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Design

Exciting Times at CEL-UK

By | Design, News | No Comments

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.

Robox is a tool, not a hobby.

By | Design, Education, News | No Comments

Robox is designed to be Plug and Print. We are designers, we created Robox to allow us to spend more time designing, testing and refining our prototypes. Doing our jobs basically. As designers we did not want to spend time levelling or preparing a build plate, looking up or testing settings or tweaking profiles. We wanted a 3D printer which makes printing easy. Robox has won best of Plug’n’Print 2 years running. It is also the only printer which is safe for use in education at all levels.
Learn more here http://www.cel-robox.com/technical/

Kickstarter launch of Root, Tree and Mote is now live!

By | AutoMakerNewsflash, Design, Kickstarter, News, Prototype Build | No Comments

For the next 30 days we ask that everyone shares our project with as many people as possible. These new tools, particularly Root, make the use of Robox even easier and more flexible.

Root™ adds network access to Robox. The way this has been implemented can allow a huge range of web based tools to provide alerts, control and much more. Put Root in your garage and connect up to 9 Robox units to it or share multiple Robox so your colleagues can also use these resourses. You will still control Robox via AutoMaker in the same way, loading models, choosing settings and pressing Make! The slicing will happen locally on your powerful system, the sliced code is sent to the selected Robox via Root. AutoMaker will find and allow connection to any Root devices on a local network and any Robox which is directly connected to that computer.

Root can run on a lot of hardware, we have designed it to run on a Raspberry Pi 3. Our partners RS Components are supplying hardware packages for the pledges which include hardware to keep cost as low as possible and supply certain. The case for Root is by Robox designer Chris Elsworthy and will be printed on Robox using materials from our other partner in this campaign, Polymaker. We intend to print the cases using their Polysmooth material which can be smoothed using their Polysher IPA print smoothing system.

Tree is a racking system for Robox. There are 3 shelf and 5 shelf systems which are available in raw Birch ply or Laminated Black ply. These have a small footprint for desktop of floor setup and allow full access to Robox while keeping everything neat and tidy. Root can be mounted to Tree to provide control and network sharing of attached Robox units.

Mote is a simple touchscreen interface for Root. You can control Root via AutoMaker, your smartphone or tablet. We found that having a dedicated control device ready and waiting right next to the printers allowed us to work more efficiently. This was particularly useful in our office where several printers are shared for when the printers on each persons desk are busy.

Please share this project with anyone interesting 3D printing, considering a purchase or who perhaps decided not to buy Robox because it did not have wifi.

3D printing a stress-free Xmas

By | Design, Stuff and Things | No Comments

No Christmas is complete without a mad dash for presents in the final few days. If you’re like me and have left shopping to the last minute, there’s really no alternative to an exhilarating, stressful day of retail shopping to guarantee you can deliver on the big day itself.

But this doesn’t have to be the story. In fact, why buy presents at all? If you have a 3D printer, why aren’t you making them? You don’t need to design your own presents. That’s far too much effort in the run-up to Christmas. Instead, you can download any number of free gifts from online libraries like MyMiniFactory or Thingiverse. You can even personalise the models you download with free software such as Microsoft’s 3D Builder to make your gift even more personal.

The gift you make doesn’t even have to be good. The fact that it’s been 3D printed will be enough to blow the recipient away. And isn’t it the thought that counts anyway?

If you own a 3D printer, let it help you de-stress your Christmas and save a packet in the process. 3D printing your own gifts is fun and extremely cost-effective. What kind of bracelet could you buy for 47p?

xmas-2016And if you don’t own a 3D printer, perhaps you should consider making one of your New Year’s resolutions to involve yourself in this exciting, liberating technology. Robox recently won 3D Hub’s award for best “Plug ‘N’ Play” 3D printer in the world for the 2nd year running. Anyone can become a maker, especially with Robox.

e-NABLE – the most inspiring 3D print project I’ve seen

By | AutoMakerNewsflash, Design, Education, Printables | 3 Comments

I was recently introduced to the e-NABLE project by our friends André and Guillaume at Le Comptoir 3D

This is an awesome venture that aims to get functional 3D printed hands to people around the world.  Heard this before? Well e-NABLE takes a different approach… Anyone with a 3D printer can make a difference thanks to the network of e-NABLE volunteers around the world.

These hands don’t replace expensive, highly functional natural looking prosthetic hands – but they’re not meant to. Children who have limb differences can’t always get prostheses (partly because they’re growing) so these hands can make a real and immediate difference to their lives.

Take a look at this video from e-NABLE to see what I mean.

Now tell me you don’t want to use your Robox to make a difference.

Visit http://enablingthefuture.org/ for more information on how to help.

