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$95,572 pledged of $640,000 goal
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By Ability3D
$95,572 pledged of $640,000 goal
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What is a prototype?

A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:

Proof of Concept

Explorations that test ideas and functionality.

Functional Prototype

Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.

Appearance Prototype

Looks like the final product, but is not functional.

Design Prototype

Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.

Production Prototype

Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.

684503666b890f5fd92b24d7b8988c07 original

Prototype Gallery

These photos and videos provide a detailed look at this project’s development.

About

3D METAL Printing at home:  

3D Metal Printing at home is the holy grail of 3d printing.  Metal parts are strong, hard, durable, heat resistant... no wonder it's such a sought-after material for home 3d printing.  But no real option exists for 3d printing real metal parts at home until now.

We have taken 2 proven, simple technologies, and combined them to achieve 3D Metal Printing at home.  The Ability1 is half MIG welder and half CNC mill.  We use hybrid 3d printing, using both additive and subtractive manufacturing, to 3d print real metal parts.  A layer of metal is deposited by the MIG welder, then that rough layer is trimmed accurately by the trimming bit in the CNC mill.  The cycle repeats, weld/trim, weld/trim, building a stack of accurate slices, resulting in an accurate 3d printed metal part.  Parts are printed on a dissimilar metal platen, creating imperfect adhesion, allowing parts to be removed by striking them with a punch/chisel and hammer.

3D Metal Print real parts you can actually use!
3D Metal Print real parts you can actually use!

As seen in:

Printing materials:  

MIG welding wire, 100% solid metal.
MIG welding wire, 100% solid metal.

The Ability1 deposits its raw material, MIG welding wire, using a MIG welder. MIG welding is a well-established technology and there are many different types of MIG welding wire available. Aluminum, steel, and stainless steel can all be deposited by MIG welding and these wire types are widely available. We intend to sell MIG welding wire on our website for the convenience of our customers, but Ability1 owners are free to purchase MIG welding wire from anywhere they want. We have no desire to force individuals to buy proprietary materials, we want to empower individuals to 3d print real metal parts at home.

Machine Specifications: 

  • Printer Dimensions: Approximately 18” wide, 24” deep, 23” tall 
  • Printer Weight: Approximately 70 pounds 
  • Printer Power: 115 VAC 60Hz preferred 
  • Welder Dimensions: Approximately 11” wide, 22” deep, 13” tall 
  • Welder Weight: Approximately 50 pounds 
  • Welder Power: 115 VAC 60Hz preferred 
  • Build Volume: 8”x8”x8” (200mm x 200mm x 200mm) 
  • Spindle: 300 watts, 10,000 rpm maximum
  • Positioning Accuracy: +/- 0.001 inches (+/- 25 microns) 
  • Minimum Layer Thickness: Due to subtractive portion of hybrid process, the minimum can be as thin as desired, down to 0.002" (50 micron) if desired
  • Maximum Layer Thickness: Up to 1mm (1000 microns) 
  • Minimum Feature Size: Determined by radius of trimming bit used in CNC spindle 
  • Raw material: MIG welding wire (0.023”, 0.030” diameter) on spools 
  • Fume control: Sealed all-metal housing and negative-pressure ventilation blower 
  • Computing power: Built-in computer 

Construction:  

All-metal heavy-duty construction.  As you can tell, this definitely isn't a 3d plastic printer.  To print metal, you have to be MADE of metal!
All-metal heavy-duty construction. As you can tell, this definitely isn't a 3d plastic printer. To print metal, you have to be MADE of metal!

 

  • Approximately 70 pounds of solid, rigid, all-metal construction 
  • Ballscrews on X and Y axis, 
  • Precision Acme screws on Z axis 
  • Dual 15mm Linear rails and linear ball rail block bearings on every single axis 
  • Completely sealed design 
  • Powerful spindle motor with ER-11 collet  

Safety:  

  • All-metal construction contains sparks
  • Sealed enclosure contains fumes
  • Negative-pressure blower exhausts fumes outside though hose out through window sill
  • Interlock safety switches on doors/ hatches
  • Motorized shutter that automatically slides to cover window with special welding glass during welding will be included (not present on prototype printer shown in video)
  • Welding current path electrically isolated from contact with printer
  • Will achieve UL listing and CE mark after successful Kickstarter campaign.  

