FDM 3D printing has gone beyond prototyping and is being used as a production tool by many companies. However, conventional printers still require an operation to pop the finished part of the bed and start a new print. [Thomas Sandladerer] wanted a way to swap beds without human intervention, so he built an automatic print surface changing system.
The most obvious solution to this problem may appear to be belt printers like the Creality CR-30, but these come with some trade-offs. Bed adhesion can be a problem, and the lack of a rigid print surface causes some parts to come out warped. [Thomas] wanted to be able to use PEI-coated steel beds to avoid these issues. His solution is a system that pulls beds from a “magazine” and pushed out the old bed after a part is finished. It still uses a magnetic heatbed, which lowers out of the way before changing print surfaces. Each print surface is fitted inside a 3D printed frame which rests on the tool changer frame and keeps it in place as the heatbed drops down. The bed frames are printed using ASA, can handle 90 C without problems. The pusher mechanism and the heatbed lowering system are driven by stepper motors which connect to the spare motor outputs on the printer’s control board. The printer in question is a Voron 2.4, which is perfect for this application thanks to its high print speed.
This tool-changing system is only the first prototype, but it still worked very well. [Thomas] plans to make key improvements like a larger print bed and reduced height. This system might be a good fit for small and large print farms. We’ve seen another bed-clearing system that doesn’t require extra build surfaces, but instead scrapes off the completed part.