Monthly Archives

November 2013

More about CEL

By | News | No Comments

There are more 3d printers being announced all the time, it’s not surprising to see comments such as
“Another day Another Printer” Jack @ 3deas.com.

So I’d like to tell you more about CEL and why we will be able to design and manufacture the best consumer 3d printer.

In 2006 Chris Elsworthy met Kenneth Tam in a taxi in Hong Kong on the way to discuss a manufacturing process for another project  where Chris was working as a Design Engineer. They got talking about power tools and a design Chris had started that would allow a case of tools to have a huge amount of additional function – POWER8workshop. Kenneth’s manufacturing connections are extensive, a massive resource of manufacturing and component acquisition, he saw the value in the POWER8 and both he and Chris left their jobs and started CEL together.

POWER8workshop is a tool box with a set of cordless 18V power tools inside that each have additional functions. The drill detaches from its handle and fits onto the case to create a drill press/pillar drill. The circular saw flips and attaches to the lid to create a table saw. Other tools combine in different ways to create a huge range of functionality and it all packs away into a compact and portable case. The design of this product has been applauded by everyone who has seen it and represented a lot of design hours and millions of pounds of investment into tooling and electronics design. Several patents protect the design or POWER8workshop and its components. This high standard of mass manufacturing allowed CEL to continue through a tough recession to keep designing upgrades and making great tools.

In 2006 we had a single product, around 10 items making up the POWER8workshop. In 2013 we have several hundred products which we have designed and manufacture in several factories. These products are distributed all over the world where they are promoted, sold and serviced. Our UK site www.cel-uk.com is a showcase of our design and manufacturing capabilities.

We have close contact with our customer base and design tools to meet specific needs. Feedback and suggestions have allowed us to improve designs, components, accessories and even the combinations we sell the tools in. We intend to continue and improve this feedback system into the development of Robox. Your input will help us to make the first release of Robox a success, following this first release your suggestions and stories will help us to further improve the design, to add extra features or to make changes that improve productivity, reliability and the whole user experience.

So we have all this experience in design and manufacturing, why do we need your help?
Robox is a simple machine but it has a huge range of variables, there are more variations in all aspects of this device than we could ever test alone. Variation in what goes into the machine such as consistent thickness of filament, it’s water content, the quality and purity of the material. Then there are all the types of material that can be fed into the machine and the additional variation in those. The extruder feeds the filament to the FFF head the temperature needs to be set to match the speed of extrusion so that the pressure is maintained to the print nozzle, again this varies based on the material and is affected by ambient temperature and humidity.  Next the bed needs to be suitable to accept the melted filament. Which material is best? Which temperature is best?
With the material melted correctly the head pressurised, the bed set up and at temperature we can begin laying down material. But how fast should the nozzle move, how far from the bed should it be? When should the nozzle close and how fast? When the nozzles swap from large to small should we wait while the outer perimeter hardens, how long? What is the best speed/temperature setting for a bridge or overhang of 20°, or for 45°? How should the printer be set for multi-colour or multi-material prints? What if the ambient temperature is extreme? What is going to happen when the bed is used 5000 times or more?

The list of variable conditions and settings we need to test is immense, we will simplify what we can into an easy to use program but need a test base of users to really nail down a set of instructions that can get the best from our printer and materials. Automaker™ is the name of the software,  we are lucky to have some brilliant programmers on board but this new software needs just as much testing as the physical parts and consumables of the printer.
We have the first parts from our factory scattered around the office in various states of assembly and our first samples of the best filament we could find have just arrived (it prints beautifully!).

CEL is not just another startup that had a good idea, we are more than capable of reaching our goals and delivering on our promises. There are a lot of other printers competing in the race for your interest and ultimately for you to invest in. Robox will be the first to arrive at the finish line ready to use and complete. We know this because we have done it before, CEL is not just “Another  Printer”.

Praise for CEL power tool products from the Dragons Den program broadcast on BBC  in 2010 –

Absolutely some of the best products I've seen come into The Den, you are a product genius.

Peter Jones - BBC Dragons Den

Its very impressive, you've got really good product there.

Deborah Meaden - BBC Dragons Den

I thought that that box was amazing. Really good.

