Monthly Archives

October 2015

NEW PRODUCTS, NEW SERVICES

By | News, Robox User Blog | No Comments

We are delighted to announce 3 new services to ensure our existing Robox customers continue to experience the best with their units, by having access to the latest hardware and software without having to lift a finger.

Our priority has always been to try and provide good customer service, and find ways of making the whole 3D printing experience smooth and straight-forward for Robox users. We’re hoping that by introducing these services we’re making another positive step in that direction.

Full System Overhaul Service

The complete system overhaul is for customers who want to benefit from the latest Robox parts and upgrades, without having to do any of the work themselves.

The research and development team at CEL HQ are constantly making improvements, upgrades and tweaks to both the Robox hardware and software to make the printing experience better and better.

Our expert engineers will completely strip your Robox unit back to the bare basics, and assess it for any possible wear and tear or damage. A customised action plan will be created for the unit depending on its requirements, including a bespoke new parts list.

Once our team has installed the latest hardware parts they will conduct a string of tests and ensure everything is running smoothly alongside the latest version of the Automaker™ software. Finally, the unit will be cleaned up and sent back out to you, good as new!

Dual Material Upgrade Service and Full System Overhaul

This package includes everything we’ve detailed above, and more. The service is specifically for those customers who have invested in the brand new dual printing technology, but don’t want to install the new head themselves.

While our research and development team have designed the Dual Material head to be relatively easy to install, we acknowledge that not all of our customers will have the time, or the technical know-how, to carry out the upgrade themselves.

Within a few days our team will ensure your Robox is capable of producing top quality prints with any two materials at a time, but in addition, our expert engineers will also carry out a Full System Overhaul.

1 Year Business / Pro User Contract

Many of our customers rely on the Robox 3D printer to carry out their everyday working lives – and if they experience a technical error, however small, this can obviously affect productivity and deadlines.

To ensure our customers can carry on printing, regardless of what is happening with their machine, we have introduced a service contract for business users, who need the assurance that they will have a working machine within a single working day of reporting a fault.

Anyone who has owned a Robox for less than 6 months can sign up for this service. The key benefit is that if a Robox needs to be sent in-house for servicing, we will send another out immediately from our bank of machines, which means customers will be to printing in no time at all.

 

To find out more, or to purchase one of these services please visit the Robox Services Page

 

The key thing to note is that by investing in either of these services, and by sending your Robox in-house for testing and upgrade, you are reducing any risk of damage to the machine, and possible invalidation of your warranty.

 

TOP 10 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

By | Design, Robox User Blog, Stuff and Things | One Comment
  1. Can I design things in AutoMaker ?

AutoMaker is our software for controlling the robox hardware; it allows you to send your design to the printer and set any parameters you need to get your design made. You can change the size, quality and strength of the print you’re about to start but currently you can’t design an object from scratch.  AutoMaker in also integrated with the world’s largest library of proven 3D printable designs – ‘My Mini Factory’.  You can download and place some of the millions of objects contained in the library and even customize some of them before printing in the material and colour of your choice.

  1. What will I print ?

Anything you want or desire!! I know, this doesn’t really help when you’ve been given a space age box of tricks. We would suggest browsing one of the online libraries to see what kind of things other people are printing – this can give you inspiration about how you can use your 3D printer to fix problems around the home, make toys, fashion items, decorations, replacement parts and so much more… 3D printed parts can be practical or just plain fun, the material is cheap so don’t be scared to have a play and print something just for fun.

  1. Where do I download things to print ?

There are lots of online libraries of parts to download and print, some these can be customized before you download them and all can be tweaked when you’ve got them. Our favourite repository is ‘My Mini Factory’ because they print all the items before uploading to make sure they are printable.  Not all libraries do this so there will be some downloads which aren’t specifically designed for 3D printing.

  1. What setup is required out of the box ?

To get 3D printing with Robox all you need to do is install the AutoMaker Software, unpack and connect the Robox to your PC and install the filament. Everything else will be done by the hardware itself. (a short video here)

  1. What ongoing maintenance is required ?

For normal users there is no maintenance other than keeping the Robox clean and tidy. For heavy users we include some high temperature oil that should be applied to the Y and X rails if the Robox makes an unusual noise while moving.

