CEL traditionally is a hardware development company and the Robox project has been treated no differently; with the main focus to date being to get the hardware into the market – i.e. Robox. All the software versions which have been released to date have been focussed on the development of the hardware.
We have just released a new version of Automaker which changes all of this – Automaker 1.01.
All the interactions which happen between the user and the Robox goes through the software, so it needs to reflect the innovation as much as the hardware does. The software is no longer just a development tool for the hardware, it is as big a part of the project as any other aspect of the Robox.
One of the foremost questions we get asked by news user of 3D printers is “what would I print?” And they are quite right to ask this question as most people in the past have bought items for the house, replacement parts, artefacts etc and not even considered making them themselves. This hasn’t stopped people with the ability to draw their own 3D models to do so, but not everyone wants to or can draw in 3D dimensions, so to answer this question we have teamed up with MyMiniFactory, Europe’s largest curated repository of 3D printable designs. This enables people who can’t or don’t want to learn how to design 3D models themselves, to go into the library and select designs to download and print without having to do any of the design work. This puts the Robox project into a new category of 3D printers. We are now amongst the very elite systems on the market, and we are closer to our ultimate goal of everybody and anybody using 3D printers in the future.
Robox’s hardware is so new and innovative there is no existing software package that can drive its hardware, and because of this the quality of prints have not been all that they should have been so far. Although the hardware is ready and able to produce extremely high quality parts, the software and the control has been a limiting factor to date. We have worked hard on Automaker to overcome this and by introducing a new slicing engine we have taken a huge step up in the quality of parts. CURA has been specifically designed to drive bowden tube printers which in its most basic element is what Robox is. CURA’s handling of models and settings helps many aspects of the 3D print results; unsupported structures can be more defined, print speed can be increased, surface detail is improved, imperfections and slicing time are dramatically reduced.
During the integration of this software we have opened up Automaker for all future slicing engines we may want to integrate. So today customers can choose from Slic3r or CURA but Automaker is ready to accept other slice engines as and when we want.
There has been a huge amount of background work inside Automaker; this is apparent with the new readiness for mobile devices, development boards driving Robox units, and remote access, enabling us to start the next development stage of the software.
There has also been a dramatic change to the look and feel of Automaker, the new GUI is easier on the eye and easier to navigate, we have started to introduce an expert system for diagnosing and calibrating the Robox, and the platform has been readied for all future integration and features.
Although most of the work done on Automaker won’t be visible to the user, it has enabled our software engineers to increase the efficiency of maintaining the Robox and adding new features. With these background improvements new features and functions will come thick and fast.