James Caan - BBC Dragons Den

You're a great designer, it's a great product.

Duncan Bannatyne - BBC Dragons Den

To design something like this, which is practical, that is great British know how. Its fabulous.

Theo Paphitis - BBC Dragons Den

 

3D Print bed material choices

By | Prototype Build | 3 Comments

Robox® has a removable print bed, it simply clips in on top of the heater element. This allows us to provide a range of bed surfaces for different fused filament fabrication (FFF) or machining purposes when a different head is fitted to Robox. We are testing several materials to select one to be the standard bed for shipping with Robox, additional beds will be available that provide different performance on certain prints.

A lot of Robox users will tend to make most of their prints using PLA because it gives good results very quickly and easily with lower print temperatures and less shrinkage as it cools. ABS is much better for prototypes and items that will be used for more than display or visual checks, it is very strong and can be machined following printing, eg sanded or drilled without melting.

Our tests have shown that there are a few bed materials that have all the right properties to make an excellent all round print bed, we are testing the best way to make these beds remain flat over a range of temperatures and remain usable after a large number of prints, importantly they must be able to transfer heat into the printed parts to control shrinkage and the part must remain stuck to the surface.

Currently Glass and ThermoSurface are standing out as good options. We could supply the first FFF versions of Robox with either of these beds and it would perform very well.

We are tending to use a ThermoSurface sheet as our print bed as most of our prints these days are in ABS. The ThermoSurface bed when used in a controlled environment allows us to print objects using ABS that would often detach from the bed or warp and cause unwanted variations in the shape and finish of the printed part if we printed using a glass bed.

The perfectly flat surface of the bed is very important for many printed parts, particularly larger parts, ThermoSurface can deform much more than glass. This can effect the bottom surface of the part and the heat transfer from the heated bed underneath.
Glass on the other hand is naturally flat and extremely stable through a huge range of temperature or chemical environments. If we were only to offer printing in PLA then the glass bed would be an excellent option.

Glass is cheaper than any of the other materials we are testing, it can be simply cut to shape while other beds will require molding or other processes to work as we intend them too.

What would users want? A cheaper option that will cover the majority of their printing needs? Or a more expensive option that will allow a bigger range of materials and model shapes but which may need replacing after a certain number of prints? The various beds we make will all be available as add on or replacement items so a user can have the best properties of all of these beds. The question is which one do we include in the first package?

 

The image in this post is from www.nationmaster.com

 

A quick espresso cup design that can be spiral printed - haven't had time to test the design yet, the Robox sample is being used by Peter at the moment!

3D Printed future: Designing for Spiral Printing

By | Chris Elsworthy Design Blog, Prototype Build | 5 Comments

Over the weekend, between taking the kids to birthday parties (Happy Birthday Addy!) and clubs, I experimented with Robox and spiral printing. Having downloaded the obligatory vases and sliced them using the Slic3r experimental spiral print function, it was really quick to get some good results and I was pleased with the performance of Robox. After getting bored with vases, I CAD’ed up a Robox version and printed it, which was good but left me thinking there must be more to spiral print than vases…

IMG_1475

Vases 100mm tall, 0.15mm layer height, 1mm wall printed using the 0.8mm nozzle.

The quality of prints were fantastic, in-fact some of the best surface finishes I’ve seen from a 3D printer, but what I was most impressed with was the speed and ease they were produced. One of the benefits of Robox is that due to it’s large nozzle (0.8mm), we can print a single outside perimeter that is 1mm thick, meaning great quality rigid prints, fast.

Why can’t everything be this easy to print?  –  We need to start designing products and parts that take advantage of this new manufacturing technique – I don’t just mean orienting them in the build chamber and slapping a flat bottom on so the part will stick to the bed, but really designing things that can be better if made with a 3D printer. One of the things we’ve been printing a lot in the office is a whole lot of espresso cups (don’t ask why, you’ll find out later) which are taking ages… but spiral printing could not only make them quicker to print but also have a better surface finish and introduce more features. Why not design the cup so each layer has a single profile, handle and all, and vary the wall thickness where needed? You could even have an inner and outer wall like a Thermos flask to keep your coffee hot and the outer surface of the cup cool.