About this project
How is 3DMonstr Unique?
3DMonstr has many capabilities rolled into one powerful machine.
- Its build volume is impressive. The smallest of its family is 1 cubic foot; the middle is 3.375 cubic feet, the largest is 8 cubic feet.
- It has four independent filament extruders, each with its own temperature control
- You can print small things on a big printer, but you can't print big things on a small one. That's why, whether you're printing large or small, we want to make sure that you could do so in fine resolution style, printing 40 micron layers.
- The extruders are attached to the machine via a QuickMount release making it really easy to switch them in and out and trivial to adjust their height. Just drop the extruder to the glass and go.
- 3DMonstr was built to last. It's like no 3D printer you've seen before. Made from industrial grade materials, it's incredibly sturdy and rigid. When people see this printer, they say, "Now this is serious."
- 3DMonstr printers are designed for future growth and built to last through rapidly changing technology. We wanted to build a structure that could push the limits of what future technology can throw at it because we want to be able to print more than plastic. After Kickstarter is over and the machines have been delivered, our focus will be on advanced extruders. That's why we needed to make sure we had a structure that could handle strong materials and high thermal stress.
- One of the biggest, ongoing frustrations and complaints of 3D printer users is the calibration process. It's not the kind of big we were going for, so we took the calibration solution a step further, and instead of trying to make calibration easier, we eliminated the problem by designing a large part of the problem right out of the printer.
- A nice touch is that 3DMonstr is foldable. This way, if you don't have a large workspace, you can fold it flat and tuck it away. You can also quickly remove the gantry from the table bed for easy transport. It comes apart and can be put together with no tools, in just a couple of minutes.
It sure seems like there are already a lot of 3D printers on the market, including many good ones that were supported by Kickstarter campaigns. Yet, when we needed a 3D printer for rapid prototyping of a rocket engine and for building large format cameras, we discovered that our needs fell squarely into a gap in the market.
We required a large build volume; modularity, for easy maintenance and upgradability to give us a machine that was going to last through rapidly changing technology; and four independent extruders -- quick to mount, adjust, and upgrade.
To make this happen, we needed a powerful 3D printing motion platform to handle the build volume’s large size, maintain precision, house the four independent extruders -- each with its own temperature control -- and survive high thermal stress, for a wide variety of materials.
Our last requirement was driven by the size of our workspace. We wanted the printer to take up less space when not in use, be easy to transport, and be quick and easy to set up.
Our research showed that we weren't the only ones searching for this. Engineers, makers, foodies, designers, educators, prop and model makers, museum display builders, artists, and architects all wanted to be able to use a machine with these capabilities.
So, we decided to make one for them and for you.
Quick Specs for 3DMonstr
Size & Weight
3DMonstr folds (and unfolds) as easy as 1 2 3
There are three parts on a printer that need to be properly calibrated in order to have a successful print.
- X/Y axes: This never needs to be calibrated on the 3DMonstr machines because precise calibration is built into the design with the ballscrews. Even when you fold and unfold the machine or take apart the printer bed from the gantry for transport and put back together again, the machines stay calibrated. Simply put: 3DMonstr X/Y axes is delivered to you calibrated and stays calibrated.
- Leveling the bed. You might need to level the bed occasionally when you move the machine, but we made it really easy to do so. The procedure consists of moving the extruder to several spots on the print bed, pushing the "Home" button for the Z axis, and adjusting the bed height to meet the extruder tip. More detailed instructions are included with the printer.
- Setting the Z height: This is where the QuickMount(TM) shines. All you need to do is home the z axis and drop each extruder to the glass. You're done.
4 Zero Backlash Ballscrews
Whether made by us or purchased pre-made, every piece that is a part of our 3DMonstr printers was built and chosen with care to ensure the highest quality product. For example, the zero blacklash ballscrews assemblies that are in all our machines and are shown below, have the excellent rating of C7 for high accuracy.
Our "Extrudinary" LittleTitan-Filament Extruder
Size really does matter, both large and small.
