EasyMaker is a reconfigurable robot to make stuff. It can be reconfigured into a CNC mill or a 3d printer.
EasyMaker is a reconfigurable robot to make stuff. It can be reconfigured into a CNC mill or a 3d printer. Read more
About this project
I'm Imran Peerbhai. I'm a Maker, have a degree in Economics, and have worked at Microsoft for most of my career. I'm currently an IT Manager at UW Seattle, and a law student at Seattle U. I have a personal blog for those who want to know more about me. I hang out a hacker space in Seattle -- MetrixCreateSpace a lot, so you may see me there.
So, I designed this thing I call EasyMaker. It's a modular creation robot. I like to think of it as the "machine that can make almost anything". I currently have 3D printing and lightweight CNC mill modes ready and working. There's a lot of features on this robot, and here are some that I'm really proud of -- integrated workpiece supports, so you can mill without a vice, a reconfigurable drive system, so you can use either belt or screw drive with all the same parts, and it's an easy build.
It does each thing well! It's a better printer than my Prusa. Holes are accurate! The Z axis is so strong, it can correct a bent drive screw! Quiet, smooth. Oh, and FAST. I mean, it can out-speed my Prusa. I don't know its max limit yet -- but it's already beaten my dedicated printer. You saw it doing a simple climb-mill operation in the video. But I forgot to add video of it printing. So, here's a link to a printing video:
There's more video at the peerbhairobotics blog. I even have the video of that Orange owl being printed, with a zoomed-in close up picture.
It's also a fantastic mill! It does a better job than my existing mill, using the same spindle. It's fast, accurate, and safe. The 40 watt rotary tool I use as a spindle will likely stall when it hits the frame, or when given bad GCode. This way, broken bits and flying shards are less common. You can choose a higher duty spindle, and configure the machine to screw drive for heavier duty/higher accuracy work if you like. I've released drawings for the spindle mounts on Thingiverse -- just modify them to the size you need for the spindle of your choice.
My dream for this machine is a true, general purpose robot that can be used to make almost anything, with almost any technology, and with good output quality. Whether that's FFF ( fused filament -- aka RepRap ), CNC milling, lathing, drawing, painting, sculpting or just plain old printing on paper. It's the machine for both nerds and artists. I'm not there yet, but this is a good start.
It's all open source, and unlike a lot of other makers, I've released the Alpha "in progress" design on thingiverse. The parts are either common/standard, or plates that can you can make yourself with an EasyMaker or with robots you'll likely find in a local hackerspace. I've designed the robot to "bootstrap" -- an incomplete EasyMaker with only a few plates can make all the parts needed to complete itself. This way, you can easily maintain the machine yourself, and make your own spare parts. The electronics are all open source, so even they can be easily repaired/replaced. The common parts are available from multiple suppliers world-wide. There's no oddball items -- special screws, DRM, or other things that prevent you from doing what you want with this machine.
Since you reconfigure EasyMaker as you want it, you get to learn a lot about the process. You can use it to explain concepts like Inertia to your kids/friends, or even use the parts to make other robots. The design means that you're open to experiment/innovate. Everything is open source. Electronics. Software. Hardware Design. You can learn anything about the machine you want. EasyMaker is also a true RepRap -- it can copy itself.
1. Design Basic Frame and Motion system
2. Build First Prototype.
Done. Alpha-1 was at Maker Faire, and working! I've milled with it, and I've printed with it. Issues were found and corrected in Alpha-2.
3. Design Second Prototype.
Done. Alpha-2 is design complete.
4. Build and test second prototype.
In Progress. Alpha-2 is now built and tested in 3D printer mode, and first prints have been completed. Alpha-2 is currently milling. Alpha-2 makes some changes from Alpha-1 -- Mainly the gantry supports are heavier, and some parts have been resized/moved. Alpha-2 showed me two design flaws that I'm now correcting. The first is that it's harder to square than I'd like, and I've partially solved that with the wooden jigs you see mounted on the frame ( reduced square time by 3/4! ), but I still don't feel that squaring is easy enough to do for a novice. The second is that the 625 bearing used to guide the belt is handling both radial and axial loads, and over time, the bearing will fail. I've designed a new part to change the load, so that the bearings will not fail. That's the part you saw me milling out in the video. This Alpha-2 robot is the robot that will be shipping first.
