The TangiBot - the affordable Open Source 3D Printer
The TangiBot - the affordable Open Source 3D Printer
The TangiBot is a clone of a popular open source 3D Printer. The same performance and features at a roughly 33% discount.
The TangiBot is a clone of a popular open source 3D Printer. The same performance and features at a roughly 33% discount. Read more
About this project
Who am I?
I have always loved building things. I was famous as a kid for building cat traps to try and catch the neighborhood cats. When I went to college, I tried to maximize my future opportunities for making things by studying engineering and business. When I finished 7 years of college in 2002 I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. My wife and would joke all the time about “what I wanted to be when I grew up.”
For the past decade I have been producing fun software and products for well-known companies. You can read more about me in my bio. The link is located just to the right of this text under my picture.
Why did I decide to sell the TangiBot?
I started following 3D Printers about 3 years ago. I even convinced my employer at that time to buy a 3D Printer. I was hoping I could somehow tie it into what I was doing at work ;-) Recently I had the thought, “If I can’t decide what type of product to make why not make a product that makes stuff?” I am currently pursuing this dream full time.
I love 3D Printing. It’s an amazing thing to hold something in your hand that was only a thought a few moments earlier. I want to get 3D Printers into the hands of more people so that we can see what amazing things might happen when their dreams become tangible – something real that can be shared. Lowering the price is the first step.
As I work to launch the TangiBot I am working 60-80 weeks on a regular basis. Not a minute of it has felt like work. When you are pursuing a passion it just feels right.
What does supporting this project mean to you?
By backing this project you are doing one or more of the following:
- Pre-purchasing a TangiBot
- Making a contribution for which you will receive a token of appreciation (a printed medallion and your name listed on the company website forever)
- Or maybe you just want to show your support for taking an open source design to the masses (see question 1 in the FAQs below)
What is a TangiBot?
The TangiBot is a clone of a very popular open source 3D Printer. It offers the same great performance and features but it costs roughly 2/3 what others will charge you for it. Depending on the model you buy, that is anywhere from $550-700 off! The TangiBot is 100% compatible with firmware upgrades, parts and accessories that are available from multiple suppliers on the internet. Because the TangiBot uses a popular design there is also a very active community that also supports the machine.
Does the TangiBot differ from the popular open source design in anyway?
So a price drop of ~33% isn’t a big enough difference for you? OK, keep reading…
I chose this design because it is proven, popular and has a very active community. I didn't want backers of this project to have to take a gamble on an unproven design. One of my goals is to remain 100% compatible with parts already being supplied for this design. Because of this I am limited in the changes I can make. Most of the changes that are being made are manufacturing changes. Because the manufacturing process is currently being developed it is constantly being evaluated and improved. I do not have a complete list of all the improvements at this time but here is a short list of some of the changes:
- Designing the PCB (motherboard) so that it is compliant with FCC regulations
- Thread lock and locking washers/nuts on important bolts to limit the amount of maintenance that must be done on the TangiBot
- Protecting the PCB (the motherboard) so that it cannot be easily shorted out by loose screws or other objects
- Replacing key plywood parts with plastic parts (like the z-axis guide rod mounting plates)
- An Acrylic case (for those of you who chose to buy acrylic)
There are a few other improvements that are being kicked around such as closing in the sides of the case. But big changes, like enclosing the sides, will be fully vetted by engineering and approved by my backers before they are implemented.
If you didn’t understand all of what I just said, don’t worry. It simply means that your TangiBot will print the best quality parts possible when compared to the prints from other machines using the same open source design.
Why should you buy a TangiBot?
The TangiBot is the best 3D printer on the market. The awards this design has won and the popularity of its open design is a testament to that fact. Here is a quick list of the benefits of buying a TangiBot:
- 2/3 the price of what others are selling the same design (discount of $550-700)
- You can get it fully assembled and tested in Acrylic (only available here)
- The highest quality 3D Printer
- The best features
- A very active community of owners
- Thousands of 3D designs available to download and print online
- Design your own parts, toys, games, and models
Why are there 4 different models of TangiBot?
The standard TangiBot comes in a high quality plywood case with a single extruder. You can also buy the TangiBot in an acrylic (plastic) case or with a dual extruder. The dual extruder is capable of printing more than one color of plastic at the same time. Your four options are:
- ($1199) Plywood Single Extrusion
- ($1299) Acrylic Single Extrusion
- ($1299) Plywood Dual Extrusion
- ($1399) Acrylic Dual Extrusion
Please keep in mind that if you want to buy a fully assembled and tested TangiBot in Acrylic you can only get it here.
How do you use the TangiBot?
