2014 06:54PM
Here are some updates on my work... All comments are welcome and appreciated.

P1070981 by vova_28, on Flickr
P1070982 by vova_28, on Flickr
P1070983 by vova_28, on Flickr
P1070979 by vova_28, on Flickr
P1070984 by vova_28, on Flickr
P1070980 by vova_28, on Flickr

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/12/2014 09:48PM by vova.
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
March 12, 2014 07:03PM
Can anyone tell me how I can have the preview images show up on the blog?? for some reason is not showing up
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
March 12, 2014 08:10PM
To embed from Flickr, click on "more ways to share" at the bottom, then "Grab the HTML/BBCode", then click the (greyed out) BB Code radio button, and copy the text and paste it in like so:

Control by vova_28, on Flickr

As for your motors, Type 3 should be normal step and direction... hopefully one of those modes is the standard type. You can drive those right out of an arduino or a using Mach3. The "Reprap" way would be to use a RAMPS board of some type (Azteeg X1, X3, RAMBO, Ramps for Due, etc, etc). But, some might say that mach3 does a better job of converting the G code to pulses than the 8 bit arduino setup.

I'm unaware of any studies on the subject, but it sounds like CNC_Dick wants to do a ramps setup, so maybe he can get some good qualitative results for us some day soon. Not that many people run Mach3, but it is a great option, as is EMC2 if you want to go for open source.

The pics are looking really good.
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
March 13, 2014 03:31PM
Thank you Tired2 for showing me how to post pictures.
As far as your recommendation I would more like it all to be in one peace instead of using another computer plus external control for heaters, so then looks like that would be to use Reprap way.
What do you mean that Mach3 does better job than the 8 bit Arduino? Does that really need to do that much computing? I thought that all of it is already in G-code and just has to tell it where to drive.

So I am more leaning towards the Arduino way, and I see that you have mentioned multiple types of boards, is there any one in particular that you would recommend most.

Thank you for all your advice it has been the most helpful
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
March 14, 2014 07:37AM

There is actually quite a bit of 'science' to "taking G-code and telling it where to drive". The precise timing of the generation of step and direction pulses is not an easy process. This includes acceleration and decleration, curve interpolation, and other stuff that I have never really dug into. The parts I think Mach3 might be "better" at is mostly interpolation of arcs. I have not researched this fully, but if you care to dive deeper, i suggest looking at GRBL vs Mach3 or GRBL vs EMC2, as GRBL is the more "cnc" style code for arduino that is more often compared with Mach3 by the CNC guys. Marlin is a firmware that is forked from GRBL, with a TON of nice features added.

Here is a useful explanation that can give you an ideal of what G-Code to Steps entails, from the folks at smoothieboard: [smoothieware.org]

As you mentioned, if you want your machine to be "standalone", the decision is pretty easy, just go with a RAMPS setup. I'm not the best person to recommend a board because I've only tried one (Azteeg X3 Pro) and I've yet to print with it.

I have a "review" of it of sorts here if you'd like, where I explain the hardware a bit and do some basic firmware setup to get the motors spinning:

Evan's DIY 3D Printer / Mill - EP2 - Spinning Motors (Azteeg X3 Pro)

You would just not buy any drivers and put jumpers in there instead. If I were you, unless you plan for a lot of expansion, check out either the RUMBA board, the RAMBO board, or the Azteeg X1. You could also get one that snaps on to an arduino.

Here is the list of electronics on the reprap wiki:


The smoothieboard might make sense for your build, but I'm not sure it is 100% ready. It or something like it might be the standard for "standalone" (no pc required) builds, but I don't think it is quite there yet.

In the end, it is your machine, so don't take my word for anything, get out there and research and see what will work for your needs.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/14/2014 07:38AM by Tired2.
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
March 14, 2014 02:22PM
So i am looking at the electronics boards and all of them seem to be for the stepper motor. Is there an output for step and dir in there? Or how would i get the step and dir signal out of the board?
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
March 16, 2014 08:51PM
All of the controllers are for steppers, but many of them use the pololu stepper driver "form factor". That does not mean you have to populate the drivers though.

If you check out the schematic for the Azteeg X1, in the top right you'll see one of these pololu style interfaces. The step and direction are 2 of the pins, just plug jumpers in to those and run them to your stepper drive. You'll need to get ground over there as well I imagine, but I'm not sure how your servo drives handle that.