  1. How much does it cost to print ?

There is nearly no wastage when using Robox,  apart from a very small purge before a print, when swapping types of material and if you elected to use support material to make difficult shape objects. Cost is dependent on the type of material the Robox is consuming but typically it costs around £0.042 per gram and the cost of an object can be measured by the weight of material used. For example, a print case may use 18g of material so its cost to make is 18 x £0.042 = £0.77. The cost of electricity is less than a light bulb so even long prints will be extremely low cost. (all the different types of filament)

  1. Why do I need a 3D printer ?

If you are someone who enjoys making things rather than buying stock items, or if you want to find a solution for something you really need, 3D printing is for you. With a 3D printer you can easily realize all the designs you’ve been storing in your mind. Unlike all other skilled ways of making objects because the design is created on a computer using computer Aided Design(CAD) software you can improve your design every time you make it.  And unlike any other process, there are no additional costs involved so you can change and improve designs as many times as you want.

  1. What can a 3D printer make ?

You will often hear that “3D printers can make anything!!” and this is true, but the easiest things to print are those that have been designed for the process. Like any manufacturing technique the thing you want to make has to be designed in such a way as to take advantage of the process. There are things that 3D printers can make that some other manufacturing processes find impossible and there are aspects of designs that 3D printing struggles to do, with this in mind it’s important to understand the process so your designs aren’t restricted by your tools.  But to give some tangible examples of what desktop 3D printers can make, you could print door hinges and knobs, cutlery and cake cutters, pen pots and school homework accessories, bespoke decorative items for the house, gifts for loved one, the list is endless.

  1. What if the thing I want doesn’t fit onto Robox’s bed ?

You will be surprised what will fit into a Robox.  And most things around the house can fit into the palm of your hand, and will therefore fit onto the Robox bed.  A good way to find out what you can print inside a Robox is to make a cardboard box with the internal dimensions of 210 x 150 x 100mm.  Place any object you imagine you’d like to print into the box and you’ll discover that most things will fit.  If you do find something that won’t fit it’s very easy to cut the model into several parts and print each part next to each other or in separate jobs. Free software such as Microsoft Builder can easily cut up your models. We are soon going to include this function into our AutoMaker Software.

  1. Why isn’t it sticking to the bed ?

Prints that don’t stick to the bed are the most common reasons for failed prints. Even though we have a revolutionary ThermoSurface to remove the need for any preparation, if the head height isn’t calibrated correctly the type of bed surface can’t help. There are a few steps you can take to make sure your prints stick; use the supplied wipes to remove any finger prints or debris from the bed; ensure you head is calibrated; and the filament you are using is kept dry and in the sealed bag when not being used. If you still have trouble with first layer adhesion there are software options to increase the contact area of your part with the bed.  Brim, raft and support will add material to the first layer and thus improve adhesion. (more info. here)

Not the right order I’d say, but they are definitely the questions I get asked a lot…

MODIFI3D

By | Stuff and Things | No Comments

Check out the excellent new Kickstarter campaign from Robox customer Steelmans3D – it’s a low-cost finishing/repair solution for your 3D prints. He’s already making excellent progress having doubled his target, but we think it’s a great idea at a great price so be sure to take a look!

You can visit his website here for 3D printing bureau services, or check out his Kickstarter campaign here.

The QuickFill comeback

By | Design, Software Updates | 4 Comments

QuickFill is currently one of the most underutilized features of the Robox. The idea is that the Fine nozzle prints perfect perimeters, whilst the unseen infill is printed fast using the larger fill nozzle. The original Robox single material head has been designed entirely around this idea, with the ability to quickly switch between the fine and fill nozzles, both being fed the same material from the same extruder.

2 owl

Why was QuickFill removed from the default settings?

The simple answer is that we were not happy with the quality of output from the Robox when QuickFill was enabled. Artifacts being left after the fill nozzle closed meant that the parts didn’t look particularly good at all. It’s always been possible to create a custom QuickFill profile, but we don’t want to create a default that locks people into rubbish prints! With recent changes to the post processor, improved control over the needle valves, and a little bit of Maths thrown in for good measure, we’ve improved print quality and subsequently made QuickFill a viable tool once again.

quickfill

What are the benefits of QuickFill?

