Category

Prototype Build

Robox DM Locking Ring

By | Design, Printables, Prototype Build | One Comment

This part is the locking ring which twists onto the dual material reel holder axle to lock it in place. The small black cylinder in the main image above.

On it’s own it is not particularly useful unless you lose yours. This one will print nicely on it’s end. I expect someone will use this model as the basis for a 3rd party reel holder which can be clamped onto Robox. Please link your reworked files in the comments and we will add them to the main post if they are worthy.

roboxlockingring_POLYPC

Above is printed in Polymaker PCPLUS polycarbonate.

Download .stl here

Robox ® launches first dual-material 3D printing head

By | Chris Elsworthy Design Blog, Design, Exhibiting, News, Press Release, Prototype Build | 12 Comments

At last we’re delighted to announce the launch of our dual-material printing head that will allow users to print in two different materials simultaneously for the first time. The new 3D printer head is available for pre-order today to both new and existing customers as an upgrade option.

Loyal customers who pre-ordered the new head months ago will be the first to receive this new technology.

The new 3D printer head retains the same form-factor as the existing Robox head and uses CEL’s proprietary needle-valve system, allowing it to start and stop printing better than any other printer head on the market.

This latest addition to CEL’s market-leading Robox 3D printer means users can print designs that were previously unprintable, as well as creating models using two different colours or even two dissimilar materials.

This also means the Robox can now print a softer scaffold material around a harder material, allowing users to print items with, for example, a small footing or complex designs that would have been previously impossible. Users can therefore print items such as plastic lids with rubber seals, coloured logos, light pipes, flexible watch straps with pins, or axles with bearing surfaces.

Many other printers have lengthy and material wasting processes in place to stop cross infection of materials, but the Robox system shuts off the material flow without the need for wiping, retracting or cooling the heads. The existing nozzle technology prevents ‘ooze’ or ‘stringing’, ensuring speed and quality of the print whether you’re printing in different colours, different materials or both.

The dual-material head uses two completely separate melt chambers and 0.4mm nozzles for optimum balance between speed and accuracy.

Both material reels can be hung on the side of the Robox device, with the addition of a simple adaptor, allowing the printer’s intelligent reel system to still recognise exactly what material it’s working with. This, in combination with the Robox’s closed-feedback loop and dual-pinch wheel extruder system makes sure that each filament is fed to its respective nozzle evenly.

Chris Elsworthy, CEO of CEL, commented: “3D printing has the potential to change the way we design and create products and the launch of our dual-material head means another step change in the complexity of items our users are able to print with Robox.

“We’re really excited to be able to offer this new 3D printer head to our customers and allow them to create new prints they never could have dreamed of 3D printing before! Users will still get all the reliability and quality they have come to expect from a Robox printer, but now with the ability to print in two materials at the same time.”

To hear Chris talk about the dual material head in more detail at this year’s CES show in Las Vegas, watch the video below:

RBX01-DMKitExisting Robox customers can upgrade their printers for £199.00 +P&P.

 

We’ve also launched a new pair of service options for customers wanting to get their Robox printer checked over and upgraded to the latest specification. These options start at £79.00 +P&P for single material printers and £99.00 +P&P for those that purchase the new dual-material head.

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

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.

IMG_1001IMG_0998

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.

IMG_0997IMG_0996IMG_0995

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

Where is my Dual Material Head?

By | Design, News, Prototype Build | 7 Comments

UPDATE! Check this one out http://www.cel-robox.com/dual-material-robox-upgrades/

Sorry…

At the beginning of the year we estimated that we would be shipping the Dual Material Head at the end of Quarter 2, 2015, and many of you have pre-ordered your heads so you can take full advantage of all the extra functions Robox brings to 3D printing; for this we wholeheartedly thank you.

We are truly sorry for the delays so far, but development of new technology is an unpredictable business and we really want to make sure that we give you the best product possible when it is finally released.

What has been done so far?

We are over 90% on our way to seeing the Dual Material Head enter mass production, but as most of you will know the last 10% is the trickiest part of the whole process.