And if you’re a student or teacher reading this then please take a look at http://www.handchallenge.com/ and involve your school in this amazing project.

The story of e-NABLE is inspiring – you can be part of it too.

Here’s my first print of a Raptor hand produced on a Robox – I’ll add more pictures when it’s assembled.

Raptor 3D printed prosthetic hand

Thanks for reading!

Ian

 

Tiny Timbot!

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

I wanted to post up some feedback from a Robox user and share some of the amazing work he has been doing to make robots imitate life.

Jason from Mechanimal emailed us this very watchable robot.

Not only is he walking, he’s using his arms to help balance, like he should, and he’s using his tiny little eyes to detect obstacles. That’s no wind up toy, that there is an autonomous robot, tiny baby version.

Laser Beams!

Posted by Jason Bannister on Wednesday, September 28, 2016

It has 8 independently controlled servo motors, an IR sensor for eyes, 2 microphones, a speaker, and all of the control circuits are in it’s wee little head. A total of 18 pieces in two colors, all from my Robox, and he stands but a few inches tall. Not bad for my first project using the Robox, super excited to make more complex parts with the new dual material head.

And a HUGE thanks once again, this is the machine I’ve been waiting 15+ years for.

 

Check out some of Jason’s other work, Tiny Timbot will lead you into a whole world of mechanical animals. You can even get involved by becoming a patron here.

AutoMaker 2.01.03 release and TechABS

By | Chris Elsworthy Design Blog, Design, News, Software Updates | 6 Comments

Hi Robox Users,

We’ve got some new features in AutoMaker to let you know about which are around making results match expectation and warning users when Robox cant continue. We’ve also release a new formula of ABS which is making it the material of choice for me right now.

AutoMaker Improvements

  • SurePrint enhancements
    • Off-bed model checks occur at project load time
    • Prints cannot be started if a model is off-bed
    • PLA is ejected if not required during a print with high bed temperatures
    • Bed temperature is lowered to PLA levels and raft is enabled if PLA and a different material are in use simultaneously
    • Improved post-processor and slicer failure indications

In previous versions the post processor was responsible for checking the sliced model to ensure that head movements were not beyond the ability of Robox, we now check the model before it is sliced to ensure it fits inside the build volume and thus wont generate moves that can’t be performed.

We’ve seen a few Dual Material users printing with PLA and and another materials that need higher temperatures at the same time, this has the potential to cause problems.  If the PLA filament gets too hot before it reaches the head it can jam the system, to overcome this and still allow these two materials to be printed together we’ve introduced some automated systems. Firstly, if the PLA was loaded but not used in the print we simply eject it just before the print to ensure it out of the build environment. If PLA is used for the build alongside another hotter material then AutoMaker now uses the PLA target temperature for both the bed and ambient, to ensure that the model sticks to the bed raft is automatically switched on.

AutoMaker check that the combination of the raft thickness and the models height to ensure it still fits into the build volume.

There are a number of checks that the post process does to the sliced model before allowing the print to start, if the print cant continue we now let the user know why whenever possible. This includes when the print exceeds the build volume due to switching on features like spiral printing and brim.

Without taking away options from users we hope that the above features will enable more prints to be successful and less chance of jamming or damaging your Robox.

Since the last release we noticed a few small issues which have also been addressed in this release;

  • Fixed macro selection issue – DM macro incorrectly selected in some situations when SM head mounted on dual-extruder printer.
  • Settings for Support, Raft, Brim now fit on the screen correctly
  • Bed axes move correctly when AutoMaker is resized
  • Calibration improvement – prevents apparent leak of nozzle when starting nozzle open calibration (only experienced by a minority of customers)
New materials – techABS
I’m very excited about this! ABS is the material of choice for many design engineers, its mechanical properties are well rounded and can have a mirror polish, it accepts a wide range of glues and paints as well as sanding and cutting nicely. Its a bit more difficult to print perfectly and warping and shrinkage have been a cause of pain on may prints. This new formula goes a good way to fix this, it prints at a slightly lower temperature and requires a cooler bed to stick down. A lower shrink rate along with these other properties means that parts print reliably, have good mechanical dimensions and have a beautiful surface finish.

Automaker 2.01.02 – New Feature! – Support Material Gap

By | AutoMakerNewsflash, Design, Materials, News, Software Updates | 6 Comments

As we start to key up CEL and Robox for dual material printing we have introduced a lot of new concepts. Most of our users will have seen some of these multi-material features creeping into AutoMaker over the most recent few releases. Today we’ve added another new feature with AutoMaker 2.01.02 Download here.

