Monthly Archives

August 2015

ROBOX NEWS – AUGUST 2015

By | News | 2 Comments

August has been another busy month for the Robox team, while others have been on holiday enjoying the sunshine, our team has been plugging away at getting the next release of the AutoMaker™ ready, while undertaking the necessary updates and tests required for the launch of the dual material head.

HARDWARE UPDATE

This month has seen significant movements with the development of the dual material head, most notably we have made 50 heads on a temporary production line, not only allowing us to test the heads which come off the line, but also to test the production quality as the units are made.

These units are currently being shipped to the UK for further testing alongside the software – this is the final stage in what has been a very long process, but assuming everything goes to plan this will then lead to mass production of the dual material head – taking the Robox to the next level of 3D printing.

As with all plans, sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. The whole point of testing the software alongside the hardware is to ensure that when the final product is released it is reliable and efficient, so the next month will be indicative of when the dual material head will finally be launched.

SOFTWARE UPDATE

The software team have been working on the dual-material head workflow and tools that will help users import multi-material projects. Key features include auto-grouping and part separation on load. These features enable multi-material prints to be made using only STL files as input. We’ve also enhanced obj file load so that a single file can properly represent a multi-material print. Separate parts within a group can be assigned to a loaded material within AutoMaker™.

Two features that are useful whether you’re printing with dual materials or not are loose part separation and model z cut. Loose part separation allows you to load a single model file that has a set of physically separate parts in it and then manipulate the parts independently. Model z cut allows you to cut a tall model at an arbitrary height. AutoMaker™ fixes up the two parts so that they can be printed.

The release of the next version of AutoMaker™ (1.02.00) was pushed back to allow us to carry out improvements to small section printing. This was originally scheduled for the dual-material head release but we decided that the benefits were worth the delay. Estimated release of this version is now 14/9/15 – although we’ll release earlier if we’re happy with the results of our tests.

Chris and Ian will be publishing a video discussing some of the changes in 1.02.00 so keep an eye on www.cel-robox.com!

IN OTHER NEWS
smartreel new

We were delighted to announce several additions to the existing SmartReel™ range, including Woody, HIPS and ThermoChrome.

For those of you who missed the announcement, the new materials we now offer are as follows:

High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS):

  • Strong and stiff, less likely to shrink or warp
  • Unique as you can sand, glue, prime or paint prints
  • Allows beautiful, functional bespoke prints
  • Ideal for printing in conjunction with ABS as share similar mechanical properties
  • Uses Limonene as a solvent, leaving a nicer, cleaner finish

ThermoChrome Purple/Pink Thermal Colour Change:

  • Contains an additive which enables a colour changing feature – from deep purple when cold to pink when warm
  • Perfect for printing wearable items
  • Derived from the starch of plants, therefore is biodegradable
  • Good for the environment

Woody:

  • A foamed structure is activated during the printing process which mimics wood aesthetics
  • The foaming agent conceals laminate layers
  • Lightweight – has a density of 8 g/cm³ and is 35-40% lighter than ordinary PLA
  • Composed entirely of polymers – so excellent print quality comes without the risk of nozzle jams, and the surface of the printed items feels textured, resembling real wood

Sky Blue and Slime Green:

  • New SmartReel™ colours available in both PLA and ABS

PRESS COVERAGE
3D Artist review snip

We were delighted to see a very positive review of the Robox appear in 3D Artist Magazine this month, where the Robox received an overall score of 4 out of 5 stars, and the following final verdict:

“A fun little printer that’s perfect for both beginners and intermediate users, with impressively quick print times”.

As well as praising the quick print times, the review is also very positive about the ease of use of the AutoMaker™ software, how quick the printer is to set up, and the quality of the final print. The reviewer also praised the form factor of Robox as well as a build area which is impressively large for its overall compact size. The review also acknowledges how safe the machine is, particularly for children.

All in all the review concludes the Robox is the answer to easy desktop 3D printing and an impressive accomplishment.

INTRODUCTION TO THE CEL ROBOX TEAM: IAN HUDSON, LEAD SOFTWARE ENGINEER
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This month we’d like to introduce you to Ian Hudson, our lead software engineer and systems architect for the entire Robox project. Ian is not only the brains behind the excellent and unique design of the AutoMaker™ software, he’s also our IT and telecoms expert.

Two years ago Ian met our MD Chris Elsworthy, who shared his passion for the Robox project, and within a few weeks of meeting decided that becoming a stakeholder and contributor to a fascinating product with a great team was the way to go.

In Ian’s words, “As soon as I met Chris and saw the prototype Robox I was hooked. The opportunity of working with a talented designer who was passionate about not only the product but the influence it will have on society was too good to miss.”