We have been working very hard to ensure that when the new technology is released it is as near to perfect as possible, to ensure our customers enjoy a smooth and faultless experience, so we are not about to rush the last 10% when we are so close to achieving something very special.

Even before we had released the first version of Robox we had already started on the dual material system ensuring as much of the work was included in the original unit as possible.  We had to ensure the Robox had the potential to be a multi-functional platform from the very beginning.  So we included the location features for the second extruder, a path for the filament to reach the head and all the electronics to drive the system.

Robox then exploded onto the market and we have spent the last 8 months making sure we could provide the necessary support to our customers, getting all appropriate systems in place and ironing out the few teething troubles which should be expected with the launch of any new piece of technology.  To say the last few months have been somewhat of a whirlwind, while very exciting, is an understatement.

We are now at the point where we think Robox is the best machine on the market, and feedback from our customers has been overwhelmingly positive.

During this time, work on the Dual Material Head has continued, and we are almost at the point where we can give the nod to the production lines to get started – almost, but not quite.

There are 4 distinct areas that need finishing before the Dual Material Head can be released; the head itself, Cable and Bowden tube management to the x-carriage, the second SmartReel reader and holder, and the firmware and software to handle all this.

  • The head; we’ve designed, manufactured and tested 2 new ways of sealing the needle valves into the head; we’ve temporarily abandoned one of these designs as although it showed great promise it requires a much longer development time; the second is a more subtle change to the existing system which is now being life-tested to ensure smooth continued operation.
  • Cable and Bowden tube management; this has been designed to ensure it is backward compatible. Stage 1 samples have been made and tested and we are now waiting for the production parts to be built and tested.
    Cable Managment
  • The second reel holder; on the surface this seems the easiest of tasks but has been the cause of some delay. The mechanics are simple enough but some of the electronic parts required have a very long lead time and even samples of them are taking a long time to procure. The factory is now making prototypes and we should see them at the end of the month.
    Dual Material Reel holder
  • Firmware and Software; the firmware only needed subtle tweaks and is all but complete. The software is more than 50% of the entire task, not only do we need an intuitive way of allowing the users to select and assign extruders to objects or tasks, but the structure to enable these to be processed into the final Robox commands. Our two senior software engineers Tony and Ian have been diligently integrating all the features required to support 2 materials into the interface, working closely to ensure that the gcode generator and post-processors have all the variables required to create the correct Robox commands. This has been completed to testing level and we now have a development version of AutoMaker with material assignment, Dual Material Head support. Ian has taken this opportunity to scratch-build the post-processor to improve its output and to handle multiple extruder support. This is the final part of the software development required to start multiple material printing.

What’s not finished yet?

Testing, testing, testing.  As you can see from the above, in essence the Dual Material Head is virtually complete and we are at the point where we could press the button on the launch of the head.  But we want to be at the point where we are very confident about performance and life, and as such we are spending the next 8 or so weeks undergoing a rigorous testing process.  This includes driving the heads with the software as a user would, testing the production samples of the cable management system, and testing the latest version of the dual reel holding designs.

In addition we will conduct final testing of the software to ensure we’ve covered all possible scenarios, and while the gcode creation is well into its development we need to make sure it has all the functions and stability essential for final release.

So what is the new ETA on the Dual Material Head?

So the good news is that while we’ve not met our early estimated date, we are confident the new head will be released to the public in November 2015.  But please note this is an estimate, what we don’t want to do is promise an exact date and then find we’re a few weeks out. As well as the immense amount of testing we have to allocate time for tooling and production.

Why is it worth the wait?

At this point you need to remember why you invested in the Robox in the first place – this all comes back to the reason why Robox fills a gap in the current 3D printing market.  Robox will be the ONLY 3D printer out there capable of additional functions such as dual material printing, paste extrusion, drag knife cutting, laser cutting and more. The Dual Material Head is the first of many heads we intend to release.

You’ve already bought a 3D printer which arguably produces better prints than anything else on the market in a similar price bracket, or even at a higher price point.  And soon you’ll be able to produce prints in different colours and with different materials which expands the range of what can be printed enormously.