QuickFill can speed up a print without sacrificing quality. If we use Slic3r to create parts, we can utilize a feature called ‘infill every # layers’. This allows for us to only print infill on a specified layer, in most cases, this is every third layer. The amount of time saved can depend entirely on the size of the part, a 25mm (1 inch) cube will take approximately 2hours and 20 minutes using the fine (100 micron) profile and 1 hours 50 minutes using a QuickFill profile combination of fine (100 micron) perimeters with fill nozzle infill every 3 layers. When printing something slightly larger, and more complex, QuickFill really comes into its own. The owl pictured below takes approximately 12 hours and 10 minutes, using the QuickFill profile combination of fine (100 micron) perimeters with fill nozzle infill every 3 layers, the owl only takes 5 hours and 10 minutes!

1 owl

When will I be able to select Quickfill in Automaker? Will it replace the default profiles?

We’re hoping to release the QuickFill profiles in an upcoming version of Automaker. We don’t intend to replace the default normal and fine profiles, instead we want to implement a Quickfill on/off slider, much like the Raft and support selections to provide options to those who want them. If you want to help us test our current QuickFill profiles, or you want to create your own, head over to our QuickFill Community Testing page on our forums here.

Dual material Robox upgrades are close

By | Chris Elsworthy Design Blog, Design, Materials, News, Prototype Build, Software Updates | 28 Comments

It has been a little while since we last updated you on where we are with the dual material head, but I hope we can be forgiven for the lack of communication – especially as the real reason for this is that the entire CEL team have had their heads down testing the latest prototypes for faults, fact finding, and future proofing.

But we feel an update now is timely, as we are getting so close to being able to launch the new head to market; we really are almost at the end of what feels like a very long development journey.

RBX01-EX_2_EXTRUDERS_side

Software Update

RBX01-EX_2_EXTRUDERSSoftware is the biggest challenge as there really isn’t a good dual material system on the market to use as a template and both the slice engines we currently use aren’t able to deal with dual material prints in a consistent manner. This means we essentially had to start from scratch creating innovative software for this particular hardware development.

Before we get deep into the dual material system progress it’s worth mentioning what we’ve done to the software in preparation for this momentous task.

For the release of AutoMaker 1.02 we spent a good amount of time restructuring and developing the post processor.  We gained a much better understanding of where and how to open and close the needle valves, how to integrate the material the needle ejected into the model and how this is going to affect dual material printing.

For the upcoming version of AutoMaker we’ve actually recoded the post processor from scratch, our new level of understanding was restricted by our previous work. This updated thinking has gone into the current version of AutoMaker and is the backbone of dual-material capable AutoMaker version 2.

 

Right back to dual material and where we are now….

There are a lot of new requirements needed to take a multitude of models and turn them into a multi material print. We wanted the ability to take a 3D model, break it into individual parts and Dual Material AutoMakerallow the user to easily select which part was going to be assigned to which material.

Because most models which require multiple materials will need two or more separate parts, we wanted to add Group/Ungroup and model splitting. The Group/Ungroup and model splitting all have to be combined with the original transform functions so that we keep the parts’ relative position.

Dual Material AutoMaker bAfter we started to look closely at the model files  AutoMaker was expected to handle we found a very high percentage had imperfections – not normally a problem as the slice engines do some simple repair work – but a bigger problem if you’re trying to bisect the data and then add back in the missing vertexes, polylines and faces. We’ve not fully finished this aspect of the software and currently only warn users of the imperfection in the models that may cause problems later.

We now have a software tool that allows us to perform all of the above functions and it’s helping us finish the development of all the hardware.

The development of the software will continue up to and beyond the date you receive your new hardware, but for the first version of AutoMaker which is capable of doing dual material prints we have tried to keep the functionality to a minimum so that we can ensure stability.

 

RBX01-R2_adding_reel

Hardware Update

After a few false starts we’ve now got working dual material heads and an innovative second reel holder complete with reader. We are also taking a very close look at the management of the Bowden tubes and cables between the x-carriage and chassis.

