In this instructable I am going to explain Focus, a functional experimental powder printing platform.

Focus started of in October 2012 when I asked myself, how hard can it be to SLS nylon powder. To answer this question I built Focus. I have designed Focus to be experimental, All parts can be swapped for different parts and there is a lot of adjustments in most parts.

I myself have configured focus as a SLS/SLM printer right now. I have had the best results with laser melting Nylon 2201 powder. you can follow updates on focus at it's blogspot page. Focus is still a work in progress so expect parts and software to change.

In this instructable I have included everything needed to build the basics of focus. This includes:
  • Schematics
  • Wiring diagrams
  • Technical drawings
  • Bill of material lists
  • Firmware
I also maintain a complete buildpackage which can be found at my thingiverse page or in the attachments in step 2. In this package you will find all the most recent files in one neat package. Be sure to download the newest one.

With this you can build the printer. The toolhead will have separate lists in their respective steps.

Sadly there are no step by step building pictures of Focus. Focus has changed a lot since I started work on it. I have tried to compensate the lack of step by step pictures with good technical drawings.

If you still have questions after reading this instructable, feel free to ask them in the comments.

Step 1: What is Focus

Focus is an open source experimental powder printer capable of printing in every powder technique available. It can also be used for most other 3D printing applications and laser engraving. Focus is open source, reprap based and can be built for under €600,- (around $800) if you source the parts right.

Focus is built around simple wooden and 3D printed parts. No complex tooling is needed for any of the parts. Most of the frame is constructed from 15mm MDF that has simple cuts. The moving parts are 3D printed in either PLA or ABS (preferably PLA) using a simple 3D printer. All of the parts are supportless and easy to print. The remaining parts are easy to obtain from a hardware store or from the internet. All of the used parts are also used in most standard 3D printers and easy to obtain.

Focus uses a gantry with the Y-Axis stacked on the X-Axis. This has the disadvantage that the axes move relatively slow, but because Focus is experimental, not a lot of speed is required. Focus can still comfortably reach speeds of 30mm/s. The toolhead is large and can support large weights.

Focus can be used for a wide variety of techniques. 
  • It can be fitted with a laser, using it for Selective Laser Sintering, Selective Laser Melting and laser engraving/ laser cutting.
  • It can be fitted with an inkjet nozzle to print binder on powder, or print with heated waxes or resins directly.
  • It can be fitted with a standard FDM nozzle to print in a conventional way.
Even combinations should be possible, like printing ceramic slurry with powder support. The possibilities are endless.

Precise values are not known for Focus, since it is still experimental. All figures are estimates and minimum values (followed by +)

Max gantry Speed:         30+ [mm/s] (capped in the firmware to 30mm/s or 1800mm/min for safety)
Max piston speed:          4+ [mm/s]
Buildbox:                        130x117x80+ [mm]
Gantry travel:                 150x280 [mm]
Electronics:                    RAMPS 1.4
Firmware:                       Beta 0.02
Motors:                           5x NEMA17

