Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fine Tuning the RapMan 3.2 - X Carrier Alignment

So far, I have not found a single defect in the design of the RapMan 3.2 that I could pinpoint for you.

However, the printer is only going to print as well as we have built our RapMan printer.  And, I am determined that I am not going to be content until I have assured myself that the printer I have built is as good as any other RapMan out there.  And, that means finding ways to fine tune as many of the variables as I can.  And, at least for me, this means a By-The-Numbers approach to alignment.

Fortunately, the RapMan can help us out here, by allowing us to build alignment tools that we can use to ensure that we are as close to the most precise tolerances as we can get.  I want to talk about some that I've created for myself.

The first is a tool that allows me to align the Y-Axis travel.  The RapMan uses two belts for the Y axis.  And, it's possible that these two belts are pulling at an angle.  The best way to ensure that both belts are adjusted so that the X-Carrier is in perfect alignment is to measure the distance on both the left and the right sides to make sure they are equal.

Here is the alignment tool that I built for this job.  We use two.

Y-Axis Alignment tool
Notice that these alignment tools have a small half circle and a large half circle.  The small half circle fits over the top front rail and the large half circle fits over the front carrier bar for the X-Y carriage.  Clip the tool on the front rod and move the X-Y carriage carefully until it's possible to easily clip the tool onto the first rail of the carriage.  Do NOT force it.  Here is what it looks like.

Left Side Y-Axis Tool Attached
Then clip the other alignment tool to the front rod and ease it down to the carrier rail.  Again, do NOT force it.

2nd Alignment tool attached to front rail

Alignment tool being lowered to carrier rail

If the 2nd alignment tool will not easily clip onto the carrier rail, then the carrier is out of alignment.  Loosen the Y-Axis pulley at the back right of the printer and pull or push the right end of the carrier until the tool can easily be clipped to the carrier.

Carrier aligned
Then tighten the pulley.  The carrier should now be aligned.  But, you may want to remove the alignment clips and try the steps again to ensure that the X-Carrier is, indeed, permanently in alignment.

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