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$907
pledged of $100,000pledged of $100,000 goal
5
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Thu, October 16 2014 11:56 AM UTC +00:00
Last updated October 16, 2014

PlexiBots

PlexiBots is a modular construction system for "makers" designed to reduce both the cost of prototyping and time to market.

PlexiBots

PlexiBots is a modular construction system for "makers" designed to reduce both the cost of prototyping and time to market.

$907
pledged of $100,000pledged of $100,000 goal
5
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Thu, October 16 2014 11:56 AM UTC +00:00
Last updated October 16, 2014

About

The Competition

Many modular construction systems exist on the market. Notable examples are Lego and Erector. Both these systems have a large variety of parts that can be used to an almost infinite variety of models. Nonetheless, both these systems are largely considered to be toys and they are not well suited for larger projects  like building 3D printers, small desktop milling machines, etc that are being attempted by the "maker" community.

T Slotted Aluminum is an example of a modular construction system that is geared towards industrial applications. It has two primary disadvantages the first of which is price. It is relatively expensive. Second while it is well suited for building structures, it does not come with off the shelf actuators and other mechanical components that can be easily integrated with the T Slot construction system.

The T-Slotted Aluminum Frame is advertised at $164.40 compared to the welded steel frame at $224.38. Similar frame can be built in plastic for $40.00.

PlexiBots

We have designed PlexiBots with the "maker" in mind. The main component of our construction system is a T Slotted beam but in High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS). The advantage of transitioning to high impact polystyrene is that we are able to dramatically reduce the price without significantly compromising rigidity. Furthermore, we have supplemented this with a wide variety of actuators and mechanical components to produce a construction system that is as flexible as Lego or Erector.  We will next review the parts that constitute the PlexiBots construction system. After that we will review some of the kits we are designing to illustrate the wide variety of models that can be built using PlexiBots.

The Parts

The primary part of our modular construction system is the "plastic beam". We have improved upon standard T Slot aluminum by incorporating two ideas that originated in the "maker" community. First our T-Slotted profile is designed to work directly with off-the-shelf M4 screws and nuts (ref. OpenBeam) This helps reduce the cost of building models. Second the rail is chamfered to allow a ball or wheel to roll easily on the rail. This reduces the cost of building different sliding mechanisms. (ref V-Slot)

Connectors

We offer two separate connection systems for connecting different beams. Both our connection systems are screw less. 

Connection System I

Notice how the second connector (middle picture above) can be used to connect multiple extrusions in parallel (third picture below) to create an extrusion with a wider cross section. The first connector can be used to create both corner and T joints.

 Connection System II

Notice that this set of connectors can be used to create both corner and T connections.

Joining Plates

For building stronger connections as we'll as attaching other parts to  the beam we have an extensive collection of joining plates. The spacing between holes is 20mm and the hole diameter is 5mm. It is designed for a standard M4 screw. it can also accommodate a 5mm shaft and can thus be used as a support bearing in different mechanical structures. The thickness of each plate is 4mm which means that when 5 plates are stacked one on top of another, they will have the same thickness as the beam.

 Angle Plates

To connect a beam or other parts at an angle we offer a wide assortment of angle plates. The holes are spaced 20mm apart and have a diameter of 5mm. It is designed for a standard M4 screw. it can also accommodate a 5mm shaft and can thus be used as a support bearing in different mechanical structures.

Round Plates

In order to build circular structures and crank shafts we have an assortment of circular plates.

Motor Arms

All our actuators will have a standard NEMA 17 style 5mm shaft. These motor arms can be attached to all our actuators.

Pivot Joints

These pieces can be attached to T-Slotted plastic extrusion to create pivot joints. For creating powered pivot joints, see our motor arms and actuator housings.

Sliding Mechanism

While designing 3D Printers and Milling Machines, a linear sliding mechanism is needed. Our plastic extrusion has a V-slot which allows an 8mm (diameter) steel ball to roll along the slot.  Steel balls in addition to our slides can be used to create sliding mechanisms,

The length of the slide body is 20mm. Multiple bodies are stackable to create slides of various lengths.

Actuator Housings

We provide simple housings for different types of actuators. The actuators can be installed inside the housing. The housing itself is like a piece of extrusion or joining plate which makes it simple to attach to other structures. A mount for a DC Motor is shown below.

The Kits

We plan to bundle the parts in kits. Below is the initial line up of kits we are designing. The kits will be powered by Arduino micro controllers.

Microbug

This is our simplest kit and a great way to get started. It can be powered using two motor geared DC motors available from Pololu and controlled using an Arduino micro controller.

Hexapod

This is one of our more complex kits. It is a hexapod. Can be powered using 18 servo motors and controlled using an Arduino micro controller.

Laser Cutter Frame

Use the above frame to build your own laser cutter or attach a pen and make a simple plotter.

3D Printer Frame

Interested in building a 3D printer. Our frame is a great way to gets started. Power it using three NEMA 17 stepper motors, attach an extruder and control using an Arduino micro-controller.

Milling Machine Frame

Complement your 3D printer with a milling machine. So you can add and subtract! Power this with three NEMA 17 stepper motors and control using an Arduino micro-controller.

Ferris Wheel

This ferris wheel is more than two feet in diameter. Power it with a stepper motor controlled with an Arduino micro-controller.

Future Work

We have other kits in development including a quad copter and a clock.

Assorted Parts

Our parts will also be marketed individually as well as in assortments so "makers" can pick and chose the parts they need.

2 x 2 Corner Connector Pack

This pack includes 50 connectors, adequate for building 2 boxes.

3 x 3 Corner Connector Pack

This pack include 25 connectors, adequate for building 1 box.

