Exciting Times at CEL-UK

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When we heard the result from the Brexit vote we got a little worried and started to think how CEL-UK would survive in the UK when not in Europe. The devaluation of the pound instantly affected the company’s profitability as most of the products we purchased were from China who deal in USD, whilst all our development is done in the UK.

What to do??

We are a product development company, with a strong history of developing innovative products and getting them to market across the world. How would we play to this strength with the changing business topography? The market for domestic 3D printers continues to grow but not at the rate we were used to whilst the prosumer and industrial markets growth rate is increasing. We need a way to pay for R&D in these rapidly growing markets to help pay for the development of products, we couldn’t rely on our current portfolio of product to fund this needed change in direct. A high number of our customers and potential customer would make similar statements about Robox, “It’s an amazing little machine but we may want to print larger parts”.

So it’s now obvious where we need to spend our development time, a specification has was organically grown for a new machine;

  • Larger build volume
  • Network connectivity
  • On machine UI
  • HEPA filtration
  • Native support of 2 materials
  • Externally fed stock material
  • Flexible magnetic print surface

Original Features to preserve

  • Enclosed build chamber
  • Valved heads
  • Reel data reading
  • PEI build surface
  • Extruders with; Automated load, Filament out detection, slip detection

To cater for a Prosumer market we would need to look at the road map for software development, again we turned to our loyal customers and asked them what new feature would help them with 3D printing and together we came up with the following;

  • Gcode Preview
  • Improved support material generation
  • Multiple perimeter layers to infill
  • New infill and skin patterns
  • Print via USB stick

(The above lists are not exhaustive, just a look into where we are headed.)

As I’m sure a lot of you know, software development is an expensive and lengthy venture and many of our competitors rely solely on open source application because of this. Although we use the Cura Engine for gcode generation our communication to robox, UI and firmware are all internally developed and maintained. This allows us to be ahead of the curve with our hardware and user experience as we are not constrained by the development of features from the open source community. Until now we’ve offered our software for free with the idea we could fund this by our hardware sales, but this is unsustainable as the software development cost is a much higher than the hardware. We’ve decided to continue maintaining and offering AutoMaker for free but also offer a paid for version, AutoMaker Pro, that will package our new software features for a 12 month licence fee of £59.90 inc. VAT. This will help to cover some of the development cost and the first iteration will be launched later this month.

 


Some of the new features we plan to implement cannot be supported by our current electronics platform. So we’ve also developed a new set of PCB’s which can be both retrofitted to existing products and support the launch of new systems.

Our new electronics hardware now supports;

  • Huge reduction in noise for all motors, enabled by new, tuned motor drivers.
  • Smoother, higher resolution motor movements.
  • Skip detection for all motors, no more offset layers in a print from collisions or slipping.
  • AC power loss detection – If the power goes out when it comes back on the machine can resume printing.
  • Power and communicate with Raspberry-Pi via UART – Enabling Wi-Fi and Network connectivity, touch screen, print from USB and more.
  • Power Saving and Silent printing mode.
  • Switchless homing.

Although we’ve not finished upgrading the software and firmware to support all these new features yet, we have the hardware to pave the way for the future systems.

To help with sales we have employed a PR and marketing consultancy to help us build back the robox brand which has been a little overlooked for the part year, you may have seen that we are developing the robox and CEL-UK and robox website to help drive sales.

https://www.cel-uk.com/

http://www.cel-robox.com/

We still want more!

We started to look at UK R&D funding grants, at the same time we were approached by a Welsh product design company who were asking questions about how electronic tracks could be incorporated into 3D prints. We know that this is not a new topic but one that has not been truly addressed yet and we came up with some amazing ideas to push the 3D printing market forward. You may have seen some exciting videos our IMPACT development platform which is truly the next generation of FFF style 3D printers. This Blue-sky thinking project drives the market in new directions and offers the possibility of feature current systems can only dream about.

  • Support free printing
  • Huge increase in speed of manufacturing by efficiency gains
  • Unconstrained lamination of different materials in required direction of strength
  • Functionalised parts which are integral part of the electronic systems
  • The progression of 3D printing for prototyping to Industrial process

All these new development, partly funded by Innovate UK grants, will filter down through all our machines insuring our future in the industry and making sure that even though we are set to leave Europe our offering to the world will continue to grow.

Printing big with carbon fibre-reinforced nylon and PETG, Robox 3D printers with the Olsson Ruby nozzle are helping a leading materials handling equipment manufacturer stay ahead of the competition

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“Big Dave and his little brother make parts in days that would otherwise take weeks or even months to prototype or manufacture conventionally. With cost savings of over £40k achieved in the last year alone, our Robox 3D printers have become an integral part of our business and we’re pleased to call CEL our partners.”
BIL Group Ltd

Our RoboxPRO and RoboxDual 3D printers, “Big Dave” and “Little Dave”, have enabled us to make durable, accurate and cost-effective prototypes quickly with a number of design iterations we simply couldn’t achieve with traditional processes.