Printing in different colours means you can print coloured logos, patterns, light pipes and more, the list is endless!
2 yoyo2

Creating parts with multiple materials which have different properties allows you to print items that have a hard core and a soft over-mould; for example, a bottle cap with a rubber seal or axles with bearing surfaces.

The Dual Material Head greatly expands the range of replacement objects you can print, such as buttons, phone cases, handles, chair pads, screws, plugs, watch straps, hinges, hearing aids, over-moulds etc.

And perhaps most importantly, users will no longer have to consider whether the design they have found is suitable for 3D printing – you’ll be able to download any model from repositories online and be confident of the final print.

Printing with two different materials – such as ABS and HIPS at the same time – means you could have support material which is more easily removed as it is different to the material used for the actual design.

Robox hardware doesn’t have the same caveats that others do; we don’t need to retract, cool or wipe the nozzles, we don’t have to build time-consuming, wasteful towers or shields to reduce cross contamination of materials.

The needle valve system ensures that only the material being printed is coming out of the nozzles. The needle valve system is good on single material prints as it allows multiple nozzle sizes but truly shows its potential during multiple material prints.

The user will not have to consider every aspect of a multi-material print, the interface we’ve designed is intuitive and the workflow simple to use; even handling situations where the material attached to the hardware doesn’t match the project. A simple change to the extruder which will be released very soon will introduce the ability to print a more diverse selection of materials, and as such, prints.

In conclusion, the Robox will be able to produce the best multi-material prints of any FFF printer in the market, development is well under way.

Thank You…

This all said, some of you have already placed your pre-orders for the Dual Material Head and are getting impatient.  We totally understand, and hope that this explanation on our part helps to put your mind at rest and retains your confidence in what we are trying to achieve. We’re extremely excited about what the Dual Material Head brings to the Robox – the wait will definitely be worth it.

UPDATE! Check this one out http://www.cel-robox.com/dual-material-robox-upgrades/

Where is my machine?!

By | Kickstarter, Prototype Build | 2 Comments

Quite understandably we receive many enquiries every day of the following nature:

  • I pre-ordered my Robox back in March, but where is it?
  • I’m a backer on Kickstarter, but haven’t yet received my machine?
  • I would like to order a Robox, can you tell me when it would arrive if I do?
  • We are interested in becoming a reseller / distributor for the Robox, when will a sample become available?
  • We are journalists and we’d like to review the Robox, when can we have a unit?

And so on…

Enquiries of this nature both excite us, and terrify us at the same time.  Why?  Because it is very hard to give definitive answers and expectations are so high, and it’s so fantastic having people so keen to get their hands on the final product.

What we can say for sure is that our first level of Kickstarter supporters now have their BETA machines and their feedback has been somewhat amazing.  Not necessarily because all of the comments have been positive, but because even the ‘constructive criticism’ has helped us to make further developments with the machines.

So what can we tell all the other people who are waiting so patiently?

Well, Chris Elsworthy, the brains behind the operation, has just landed back in the UK after an eventful and productive trip to China.  The aim of this recent visit was to iron out all remaining niggles to ensure that when he gives the nod to mass production, the whole team are confident about the products we are sending out.

The Robox units are currently undergoing essential emissions testing – to make sure they cannot cause interference with other electrical or electronic equipment and communication networks.  The good news is that the units passed the initial tests once a few tweaks were performed by our electronics expert Mr Sing and we’re hopeful the final tests will be performed and passed later on this week.

Much of the time Chris was in China the team were performing electrical safety tests such as continuity testing, high potential testing, double insulation testing, drop testing, life testing and so on. Currently we have several machines which have been running for over 400 hours, without any major faults!

And once all of these tests have been completed and passed we can finally let all our patient supporters have their products.

So let’s talk DATES…

Until this point, we’ve not wanted to promise dates as things are always changing, and with any new products there can be unforeseen problems which lead to delays.

But we’re finally confident that we can start talking about realistic delivery dates, and we’re hopeful that the next two stages of Kickstarter backers will be in receipt of their goods by the middle of August, and our valuable customers who have placed pre-orders will be opening up their brand new Robox units early September.