5. Design Kindred Spirit Robot.
Kindred Spirit is an EasyMaker Alpha-2 that has been value engineered. This robot is much riskier than the existing Alpha-2, in that it has other KickStarter projects integrated into it ( Extruders, electronics, etc... ), and will have some cast polyurethane parts. It may not support all features of Alpha-2 -- for example, the drive system will may not be reconfigurable. It will still print and mill. I call it Kindred spirit because, as a backer, you're more interested in the vision of this model, and are willing to accept the higher risk this version entails. By value engineering Alpha-2, I hope the entailing cost reduction will bring the robot to more people.
I keep a separate blog for keeping up with me and what I'm doing on this robot at http://peerbhairobotics.com/news/. I update the blog about once every 2 weeks, though sometimes breaks can get longer, depending on things like final exams and the like. I started this blog for Maker Faire, and previously had the same information as posts on my personal blog. It outlines my thoughts on direction, progress, challenges, etc... You can get a sense of how it got to this point, and get to see where I'm going with it. I have additional pictures of EasyMaker and video of it running in the different configurations on that website.
For the most part, the rewards are straight forward. The Kindred Spirit version of EasyMaker ships much later than the other versions. It has more parts that need to be designed. The mill only version is a little cheaper, in that it doesn't include an extruder or some of the supporting parts. There are various partial versions that include only a component or subset of parts, which are designed for the DIY crowd. I cannot build a large quantity of cables to connect the motors to the electronics. Hence, all robots that ship with both motors and electronics will require that you make your own cables.
The current rewards are meant for US only shipping. If enough people ask, I can figure out international shipping to your nation for an additional charge. Just let me know which country, and if there's a preferred carrier you want me to use for that country. EasyMaker is large and heavy! The full robot is about 60 pounds, and is 2 feet long.
Risks and challenges
The biggest risk of EasyMaker is sourcing. If you've looked at the peerbhairobotics.com website, you'll notice that EasyMaker costs a lot in the Bill of Materials spreadsheet. Just the parts cost is over $1,200 if bought from a single supplier, like McMaster.
But you're not buying a product -- you're backing a project. The project takes some risks in order to bring EasyMaker to as many people as possible. With wide distribution and an open-source license, I hope to get enough people involved to complete the vision of the robot that makes almost anything. EasyMaker is designed to be flexible, reconfigurable, and adaptable.
To achieve the project's goals, the biggest risk I've taken is suppler risk. This is because I've specially sourced items through small businesses and outsourced suppliers when possible. These smaller suppliers are cheaper, but their variance is unknown. The partially assembled robots have the lowest risks, in that I use known, large, tested suppliers for that robot.
As the kits get cheaper, the riskiness of the suppliers increase. The bearings kit, for example, uses a Korean supplier through a Chinese intermediary. I've bought from them before, and they delivered well. But at small quantity, when I was physically in China. I don't know that the intermediary can get the quantity I want, or reliably ship it to me in the US.
There's also a lot of suppliers, and I place my orders to suppliers after raising money through KickStarter. Any one of those suppliers may have a problem, and I may or may not be able to solve those problems. In some cases, the supplier is another Kickstarter Project.
The number of suppliers also means a lot of boxes will arrive, which then have to be unpacked and accurately assembled into the appropriate kits. This is why I've put quantity restrictions on some rewards -- to try and keep this workload reasonable.
Another risk is that I've never sent out so many packages before. Until I've done it, I don't know what challenges await. EasyMaker uses a lot of screws of different sizes. Just quality-assuring the right number of screws in each package will be a daunting challenge, much less packing them so they don't get lost.
I've tried to mitigate these risks through pricing and quantity restrictions. Either I've built in defect correction margins, or I've restricted the quantity to a level I feel is reasonable to correct should a problem arise. Hopefully, these will control the risk to a reasonable level.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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