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Archive for April 4th, 2018

MPCNC: Linear Bearing Pen Holder

The simplest way to push a pen (or similar thing) downward with constant force may be to hold it in a linear bearing with a weight on it, so I gimmicked up a proof-of-concept. The general idea is to mount the pen so its axis coincides with the DW660 spindle, so as to have the nib trace the same path:

DW660 Pen Holder - unweighted

DW660 Pen Holder – unweighted

The puck mimics the shape of the DW660 snout closely enough to satisfy the MPCNC’s tool holder:

DW660 Pen Holder - Slic3r

DW660 Pen Holder – Slic3r

The pen holder suffers from thin walls constrained by the 10 mm (-ish) pen OD and the 12 mm linear bearing ID, to the extent the slight infill variations produced by the tapered pen outline change the OD. A flock of 16 mm bearings, en route around the planet even as I type, should provide more meat.

In any event, 3D printing isn’t noted for its perfect surface finish, so I applied an epoxy layer and rotated the holder as it cured:

DW660 Pen Holder - epoxy coating

DW660 Pen Holder – epoxy coating

After letting it cure overnight, I ran a lathe tool along the length to knock down the high spots and set the OD to 11.9+ mm. Although the result turns out to be a surprisingly nice fit in the bearing, there’s no way epoxy can sustain the surface load required for the usual precision steel-on-steel fit.

A plastic pen in a plastic holder weighs 8.3 g, which isn’t quite enough to put any force on the paper. Copper weighs 9 g/cm³ = 9 mg/mm³ and 10 AWG wire is 2.54 mm OD = 5 mm², so it’s 45 mg/mm: to get 20 g, chop off 450 mm of wire.

I chopped off a bit more than that, straightened it, annealed it, and wound it around a random contestant from the Bucket o’ Sticks with an OD just over the pen OD:

DW660 Pen Holder - copper weight forming

DW660 Pen Holder – copper weight forming

The helix is 13.5 mm down the middle of the turns and 14 turns long (trimmed of the tail going into the chuck and fudging the tail sticking out as a partial turn), so it’s 593 mm long and should weigh 26.7 g. It actually weighs 27.6 g: close enough.

Which is enough to overcome stiction due to the holder’s surface roughness, but the mediocre epoxy-on-balls fit allows the pen point to wander a bit too much for good results.

The prospect of poking precise holes into 16 mm drill rod seems daunting, but, based on what I see here, it will produce much better results: rapid prototyping FTW!

The OpenSCAD source code as a GitHub Gist:

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