RBX01-R2_LOADING_REEL

We were worried that the differing flexibility in filaments would affect the homing accuracy and thus distort the mapping of the bed giving poor first layers. We’ve made a fancy new cable chain to take the data and power cable and slightly constrained the Bowden tubes which now both reference the X-rails rather than the carriage.. (sorry if this is too geeky), basically we have more stuff to help improve probing and tidiness.

Another thing that only the people in the know would notice is that we have added a USB socket into the build chamber. It’s been there from the beginning – hidden away in the centre of the reel – but we’ve never got round to exposing it. We thought as we were designing a new PCB for the dual reel holder we would add the missing plug so you can start playing with it too.

The needle valve system has been extremely important in the quality of printing that Robox can achieve when talking about single material prints, removing all the stringing from one island to the next. When you use this innovative system with a dual material head it starts to become even more impressive.

All the dual material prints we’ve seen from other manufacturers have to include some sort of wipe tower, ooze screen, long cool down / heat up period, or purge sequence. None of this is necessary if your print head can stop the flow of material at its nozzle tip like the Robox can. Our very first print from the new system was one of the best we’ve seen. So now we’ve worked out how the system works, we’ve got working samples, and we are producing great print results.RBX01-DM_2HEADS_1OPEN

The final step is to ensure that all materials will flow through the new hardware smoothly, tidy-up the interface and test, test, test… I can’t tell you how big a chunk of work this last section is. We need to try every single combination of user input and output and not just once, on one machine. This needs hundreds of times on many printers by many different people to ensure that all the logic we’ve put into the software and hardware doesn’t crumble when given to a user who hasn’t been involved in the development.  With this in mind we’re now at the stage where we’re asking some of our customers who have placed pre-orders to beta test the first batch of hardware from the final production line.

So all in all, we’re really, really close.  If it sounds like we’re no further forward than last time – bearing in mind we finished our last update by saying we were “testing, testing, testing” – please be assured we are.  But after testing comes tweaking, and then more testing!

RBX01-DM_side_&USB_internal

RBX01-R2

So the final date is……???

We can’t say for sure, at the moment things are looking great and we hope to be able to launch the dual material head end of November, as per our last post.  If not then, early December.  But to reiterate the sentiments we made last time, we will only release the head if we’re confident it’s going to produce excellent results for everyone.

 

And lastly….

THANK YOU once again for your unwavering support, stick with us, as in just a couple of months the Robox 3D printer will make its mark as something completely different from anything else out there on the market – and we want you there with us to enjoy the ride.

RBX01-DM_internal_&cablechain

Oh you want a picture of a dual material print? Well….here is a sample of what we have to come.

dualmaterialprint_spiral_cone

ROBOX NOW AVAILABLE AT RS

By | News | No Comments

Here at CEL we’re careful about who we work with, as we want to partner up with companies who understand what we are trying to achieve as a business, and which share our passion for raising the awareness of 3D printing.

This is why we are so excited about our new relationship with RS, world’s leading high-service distributor of electronics, automation and control components, tools and consumables, which has made the Robox available to its customers today.

This allows 3D printing fans, makers, people in the education field and engineers – whether electronics, mechanical or product – to benefit from the rapid prototyping capabilities Robox has to offer.

Ben Lawton, Global Head of Tools and Consumables at RS, adds: “We’re excited to be able to offer such a highly versatile 3D printer like Robox to our customers, enabling them to create professional quality prints for rapid prototyping for a range of disciplines. The printer’s ease-of-use, competitive price and future-proof upgradable design potentially makes it the complete micro-manufacturing solution – whether you’re a maker at home, creator at school or professional engineer.”

RS brings great 3D design software, DesignSpark Mechanical, with a huge library of off-the-shelf components to users, which enables engineers to seamlessly design parts and order hardware to finish their projects.

Chris Elsworthy of CEL Robox continues: “We are particularly excited to be partnering with RS, as not only do they allow us to present Robox to customers who have a keen interest in making and design, but they also have a large active community of engineers who are now developing the next generation of products.”

http://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/3d-printers/9031321/