User data
Name Simeon Richards
Affiliations MTU
Location Michigan, USA
Interests 3D printing, OSH, electronics, open source, drones, robotics, automation, circuit Design
Registered 2019
Impact Combined page views of this user's contributions to the main namespace. 353
Contributions OSHE Print Farm Automation

Hello, I am Simeon Richards, a fourth-year Electrical Engineering student. I enjoy 3D printing, coding, and tearing apart old electronics. I hope to one day own a shop where I can DIY various constructions and circuits.

Email: simeonr@mtu.edu

Interests[edit | edit source]

Electronics Open Source 3D Printers Drones
Robotics Automation Circuit Design

Experience[edit | edit source]

  • One year experience as intern at software quality assurance company
  • Two years experience as intern at robotics company
  • I participated in FRC for a couple years

Open Source Hardware Enterprise[edit | edit source]


Semester 1 Fall 2019


Print Farm Automation: This semester Lucas and I worked on automating print removal from the print bed. This was done because of a large project which required many hours of printing with operator intervention. The first step was to design a solution. We considered various ideas, such as flexing the print base, printing on a conveyor, or even removing the print bed. Ultimately, we decided to pursue a print bed scraper design. After pursuing a couple plans that didn't quite pan out, we settled on a a design which featured a lead screw in front of the two main lead screws, with a scraper on an axle. This allows the profile of the scraper to be small enough so as not to collide with the nozzle fans. When needed, the scraper would drop down to the bed, rotate to its' optimal angle, and the bed would move forward. The print would be ejected over the back of the print bed. We would then have a containment vessel on the other side in which to store the prints. The lead screws would be powered by step motors controlled using the dual extruder wiring and Gcode. During the course of this project I learned for the first time how to properly design and print 3D prints, which came in handy. I designed and printed our hinge mechanism, with half of the lead screw cart and bed scraper clamp. I also dove into the Taz6 documentation and found the wiring diagrams needed to wire the stepper motors to the dual extruder circuit. In all, I feel that I learned a great deal this semester and I hope to see this project operational soon.

Bed Scraper Parts


Semester 2 Spring 2020


Print Farm Automation: This semester Lucas, Kai, and I worked on finishing the automated print removal system. In the beginning of the semester, I was able to find and relate the Taz6 printer boards and wiring to the documentation found last semester. The stepper motors which would drive the blade carts up and down the lead screws were connected to the circuit designed to power the secondary printer head. The software on the printer was changed to accommodate a dual extruder, and a resistor was spliced into the circuit to simulate a properly heated thermistor on the secondary printer head. Once this task was completed, we worked to control the scraper motors with G-Code. Unfortunately, the print farm automation team had to postpone further progress on the project due to social distancing. Next semester, the team will be able to efficiently assemble the system and prepare it for testing. This will allow the team to improve the design greatly and reduce the chance of failure. While the project could not be completed this semester, I learned a great deal about searching for, reading, interpreting, and modifying documentation in order to achieve a goal in a real-life circuit. What was especially challenging for me was understanding how someone else's circuit works and how to modify it without compromising the integrity of the rest of the circuit.


Semester 3 Fall 2020


Print Farm Automation: This semester David and I worked on fully assembling and tuning the automated print removal system. The parts which I designed in Semester 1 Fall 2019 were incorporated into the overall printer design, and set in place with proper hardware. Once this was done, the system was ready to be tested with real G-Code. Unfortunately, I was the only group member with approved lab access during the campus-wide lockdown. I took the opportunity to learn from David's contributions, and was able to learn enough about G-Code to be able to optimize the automatic print removal script to our lab's conditions. Once this task was completed, the finished scripts were commented to assist in modification, and made available on GitHub and Appropedia. Finally, a proof of concept timelapse was shot in order to document the project's progress, act as a reference, and identify potential improvements. While completing work on this project, I learned a large amount about how G-Code works, how the printer operates, and how to manipulate these together to produce results. With this knowledge, I will be able to further improve the system on my own, and can offer some help for others looking to modify the G-Code for themselves. This semester was especially challenging because of the campus-wide social distancing and lockdown making collaboration between team members difficult. Next semester, I look forward to perfecting the system with more in-person collaboration and hope to make it very reliable.


Semester 4 Spring 2021


Print Farm Automation: This semester I worked on improving the current bed scraping design. Because the complete system's barebones had been assembled last semester, I began improvements by adding a cover to the tip of the blade in order to protect the print bed from scratches and long term wear. I also added a spine to the back of the blade in order to keep it from flexing. Once that was complete, the code was changed in a few major ways. From last semester, the code allowed one print to be repeated any desired number of times. This semester, the complete queue functionality was added to allow the queuing of any number of prints in any order. In addition, the cooldown sequence was changed to first cool down, then heat up. This particular formula took many many hours of experimentation, as different combinations of heating sequences couldn't be tested until a print was completed. This allowed the prints to be removed far more consistently. A conveyor/cover was designed to be attached to the print bed which would carry the parts over the printer belt and drop the parts into a bin, which allows for both print storage and to keep parts from interfering with the printer's operation. Finally, a timelapse was created to demonstrate the full functionality of the project up to date. The printer automation page was updated, and a final project brief was written. While I would consider the project concept proven, there is much more to be done to improve and test the full functionality of the system. This semester's timelapse shows 10 individual parts being successfully removed from the bed, but they are smaller sized prints. The design needs to be tested and proven to work with larger prints until there is no doubt that the system could be left unattended without problems. Next semester, I hope to test the printer with prints which have increasingly large bases until the design can be given a rating by surface area of the print.


Semester 5 Fall 2021


Print Farm Automation: This semester Kai and I worked on perfecting the print scraper design, as well as the peripherals. I focused on maximizing the capabilities of the scraper in order to better understand what the limitations of the current design are and how best to improve upon it. The first plan of action was to polish the construction of the design to ensure maximum performance. The lead screw topper was given a redesign to accommodate a ball bearing and hold the top of the lead screw more solidly in place. The wiring to the lead screw steppers was given a more professional harness than the wire nuts, and proper soldering and heat shrink was applied to ensure functionality. Finally, the current screws were removed and filed to proper lengths to prevent collisions with the printer head. Because the scraper had not been tested to the point of failure yet, the first move was to create a standardized test and to test the design to the point of failure. The chosen test was a disk shaped print which should allow consistently scalable results. Initially, the scraper was limited to 1250 mm^2, which is a disk with diameter of about 40mm. Much testing with various print configurations, additional prints for removal, and improvements to the scraper's base design ensued. The final design is cleaner and more durable, and though less than ideal, with the new printer and tab configuration the maximum limit was raised to 75,000 mm^2 or a disk with diameter of about 309mm. Changes to the print configuration include removal at a higher temperature, the addition of a poptab design, and the requirement to print a brim to attach the poptab and the part. While this is less than ideal for allowing the end user to print with any desired configuration, it offers a substantial improvement over the previous iteration. This semester, the efficacy and proof of concept have been somewhat optimized and further improvements must consider another approach. The current limitation of the design is the power capability of the base printer's bed axis. When the scraper contacts a part, great strain is placed on the belt which drives the bed back and forth, and the belt slips from the motor. Further improvements to the design which do not modify the base printer will either have to either exert more work with the same force, or exert force via another vector. Suggestions for improvement include designs which store force over time and release it quickly like an automatic center punch, or a mechanism which uses the power from the external stepper motors on the lead screw to exert the force. In both cases, it is important to provide another counteracting force on the bed, otherwise the belt will still slip from the motor.


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