The TangiBot prints anything you can imagine out of ABS plastic (and PLA). ABS is the same plastic used in Legos You can design your own parts using free tools like tinkerCAD.com or Google Sketchup. If you have access to a professional CAD tool like ProEngineer or Solidworks, those tools will also work. You can also download parts online. One of the biggest and most popular places to download parts is thingiverse.com. Many of the online design tools (like tinkerCAD) also have databases where you can search for parts to print.
Don't let the word "CAD" intimidate you. CAD has long been a tool for professional engineers but in the last few years many free and easy to use tools have become available to the public. I am a big fan of tinkerCAD because it is so easy to use.
What can you use your printed parts for?
I have used the parts I printed for all kinds of things. Here is a list of some of the things I have printed on my TangiBot in the past few weeks:
- Parts to fix the icemaker in my fridge (this saved me $100 in parts and $75 for a repair man)
- New parts for my tripod (this saved me $25 and 1 week I didn't have to wait for shipping)
- Parts to fix my toilet (this saved me $45 in parts and a trip to the hardware store)
- A mount for my smart phone to attach to the handlebars of my bike (similar products cost $20-25 and mine works exactly the way I want it to because I printed it)
- Custom hangers to hang things like my kids Nerf guns on the wall
- Desk accessories (pen holders, etc.)
- A penny catapult and many blocks for the game SEEJ (search for SEEJ on thingiverse.com)
- Tool holders and organizers for my shop
- Drink coasters with my kids names on them
- Toys for my kids and the neighborhood kids
- Engineering prototype parts
My TangiBot regularly runs 10-12 hours a day printing all kinds of things. In the past few weeks my TangiBot has saved me about $300-350 because I have made things instead of having to buy them.
How much does the Plastic Cost?
Plastic can be bought from many sources on the internet. The TangiBot uses 1.75/1.8mm filament plastic. It can use either ABS or PLA plastic. For 1Kg (2.2 lbs) of ABS plastic you will spend anywhere from $25-45 depending on the color and who you buy it from. Plastic comes in all colors. There are even special colors available like glow in the dark!
Your single extrusion TangiBot comes with 1Kg (2.2 lbs) of white ABS plastic. The dual extrusion TangiBot comes with 2Kg of plastic - 1Kg of while and 1 Kg of black.
How much will 1Kg (2.2 lbs.) of plastic print?
This is a tough question because it really depends on what you print. I printed all of the stuff I listed above and used about 75% of a 1Kg spool. Similar to a computers "draft" mode, the TangiBot has different settings you can use to control how much plastic you use when you print. For example, you can decide if you want your parts to be anywhere from hollow to 100% solid. In my example above, where I used 75% of a 1Kg spool, I printed most of the parts anywhere between 10% solid and 33% solid.
I have included the "cost to print" for the projects I have listed in my project updates.
Why am I on Kickstarter?
I am ready to start production but don't have the money. I need 400 people to pre-order the TangiBot so that I can begin production. This is where you come in. Please buy a TangiBot today. If you live outside the continental United States please be sure to buy the international shipping reward.
How was this prototype made?
The prototype you saw in the video was made by taking parts from three different sources.
- I manufactured some of the parts locally in Utah
- I bought parts like rods, motors, linear bearings, screws, nuts, etc. from suppliers
- I took parts from a Makerbot Replicator
Before anyone cries foul and claims that using parts from someone else's product in my prototype is cheating please consider the following example. I have not yet produced any tooling to manufacture plastic parts. Plastics tooling requires a significant investment of money and yet, I need my prototype to be as close to production quality as possible. The parts I produce with my own plastic tooling will be identical to those made by Makerbot. Because of this, I used the plastic parts from a Makerbot Replicator in my TangiBot.
Using someone else's parts in a prototype is a very common engineering practice.
Who is 3DTangible?
3DTangible consists of me and a professional network of firmware, software, electrical, mechanical, and manufacturing engineers as well as manufacturing facilities. This is the same network of professionals that I used to develop Cricut Products while I was employed by Provo Craft. One of my key partners is VPI Engineering located in Draper, UT. You can read more about them here if you are interested http://www.vpiengineering.com.
If this project funds I will need to hire a few people in the coming months to help handle things like customer service, sales and marketing. I am serious about building a world class product. A world class product includes world class support. As the needs of the TangiBot grow I plan on investing in the future.
At a very high level, here are the steps that I will follow as soon as the project funds:
- Release production files for tooling
- Develop and launch company website (including customer service portal)
- Produce first round of production samples from production tooling
- Modify tooling and setup production line
- Produce final samples
- Approve golden production samples
- Produce the TangiBot
- Ship to the US
- Ship to customers
Why you can trust that 3DTangible will deliver
For the past 7 years I have been developing, producing, and supporting electronic paper cutters for Provo Craft. Paper Cutters and 3D printers have a lot in common. I still have access to all of the same world class resources that I had during my time at Provo Craft. I will use this same network to produce the TangiBot and develop next generation 3D printers.
