Thursday, July 14, 2016

M3D Micro: Stress Reducing Spool Holders

While I love the idea that I can hide my filament under the print table, there are some filaments for which it is specifically suggested that they be loaded externally.

The filament holder that all of us can download from M3D's site is a good, solid solution and works well.  But, I wanted to find a solution that would put the absolutely least amount of stress on the print head.  And, for me, that means using ball bearings and positioning the reel so that it unwraps as close to the center of travel as possible.

As usual, I turned to 3D design and printing to come up with some solutions.

Here are two different designs:

Side Mount Reel Holder With Bearings

It turns out that a side mounted version of a reel holder that unwraps anywhere near the center of travel must be designed so that the umbilical cord has clearance.  This means it must, of necessity, be tall.  The one I came up with looks like this.

Side Mounted Spool Holder with Bearings
Small 10mm bearings with 3mm holes were used.  The bearing insure that there is minimal friction drag for the print head to pull against.  It works very well with spools that have been used a bit.  The only issue is that with new spools, the filament can tend to be pulled off the reel to the side.  In this case, it needs to be monitored.  Otherwise, it works very well.

Front Mount Reel Holder With Bearings

Front mounted reel holders don't have to worry about umbilical cord clearance.  So, they can be designed to be more compact.  This was my second design, meaning that I already had the experience that the filament on new reels could be pulled off the edge of the reel.  So, this time I added a feature that ensured that the path of the filament would always be within the borders of the spool flanges.  This minimizes the likelihood that filament will unravel over the side of the spool.  

Front Mounted Spool Holder with Bearings
While it looks a bit strange, in my opinion this turned out to be an even better solution.  There is little or no friction drag and the guide does, in fact, reduce the tendency of filament to unreel itself in loops to the side.

The real story here is that the Micro's design allows us to use our imaginations to create all kinds of useful accessories.  In an upcoming article, I will demonstrate camera mountings.   We'll talk about mounting very tiny "snake" cameras and also a very convenient mount for a GoPro so that you can document and demonstrate printing your designs.

But, of course, we always have to be mindful about weight and torque.  As we design, we always have to be mindful that we do not want to stress the Micro's outside frame any more than we want to stress the Micro's print head. 

The M3D Micro... the more I use it, the more I appreciate it.  Love it!

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