Our 3D printers are large so you can print big. Yet, with our extruders, the focus was on small, so that even with four extruders mounted on the machine, the overall package would be small and light weight so as not to impede print area and speed.
Our LittleTitan-Filament"extruders are almost .5" smaller in width and weigh about half of most extruders out there. In fact, LittleTitan-Filament weighs less than just the NEMA17 motor you'll find in most extruders.
It does this through a combination of using smaller motors, engineering a high precision gearbox, and even making some parts out of Titanium, where appropriate. Getting that right, and then making it possible to manufacture for a reasonable cost took almost 8 months, twice as long as it took to design and build the motion platform!
We re-designed our extruder over and over and over and over again, for size, weight, and manufacturability, and we now proudly introduce LittleTitan-Filament to you.
"What can I do with four extruders," you ask?
Many things. Here's one example.
When the printer is fully populated with four extruders, you may use one material extruded through a fine nozzle for the perimeter, a larger diameter nozzle for the infill, an easily dissolved plastic for support scaffolding, and another material for special purposes (such as a different perimeter color or electrically conductive structures printed right in).
With future 3DMonstr extruders, customers will be able to use additional materials. For example, you will be able to create an object with a soft insert embedded into the structure, add ballast to weight the object differently in one part, or print using much lower cost materials.
Future extruders will include..
- Food grade (chocolate, frosting, cheese)
- Low-temp paste (paraffin wax, silicon rubber, clay, and ceramics)
- Plastic pellets (PLA, ABS, and others)
Printer Reward Level Explanation
*If you need shipping outside the U.S., please get in touch with us so we can get you an individualized price quote.
What Happens When 3DMonstr Arrives At Your Door?
When 3DMonstr arrives at your door, we expect you'll be really excited, but maybe you'll be feeling something else. Elation? Trepidation? Other?
The gantry and the bed will arrive in two pieces. Once you take them out of their boxes, you’ll use the one inch steel pivot pin to piece them together. You won’t need any tools, and it will take about five-ten minutes the first time you do it.
The x/y axes will already be calibrated during production. You might need to level the print bed if where you’re putting the printer is uneven - a two minute procedure. You do it once, and you’re done.
All our 3D printers are pre-wired for four extruders; the only difference is whether you start out with the two or the four-extruder QuickMount. You simply “home” the Z axis, slide the LittleTitan-Filament extruders you have on to the QuickMount, tighten the lock, and you’re ready to go.
You'll also receive a chip with g-code so you can quickly test things out to make sure everything is working properly. Now you’re ready to go!
From There To Here
It's hard to believe it was over a year ago when we first started to "cut metal." It's easy to remember, because it was right around the time of Hurricane Sandy. We were finalizing renderings in the Senior Center of our community because our town kindly opened it up for everyone with no electricity, which was most of us.
We had been designing the printer for about three months earlier, and finally to be ready to start making the pieces and needing to wait for electricity to come back on was frustrating to say the least, although we knew that compared to many in our area, we were the lucky ones.
When we cut our first piece of metal we were on our 5th iteration of the machine. We started printing late January 2013. In March we upgraded X- and Y-axes to the NEMO 23 motor. In April, we upgraded power to 24 volts, and in May we introduced 3DMonstr at Bay Area Maker Faire.
Since then, we 1.) designed a new circuit board so that the wiring for the extruder will be neater and no longer persnickety; we 2.) reworked the tilt mechanism and therefore the connection between the gantry and the table. It's easy to fold flat as one piece, or take apart into two pieces and then put back together, easily, quickly, and with no tools, and we 3.) made changes to the frame so we could hide the electronics and cables in it. The printer now not only looks cleaner, but also the electronics and cables are easily accessible.
The Filament Extruder:
We began designs on our filament extruder in November 2012 and by January we were printing. Our first filament extruder was vertical and we had about six versions of that one. We were printing by January of this year and the extruder was working beautifully. The problem though, was that it was too expensive to produce.
We went back to the drawing board and CAD software, and designed our horizontal LittleTItan-Filament extruder. Now on our 3rd version, it's stable, and we're going to production with this version. We built two already and tested them and are building another five for testing the manufacturing process.