Assorted Corner Plate Pack

Assortment includes --

1. 40mm x 40mm Corner Connector (Qty 24)

2. 40mm x 60mm Corner Connector (Qty 16)

3. 60mm x 60mm Corner Connector (Qty 4)

44 Plates in Total

Assorted T Plate Pack

Assortment includes --

1. 40mm x 60mm T Connector (Qty 5)

2. 60mm x 60mm T Connector (Qty 5)

3. 80mm x 80mm T Connector (Qty 3)

4. 100mm x 60mm Cross Connector (Qty 5)

18 Plates in Total

Assorted Strips Pack

Assortment includes --

1. 20mm x 40mm plates (Qty 24)

2. 20mm x 60mm plates (Qty 18)

3. 20mm x 80 mm plates (Qty 9)

4. 20mm x 100 mm plates (Qty 9)

5. 20mm x 120mm plates 3 (Qty 6)

66 Plates in Total

Assorted Flat Plates #1 Pack

Assortment includes --

1. 40mm x 40mm plates (Qty 8)

2. 40mm x 60mm plates (Qty 7)

3. 40mm x 80mm plates (Qty 6)

4. 40mm x 100mm plates (Qty 6)

5. 40mm x 120mm plates (Qty 2)

29 Plates in Total

Assorted Flat Plates #2 Pack

Assortment includes --

1. 60mm x 40mm plates (Qty 7)

2. 60mm x 60mm plates (Qty 7)

3. 60mm x 80 mm plates (Qty 3)

4. 60mm x 100 mm plates (Qty 3)

5. 60mm x 120mm plates (Qty 2)

22 Plates in Total

Assorted Flat Plates #3 Pack

Assortment includes --

1. 80mm x 40mm plates (Qty 4)

2. 80mm x 60mm plates (Qty 4)

3. 80mm x 80mm plates (Qty 3)

4. 80mm x 100mm plates (Qty 3)

5. 80mm x 120mm plates (Qty 2)

16 Plates in Total

Assorted Angle Plates Pack

Assortment includes --

1. 15 Degree Connector (Qty 12)

2. 30 Degree Connector (Qty 12)

3. 45 Degree Connector (Qty 12)

36 Plates in Total

Assorted Round Plates and Motor Arms Pack

1. 20mm x 60mm Motor Arm (Qty 8)

2. 20mm x 100mm Motor Arm (Qty 4)

3. 100mm x 100mm Motor Arm (Qty 2)

4. 60mm Round Plates 90 Degree Holes (Qty 4)

5. 60mm Round Plates 60 Degree Holes (Qty 4)

6. 100mm Round Plate 60 Degree Holes (Qty 2)

24 Plates in Total

Sliding Mechanism Pack

 4 Sets as Pictures (Center Extrusion Not Included)

DC Motor Mount Pack

 Pack includes 8 Mounts and End Caps (Motors not included)

NEMA 17 Stepper Motor Mount Pack

1. 90 Degree NEMA 17 Mount (Qty 5)

2. 90 Degree NEMA 17 Mount (Qty 5)

NEMA 14 Stepper Motor Mount Pack

1. 90 Degree NEMA 14 Mount (Qty 5)

2. 90 Degree NEMA 14 Mount (Qty 5)

Risks and challenges

One primary challenge in this project is that there is a very large variety of parts and at least initially part counts will be low. Furthermore the tooling would need to be created within a tight budget. We are planning to use several different processes to manufacture parts.

The plastic beam itself will be extruded. We have obtained a binding quotation from an extrusion company to create the extrusion die and per foot cost of the extruding the beams. To minimize shipping costs the extrusion company is located within proximity of our premises.

Joining plates will be cut from 1/4 inch acrylic sheet. We have identified the manufacturer and model of the machine we intend to purchase. To minimize risks, we are purchasing a model that is made in USA albeit it is a bit more expensive than models that are made and in and ship from China.

Angles plates will be first we laser cut from 1/4 inch acrylic sheet and then bent using an acrylic bending machine. We have developed the necessary tooling and purchased an acrylic bending machine.

Round plates, motor arms, and wheels will first be laser cut in layers and then the layers will be "welded" using an ultrasonic welding machine designed for plastic. The have purchased the necessary machine for plastic welding.

Connectors, pivot joints, sliding mechanisms and actuator housings will need to be injection molded. To control costs we have identified an offshore injection molding company that will create the molds and then mold the parts for us. We have designed the rewards to minimize the number of molded parts and already developed the molds for the parts that are required to deliver the rewards.

Our manufacturing process is flexible in that we can create an almost infinite variety of joining plates, angle plates, round plates and wheels without any additional tooling costs. This will allow us to offer a custom parts service. For parts that cannot be created using laser cutters, bending machines and ultrasonic welding, we will create the custom parts using 3D printing.

The primary advantage of our manufacturing plan is that a wide variety of parts can be built using a laser cutter. This will allow us to deliver a almost infinite variety of parts including custom parts. We also intend to offer them in different thickness as well as in powder coated metal.

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    PlexiBots Hexapod. Kit contains all the mechanical components required to create a Hexapod robot. (Motors not included)

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    Both the Microbug and Hexapod. Kits include all the mechanical components required to create both these mobile robots. (Motors not included)

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    PlexiBots Laser Cutter Frame. Kit contains all the mechanical components required to create a Laser Cutter Frame. (Motors not included)

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    PlexiBots 3D Printer Frame. Kit contains all the mechanical components required to create a 3D Printer Frame. (Motors not included)

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    Both the 3D Printer Frame and the Milling Machine Frame. Kits will contains all the mechanical components required to create both these machines. (Motors not included)

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Funding period

- (30 days)