Tim Murrow commented: "As a leading manufacturer of castors, wheels and materials handling equipment, being able to create high quality prototype parts and tooling quickly is essential in helping us win business and stay one step ahead of our competitors."

With the new SingleX head, we are now able to use engineering materials such as nylon infused with carbon fibre. The Olsson Ruby nozzle included in the head is incredibly hard-wearing and works with the toughest, most abrasive materials. Using RoboxPRO, we can now produce very large, robust parts that look great and are suitable for trialling on real sack trucks in the field.

Matt Walker added: "We considered other 3D printers but settled on RoboxPRO as it not only meets our demanding needs at an affordable price, but also comes with fantastic support. The technical support team at CEL are friendly and always happy to help us get the most of our 3D printers."

Big Dave and his little brother make parts in days that would otherwise take weeks or even months to prototype or manufacture conventionally. With cost savings of over £40k achieved in the last year alone, our Robox 3D printers have become an integral part of our business and we’re pleased to call CEL our partners.

BIL Group are suppliers to major UK supermarket chains, motor manufacturing plants, airports, MOD, supply chain logistics and many more. Contact us for more information on our leading castors, wheels and materials handling equipment.

Web: www.bilgroup.co.uk
Tel: +44 (0) 1249 822 222

BIL Group Ltd

#BackToSchool2018 Education Offer – 35% off Robox!

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We have a limited supply of brand new, original Robox models complete with premium 2-year warranties available to students and educators for only £745 including VAT.

School’s back and we’re enabling people to bring STEM capabilities into their own homes with a huge 35% discount on the original, award-winning Robox 3D printer!

To qualify for this offer, simply fill out the form below to contact our education team and express your interest.

Dieselpunk Crawler, Part 2

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After getting off to a rapid start my Dieselpunk inspired crawler ground to a standstill while I waited for parts, now that they have arrived everything is up and running. Sometimes when the design and printing go well they are the quickest part of the project!

All of the parts fit in the RoboxDual, you can find them here for download. I printed the vast majority of the project in ABS, but PETG will do just as well.

Since sculpting is not my strong suite I called in the assistance of my talented friend Fotis Mint who was kind enough to model a cool head for the driver. There is nothing quite like 3D printing and the internet to make a collaboration across thousands of miles seem like you are working in the same studio.

The torso and all of the joints were modeled in Fusion360 after which I sent the torso and neck piece to Fotis Mint who sculpted on those in ZBrush.

From the perspective of design for printing however the most interesting part of the project are probably the various arm joints on the driver figure.  I needed a lot of freedom of movement, so that the steering wheel servo could make the arms move, without putting much strain on it. I also wanted to avoid fiddly assembly and printing with supports, so I came up with a three piece design that results in 5 axes of movement. Two of the joints are simple pivots using 1.75mm filament off-cuts as hings, but the others print in place, as shown below. These are the sorts of things that would be impossible to do with other manufacturing methods.

The assembly of these joints can be seen at the 7 minute mark of the video below.

 

 

 

Dieselpunk Crawler, Part 1

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One of the best things about 3D printing is that it lets me work fast enough that I can get an impulse project from concept to reality before I lose the inspiration.

I have had the idea to build a small tracked RC vehicle for ages, but when I came across the Tiny Trak it just wouldn’t get out of my head.

Usually when an idea gets stuck in my head I am forced to scribble it in my notebook to make it go away, but this time that didn’t work and the sketch quickly turned into a CAD model and two weeks later was a printed design sitting on my desk.

This little beastie is 200mm long, powered by two continuous rotation servos, and will have an FPV camera in place of the driver’s head, allowing us to pilot it from the driver’s seat. I’ve designed it to be easy to print and assemble and its small size and low price should make for a fun weekend project.

The project is now waiting on some electronics, and a design for the driver, stay tuned for updates, and files once they are tested!

Press Release: Launch of an ambitious new UK joint venture challenging established manufacturing methods

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Press Release: Launch of an ambitious new UK joint venture challenging established manufacturing methods

5th June 2018

For Immediate Release

Two innovative UK manufacturing companies are excited to announce that they are setting up a Joint Venture called Q5D Technology to launch a disruptive new technology that could change the way products from white goods to cars and aircraft are manufactured. Most of the products that we use today are built by machine, but one part eludes automation: the wiring. This is still done by hand, in distant factories, where nimble fingered workers create wiring looms on peg boards. These are then shipped and fitted, again by hand, into the car or other product. It is expensive, inflexible and time consuming.

