I have in mind the design of a new type of printer.

I have in mind the design of a new type of printer. I call it the “Rail Printer” …

Imagine a typical x y z printer like the Prusa, give it 4 wheels one on each corner, remove the moving table ( the y axis) now the y axis becomes the area between the 2 rails.

This printer would be ideal for printing out things like wings for drones, fuselages and the like, really anything long and narrow.

The first problem would be the length of time to produce the print, I think this problem is solvable or at least reducible to a manageable level by adding printers. Imagine 2 or 4 or 10 printers all printing at the same time on the same printed object. Now the problem becomes how to identify accurately the position of each printer and how to divide the printing duty between each printer and how to construct a suitable join between each level.

The other interesting thing about designing a printer in this manner is you could have two printers operating on the same printed component but loaded with different materials. It may even be possible to adapt the system to print with in theory an unlimited number of materials.

I would be interested in your observations, criticisms and comments.

I really like that idea. Mechanically it wouldn’t be hard for them to “stitch” the prints together, software would be the main problem, the slicing software could handle this in a similar way to a current multi head printer except they both pass over a shared area on alternating layers so that they could stitch together. Another, potentially more efficient way might be to have some form of live slicing software with feedback on the x position of the heads so that there is no chance of collision, or have a dedicated head that passes over the common area and can also move slightly on the x axis so that it will do the stitching.

I like the concept very much. To add to the multiple printer concept, maybe the design could incorporate the ability to ‘chain’ printers, so you can start off with one, but link up additional printers, as needed (or resources allowed).

I’m imagining a maker space with multiple individual printers that could be combined for larger (longer) prints as needed.

@Heath_Aiken 》》》 multiple individual maker space printers《《《 yes that’s a good idea! Therefore the individual printers need to be designed so that the bottom can be quickly change from a set of wheels to a standard print bed.

20 years ago in another tech field Matsushita marketed a video tape library system with 2 or 3 xy robots operating on a common rail without colisions. The whole system including scheduled playback from 5 VTRs doing 20 second commercials from a library of 1000 cassettes ran on a 25 Mhz 386 ! If that was possible then what you envision should work now. A form of linear encoder to report the ABSOLUTE position of each xy gantry would be required though. Great idea and food for thought as I await my Mendel 90 kit !

Hi Tony,

I had the same idea, for a giant multi-cnc device. Rails would be on either wall of my garage! Like the tape robot analogy - you could simply have nested track, one per tool head, and ‘up and over’ the outermost tool when they cross…

Not only could you combine print heads but other CNC tools - EG laser for sintering, laser cutter, router, engraver to cut out tracks in PCB, vinyl cutter, all sorts, Even a robot arm to pick and place. Software would be a thing of beauty to orchestrate but totally possible… meawhile I am just starting to calibrate my TVRR!