My First 3D Printer

delta printer

Finally I got my first 3d printer. It was not working perfectly out of the box. The other with that features cost ten folds more. What I acquired was a starter tinker kit. It had all the parts and materials to get started with but I had to do the assembly, testing and calibration by myself. It was okay. Tinkering is my kind of thing.

I was reading the manual and watching videos while assembling parts slowly and carefully. Often looking back and check to make sure all were in right place.

After one and half day of diligence. I powered the machine for the first time with no problem. No smoking and failing electronic component. My only problem so far was the hard to adjust belt. I think I must make modification very soon. I ran auto leveling several times and adjusting belt tension in between.

No test print yet. The free filament is too short for testing.

What is 3d printer for? Is it usefull for blogging? Not really but it will help me a lot in machine prototyping.

I remember the days when I was creating first cocoa bean cracker prototype. I often spending long time in machine shop for a custom part. Next day testing. Then re-design. A day in machine shop again. Or cutting and filing the part manually. It saved on service cost but often result to inaccurate part.

This machine will help me beat those hurdles.

delta printer

The Snail Blower Fan

snal turbo fan on top of cyclone husk collector

I just can’t get my shopvac noise lower. I can, by enclosing it in silencer bin, however, it is big and will eat up considerable amount of space. Not good. Another consideration is the heat build-up. Running vacuum motor is hot already on its own even with constant air flow. What more if it is inside another container.

It has a huge suction power that I need to bleed most  before it reaches the separation junction. What if I can use an alternative device with less capacity. I can save on electricity bills and save my eardrum too.

I searched around the net in attempt to find a more silent vacuum brand. Failed. There is no such thing. They are all powerful and definitely loud.

My trip to electronic surplus stores solved my problem. I bought two snail blower fans for experimentation.

Luckily, the bigger turbo fan worked. It only needs 24 volts power source and consume 45 watts power. Way lower compared to home vacuum cleaner which is 1.5kw. It was originally designed to blow air. But, installing it on top of my custom made cyclone husk collector created more than enough suction to separate husk from nibs. In fact, I am bleeding more than half of its power.

snal turbo fan on top of cyclone husk collector

By the time I got and tested the snail turbo fan, the water seal of the colloid mill was damaged. The water circulating between radiator and mill cooling compartment was leaking outside the grinder base. I cannot use it for the next batch unless I found a replacement seal.

No cooling = no grinding. But, the turbo fan saved the day. I temporarily installed it near the mill base and commenced grinding with my fingers crossed. It was acceptable for the mill to get hot, but not too hot to set the cocoa liquor boiling.

For the record, during my very first grinding trial, the cocoa liquor coming out of downspout was boiling hot. I was glad my newly discovered cooler never let me down. It let me finished without any problem. At of this moment, I have run several batches without water cooling.

There is more, I am thinking if three to four of this thing are sufficient as air curtain. The commercial solely made for the purpose was kinda expensive, hard to install and consume a lot of power.

Planning to Acquire A 3d Printer

I have been thinking of acquiring a 3d printer. A complete kit or just some parts. Build the others myself to save on cost.

I am having a hard time prototyping equipment for small scale food production. For example, building a customized cyclone separator (using street cone, pvc pipe and plywood) took me about three days and every modification for half to two days. It would have been faster with a 3d helper. I’ll do the cutting, putting things together but the other hard to make designs will be 3d printed.

My priority project is cocoa bean cracker. I have a working prototype that took me weeks to build and months to got it working as I wanted. The next revision I have in mind entails complete machine rework. 3d printer will sure help me do it a lot easier.

In this case, making custom gears and rollers are the hardest. I may buy brand new gears and surplus gears but they may not work as I desired.

I enjoy buying and experimenting with surplus motors. They are cheap and easy to find but finding similar brand at different times is another story. Replacing motor may mean change of speed, torque and motor mount. A problem, but not if 3d printer is available.

Its an easy design and part production and I can do other jobs while the 3d printer is doing its duty.

I have doubts however. FDM 3d printing uses plastic which may not stood well with the application in mind. Metal gears wore overtime and plastic counterparts may do 100 times faster. Broken parts reproduction and replacement is easy but sure not practical on frequent basis.