CEL-UK Limited is an engineering firm based in Portishead near Bristol. It is expert at the design of equipment for mass manufacture. They make and sell highly regarded 3D printers under the Robox® brand. Chris Elsworthy the Managing Director explains “By combining existing technologies we are making a new breed of machine that is able to create polymer parts with embedded wiring and electronics of any shape that can an assembled autonomously as part of the manufacturing process”.

M-Solv limited is an Oxfordshire based high-technology company which makes machine tools for the rapidly growing printed electronics market. “This new technology will be able to make lighter, cheaper, more complex components that will enable engineers to go from concept to product much more quickly” explains Phil Rumsby the Managing Director of M-Solv.

Stephen Bennington of Krino Partners Limited “These two companies each have unique technology as well as the depth of experience and access to the markets that will ensure that this new venture will be a success”.

ENDS

Notes to Editors
C-UK Limited
CEL-UK has considerable experience and expertise in the design of tools for mass manufacture. They started by designing and selling award winning power tools, but now they are best known for the Robox® series of 3D-printers. These machines pack innovative technology in a beautifully designed and easy to use product that would cost many times more from any other manufacturer. They have expertise in mechanical, electrical and software design as well as mass manufacture.
Contact: Chris Elsworthy (Managing Director)
www.cel-uk.com

M-Solv Limited
M-Solv is a world leader in printed electronics and laser micro-machining. They design, manufacture and sell highly innovative machine tools, but also do contract R&D and mass manufacture printed electronics components.
Contact: Phil Rumsby (Managing Director)
www.m-solv.com

Krino Partners Limited
Krino is a consultancy that provides assistance to UK technology start-ups. Stephen Bennington is a visiting professor of physics at University College London but has spent the last 8 years running and/or assisting technology businesses with planning, interim management and fundraising.
Contact: Stephen Bennington (Director)
www.krinopartners.com

 

Technician – Several positions Entry level & experienced – 3D printer manufacturing and fabrication

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CEL is a 3D printer manufacturer based in Portishead near Bristol. We design and manufacture very highly regarded 3D printers for home and business use.

We have a new production line which uses CNC machinery to create a new line of 3D printers. We need staff to build and test these large 3D printers before they are sent to our customers.

There are several positions available which could be filled at an entry level or by people experienced in fabrication and assembly. The finished items are complex but the assembly process uses simple steps to build the units from well designed parts. This new team will have direct input to engineering and design decisions so is a great starter for someone wanting to get into or advance their skills in mechanical design and engineering.

You will need to be:

  • Capable of using typical hand tools safely with competence.
  • Willing to learn and carefully manage the use of new tools such as a CNC machine.
  • Excited by mechanical concepts and technology, wanting to know more.
  • Interested in growing with and building our locally owned company.
  • Able to work with small and large items. The completed 3D printer weighs around 20kg.

There is a lot of opportunity to grow within CEL, following pathways to business technical support, local and international sales, engineering design and management of any or all parts of our business.

We are very proud of our products and want our team to feel the same.

Typically we work regular office hours. Hoping for full time but this can be negotiated as we have a lot of work and may hire several people into similar roles.

We would like to hear from students who have just finished studies and experienced people who can help us reach our goals. Pay and rewards will vary per experience and will grow with responsibility. You must be eligible to work in the UK, no agencies.

Ossum Racer, Part 4: Rear Axle Continued

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In the last post we got a working differential together, since then I have been designing the axle tubes, axle shafts and the drive shaft.

Axle Tubes

I have mentioned from the beginning that I am trying to keep the complex mechanical components compatible in size with off-the-shelf RC components, so I have made the width of the axle and the mounting points exactly the same as the Boom Racing SCX10 axle that I used on my rat rod build.

Printable rear axle with differential compared to Boom Racing SCX10 axle for size

The housing of the differential has been redesigned so that all of the tolerances are contained within one part, and the cover simply screws down on top, holding the two largest bearings in place. Nothing has an overhang more than 45 degrees, so it is all printable without support.

Inside the axle tubes there are two bearings which support the printable axles shafts. The axles shafts have provision for an M4 rod down the middle, which provides both strength and the opportunity to use standard RC wheels if desired.

Printed Prototypes

I printed and assembled prototypes based on this design and it went together well. My plans to test immediately were delayed due to some mistakes I made in the sizing of my driveshaft, but the assembly feels satisfactory when turned by hand, I have high hopes for the first test!

The assembly, printed in ABS filament

Next Step

Stay tuned for the assembly and test video of the rest of the axle shortly, as well as work on the drive shaft and universal joints.