All told, when we looked at our version control numbers so we could write up this section for Kickstarter, we were over 700 iterations between the platform and the extruder!
Where We're Going
The prototype is complete and tested. While the Kickstarter campaign is running, we'll continue to improve manufacturability, and be here to answer questions and provide updates.
Once the campaign is over, and assuming that it's successful, we will order the raw materials and spend the next 3-1/2 months finalizing the production configuration and CAM programming and building test machines. We will then begin manufacturing and delivering the machines to you at the end of May.
Once we deliver the printers to you, our next focus will be on expanding what you can print.
Examples of what future extruders will be able to print, are: Food grade materials such as chocolate, frosting, and cheese; low-temperature pastes such as paraffin wax, silicon rubber, clay, and ceramic pastes, and plastic pellets which will lower the cost of printing. We’re working on other materials as well.
Ben Reytblat; Eduard Nesterov; Susan Minzter; Ronald Minzter, MD; Will Groppe; Anne Driscoll; Volodymyr Nesterov; Abigail Reytblat; Danny Reytblat; Sharon Murrel, PhD; Dr. Anatoli Tsaliovich
Places You May Have Seen Us!
We'd really appreciate your help!
We need your help Kickstarter, to get 3DMonstr into the hands of the people who want it. We need to...
- Add more milling machines, which we will lease, to increase production.
- Add tooling to make production more efficient: Tooling are things like cutters, mills, and drill bits; high precision measurement instruments; and tool-holding and work-holding, such as vice and fixtures.
- Increase the volume of raw material and components purchasing to lower the price.
- Install and configure an enterprise resource planning system to help us track production and customer support issues.
Years ago, Ben started a company with three friends and in doing so, set out to create a company that they would want to work for. In the case of 3DMonstr, we set out to create a 3D printer that we would want to use.
We believe we created a 3D printer that would be useful to many people, helping them realize their dreams whether they be engineers, artists, students, entrepreneurs, architects, or other Maker.
3DMonstr is versatile and powerful, and we’re excited to be able to produce it for you.
Risks and challenges
We've worked hard to eliminate as many risks and challenges as we can, but until 3DMonstr is delivered to your door, we all know that there are some because there always are.
All technical risks have been retired for all three machines. They have identical infrastructure and all our models show that everything is working 100%. The only difference in the three machines, is that as the size increases, so does the size of some of the parts such as the bed, guide rails, ballscrews, and U-Channels. This makes for predictable manufacturing and helps keep the costs down.
We are dependent on suppliers for products, be they ready made, such as ballscrews and motors, or materials that we can build custom build parts from, such as the blocks, u-channels, and the extruder.
Whenever possible, we are getting products within the U.S. The U.S. products make up about 80% of 3D Monstr's parts by weight and 75% by dollar value. Because the price for the remaining products was too great (sometimes by a factor of five!) to get them in the U.S., we are getting them from China from suppliers that we have ordered from 2-3 times each to test quality and delivery time. In fact, in the process, we eliminated a few vendors that didn't meet our quality criteria.
As soon as the Kickstarter campaign closes successfully, one of the first things we'll do, after jumping up and down for joy and expressing a huge thank you to our supporters, is order these parts from China. In addition, we are spreading out the orders among different vendors. This is why we are installing a full blown ERP system to help manage the supply chain.
What does remain "risky" at the moment is the rate of production on our infrastructure. Stretch goal success will enable us to get more space and lease more machines, increasing the rate of manufacturing.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Our 3D printers come mostly fully assembled because we believe that when they're built to completion in our facility, with precision instrumentation and by our team who have been working on the machine from day one and understand all of their ins and outs, they will be more reliable and have better precision out of the box. For the larger printers, the gantry and the tables will ship separately. You will be able to put them together, without tools, in about 3-5 minutes.
No. You can just push the filament into the top of the extruder, and click the extrude button on the host software.
