Matt Ratto, ThingTank Lab - "The PandaBot is a great example of the next generation of 3D printers which build upon the open source hardware 3d printing movement, but bring these technologies to new audiences. It has been designed from the ground up to be safer, more reliable, and easier to use than current price-equivalents. I hope to see wide adoption from a new groups of critical makers."
Being naturally impatient folk, we wanted a 3D printer that not only brought us the future today but that would look great and just work. Since we couldn't find one, we decided to build it.
3D printing has been “the future” for quite a long time but it has still been expensive. 3D printers were targeted at large, high-end manufacturers: when you’re building aerospace parts you can be very expensive and still far cheaper and faster than the competition. Developments in technology, manufacturing techniques, and logistics allow us to sell an advanced printer for the price of a tablet so there really can be one on every desk and in every home. We’re here to shake things up and bring consumer electronics pricing to 3D printing so that the future is now.
Over the past 9 months we've designed and built our prototype printer. Since it's designed as a manufactured product, construction techniques and materials were chosen to make it exceptionally stable, robust, and quiet. Fully encased in metal, the PandaBot is very rigid and quiet. Our design isn’t as susceptible to vibration induced errors as other printers designed to be hand assembled. We've proven this by going from the back of a taxi to successfully printing on live national TV with no adjustments in less than 5 minutes.
Other printers have a very long and complex initial calibration process to ensure that material is extruded at the proper level and adheres to the printing surface. Many require re-calibration after as few as 2 prints. Thanks to our innovations, the PandaBot is self-calibrating and will print straight out of the box.
We’ve designed the PandaBot to look great. It looks like it belongs on your desk whether you’re an architect, an advertising executive, or an art student. By making a beautiful product we can drag 3D printing out of the batch processing era and make it personal. The only problem is that watching your objects take shape is a little too mesmerizing. Our design team still gets sucked in to watching prints and we’ve had our prototype working in the office for nearly 5 months.
We didn’t just want to make incremental improvements to available 3D printers, we wanted to revolutionise the industry. Our design and construction process gave us insights into needed improvements.
We've added hardware innovations that make the PandaBot much easier to use and far more reliable. With a capacitive sensing heated build bed, our printer knows where the head is vertically and automatically calibrates itself in software. This gives you a great print out of the box and every time, with no painfully time-consuming tuning. Our 2 piece design makes it easier to ship, quickly snaps together, and provides an incredibly reliable build platform.
User Friendly Software
We’re focused on taking the complexity out of turning designs into objects. Just as you plug any paper printer into a PC or Mac and click print without worrying about compatibility or PostScript support, we want to bring the same ease of use to 3D printing.
Our software converts STLs (a very common file format for 3D models) into G-code ( a common format describing 3-dimensional paths for mechanical systems like CNC machines and 3D printers) with a few easy settings that allow users to control the production speed and quality of their objects, just like the quality settings for your regular printer. We will still give you the opportunity for more control under an advanced tab and take G-code produced by other software tools if you want to get very experimental.
A number of the available software tools are dauntingly complex for us and can have significant “quirks” with each release. We want to let users focus on their interests and expertise rather than requiring them to master yet another set of complex tools.
We're ready to go to production, but we need you!
With your help, we can place component orders at scale, set-up tooling, and establish strong relationships with our manufacturing partners.
Your help will also enable us to go through the necessary regulatory approval processes and certifications.
Print envelope: 11"x11"x11"
Custom heated capacitive-sensing build-bed, 120C maximum temperature
Maximum nozzle temperature: 265C
Works with 1.75mm filament Layer thickness: 0.1mm Maximum speed: 60mm/s
External international 110/220V power supply
Powder-coated aluminum shell
File format: STL or G-code Software: Panda Robotics G-code generator or your tool of choice
Platform: Windows, Mac, and Linux
Risks and challenges
We've met the biggest challenge by designing and building a great 3D printer at a great price.
Our KickStarter project is designed to help us get over the next big hurdles of getting a sufficient order quantity and financing the initial production.
To complete the project we need to finish translating our prototype design into a final specification and work with manufacturing partners to build and assemble the parts.
Outside of the direct experience that our team has in running projects and delivering finished software and hardware products, we've partnered with an industrial design and manufacturing advisory firm whose principles have decades of experience working with suppliers in Asia and delivering sophisticated products.
Our partners will help us ensure that our design for manufacturing process works with the constraints of a global supply chain and that we avoid costly and time consuming communication failures. Their network of connections will help us get the right firms and right people working on the project so that we can deliver on time and within our budget.
Once our printer is built, it will need to satisfy certain certification and approvals processes. With the help of our partners and by using components that are already certified, these steps should be straightforward
Different companies have different business models and expected business scale. We are focused on driving scale through better products at much lower prices and will keep material costs low. We succeed by more people printing more things so the lowest possible material price is in our best interest.
That's great! We're producing user friendly software, you're more than welcome to use other tools to produce G-code. There are so many areas for exploration and innovation in 3D printing and 3D materials and we want to enable this.
We’re big fans of MeshMixer as an easy to use product for those new to 3D design. There are many more advanced tools that all have their own strengths and weaknesses, and we’d suggest you use the tools you are most familiar and comfortable with.
AVID SUPPORTER - your name listed with thanks on the Panda Robotics website along with a Panda Robotics logo t-shirt and logo sticker. Includes shipping to the US & Canada. Please add $5 for international shipping.
PandaBot Special Edition - One first-edition PandaBot in your choice of Midnight Black, Bamboo Green, or Electric Blue, along with a Panda Robotics logo t-shirt and logo sticker. Includes shipping to the US & Canada. Please add $100 for international shipping.
Fame package - Visit Panda Robotics' design office and have lunch with the team. Have your name engraved in the circuit boards of the PandaBots shipped. Plus get a PandaBot Special Edition. Includes worldwide shipping for your PandaBot. Airfare and hotel is up to you.