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We are two masters of engineering students at UC Berkeley in their last year and avid 3D printers (almost obssesed... we're always looking for an excuse to use 3D printing in a class). The 3D Refiner came to be from our pain of having to wait for 3D prints AND all the time spent after printing to clean the part and make it presentable.
We figured why not 3D print at the lowest resolution and with the highest speed... you get the print in a fraction of the time, but they looked horrible and the plastic layers were very prominent.
So we tried different methods to improve the prints finish and still save a ton of time. We tried: (1) sand paper on the part, (2) wiping the part with different solvents, (3) egg beating a bowl of solvent with the part... (13?) a pressurized flow of solvent at the part while its rotating in a tank of solvent -- the 3D Refiner.
As a side note, if your interested in the 3D Refiner then check out the RigidBot 3D Printer, together these two products are the perfect combination for any 3D printing enthusiasts or hobbyists, see it here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1650950769/rigidbot-3d-printer?ref=live
So what exactly is the 3D Refiner: a machine that rotates a 3D printed part in front of a pressurized and constant flow of solvent, allowing for a symmetric smoothing of the print, resulting in the appearance of a high quality and appealing finish for any 3D printed part.
In our last three months at Berkeley, we have been able to secure lab space exclusive for the 3D Refiner, which is where we will produce and assembled most of the finished product. We have a detailed plan how we will meet our production goals (read more about that below). Also, we have tried to address all the possible risks as much as possible (read more about that below and learn about the next generation 3D refiner). All in all, we hope that our almost 4 months of hard work, research, development, and prototyping can result in solving some of the pains 3D print enthusiasts, hobbyists, and even professionals encounter by saving you tons of time (check out the pictures below for results).
Of course none of this is possible without your support, so please share this with your friends or feel free to donate to the cause (we have some fun rewards, other than the 3D refiner), we appreciate you all very much, thank you!
We also would like to thank the Fung Institute and CITRIS Lab here at UC Berkeley for their support!
Risks and challenges
There are always challenges with every new piece of hardware; we believe we have addressed most of them through dedicated design, prototyping, and testing with this first generation 3D refiner. With a successful funding, we hope that OUR production run for YOU will have extra added-on goodies and features, making for an even higher-quality 3D Refiner. As far as risks go, this product relies on the use of a diluted solvent-water mix, which can give off fumes (we recommend operating the machine in a large open room with plenty of ventilation or using a "painters" mask), fortunately the recommended and dilute solution is not flammable (thanks to our friends in Chemical Engineering). On a side note, after attempting many other "cleaning" methods, we have found the most reliable and quick method to achieve a quality and uniform corrosion of a 3D printed part is through a pressure applying liquid bath.
We are constantly discovering new ways to improve our product, even as we are writing this. These will be captured in the next generation product, which with your help and a successful campaign, we hope to research and develop. Second generation is going to be much smaller, lighter, using less solvent, and completely air tight before, during, and after operation. We will provide periodic updates during the lifetime of the second generation product development on our website www.3dprintsexpress.com.
Electronics & Water/Solvent: We have been careful to design a shielded platform above the solvent tank where the two circuits with micro-processor, power adapter, and servos can remain separate and unaffected. The high pressure water pump is waterproof and made of a high grade and durable plastic (with a heavy duty power cable), using a ceramic impeller, which allows the pump to not be affected by the solvent. We have designed a waterproof housing for the DC motor rotating the platform; this housing is to avoid water/solvent damage to the motor.
Manufacture, Assembly, and Shipping - We have developed multiple tiered scenarios depending on the success of this Kickstarter and the volumes for production. We have an UP! 3D printer which will be used to create the majority of assembly components on the machine and all the necessary tools to construct, code, solder, and put together the 3D Refiner have already been acquired. Currently, we have the capacity to build two 3D refiners per day, while juggling our classes of course ; ). If more than forty 3D refiners are ordered we have a plan that involves some outsourcing to help meet the deadlines set. We have prepared and sourced/bid-out all the final assembly components for 3 different volume scenarios (less than 40, 125, or 250) to meet our deadlines, rest assured we will get you a quality product on time, if not earlier.
Team - We've got a great team, between Ross (Electrical Engineer) handling all the electronics, software and connections, and David (Industrial Engineer) covering the housings, pump, platforms, and assembly components. We have worked tirelessly to get us where we are today. We will continue to work hard to take the product forward to production and even further on, but we need your help.
Thank you for all your support, we are truly grateful!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)