That depends highly on the size of the part, on the density of infil, and the amount of support material necessary. For example, printing the owl (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:18218) at full size (6" tall) with 10% infil and no support material, we can start an Owl Football Team :-)
While you will have that option, it is not recommended. It is critical to printer's correct operation that the pin, geometry, and speeds/acceleration configurations are correct. Since our printer is not a RepRap or a Mendel, and the mechanical architecture is drastically different from those designs, the firmware settings are very specific to our printer.
Having said that, if you have the right skills and experience, and carefully maintain the correct settings, you should be able to do this. If you use our version of Marlin as a base for your customizations, we might be able to assist you if you get into trouble with customizations. Beyond that, it's not really practical for us to support you.
Not yet :-) Currently, Z axis homing is via both end-stop switches and build platform adjustments. We're working on a system that will take this one step further, but that's pretty far down the road.
As with any mechanical system, heavier objects are harder to move. Fortunately, our extruders and extruder mounts are super-light, compared to most. In addition, our X-axis motor is a huge NEMA23x3.5A Monstr that will move pretty much anything you throw at it at very high speed.
It's a powerful machine with big motors. When it's printing, you know it. Some have compared it to the Makerbot in sound volume. We think it's a little louder.
Yes, you can. Currently all our models come pre-wired for four extruders, and two extruders pre-installed, with an additional option of installing one or two more extruders, giving you maximum of four extruders. Having additional extruders allows a lot of room for flexibility. You can print support material, different colors, and different materials. This extends the range of the printer significantly.
Because of the design of our hot end, if the extruder settings are correct, the filament doesn't really get much chance to get stuck in our extruder. If, however rarely, it does happen, the recovery is simple and fast. Just pause the print job, retract the filament out of the extruder, trim the end, re-insert it back into the extruder, extrude a small amount (10mm, for example), and resume the print job.
The print platform is made of special Borosilicate Glass (BG) and has a permanent coating that promotes adhesion of thermoplastics (such as PLA, PVA and others) while providing excellent surface finish. BG is the best material for this because of its very low thermal expansion coefficient - this means that it will not sag or distort as it is heated.
There are several things about the 3D Monster family that are worth highlighting.
1.Size. At 1, 3.4 and 8 cubic feet of build volume, our machines are some of the largest in the industry
2. Multiple fully independant extruders, each with its own temperature control. The stock machines are configured with 2 extruders, but there will be an option to upgrade to 4 extruders. This is significant because you'll be able to print with support material, multiple colors, and multiple materials, which allows much more versatility in your prints.
3. Vertical Layer Resolution. Our printers have been tested to print at and below 40 micron layer resolution. This is one of industry-leading specs and begins to approach the resolution of large commercial machines
4. Rigidity. The strength of 3DMonstr is part of what allows it to be so precise. This allows us to use stronger motors, which provide faster speeds at large size - making large format printing more practical. An additional advantage of frame rigidity and precision is that once properly calibrated, the machine stays calibrated for a long time.
5. Modularity. The 3DMonstr machines are built to expand with the rapidly improving 3D printing technology. The printer is modular and has many interchangeable parts: motors, controllers, displays, and, most importantly, our FastMount(TM) extruders.
6. Our printers are foldable making them easy to store and to transport. Normally with machines this size, you need to take them apart to move them. With 3DMonstr, it's easy to fold flat as one piece, or take apart into two pieces and then put back together, easily, quickly, and with no tools.
The frame is made from industrial grade aluminum - extrusions for the frame and billets for the connecting structures. The motion control components (ballscrews and guides) are made from high-grade steel. Then they are ground and tempered for long life.
Our machines are custom made in our workshop. Although it's possible to make the pieces yourself, replicating the quality, rigidity and strength of our models would be difficult, and would require expensive equipment.