Ian started out as an electronics technician apprentice at a Rediffusion Simulation – a flight simulator manufacturer. During his time he discovered that he was far better at writing software for computers than building them and this was the start of his career as a software engineer. After graduating with a degree in Computer and Electronic Engineering he continued his career creating the instructional systems that control tactical flight simulators.

He continued to build on his software engineering background and moved up the management chain whilst transitioning from simulation to defence then secure hosting and telecoms. He has held roles ranging from software engineer to project and development manager. During his time as a freelance consultant he’s been a solutions architect for large scale telecoms projects.

Today Ian is an integral part of the CEL team, and plays an invaluable role in the development of the Robox and its associated products.

 

 

Strong Shapes – A Robox 3D Printed Solution to a Vehicle Design Issue

By | Design, Robox User Blog, Stuff and Things | No Comments

Hi I’m Jack and I would like to share my experience of using my Robox, with regard to a component I designed and am now selling online. The guys and CEL were happy to hear my story and suggested I write a blog. Below is a short story of how I came up with the idea and what I did with it:

I first had the thought of the product when I was a passenger in a brand new Ford Fiesta, having a brainstorm of what things around the cabin I could 3d print. I knew that the vehicle was the U.K’s most sold car, and so there could be real demand If I came up with something significant. I initially focussed on a phone adaptor, located near the handbrake, but soon after noticed this very large gaping hole, situated just behind the handbrake lever. Essentially the plastic handbrake had a flange at the back, instead of a leather gaiter, which in the downwards position covered an opening. However in the upwards position this flange lowered into the car, leaving a ~5x3cm opening. This opening was situated approximately just down from the driving occupants top left hip, meaning if an item, such as car keys fell out of the persons pocket then it would fall down into this hole. Recovering items that were lost could not be done at short notice, requiring the centre console to be partly removed using specific tools, to gain access to the lower regions of the car. Imagine losing your car keys, what would you do!

At that point I had my Eureka moment! I could design a cover to stop this from happening. The next step was to confirm no one else had thought of the solution by having a look on the internet, using the car club forums. I came across a page, containing circa 100+ comments from people having lost valuables. Items from keys to lighters had been said to have been lost, causing real aggravation to customers. The section of the website had been viewed over 12,000 times, so at that point I knew there was demand for a solution.

Around work commitments I developed a concept over a 7 month time frame, using friends to trial my designs. I think to date I produced around 30 prototype designs, all designed on my home computer using a professional level cad program. This is where I really got to know my Robox and appreciate its capability. I opted for a third party filament, based on comments from the Robox community, choosing Colourfabb XT black and was impressed how easy it was to optimise through the Automaker software. I spent a long time making tweaks before coming up with a specific architecture, just optimising it around the printer, such as print time and material costs. Finally after some additional trialling I finalised my design and had a product ready for launch!

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Though initially intending to sell the product on eBay I opted to create my own website. After coming up with a suitable name; strongshapes, FYI my surname is Strong, I set about creating a website that had a professional image to potential customers and also support them after purchasing. I’m really happy with the results and am continually developing it further. The website went live in July and I am happy to report it is a success, people are actually buying my product! I am currently looking at ways of advertising as I find sales are relative to social media. Ultimately though I think when I make the costs back from purchasing the printer I will have reached a personal milestone. I don’t think it will be too long and additionally I have a local university offering to 3d print my design, moving up from prototyping, all possible thanks to my Robox!

Finally just to say that if you know anyone who has a Ford Fiesta 2012+ to have a look at my website and see if they could use this product. Also If at least I could ask readers who are on social media to share my website, and help support this Robox enthusiast!

www.strongshapes.co.uk

Thank you.

 

New Materials, Endless Possibilities

By | News | 9 Comments

In our quest to make the Robox one of the most functional 3D printers on the market we’re pleased to announce we have extended our current range of filaments. We now have in stock three brand new materials – HIPS, PLA ThermoChrome and Woody. In addition we have added four new materials to the existing SmartReel range.
No other 3D printer currently on the market supports and uses such a wide variety of materials, and this is just the start of our offerings, as in the coming months we will have some fantastic and exciting announcements to share as the possibilities of what you can do with the Robox become endless.

The launch of these new materials is particularly important as one of the key USPs of the Robox is its SmartReel™ system, which enables automatic material recognition and allows users to print a multitude of different materials.

The first material we’re excited to talk about is High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS).
cubes2

This high quality material is as strong and stiff as ABS, but is much easier to print with as it is less likely to shrink or warp. HIPS is a dissolvable filament that is frequently used as support material because it is so easily removable, however the material is also unique as you can sand, glue, prime or paint your prints. This extends the possibility of what you can produce on the Robox – beautiful, functional, bespoke prints decorated any way you want.