Another culprit is the bean temperature. I am immediately cracking and winnowing beans after roasting. It will surely melt the common filament PLA. Guess gears need efficient cooling or cool beans before cracking which adds a bit time to production length.

Well, other things I have in mind is chocolate tempering machine, semi-automatic nibs packer and regulated feeder for colloid mill.

The Surplus DC Geared Motor

geared motor gear head removed

Like I said before, I bought this surplus geared motor as candidate for reducing the footprint of my cocoa bean winnower. I like to place it directly on top of husk collector. A vertical space saving make-up. My processing area is quite small, so saving space is crucial. Also, it would be a cost reduction if I can opt for 12 volts DC from 220 volts AC.

While tinkering. Another crazy idea popped. If paired with a bigger gear, the speed would be slow and strong enough to turn a paddle or a big stainless bowl. Now, the idea of building a chocolate tempering comes into scene. I felt regret for not buying two of this. Another back trip is not on my to do yet, and would not be for some time.

The vendor who sold me this added more fun. He showed me how it can generate electricity enough to power a LED bulb. The main motor runs at 5,000 rpm and the gearhead output is only 60 rpm. He connected the motor terminal to LED bulb and hand cranked the gearhead. The bulb lit while the motor was turning. Imagine it connected to a fan/impeller turned by wind or running water. Free electricity!

geared motor gear head removed

The motor was tested briefly before purchase. Then I run it for about four hours immediately after arriving home. Intermittently checking motor temperature and trying to stop gear head by hand. A crude reliability check. Lastly, I took off the gears and applied grease. I wanted to check the motor winding but I was afraid I might accidentally break it.

Second Quick Trip To Raon

turbo fan min and dc geared motor

After testing and knowing the snail blower I bought is working great as suction for winnowing cocoa and at the same time as colloid mill cooler. I thought I need two units, one for each machine.

Right after winnowing, I am quickly transferring the blower fan on mill to commence grinding process. If both machines have it, They can work simultaneously and greatly reduce processing time. I can even set the winnowing output to flow directly to mill hopper, reducing manpower. It is like I’m catching two birds with one trap.

The snail blower I got was a surplus. A new of the same model is available online but almost five times more expensive. Not to mention the plus cost of custom tax and shipping fee. I thought I would have more use of money going back to where I bought it. And perhaps see other useful materials to play with.

I directly went to vendor where I bought it. It was already out of stock but still lucky to find the same from other sellers. I bought the last two. Tested other blower fan options but ended up getting the previous model. I never felt like experimenting with other options for the time being.

In case I never found the same model, I would still be happy to buy other option and do testing.

turbo fan min and dc geared motor

I also bought a 12 volts DC geared motor and few small brushless fans. The first will be used for reducing the footprint of cocoa bean cracker prototype while the second is for forcing air circulation inside refrigerator.

How Heliohaus Solar Dryer Works?

I was wondering why the solar dryer was positioned on far front of the building near the street side.  I know the solar dyer needs sun’s energy to perform its function and needs to be on open field. However, it seemed not made of sturdy materials and would break apart against strong wind blows. Taking the equipment indoor should be a good option but there was a group of big black stones at the bottom that would make transfer near to impossible. Maybe the stones was serving as structural support. Unknown period of time passed and what I expected happened. I saw it was broken after a typhoon.

The information I accidentally read on bulletin board answered some of my questions, plus bonus additional knowledge.  Read it below.

A solar dryer uses passive solar energy. It converts the sun’s energy into heat without the application of any mechanical device. The structure of the solar dryer serves as the thermal mass that provides the means to collect solar energy and convert it to heat. Thermal mass can be increased by laying stones or small boulders painted black to serve as heat collectors at the  base of solar dryer. Air heated by the thermal mass expands thereby  increasing its capacity to remove moisture. Furthermore, heated air will rise up and exit  through a vent at the top of the structure. This chimney effect ensures a continuous flow of air  through the materials being dried.

holohaus solar drier picture and illustrationThe solar dryer can be used in a wide range of products such as dried seafoods, seaweeds, banana chips, dried fruits, dried herbs, coffee beans, dried chili, dried flower and etc… almost any kind of agricultural produce.

The plastic enclosing the drier is made of MacPlas Heliofilm which should have an expected service life of 5 years.

Note: I am not sure if the broken solar dryer and the solar dryer on illustration are of the same type.