August has been another busy month for the Robox team, while others have been on holiday enjoying the sunshine, our team has been plugging away at getting the next release of the AutoMaker™ ready, while undertaking the necessary updates and tests required for the launch of the dual material head.
This month has seen significant movements with the development of the dual material head, most notably we have made 50 heads on a temporary production line, not only allowing us to test the heads which come off the line, but also to test the production quality as the units are made.
These units are currently being shipped to the UK for further testing alongside the software – this is the final stage in what has been a very long process, but assuming everything goes to plan this will then lead to mass production of the dual material head – taking the Robox to the next level of 3D printing.
As with all plans, sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. The whole point of testing the software alongside the hardware is to ensure that when the final product is released it is reliable and efficient, so the next month will be indicative of when the dual material head will finally be launched.
The software team have been working on the dual-material head workflow and tools that will help users import multi-material projects. Key features include auto-grouping and part separation on load. These features enable multi-material prints to be made using only STL files as input. We’ve also enhanced obj file load so that a single file can properly represent a multi-material print. Separate parts within a group can be assigned to a loaded material within AutoMaker™.
Two features that are useful whether you’re printing with dual materials or not are loose part separation and model z cut. Loose part separation allows you to load a single model file that has a set of physically separate parts in it and then manipulate the parts independently. Model z cut allows you to cut a tall model at an arbitrary height. AutoMaker™ fixes up the two parts so that they can be printed.
The release of the next version of AutoMaker™ (1.02.00) was pushed back to allow us to carry out improvements to small section printing. This was originally scheduled for the dual-material head release but we decided that the benefits were worth the delay. Estimated release of this version is now 14/9/15 – although we’ll release earlier if we’re happy with the results of our tests.
Chris and Ian will be publishing a video discussing some of the changes in 1.02.00 so keep an eye on www.cel-robox.com!
We were delighted to announce several additions to the existing SmartReel™ range, including Woody, HIPS and ThermoChrome.
For those of you who missed the announcement, the new materials we now offer are as follows:
High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS):
- Strong and stiff, less likely to shrink or warp
- Unique as you can sand, glue, prime or paint prints
- Allows beautiful, functional bespoke prints
- Ideal for printing in conjunction with ABS as share similar mechanical properties
- Uses Limonene as a solvent, leaving a nicer, cleaner finish
ThermoChrome Purple/Pink Thermal Colour Change:
- Contains an additive which enables a colour changing feature – from deep purple when cold to pink when warm
- Perfect for printing wearable items
- Derived from the starch of plants, therefore is biodegradable
- Good for the environment
- A foamed structure is activated during the printing process which mimics wood aesthetics
- The foaming agent conceals laminate layers
- Lightweight – has a density of 8 g/cm³ and is 35-40% lighter than ordinary PLA
- Composed entirely of polymers – so excellent print quality comes without the risk of nozzle jams, and the surface of the printed items feels textured, resembling real wood
Sky Blue and Slime Green:
- New SmartReel™ colours available in both PLA and ABS
We were delighted to see a very positive review of the Robox appear in 3D Artist Magazine this month, where the Robox received an overall score of 4 out of 5 stars, and the following final verdict:
“A fun little printer that’s perfect for both beginners and intermediate users, with impressively quick print times”.
As well as praising the quick print times, the review is also very positive about the ease of use of the AutoMaker™ software, how quick the printer is to set up, and the quality of the final print. The reviewer also praised the form factor of Robox as well as a build area which is impressively large for its overall compact size. The review also acknowledges how safe the machine is, particularly for children.
All in all the review concludes the Robox is the answer to easy desktop 3D printing and an impressive accomplishment.
This month we’d like to introduce you to Ian Hudson, our lead software engineer and systems architect for the entire Robox project. Ian is not only the brains behind the excellent and unique design of the AutoMaker™ software, he’s also our IT and telecoms expert.
Two years ago Ian met our MD Chris Elsworthy, who shared his passion for the Robox project, and within a few weeks of meeting decided that becoming a stakeholder and contributor to a fascinating product with a great team was the way to go.
In Ian’s words, “As soon as I met Chris and saw the prototype Robox I was hooked. The opportunity of working with a talented designer who was passionate about not only the product but the influence it will have on society was too good to miss.”
Ian started out as an electronics technician apprentice at a Rediffusion Simulation – a flight simulator manufacturer. During his time he discovered that he was far better at writing software for computers than building them and this was the start of his career as a software engineer. After graduating with a degree in Computer and Electronic Engineering he continued his career creating the instructional systems that control tactical flight simulators.
He continued to build on his software engineering background and moved up the management chain whilst transitioning from simulation to defence then secure hosting and telecoms. He has held roles ranging from software engineer to project and development manager. During his time as a freelance consultant he’s been a solutions architect for large scale telecoms projects.
Today Ian is an integral part of the CEL team, and plays an invaluable role in the development of the Robox and its associated products.