HIPS is also ideal for printing in conjunction with ABS as the mechanical properties of the two materials are very similar, and they need to be printed at similar temperatures. The primary difference between the two materials is HIPS uses Limonene as a solvent, which leaves a nicer, cleaner finish.

The second filament now in the SmartReel™ range is ThermoChrome Purple/Pink Thermal Colour Change.
strap 2

ThermoChrome, like normal PLA (Poly-Lactic Acid in full), is a thermoplastic which is extruded from the starch of plants, and as such, under the right conditions is biodegradable and therefore has a much lesser environmental impact than other thermoplastics. So for those of you who are rightly concerned about the planet, this filament is the one for you.

In reality, the ThermoChrome PLA filament prints just like normal PLA and it is hard to tell the difference on first look. However, the one feature of this filament which sets it apart from all others is the additive which enables a colour-changing feature. When the material is cold it is deep purple, but as it warms it changes colour to light pink – perfect when printing wearable items such as necklaces and wrist straps, bird houses (so that you can see when a bird is inside), bath thermometers and children’s toys .

Perhaps one of the most exciting filaments we are adding to the range is Woody.
boat 3

Woody has been supplied to us by PolyMaker, also known as PolyWood™. This product contains no actual wood – but you wouldn’t know it. Instead a foamed structure is activated during the printing process which mimics wood aesthetics – it is the only 3D printable foam material currently on the market. You often cannot tell a part has been 3D printed due to the foaming agent which conceals the laminate layers.

Woody is light weight, so imitates natural wood perfectly – with a density of just 0.8 g/cm³ the material is 35-40% lighter than ordinary PLA and is therefore perfect for printing any number of ‘wooden’ structures from dolls houses and the contents, to garden ornaments, chess sets, pen pots etc.

The material is composed entirely of polymers – unlike other examples which are blends of chopped wood powder and polymer – so excellent print quality comes without the risk of nozzle jams, and the surface of the printed items feels textured, resembling real wood.

We’ve also added four new SmartReel colours – Sky Blue and Slime Green, both available in PLA and ABS.

Our priority for the Robox is to bring our customers the very best in 3D printing materials, so we will be continuing to expand our range in the coming months.

We are currently testing a further 15 different nylons in an attempt to bring you the best of the bunch, most have printed extremely well and look great, but we want to make sure they are also tough, strong and flexible – the mechanical properties are just as important as the aesthetics.

And in addition we are set to partner with two of the biggest names in the 3D printer filament industry, to widen our range even further, further announcements to come soon so watch this space…

For those of you who have been thinking about purchasing a Robox, now is definitely the time to do so! To celebrate the introduction of our new materials, for a limited period we are offering the Robox at its normal RRP of £999.90, but with 3 sample reels of the NEW filaments included for FREE. For further details or to purchase click here http://robox.cel-uk.com/rbx01.html

 

Mod: Flexible filament with Robox

By | Design, Prototype Build, Stuff and Things | 14 Comments

A modification which will allow Robox users to print with flexible filaments such as Ninjaflex. Bowden tube printers struggle with flex materials but the patented needle valves on Robox give excellent results.

In future we will produce extruders with this part as standard, this mod is for reference only. We are working on the details of an upgrade service which when purchased will allow your Robox to be updated with the latest available parts.

WARNING! This mod is not supported by CEL or it’s resellers, any changes to your Robox or changes which affect it will not be covered by warranty.

WARNING! Never remove or connect any plugs or covers while power is supplied to Robox via the mains plug or by USB.

 

IMG_0987IMG_0985

This mod prevents flexible filament (tested with Ninjaflex) from distorting in the gears of the extruder. Details of the mod are deliberately sparse as this should only be attempted by skilled people familiar with the required tools and with Robox.

Do not open any casing or remove any cables while power is present. Leaving Robox completely unplugged – including USB and mains cables – for at least 30 mins will allow capacitors to discharge and reduce the chance of a shock.

flexinsert

It requires printing of the small part shown above (flex_material_part.stl – print some spares before removing your extruder) which fits between the 2 filament drive wheels without stopping the filament from being driven by these wheels. To fit the part some of the extruder housing needs to be cut away from 2 parts of the extruder housing.

IMG_0993IMG_0992

Above: Top part is modified, bottom is original.

Below: It is very important that the filament is not trapped by the new part. Use a piece of filament put through the central hole to keep the new part in place while marking prior to cutting.

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The depth of the cut is equal on each side. Take care to keep cuts square and neat, we used a grinder similar to a Dremel.

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Remove small amounts of material and test the assembly often to ensure the fit is good.

Images below left for reference.

 

IMG_0984 IMG_0983  IMG_1004 IMG_1003    IMG_0994   IMG_0991 IMG_0990 IMG_0988