Small, precise and light weight linear actuators for 3D printers

Linear actuators on the gantry shuttle are great for quickly moving in and out of wells and microarraying/microcontact printing. It is tricky to find one that is small and light that does not have to rely on organizing messy cables.

For microarraying it is important to be able to accurately control the speed of the printing tool. Also in most cases these printing tools are really expensive so it is good to make sure that you know where the tool is at all times.

This system is based on a remote 3D printing extruder which were developed for delta 3D printers in order to reduce the weight on the print head. So motor was removed from the print head (and placed somewhere on the side of the printer) and the filament was fed into the hot end (that still resides on the print head) through some PTFE tubing.

The same motor extruder design in used for this linear actuator, and 3D printing filament is used as the cable. One side of the filament is clamped to a linear carriage that slides along the guide on the print head and the other end is clamped to a carriage that is attached a wiper that drags across a linear encoder. This carriage also touches a mechanical endstop so that you can "home" the shuttle.

linear actuator encoder and end stop
gantry shuttle linear actuator
linear actuator encoder and end stop

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