I built a prototype. At the time of posting this Kickstarter project, it has been running from 8AM-5PM, 6 days a week for the past 3 weeks. I have run almost 4 complete 2.2 lbs. spools of ABS through the machine and it is still going. That is almost 10 lbs. of plastic!
Since leaving my full time job in mid-May to pursue 3D printing full time I have done nothing but research, build and prepare to manufacture the TangiBot. Before this, I have followed 3D printing very closely. I am now at the point that I can start production tooling but I don’t have the money. This is why I have come to Kickstarter.com.
Here is a bulleted list of some of my other qualifications:
- 7 years of experience developing, producing and supporting electronic paper cutters
- 10 years of experience in software and firmware development, support and production
- BS in Mechanical Engineering
- MS in Mechanical Engineering
- MBA – Product Development
- Established network of professionals
Please see my bio for more specific information regarding my qualifications.
Warranty and Replacements
The TangiBot does not carry any long-term warranty. 3DTangible will happily work with you to replace any manufacturer defective parts and get your TangiBot running in tip-top shape. This is the same warranty that most 3D Printer manufacturers provide.
Support will be offered by 3DTangible through our website. In addition, because the TangiBot uses a popular open source design, there are also many forums and groups of users that are happy to provide tips and help.
How is 3DTangible able to make a Clone?
The design used in the TangiBot is open source. In other words, people who have contributed to the design make the design publically available on the internet. Why do they do this? Well, it may surprise some of you that they are required to do this. Companies that used other open source designs when designing and producing their 3DPrinters. When someone uses an open source design in their product they are required to share any improvements in the design with the world. In other words, if you use open source and then improve on the design you have to share that improvement so that the rest of the world can benefit from it. 3DTangible will also be bound by these same laws and all the improvements we make to the design will also be shared with the public.
Just to be clear, there is nothing illegal, sneaky or underhanded going on here. Everything is legal and fair. This is simply the way open source designs work. Welcome to the world of open source.
Makerbot and The Replicator are both trademarks of Makerbot Industries LLC and are not affiliated with this project in anyway.
There are a lot of expenses involved in delivering a product to market. The TangiBot is no different. To make sure that the backers of this project enjoy a quality product, delivering the TangiBot also requires that 3DTangible support those customers. Here is a short list of some of the expenses involved in doing just that.
Raw Materials, Production and Quality Assurance.
Shipping and receiving.
Planned losses on international shipping.
Customer service portal.
Full time support staff (phones, email, and technical).
Replacement parts inventory.
Brick and mortar location for supporting and servicing the TangiBot.
Shipping and receiving.
R&D expenses to build on open source and give back to the community.
I hope this helps put things into perspective. I don't want to deliver a product and leave backers in the dark when it comes to customer support. While my first responsibility is to deliver the TangiBot, the support and customer experience of the TangiBot are equally important.
Before I started my project I looked at other 3D Printers on the market (some that started on Kickstarter) and asked myself what new features/innovations they brought to the end user? After pealing back unproven designs, supply issues, quality issues, companies announcing new designs before they had even finished shipping their current design, support issues, delays in shipment, a change in form without really changing function the answer was simple. Most of the new 3D Printers only offered a lower price to an unproven design. I didn't want to put customers through that so I asked myself what design I should offer my potential customers. I could easily whip up a slight change and call it my own but that seemed pointless. I chose an existing open design that is proven to work, work well, and that offered an opportunity for small improvements on the assembly line (like protecting the PCB from shorting due to loose hardware, threadlock, etc.). It is also compatible with all the 3rd party add-ons out there. This means that no matter what the future of 3DTangible is, TangiBot owners will be able to continue to thrive as long as the community continues to support The Replicator.
Some people believe that I am not properly supporting the open source community. If you are asking yourself what open source is, you probably don’t need to read any further. If you are familiar with open source keep reading.
Some people in the open source community don’t value my contribution to drive down cost. They feel like I am only taking and not giving. It simply comes down to this.
Open source serves to develop ideas into reality. This is what every engineer/maker loves – to see their ideas work. Open source doesn’t always lend itself to bringing a product to the masses. Mass production takes a lot of capital investment. In a way, open source and mass production could be considered diametrically opposed to one another. Because of the capital investment required to setup mass production, investors want to know that their investment is protected from competition. So there is an interesting question we must all ask ourselves.
If the open source community develops a product AND proves there is a market for it, would you rather see it taken to the masses by:
1) A company that uses an open source design that is bound by the same open source rules?
2) A company that takes a product that is early in its life cycle but with a proven market, develops their own closed system with funding from deep pockets, and leapfrogs the whole open source movement?
I don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer here. There are simply different results based on the choice made.
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