Possibility of tool change with extra linear modules

With the announcement of the new linear modules, it seems like some people are going to have quite a few extra servomotors (and half decent linear rails) lying around.

I’m curious if it could be used to build a tool change system, I’m guessing we could relatively easily talk to an extra set of “linear modules” with just a few modifications to the firmware (should be able to teach it to understand M280 to control the extra servos, or perhaps dig into the changes used to enable the 4th axis and repeat that for some more “axes” that allow controlling a tool changer), but I’m curious to hear others’ thoughts (or, it’d be great if anyone with spare linear modules could try playing with some firmware mods to see if they can control them separately).

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I’d love an automatic tool changer!

Unfortunately I think it would probably be very difficult to implement without a redesign of the spindle.

Although, if you had multiple cnc modules and created an indexing system (similar to those old burgmaster drill presses) you might be able to run multiple tools by indexing the heads.

I was more thinking about changing toolheads, going from 3dp to cnc or something (maybe multiple 3dp heads)

@nivekmai making it recognize extra rails is one thing, actually making it functional is a whole other ball game. Even if you got it to recognize the extra rails, exactly how would it do tool changes? You can only have 1 x axis, I don’t really see what you’re trying to visualize.

Easy, just get a pair of KUKA articulating arms next to the snapmaker to pick the toolhead off the new linear rail and install on the snapmaker


@brent113 ahhh spend $20k just to do something because we can, makes sense to me! :rofl:

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Some kind of rotational turret arrangement, maybe? Have three heads spaced equidistant on a circle, each on a servo-actuated hinge that will allow them to point up or down. To change the head, you flip them all up and the entire assemblage rotates to place the desired head at the front. The head in use is then flipped down (which also activates a switch so that it’s the one connected to the cable back to the controller).

If implemented, it would be far too heavy for actual use, of course, and be an additional problem when trying to get filament to feed correctly. And the enclosure would need to be redesigned. :sweat_smile:

Yea, I was thinking of a magazine like system on a rail, I think he would work mechanically, but I actually underestimated the software problem. IIUC, SM doesn’t support hot swapping the heads while the machine is powered on anyways, so anything that could be cool to do with the system wouldn’t work, since you’d need to reboot in the middle, and there’s 0 chance you’re saving the job between those. Unless you did it all by controlling everything from some custom built setup attached to the usb and sending commands over terminal, a la octoprint. At that point though, you might as well be building the whole controller yourself (and probably just building something with a duet board), so going through SM’s firmware is just an unnecessary hurdle.

@nivekmai it isn’t software that is the issue with that, it’s hardware, there is actually an aftermarket tool changer made by wham bam and turns a print head that is not hot swappable into one that is. While it most definitely will not work with the Snapmaker because Snapmaker’s linear modules are unique only to them, it does tell me that the feat of making a non hot swappable into a hot swappable has already been done and is certainly not out of the realm of possibility.