3DMonstr's printer frame is built from high strength aluminum U-channel extrusions and custom connecting blocks machined to exacting tolerances from 25.4mm (1 inch) billets of aircraft grade aluminum. The X- and Y-axes and the dual Z-axes are all built with a 16mm guide rod and a precision ground linear motion ballscrew assembly with 16mm ballnut bearings containing five ball bearing races. The five races not only support larger loads, because more balls are in contact with the rod, but, crucially, do not couple to any axis so that future wear will not introduce any backlash (wiggle.) The ballnut bearings ensure precision by eliminating backlash of the carriage against the shaft. Similarly, one of the fixed ball bearings at the end of the central rod improves precision by eliminating backlash of the ball screw itself. Together, these low friction and tight components provide precise linear motion control with no backlash, prevent sideways motion and ensure that there is no coupling of the major axes. Any imperfections that are introduced over time by wear cancel each other out, so that the printer remains consistent along all axes.
We made the custom connecting blocks using a large CNC milling machine. The rigidity of the design depends upon these custom milled parts, so we believe that it is not possible to build one without access to a large CNC mill.
Not entirely. We feel that manufacturing our printers requires large, high precision, expensive CNC machines that are not available to most OS Hardware makers. So the only folks that would actually benefit from us open-sourcing the design will be the large off-shore manufacturers. Frankly, we're not ready for that level of competition yet.
On the other hand, we would very much like to support those makers who want to improve their 3DMonstrs. Accordingly, we will publish certain mechanical, electrical and electronic interfaces on our printers under one of the OSH licenses. In particular, we will open up the mechanical interface between QuickMount and LittleTitan extruders. We will also publish the electrical and electronic interface between the control computer and the extruder itself.
So you will be able to add an extruder of your own design to your 3DMonstr printer. And you will be able to take one of our LittleTitan extruders and have enough information to try to make it work on a different printer. In the future, we will even sell extruder interface kits that include everything you need (mechanical parts and electronic components) to create your own extruders that will work with the 3DMonstr printers.
Also, all our future extruders will comply with these interfaces. So when we are ready to deliver our Food, LowTemp-Paste, and Pellet extruders, you'll be able to hang them on the 3DMonstr printer you already own.
Finally, all the software related to our printers is completely Open Source. We use a slightly customized version Merlin firmware, and will publish source code on our site. We would hope that the Merlin community accepts our modifications back into their source tree, and would work with them to help them in doing so. But in either case, we will support our modifications over time, including updating the firmware to follow major Merlin releases. As for the higher layers (Host, Slicer), we strongly recommend Open Source tools such as Repetier-Host and Slic3R. We will continue to track the developments in those communities and continue to test our compatibility with those tools
Short answer: not for large objects.
Long answer: At large size you can get either speed (as in "fast built time") or resolution. Printing at high resolution means that each layer is very thin, meaning that if you're printing something two feet tall, at layers 0.1mm thick, you're printing almost 6,100 layers! This can take time.
Prosumer is a new and happy medium between professional and consumer equipment. Prosumer technology has a specific market, which is where you come in. Our target market is consumers who are interested in 3D printing at large scale, and who are going to be more involved with the creation process, from design to personal customization.
The 3DMonstr family of 3D printers is going to help define prosumer products by competing with similar professional grade products, while retaining consumer prices.
There are 4 mount points on the 3DMonstr printers - two on each side. Each mount point is a hole threaded to accept a 1/4"-20 screw. Our standard mount consists of a threaded rod that fits into the hole, a flat aluminum filament guide, and a counter-nut to tighten everything up.
You can then mount one of two filament holders - a folding holder that accomodates loose coils of filament and end-cap holders that work with filament spools. We will publish printable plans for both in the Downloads section of our site. 3DMonstr printers come with one of each, and you can print as many additional holders as you wish. If you use filament spools that are not compatible with our existing end-cap holders, you can use our printable plans as a pattern to design your own custom end-caps.
Additionally, you will need a lock-nut to go on the end of the threaded rod to hold the whole thing together. The plans for the lock-nut will be published on our site as well, so you'll be able to print as many as you need.
Finally, when you purchase a 3DMonstr printer it will come with the same number of holder part kits as the number of extruders you specify at that time. So a standard 2-extruder machine will come with 2 of each (threaded rod, fliament guide, counter-nut, and lock-nut). And a machine with the full 4 extruders will come with 4 holder part kits. If you purchase additional extruders at a later time, you will also be able to purchase a separate holder parts kit from our on-line store.
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