About this project
Imagine you could make a hollow mold out of anything you wanted quickly and easily. Up until now if you wanted to make your own hollow chocolate bunny or plastic pink flamingo you would have to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars for an expensive roto-casting machine or 3D printer. I aim to empower people to make what they will with a cheaper alternative.
A roto-caster is a machine that uses centrifugal force to fully coat the inside of a mold, thereby covering every crevice and leaving a hollow cavity inside the resulting cast (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotational_molding). The smartCaster is an automatic roto-casting machine running off of open source electronics. Once the project is completed the plans will be made freely available under the newly announced CERN Open Source Hardware License so anyone can make their own.
By utilizing the open source Arduino micro-controller as the brains of the machine I'll be able to offer casting programs that allow you to control things like casting run time and rotation speed. In addition, anyone will be able to modify and tweak the software to meet their specific needs.
With the funding provided by your patronage I will be able to buy the raw materials I need to continue building and expanding on a smartCaster prototype which I hope to one day be able to sell en masse. After funding I'll be offering documents and tutorials on building your own smartCaster. In addition I will be offering kits with the required parts at a reasonable price.
Those bunnies won't be casting themselves. Please join me in making this project a reality. :-)
Shipping price will be determined by package weight, destination and shipping option. I plan to offer estimates on shipping when the project is near completion but rest assured that I am optimizing the kit and its components to be easy and cheap to mail.
The documents will be available to everyone that contributed over the $5 amount.
I was wondering what a roto-casting machine would add to the toolbox of someone who already has a 3d printer in terms of materials, cost, available shapes, resolution, strength of parts, and time.
A rotocaster has a few advantages as well as a few disadvantages to a 3D printer, meaning it does work very well as a compliment as opposed to replacement.
Materials wise you have a big advantage as you can use a casting material with different texture, strength or flexibility whereas with 3D printers it's usually some sort of rigid plastic. Casting materials tend to be a little on the expensive side unless you buy in bulk so I would say it's about a draw there with the 3D printer maybe being a little cheaper. While the option does not exist with rotocasting some of the more expensive 3D printers allow you to print with different colored plastics to make non-solid colored objects but this is not common.
Finished (roto)casts are high quality and usually don't need much post processing to be usable whereas most (affordable) 3D printers do require some degree of finishing since they tend to create objects with strange surface properties. Rotocasting does have the potential to make casts with bubbles but its much less likely than traditional casting and not usually a problem. For shapes, rotocasting is an excellent way to create hollow casts but it does not allow you to fill this space arbitrarily like a 3D printer would.
Time wise the rotocaster is a little better since the curing time is based on the casting material you use. Smooth-cast 300 for instance has a cure time of about 10 minutes but this may not be enough time to create a good hollow object. Smooth-cast 305 (what I use) gives you 30 minutes curing time and suits rotocasting better. 3D printers from my experience take a LONG time. An equivalent object would probably take 2 to 3 times longer than using rotocasting.
I actually have a good example of using both from the MakerFaire I recently attended. There, a vendor used a 3D printer to create very unique and interesting looking jewelery (rings, pendants...). She would then make a sturdy mold of the 3D printed object and using traditional casting (as well as rotocasting) she would fill the molds with liquid metal to create a duplicate of the 3D printed object in metal. The results were VERY impressive.
The smartCaster motor can run easily with up to about 3 lbs of cargo.
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