Alright, so back on track with other projects. First up is getting the large 3D printer running so I can get make large ABS/ASA prints without any warping. This will open the door for other projects down the road and increase design options.
Learning From Experience - My First Printer Enclosure
While I do already have an IKEA Lack 3D printer enclosure, it was developed over time and was made when I didn't have nearly as much experience with 3D printers in general. This enclosure works for smaller ABS prints on my first printer; my Prusa Mk2.5s MMU but is a pain to use. I have to manually connect fans and adjust the temperature board inside the case when switching between ABS and other materials. The lighting is somewhat dim since some of the LEDs failed a while back and their replacements are not as bright.
While I did mod the Prusa to have more silent stepper motor drivers on the XY, it remains super loud compared to the other two printers in the farm. This is why there is noise cancelling foam in the enclosure. The printer has also been modded to fit in the smaller enclosure, and the 90 degree bend bed cable strain relief mod has given me issues multiple times where the thermistor wire was shorting randomly through prints.
The biggest issue with this enclosure is heat management. The electronics remain inside the enclosure with the exception of the LCD and Raspberry Pi 3 which is mounted on the underside. Obviously having the electronics in a heated enclosure is not ideal, in particular the power supply. This enclosure only works off of the ambient heating of the printer. I can get it up to about 54 degrees Celsius but that's it. For ABS (in my experience) it seems like this was a huge limiting factor for print speed to the point where large parts would be impractical and still prone to warping.
At the very least she has served me well the last 3 years, but is certainly showing her age now. The Ender 3 with its SKR E3 board and mods basically shows up the mk2.5s on almost all performance counts. In particular being able to move at 200mm/s for non-printing moves without the printer sounding like its going to vibrate into oblivion really helps with print times. I think I still cant beat the print accuracy of the Mk2.5s, but the Ender3 doesn't lag by much.
Heavy Tombstone - Ender 5 Plus Integrated Enclosure
The goal of this project is to use everything I have learned so far between all the printers and make one large printer that has very few drawbacks. I had been looking at the larger printers for a while and was actually really surprised when I saw the price tag of the Ender 5 plus. It was always a plan to get something larger, but became financially viable because of the pandemic; mainly due to student loan deferments and the government stimulus check.
I was going to wait for the promised mystery Prusa large format FDM printer, but assuming I was going to get this in a timely manner; decided to order it so it could be used to print face shield bands and mod it later. I mentioned during one of the updates during the PPE for Medical Workers blog posts that I had ordered an Ender 5 Plus but it was also delayed. It actually took over a month and a half to get delivered, and by that time we were basically done making face shields. I assembled the unit and printed once to make sure it was mechanically sound and left it alone for a few weeks.
Unlike my previous printer enclosure I plan on making the new enclosure an appropriate size and with the electronic components external to the heated area. The enclosure will also be actively heated when needed for high temp filaments and actively cooled to maintain consistent temps at lower temperatures for filaments like PLA or PETG. There will be recycling HEPA filters with activated carbon reservoirs that can be turned on to reduce fumes and harmful particulates where the type of filament needs it.
The stock Ender 5 plus... is okay. The mechanics seem to be solid. The electronics are... terrible. The PSU is garbage and the baked in stepper motor drivers are standard A4988 loud ones. Your also stuck with the firmware that Creality releases which apparently broke the built in auto bed leveling for a lot of people and was not addressed for a while. I plan on replacing the mainboard with an SKR 1.4 with TMC2209 and enabling sensor-less homing on the X and Y axis. I have done similar setups on the the Ender3 and Di3+ so it shouldn't be too hard.
The Ender 5 plus does not come with a full metal hot-end. This will be replaced with a Microswiss full metal one and converted to direct drive if possible. I will retain the heated bed, stepper motors, BLTouch and filament run-out sensor. All other electronics will be replaced.
I will be using two PSU for the enclosure. The first is a Meanwell SE-450-24 to replace the stock 24v unit. The second is a 5V 8A AC-DC power supply that sill power the LEDs and Raspberry Pi 4 Octoprint host. I could have used a DC-DC converter for 24v down to 5v, but we are already pushing the Meanwell pretty hard with the heated bed alone (500W). Meanwell power supplies are intentionally underspec'd, and the heated bed will not be 100% duty cycle by any means. Combined with proper cooling, the pair of PSU should work just fine.
So far progress has been solid. Now that I have the three other printers to contribute when I want to print parts, I can design and print them quickly. Some parts will be sourced online, but a lot of them I will design custom for this enclosure. The lid of the enclosure is removable and should make servicing the printer easy. This is made from 1515 extruded aluminum and will have clear PETG sheets for panels. I will get into more detail on up-coming posts.
There is still a lot of work that needs to be done, but Tombstone (pardon the edgy project name) should be an epic printer when its eventually finished and tuned. There will be little payoff on this setup until the setup is basically finished, but I think it will be well worth it. Finding a long term space for it will be a bit tricky as this thing is absolutely massive with a footprint of 26x26 inches. It might end up living in the basement, but we will see.