We think that one of the most useful features of multi-material printing is the ability to use one material for your part and the other as support structure. This means with the correct choice of material, support can be greatly improved. One of the Materials we been testing is PolyMaker’s PolySupport, we’ve found it to print well in a wide range of temperatures and have consistent structural and functional properties. PolySupport is designed to be a support material for PLA and we found that although its a PLA based material it delaminates easily from PLA and other materials making it very easy to remove. It has elastic and flexible properties which mean its a joy to peel from your model, infinitely easier than using any other Peel-able support material we’ve tested, in-fact its so good we’ve added a this new support gap option.

To further improve the support that an easily peel-able material can give your part we can remove the gap between the top and bottom surface, this gap was necessary when you needed to break-away support structures of the same material. We semi-automated this option, when AutoMaker sees that you are using a different material for support than the one chosen for your parts it will automatically deselect this option.

Support Gap OptionI hear some of you say “Why peel-able, why not focus on dissolvable support?”, well, we thought the same when we started to print with multiple materials but quickly discovered that dissolvable material solutions are messy, take a long time and are often difficult to process and store. Peel-able support can often be removed in a few minutes, where dissolvable support material can take hours if not days to disappear and often require some peeling as well. One thing you might have read about on the internet is the use of limonene to dissolve HIPS away from ABS prints, this is not a reality, after only a few tests we found that limonene does dissolve HIPS, but it also damages the ABS beyond usefulness. The other thing is that unless you LOVE the smell of oranges you quickly grow tired of all your parts, the office, your finger and pretty much everything you own having that pungent smell. Don’t misunderstand me, dissolvable materials will have their place, but for a large majority of support applications we feel easy peel-able is the way forward right now.

We’ve also exposed some of the controls around the generation of support structure to you so that you can tune your profiles to get more perfect parts.

Support Gap Options Profile

 

Version 2.01.02

  • Autoupdate now uses port 80 rather than port 8001
  • Added Support Gap function
    • This controls the vertical distance between the support material and model material which affects how easily support material can be removed
    • Disabled automatically if support material is different to model material (useful when using specialised peel-off support material)
    • Horizontal (Support XY Distance) and vertical (Support Z Distance) offsets are configured in the Print Profiles page
    • If Support Gap is enabled the system will introduce a vertical gap between support and model material
    • If Support Gap is disabled there will be no gap between support and model material
  • Improved filament saver function for dual material printing (automatic heater control during prints)
  • Grouped advanced mode controls onto an Advanced Mode menu on the Preferences page
  • Automatic selection of correct head type on profile page
  • Modified status display to make use of Material 1 and Material 2 clearer

When AutoMaker updates are available your system will usually find and offer an update automatically. If you are behind a firewall or some other system which prevents this, please visit www.cel-robox.com/downloads/ and download the most recent AutoMaker package.

AutoMaker sometimes needs to update the firmware on your printer. Please allow the firmware to update as requested by AutoMaker. If you do not allow the firmware update to take place, AutoMaker may not be able to communicate with your printer.

IMPORTANT NOTE: a firmware update will power cycle your printer so ensure no operations such as a print or calibration are running at the time of the firmware update.

The Ferguson Technique – Dental implants using 3D printed surgical guides

By | Design, Healthcare, News | No Comments

Dr Rick Ferguson DMD presents a webinar hosted by Michael Saltzman, Director of Guided Surgery from Blue Sky Bio.

Dr. Ferguson is a Diplomat of the ICOI, Associate Fellow of the AAID, Clinical Assistant Professor University of Florida. He has lectured nationally and internationally He teaches live surgery and is a visiting lecturer at the University of Miami GPR Program. He has a full time private practice in Davie, FL. His course in dental implants can be viewed on his website here http://www.implanteducators.com/index.php/courses/3d-course

Dr Ferguson gives a brief look at previous guided surgery techniques and guides and compares them to the current method he uses and teaches in using 3D printed surgical guides. Rick describes the development of his technique which enables in practice low cost guided surgery.

Several cases are presented during this webinar including each stage of the workflow for each case, reasoning and options, costs and alternatives. Please note that case documentation includes 3D scans of bones as well as photos and video of guided surgery taking place which is quite graphic, the information presented is more suited to dentists than patients.

Examples of workflows in past high cost methods and current low cost 3D printed guides. Dr Ferguson shows examples using Robox and provides comparisons to Form2 DentalSG workflows and printed surgical guides.

The free software Dr Ferguson uses in this video can be found in the links below:

You can buy a Robox as used by Dr Ferguson directly from Blue Sky Bio’s US website (select United States from the dropdown on their site) https://blueskybio.com/store/cel-robox or from a Robox reseller closer to you www.cel-robox.com/where-to-buy/. The material used to print surgical guides with Robox is nGen by Dutch company Colorfabb, you can buy this from Robox resellers on Robox SmartReels. Robox does allow printing with materials from other suppliers and the range of materials available on SmartReels is constantly being updated.