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  • Dr. Michael Maughan
Team Name D3-TIG
Duration Fall 2017 - Spring 2018
  • Yazeed Alotaibi EE
  • Sam Schaffer EE
  • Zachary Hacker ME
  • Nathan Pabst ME

Our project goal is to design and build a functioning prototype of the VandalForge V2 3D printer to include: a more user friendly interface, ease of manufacturability, and increase printing capability while maintaining a relatively low manufacturing cost to allow for future retail sale.

Problem Definition[edit]

Design and build a functioning prototype of the VandalForge V2 3D printer to include: a more user friendly interface, ease of manufacturability, and increase printing capability while maintaining a relatively low manufacturing cost to allow for future retail sale.


For previous work, there were many works that have been. For example, Pre-built MIG welder for print head, and Smoothieboard x5 to control 3d printer motion. There are a lot of ways to improve on previous design: First, More control over weld characteristics: Wire-feed and welder power should be independent, AC and DC welds, and Variable power in frequencies. Second, Easier to put together/assemble. Third, Modular design, with welder and printer space separate. Our solution: TIG Welder completely controlled by microcontroller: TIG vs MIG welders, TIG welders: separate electrode and wire feed, and MIG welders: the wire (welded material) is the electrode.


Our Solutions Path TIG welding:

Welding is a fabrication or sculptural process that joins materials, usually metals or thermoplastics, by causing fusion, which is distinct from lower temperature metal-joining techniques such as brazing and soldering, which do not melt the base metal. In addition to melting the base metal, a filler material is typically added to the joint to form a pool of molten material (the weld pool) that cools to form a joint that is usually stronger than the base material. Pressure may also be used in conjunction with heat, or by itself, to produce a weld. Welding also requires a form of shield to protect the filler metals or melted metals from being contaminated or oxidized.


Mig and Tig welding[edit]

We are using a TIG welder instead of a MIG welder. The major difference between Mig and Tig welding is that one process uses a continuously feeding wire (MIG) and the other you use long welding rods and slowly feed them into the weld puddle (TIG). MIG and TIG welding both use an electric arc to make the weld. MIG welding is a very simple and easy process to learn compared to learning how to TIG weld. The technical names for these are metal inert gas (MIG), and tungsten inert gas (TIG). A MIG welder works by using a continuously feeding spool of welding wire that burns, melts and fuses both the base and parent metals together. You can weld a variety of materials such as mild steel, stainless steel and aluminum. A range of material thicknesses can be welded from thin gauge sheet metal right up to heavier structural plates. TIG welding on the other hand is more commonly used for your thinner gauge materials. Items that are made with this process are things like kitchen sinks and tool boxes. The biggest benefit is that you can get your power down really low and not blow through the metal. Pipe welding and other heavier tasks can also be performed, you just need to have a unit that is capable of putting out the amount of power that you need. The main difference between MIG and TIG welding is that one method uses a continuously feeding electrode and is a very fast way of putting down welds. The other way is a much more fine and delicate welding technique. The most versatile machine is the TIG welder as you can weld many different types of metals. The downside is that it is very slow. For anybody wanting to do some welding at home your better choice of machine to buy would have to be the wire feeding MIG welder.


Actually, there are many reasons that proof smoothieboard is the best option: Online support/documentation for 3D printing, Included programs and code with libraries, 5 stepper motor driver outputs, I2C, SPI, and enough GPIO pins, and Used on previous version, so much of the same code applies.


Fully functioning prototype of a TFG 3D printer, which is capable of printing steel parts for less than $2,000.


Tig, DC/AC, reliable low current, high frequency start

Power/control NEMA17 motors and have I/O

22 in x 30 in x 22 in

12 in x 12 in x 8 in Printhead moves in all 3 axes

Few fasteners, no welding


Front door, side window

Camera turns on

Estimated measurement of "stick out"

Design allows later addition of

Convective cooling, with an option to add on liquid cooling later

Detachable components used with 2-bolt anchor

Insulation for weld loop/components is well thought out and implemented

Hole in the top of the enclosure with attachment for ventilation

Semi automated (On/Off only)

Prototype complete/testing before end of fall semester



Welding: TIG welding is a welding technology that uses an electric arc to heat/melt an area of the material in question. The arc can then be used to move around the base metal to some extent, or typically a metal rod or wire is added into the melted zone (otherwise known as the puddle) to act as filling material. We learned that TIG uses constant current with variable voltage to keep the electric arc stable.


Microcontroller Options:

Control system: The control system of the 3D printer must govern multiple systems. First, it must control the XYZ movement of the printer. Second, it must control the characteristics of the weld by changing the power applied. Third, it must use feedback loops to ensure that the whole system runs smoothly, with as little human intervention as possible. To fill these requirements, we decided to use the Smoothieboard x5, given that the board has enough stepper motor outputs, as well as GPIO pins, to facilitate our system control.


With 3D printing there are multiple well known motion control arrangements. We chose to go with what’s known as a CORE-XY motion system for several reasons. The first reason relates to client requirements, as the project mandates that we use a box style frame. With a box style frame the most efficient use of space for anything but a very small printer is to have the print head, or in our case a TIG nozzle and wire feed system, mobile in both the X and Y directions. To do this there are two common belt setups, one is called Hbot and the other is the aforementioned CORE-XY. While the Hbot is simpler, requiring significantly less belting and fewer pulleys, it applies a torquing force to the XY gantry that we concluded was less desirable than the extra cost and complication of implementing the CORE-XY system. In our design we also have to allow for a very stiff metal print bed that has active cooling to remove the heat from the welding process. In this we decided to have the print bed fixed and thus move the XY motion system in the Z direction as well. In doing this, we realized why every commercial printer, off the shelf kit and home build plans move the bed in the Z direction rather than the the XY system. It’s because moving the the XY system in the vertical is a lot more work. When moving only the bed the only forces that really need consideration are the vertical force of supporting the weight. When moving the XY system the vertical force of the system must be considered as well as dynamic forces on the system of the moving print head.

Lead Instructor and Technical Advisor Meetings[edit]

Every week we meet with our lead instructor/client to go over the previous week's project and ask any questions we needed answered.

Every week we had another meeting for just the team, this is where we discussed the project, and made most of our final team decisions.

Team Information[edit]

Team Member: Major: Graduation Date: Email: Project Responsibilities:
Yazeed Alotaibi
  • BS in Electrical Engineering
Fall 2017
Sam Schaffer
  • BS in Electrical Engineering
  • BS in Computer Engineering
May 2018 scha3720@vandals.uidaho.edu
  • Controlling the welder via microcontroller, and powering all components
  • Incorporating electrical safety features
Zachary Hacker
  • BS in Mechanical Engineering
May 2018 hack3582@vandals.uidaho.edu
  • Motion system design
  • Enclosure design and motion system incorporation
Nathan Pabst
  • BS in Mechanical Engineering
  • BS in Physics, General Emphasis
  • Minor in Mathematics
Fall 2018 pabs5886@vandals.uidaho.edu
  • Take an active part in all design decisions and contingency/fringe planning
  • Incorporation of welder into the motion system/final assembly
  • Print bed configuration
  • Assist in soldering/desoldering components along with PCB configuration
  • Assist with Wikipage

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