What’s included:  

  • Ability1 3D Metal Printer 
  • Welder 
  • All cables and power cords 
  • Exhaust hose 
  • Window sill exhaust hose adapter  

What you’ll need:  

  • Monitor, mouse, and keyboard (for built in computer)
  • Electrical power outlet with full 15 amp or 20 amp capacity. 110-125 VAC 60Hz preferred.  
  • A second electrical power outlet with full 10 amp capacity that is on a different electrical circuit 110-125 VAC 60Hz preferred (You can use an extension cord to reach this second outlet if you need to)
  • Electricity outside the USA: See "Attention international customers" section below.
  • Cylinder of welding gas and regulator (80 cubic foot capacity or more recommended for convenience) 
  • A place to route the exhaust hose outside, such as a nearby window sill 
  • Miscellaneous: Hammer, punches, chisels, sandpaper to scuff build platform before each build, paper towels, isopropyl alcohol to clean platform, MIG welding wire (raw material of your choice)   

Hand written G-code and our current part quality and complexity:  

Simple hand-written G-code has limits, sophisticated/ smart software will unlock hybrid 3d printing's full potential.
Simple hand-written G-code has limits, sophisticated/ smart software will unlock hybrid 3d printing's full potential.

 

Our best looking part to date, printed with hand written G-code.  Accuracy of the center opening that receives the ball bearing is within 0.002" (50 micron) accuracy!
Our best looking part to date, printed with hand written G-code. Accuracy of the center opening that receives the ball bearing is within 0.002" (50 micron) accuracy!

Our hybrid 3d printing process, combining additive and subtractive manufacturing, is a simple solution based on 2 very reliable/ proven technologies that have existed for over 50 years. We have shown that these two technologies can be brought together to 3d print real metal parts at home by using the Ability1 to 3d print a few simple metal parts with hand-written G-code to drive the machine. This G-code had to be hand-written because there is no software that does what we need it to do… we are doing both additive and subtractive with a MIG welder and a CNC. Because this G-code is hand-written, it is simple, repetitive, and not “smart”. This has limited the complexity of parts we can print so far, and it has limited the quality of those parts (unfilled regions, voids, misplaced welds, etc). We are proud of demonstrating our concept with the simple parts we’ve managed produce despite our hand-written -code and we very much look forward to a successful Kickstarter campaign allowing us to put our software team on the task of making the sophisticated, “smart” software that will make more-complicated, high-quality parts possible.  

Features that will be added to the design:  

  • Fully automatic hybrid 3d printing software 
  • Built-in computer (just add monitor, mouse, and keyboard) 
  • Covers to protect all linear rails, screws, the trimming bit, and exposed components from welding sparks 
  •  Vacuum system on spindle to collect chips 
  • Motorized shutter slide to cover window with special welding glass during welding to allow safe viewing  
  • Other improvements that we realize along the way that will make the Ability1 even better! 

Machine maintenance:

  • Clean inside of machine as desired
  • Periodically empty chip vacuum canister of collected chips
  • Occasionally apply lubrication to linear rails and screws
  • Refill your welding gas bottle as needed
  • Replace trimming bit when it eventually becomes dull
  • MIG welding head has "tip" that wire passes through, this part wears out eventually, it costs less than $5
  • Scuff platen with sandpaper a bit and clean it before prints
  • After many prints are done, platen will become a bit pitted... we are adding a function in software that automatically uses the trimming bit to shave a few one-thousandths of material off the platen, creating a fresh new surface, and doing that also makes the platen perfectly level.  Pretty cool, huh?
  • After printing hundreds of parts and shaving material off the bed dozens of times, it will be thinner, and eventually you'll have to get a replacement platen, which is removed easily with 3 screws (maybe about $60 to $150 or so depending on platen material)

Made in America with 1 year warranty: 

Part for our printer being manufactured locally, right here in the USA, giving us control over quality, price, and schedule... that's how we do business at Ability3D!
Part for our printer being manufactured locally, right here in the USA, giving us control over quality, price, and schedule... that's how we do business at Ability3D!

  

We intend to use as many materials and components produced in the United States as possible, within reason. Additionally, we will fully assemble and test every single printer here in the United States. We have no intention of spending our backer’s funds on plane tickets overseas traveling to fix manufacturing issues around the world, instead we will invest our backer’s funds in quality American components whenever feasible. We will not “outsource” quality.  For these reasons, we feel very comfortable offering a 1 year warranty. 

Shipping, not included. Will be collected after Kickstarter, close to time of shipping. International customers responsible for all duties, import fees, taxes, customs, etc.