You can probably get away with just a plain arduino if budget is a major concern, it'll be a bit more work to wire in the transistor for the hot end power and possibly the heated bed. Up to you though.
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
March 28, 2014 11:30PM
Tired2 Thanks for being great help.
I have been away for the last week so did not work on the printer much. Now I am back and also have received my order a Smoothieboard (Decided to go with it since it seems to have all the features I want and more).
Here is the Link toSmoothie Board
Have tested only one axis and it works will need to do some more wiring for the other axis.
I do have some concern that my servo motor for Y stage might not have the power to drive the stage and hold it.
For now when I tested it and placed an aluminum sheet and running it would go into oscillation (Not Good)sad smiley might need to either get a bigger servo motor or but reduction gear....
I have tried to tune it but that does not seem to work. The other X and Z work just fine just Y
Here is an updated picture of my work
3d Printer by vova_28, on Flickr
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
March 28, 2014 11:40PM
I am thinking of using MK3 Heat bed as from reading it seems to be all in one type of board no need to put glass on top and it should also work fine with the smoothie board. What do you all think? Would that be a good choice? This will be for now just too get me familiar with the workings of the printer eventually I will have to custom make my own heatbet for the printer that will be 500X500mm.
Also what would be recommendation for the extruder? I see you can buy from full assembled to parts only and material that it is made off.
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
March 30, 2014 07:52PM
Lookin good.

I did a quick video review of my extruder, which is a wades geared. I don't have much experience with it yet though. My video needs edited still, but it will be up in a few days.

I have a heated silicon bed, none of the circuit board ones really fit my build area.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/30/2014 07:52PM by Tired2.
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
May 01, 2014 04:57PM
Ok it has been a month since my last post. Have not had much time but have lots of updates.
First of all my printer prints. It took a while to get all the parts but now I have it all assembled and working. One of many issues that I am experiencing is having the plastic ABS stick to the hotbed. Other problems that I am having is that my servo motors are too weak to drive the X & Y stages resulting in "Jerking" motion that is evident on the prints. I will try to make a video and post it.
So dealing with the issues at hand is
ABS not sticking to the hot bed too well
-Tried: Printing directly on the heated mirror to 110 deg. (Failed to stick)
Spraying hair spray and heat bed set at 110 deg (Failed to stick)
Putting on painter’s tape and heat bed at 110 deg (failed to stick)
Putting on painter’s tape and heat bed set to 140 deg (Finally sticking)
My extruder motor that I purchased from eBay was not of best quality that it can be. the stepper motor and gear teeth work OK but the roller that pushes the filament to the gear teeth had a too deep of a cut in it causing teeth to barley grasp the filament and slipping a lot. So to fix that I had some extra ball bearing of approximately same size that I put in and was able to get a good feed without slipping
-Setting my extruder nozzle temp also proved challenging. First set temp to recommended ABS temp of 230 deg but that failed to extrude and when increased to 245 seemed to work best (But I think it might have to do with buying ABS from eBay)
-Now to deal with jerking I have couple of options and one that I have considered is putting a reduction gear or getting higher powered servo motor.
-Doing it with reduction gear means I have to redo my attachment brackets but since this is my first attempt on building 3d printer and a learning curve I don't see modifying it any more without completely altering all of its design from all the lessons learned on it.
-Now getting bigger motors is out of question at least on this printer due to the price of it

A thing that I would like to know is where do you buy your ABS or PLA?
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
May 01, 2014 08:06PM
ABS sticks pretty well to kapton tape, at 100C. Clean the tape with acetone before printing. Some use ABS juice to help get it to stick. You will find that without a heated enclosure that ABS is difficult to work with because of shrinkage, and it will cause the layers to delaminate in the middle of printing.

PLA is much nicer to use, and sticks well to blue painter's tape at 70C. A dilute solution of white glue on glass works the best for PLA, and is easier to apply than tape.

Mike Anton
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
May 27, 2014 02:12PM
Find your post very interressing.
Agree with manton, ABS part bigger then 100 mm are easier in enclosure.
I have AC servos drive (AKD) with motors and Misumi extrusion left from previous project.
I would like to build similar setup then you.
Are you happy with Smoothieboard ?
Keep informations on your project
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
May 31, 2014 01:42AM
what printing size do you want,maybe i can help you.

The manufacturer of 3d printer He3d
website: www.reprap.cn
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
May 31, 2014 06:16PM
I am looking for 1000 X 1000 X 2000 mm.
I have almost all the parts, just need controller ( minimum 2 extruders ) and a way to connect it to AKD Drive.
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
November 18, 2014 09:10AM
hello, sorry but I would like to know how you built the heated surface, I'm assembling a printer 500 x 500 mm floor of the press and would like to know how to build a plane of this size
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
July 27, 2017 12:03PM
Pardon me for replying to an inactive thread, but how did you get the Smoothieboard to communicate with the AC servo drive?
Re: My first Servo motor based 3d printer
August 03, 2017 11:23AM
Pardon me for replying to an inactive thread, but how did you get the Smoothieboard to communicate with the AC servo drive?

Almost every servo drive can be configured to take step/dir input, so the system is more or less equivalent to a setup using external stepper drivers.

It can get more complicated if you want to report fault conditions back to the smoothie board or pass through homing/limit signals, but Smoothie is flexible enough that you can make it work with a sufficiently clever configuration file.

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