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The Hotplate Toolchanger

The heart of this project is really the tool changer: it is also completely 3D Printed, and differs from other designs in its high-stiffness clamping mechanism. The design qualifies as a kinematic mount but uses a non-standard layout in order to automatically clamp and release tools.

See the Hotplate Build Guide for CAD and BOM

Like the rest of Clank, the hotplate can be made with a small list of off-the-shelf parts and FDM printed bits. It should cost about $40, depending on where you are in the world, and you’ll just need a set of allen keys to assemble it.

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The tool changer also implements a blade-type circuit-to-circuit connector, meaning that power and data from the Clank modular controller are automatically bussed through to new tools when they are picked up.

For a little video that might help make sense of the kinematic workings, see below:

Lots of similar work is going on in this regard in the open source, for example Joshua Vasquez and E3D. Prusa have also released a toolchanging machine. Most other projects target FDM printing exculsively, and each requires some machined parts: the hotplate is the only project I am aware of that accomplishes the same automated kinematic mount w/ only FDM printed parts.

Stable Tools

Here’s where it lacks; there’s just a few tool patterns for the time being:

Tools Roadmap

Now that the motion platforms are stabilized, I have a few tools in the works:

  • a lightweight, high-speed bldc spindle
  • a 3 DOF load / touch probe
  • an alignment / scanning camera
  • a rotary / knife tool

I’m curious about strange processes, so if you have ideas for tools-to-build that no-one else seems to have developed, send a note.


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