All Ability1 printers ship fully assembled from Longwood, Florida, USA. Shipping costs are not included in Kickstarter price and will be collected after the campaign has ended when your printer is ready to ship. Anticipated shipping and packaging costs for backers in the continental USA are approximately $300 or less. Shipping costs outside the USA are estimated to be between $400 to $1200 depending on country and location. Ability3D will arrange shipping, but is not responsible for any taxes, customs charges, duties, or any other import fees associated with delivery of your printer. Customers who wish to coordinate and use their own shipping from Longwood, FL, USA will be charged $60 for packaging.  

Refund Policy: By funding this project, you are supporting the remaining development and launch of the new Ability1 3d metal printer.  Your funds will be used to continue to refine and improve the design of the Ability1, create custom hybrid 3d printing software, and purchase the tools, parts, and materials necessary to build your printer. As such, we cannot provide any refunds after completion of our Kickstarter campaign.  

Attention International Customers:  

The Ability1 performs best when powered by 115 Volt AC electricity at 60 Hz frequency, although it can operate at 110 to 125 Volt 50 Hz frequency electricity with a some reduction in maximum welding speed (the time spent welding is only a small percentage of the total cycle time, so total impact on part printing times will be minimal). In countries where voltages other than approximately 115 volts AC are present you may need to purchase a transformer to change your local voltages to between 110 to 125 volts AC. Preliminary research has found that suitable transformers can be purchased for approximately $350, and we will research this further and develop recommendations prior to shipment of the Ability1

Shipping costs outside the USA are estimated to be between $400 to $1200 depending on country and location, however your shipping cost could be more or less. Ability3D will arrange shipping, but the backer is responsible for any taxes, customs charges, duties, import fees, or any other shipping/ importing costs associated with delivery of your printer.

Risks and challenges

Manufacturing and Assembly:

We are committed to using as many United States sourced materials and components as reasonably possible. This greatly reduces risk in our supply chain. We have no desire to spend our backer's funds on plane tickets around the world solving overseas quality issues... Instead we will invest our backer's funds in high quality parts and materials sourced in the United States when possible. Additionally, all assembly will take place in the United States by us/ under our direct supervision. Also, all testing and inspection will take place in the United States by us/ under our direct supervision.

Schedule:

Because all of our assembly and testing will take place in the United States by us/ under our direct supervision, this gives us the ability to commit to a delivery schedule. We will not "outsource" our commitment to shipping our backer's Ability1 3D Metal Printers on schedule.

Software:

Our electronic hardware and software are being developed locally with our constant involvement, input, and frequent physical presence. This software is very new, a hybrid 3d printing software combining both additive and subtractive techniques as relating to MIG welding combined with CNC machining. Our current hand-written g-code has demonstrated how hybrid 3d metal printing works, but that hand-written g-code limits the complexity of what we can print today. We very much look forward to our development of sophisticated, smart software that will make more complex, high quality parts possible.

Design Changes:

Our current design successfully performs hybrid 3d metal printing using hand-written g-code. Our design is a functional prototype and design changes will take place that make the Ability1 a better 3D Metal Printer. Making design changes that improve a product can introduce an element of risk, but these changes will be done to make the Ability1 a better product, and will be thoroughly tested and verified prior to shipping. We will not hesitate to make the Ability1 better when opportunities are discovered.

Regulatory approval:

We will achieve UL listing and CE mark certifications. When working with regulatory agencies, there can be challenges. With team member experience in the aerospace industry and the highly FDA regulated medical device industry, successfully achieving regulatory approval is a matter we have prior experience with.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Say: 3D METAL Printing at home is cool!

    Great way to show support if you can't afford a printer right now. Let everyone know you think that 3d METAL printing at home has amazing potential to unleash people's creativity everywhere! We'll post a thanks to you on our website Ability3D.com

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    Pledge $2,799 or more About $2,799

    Ability1 3D Metal Printer

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    Includes printer, welder, hoses, cables, window sill adapter, etc... Does not include shipping and packaging charges that will be collected when your printer is ready to ship.

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    Ability1 3D Metal Printer

    (40 AVAILABLE AT THIS PRICE)

    Ability1, 3D Metal Printer:
    Includes printer, welder, hoses, cables, window sill adapter, etc... Does not include shipping and packaging charges that will be collected when your printer is ready to ship.

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    Ability1 3D Metal Printer

    (50 AVAILABLE AT THIS PRICE)

    Ability1, 3D Metal Printer:
    Includes printer, welder, hoses, cables, window sill adapter, etc... Does not include shipping and packaging charges that will be collected when your printer is ready to ship.

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    Ability1 3D Metal Printer

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    Ability1, 3D Metal Printer:
    Includes printer, welder, hoses, cables, window sill adapter, etc... Does not include shipping and packaging charges that will be collected when your printer is ready to ship.

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Funding period

- (35 days)