  • Focus is one of the few functioning powder printers available for hobbyist;
  • Focus is under $1000, inexpensive to 3D printer standards, very cheap to powder printer standards;
  • Focus is versatile, It can hold nearly any tool and can print in a lot of techniques;
  • Focus is easy to build, with simple wooden parts, easy 3D printable parts and standard hardware used in 3D printes;
  • Focus is slow, a new layer takes quite some time to deposit and gantry speeds are relatively low due to heavy carriage;
  • No usable prints yet, Not enough experiments have been done to make usable parts yet, this is a WIP;
  • Focus is not very accurate, especially in the Z axis (relative to 3D FDM);
  • Focus lacks more advanced functions needed for high quality printing, such as heated buildbox or inert gas chamber;
<p>Amazing effort !!</p>
<p>Here's a link to my home made SLS 3D Printer </p><p>http://whatisacnc.com/pages/SLS.php </p>
<p>Hello i have questions<br><br>1.with wire laser have + Positive(RED) &amp; - Negative(Black) input connect to pin Heatbed on ramps board ?</p><p><br>2.i can switch from pin heatbed to use pin Extruder Nozzle Heat ?<br>(can tell me about edit line firmware ?)</p><p><br>3.need <br> have driver laser board ? on ramps board if change input to new connect <br> with Solid state relay DC/AC for control external Laser ? (such High <br>Voltage Laser 220v)</p><p><br>4.i can use new BIG LCD smart,SD card &amp; keyboard all in 1 ?</p><p>5.can tell me where edit line in firmware all (feature maybe import code to new version board RAMPS i see new RAMPS v1.5)</p><p>Thanks you very much.</p>
<p>1: This really depends on your laser. If it takes 12V, then yes, but that is only if it has an integrated driver rated for 12V. Normally laser diodes operate at a different voltage. I made my own laser drivers</p><p>2: Focus firmware is something I wrote a very long time ago, and since then Plan B was made. I really don't know that much about the Focus firmware any more. I guess in the main firmware tab, there is a section where all pins are declared.</p><p>3: Again, depends on your hardware. </p><p>4: Not without a massive firmware overhaul.</p><p>5: ?</p>
sorry i'm not good english <br><br>1.The pin heatbed it fast sensitive laser on/off working with stepper motor XY in g-code ?<br><br>2.possible use pin stepper motor extruder filament or E0 (4 Wire) convert to 2 (Wire) for laser head ? <br>please see image<br><br>Thank you dragonator for answers
You and your project are both awesome :).<br>P.s:<br>Dear @electrcBlue<br>Printing with steel (any kind of..) is way way way expensive and it's not Eco.<br>Felamint is better choice :)
<p>Can you print and sell me the plastic parts ( not yet but sone ) ????/ how much will thay be? ???? </p>
<p>can I use this to print with steel ? </p>
<p>Sadly, if this was capable of printing in steel, I would not have to work a single day anymore by now, so no.</p>
<p>ok well i`m going to work on that ( ill ceap you informed ) / what software did you use? </p>
<p>where do you get the powder?</p>
<p>The Nylon used to print with Focus is something I bought from a company that sells SLS'ed parts.</p>
Where did you get the laser from and what kind is it? <br>
where can i get the following parts; 4 optical endstops, 1-1.5kg of printing material, preferably PLA; <br>1100mm x 1200mm 15mm MDF <br>9 LM8UU linear bearings; 2 8mm smooth rod 500mm; <br>2 8mm smooth rod 315mm; <br>3 M8 threaded rod 340mm; <br>4 M6 threaded rod 200mm; <br>2 M4 threaded rod 270mm; <br>2 M4 threaded rod 130mm; <br>35 624 radial bearings; <br>3 T2.5 pulleys attachable to NEMA17 axles (5mm); <br>T2.5 timing belt (2x 1.2m, 1x 1m); (or optionally T5)? <br>preferably somewhere in the US
If you are in the US, you can get the linear bearings on eBay. You can buy the rods from McMaster Carr or, again, eBay. Radial bearings, try McMaster Carr or SDPSi. You can find the pulleys and belts from there too. if you want to scrounge, get your hands on a pair or dead (or not so dead) inkjet printers and harvest the belts and pulley wheels from there along with the rods. Most printers will yield one or two 8mm rods. I have built at least one printer from scrounged bits. For switches, the same dead printer's keypad will get you the little push switches that you can rig to be pushed by a mounted screw (like the Printrbot does) -- if you don't want to use opto end stops. You can also use tap switches from Radio Shack or some such. If you need to ream out the pulley wheels for the Steppers, that is easly done with a drill press and you can then tap in a set screw (you might want to gently file flat a portion of the stepper's shaft. If you like MDF, go ahead. I personally prefer 80-20 extrusions...yes, eBay too. You can buy MDF in any quantity at Home Depot or Lowes. I plan to make some minor changes to my version: I will print the parts on my 3D printer (a Solidoodle) and make the frame from 80-20. I am just dying to print metal parts.....
The basics of Focus (frame and gantry) cost around $800. This information is in the instructable. It took 2 months to design and build, but programming and electronics took me another 3 months. Focus can be built in 2-5 days. <br> <br>You could machine the parts yourself, but 3D printing them is a whole lot easier. <br> <br>I can not tell you where to get the parts. I do not live in the USA and I do not know where to find those parts there. I suggest using the internet. Most parts are used one Reprap 3D printers, that might help for searching. <br> <br>
i voted for you in the epilog contest so hopefully you win. thank you for posting this project
do you have to use the 3d printed parts or can you just machine it out of metal or wood?
love your work with it <br>great job
how much did this printer cost and how long did it take to build? <br>how detailed can this printer get?
Very nice job on the documentation and the build. This is really just exceptional all the way around. Great work and thanks for sharing!
Look really great ! Very complete documentation. <br>As you said : &quot;Anyone that wants to improve on the design, go ahead.&quot; You maybe should remove the NC from the license, a By-Sa or even a GPL should be nice for this kind of project. <br>I'll closely look for the furthers improvement, and if one day I become crazy, maybe i'll try build one of this ! ;)

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