So things are getting exciting now; not only are we just about to unleash the Robox on the world, we’re also moving to bigger offices soon to accommodate our growing team, and we’ll shortly be advertising for more staff – so watch this space!!

Blood, Sweat and Progress..

By | Kickstarter, Prototype Build | No Comments

We’ve had a bit of a breakthrough this week. We found 3 tiny components (1.0×0.5mm) on the extruder daughter PCB that were missing a connection to ground. After applying a minuscule amount of solder to bridge the gap between the capacitor (C7) and the ground via next to it, the extruder breathed new life into Robox.

You may think the diagnosis of this fault to be easy, but for many reasons we’ve been looking elsewhere to find out why our earlier machines have performed better than the BETA build machines. It was actually our factory pointing out that the C3 capacitor was missing its ground that brought our attention to the missing link.

Standard Fine profile - 100mu layers

Standard Fine profile – 100mu layers

Our new software engineer, Tony Lynch, along with Ian, is ploughing through the most urgent of the feature updates and bugs to give us our first public release of AutoMaker which we are hoping to have with you next Wednesday (28th May).

After opening all the boxes, gently unpacking and amending the extruder PCBs on all the BETA machines we hope to have them shipped the following Wednesday (4th June).

These are the dates we are aiming for, and we see no reason why they aren’t realistic, but we can’t predict the unforeseen.  We’re feeling pretty positive now, but if anything changes with the dates you will be the first to know.

Why product design, development and production is more difficult to plan than you may think….

By | Chris Elsworthy Design Blog, Prototype Build | 5 Comments

As you know we have suffered delays with the launch of Robox and on the whole the followers and backers of the project have been extremely supportive and understanding of this unforeseen delay.  It has however given me the idea to write a quick blog about why it’s so hard to nail down dates when designing and developing a new product.

Firstly, let me get down a few of the issues I’ve experienced whilst developing innovative features and functions on products.

You might imagine that copying someone else’s product or design is a quick business, challenges can be confidently predicted and completed after a few examples have been sketched, modelled and made.

Designing a new type of product or feature is the opposite of this; although I often start with a clear and structured idea, the path to get there is not clear and has often never been trodden before.

When I start a new project I normally have what I think is the perfect way to achieve my target, and my first task is to get the ideas out of my head and into a drawing or model. Putting the contents of my brain on paper, into CAD or physical models usually shows up many unconsidered problems, and this is where the real work normally starts.

I start to modify my initial concept to actually work in the real world and this in turn often leads to new and unexpected problems, but by diligence and repetition of both drawings and real models I often get to my end goal, sometimes in the most unexpected way. Of course there are really clever people in this world who imagine the full system before putting pen to paper or glue to plastic, and can create the perfect product first time round – but this is a rarity.

Working through the process bit by bit greatly expands on my understanding of the original problem. This means I am constantly increasing my knowledge of relevant subjects and the processes involved in creating the elements required to make them perform as intended. Test rigs and assemblies, paper models, hand made plastic parts, glue, piles of drawings and discarded revisions.

The Eureka moment – finally, after working through the above I finally have a concept which works in theory…time to put it into practice.

So I’ve modelled my idea in CAD and I have a heap of hand-made parts which prove my theories – at this point I get an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and I feel my next logical step could only be to take over the world .. (Evil Laugh).

Just as quickly as I reach euphoria, I’m brought back down to earth by colleagues who try to push me into making something which is less pie in the sky and more commercially viable – and this brings us to stage two of product development.  The point at which all the concepts and solutions you’ve worked through in the design stage get amalgamated into something which can be manufactured at a cost which is commensurate with its intended use.

This is the hard slog in my experience and often takes me back into the design stage a number of times as I tweak things to make them actually possible to manufacture.

I find myself sitting at the CAD station for months on end drawing and redrawing every individual part of my product, considering tooling design, materials, assembly sequence, durability, safety, aesthetics, quality and a million other things. Every time I think I’m getting to the end of this process I would normally order and build a prototype. This once again reveals a massive list of things that don’t work as well as I had wanted.

This process can happen again, and again, and again, as I try to perfect the design once and for all.

During this time, I need a huge bucket of faith as things can seem impossible… At some point, when things seem almost perfect, I make that final decision to start the tooling and put the project into production.

The next stage is costly, risky and takes you to the point of no return in terms of investment.  You are relying on a production team to take what they see as a half-baked design into full production by using all your drawings and prototypes to make and produce the product on mass scale.

Before the production line gets going, it starts to feel like Christmas as I receive boxes and boxes of off-tool parts from the factories, which again highlight more problems and weaknesses that need adapting, changing and re-designing to get things perfect.

Finally I get to the stage where I’m happy with the product I have, my designs have finally come to light, I’m feeling pretty good.

That’s it then? Finished?

Well, not quite.  It’s time for testing, getting safety certs, tuning tooling, writing user manuals, designing packaging, and all the ‘User experience stuff’. Then comes the time-consuming task of setting up a production line and getting a team of skilled workers on board who understand every miniscule element of the product.  Discovering my telepathic abilities are lacking means hours spent explaining the thought process behind every single nut, bolt, wire and plastic feature.  And things still come to light which need to be changed and tweaked.

Finally the product goes to market, everyone loves it and wants to talk about it but I’m already back in the design chair looking for that Eureka moment once again…

I hope by describing how I muddle through taking a concept to the finished product demonstrates just how hard it is to put an exact timeframe on bringing a new product to market.  I’m still guilty of getting over-excited about what I do, and assuming I can get things working quicker than I actually can.  That’s because I’m passionate about what I do, and I firmly believe in the products I’m producing. Unfortunately, the fact is, when trying to create something brand new and unique, we are always entering the unknown.

With Robox, I’m confident we’ve just about mastered the production and we’re excited to see the product reaching homes soon.

There are still some monstrous challenges ahead, but with the support and backing from our customers we’ll get there.

3D Print bed material choices

By | Prototype Build | 3 Comments

Robox® has a removable print bed, it simply clips in on top of the heater element. This allows us to provide a range of bed surfaces for different fused filament fabrication (FFF) or machining purposes when a different head is fitted to Robox. We are testing several materials to select one to be the standard bed for shipping with Robox, additional beds will be available that provide different performance on certain prints.

A lot of Robox users will tend to make most of their prints using PLA because it gives good results very quickly and easily with lower print temperatures and less shrinkage as it cools. ABS is much better for prototypes and items that will be used for more than display or visual checks, it is very strong and can be machined following printing, eg sanded or drilled without melting.

Our tests have shown that there are a few bed materials that have all the right properties to make an excellent all round print bed, we are testing the best way to make these beds remain flat over a range of temperatures and remain usable after a large number of prints, importantly they must be able to transfer heat into the printed parts to control shrinkage and the part must remain stuck to the surface.

Currently Glass and ThermoSurface are standing out as good options. We could supply the first FFF versions of Robox with either of these beds and it would perform very well.

We are tending to use a ThermoSurface sheet as our print bed as most of our prints these days are in ABS. The ThermoSurface bed when used in a controlled environment allows us to print objects using ABS that would often detach from the bed or warp and cause unwanted variations in the shape and finish of the printed part if we printed using a glass bed.

The perfectly flat surface of the bed is very important for many printed parts, particularly larger parts, ThermoSurface can deform much more than glass. This can effect the bottom surface of the part and the heat transfer from the heated bed underneath.
Glass on the other hand is naturally flat and extremely stable through a huge range of temperature or chemical environments. If we were only to offer printing in PLA then the glass bed would be an excellent option.

Glass is cheaper than any of the other materials we are testing, it can be simply cut to shape while other beds will require molding or other processes to work as we intend them too.

What would users want? A cheaper option that will cover the majority of their printing needs? Or a more expensive option that will allow a bigger range of materials and model shapes but which may need replacing after a certain number of prints? The various beds we make will all be available as add on or replacement items so a user can have the best properties of all of these beds. The question is which one do we include in the first package?

 

The image in this post is from www.nationmaster.com