About this project
Manufacturing timeline and Stretch goals sections are at the very end for those who just want to go there. FAQ is also at the back, do check it out in case the questions you have are already answered there.
Inside The Buccaneer
Hi everyone! We have had many requests to see the internals of our 3D printer while it is printing. We ripped out the mechanics from our final casing and placed them into our prototype casing (which is transparent) for all of you to see! You may notice the internals are slightly different from our main video and the reason for this is the progress we have made from the time we applied for Kickstarter until the day it is launched. What you will see in this vid is exactly what we have today.
It's a bit messy because our prototype box doesn't have the compartments for proper storage but it looks great either way. Enjoy the vid!
The item printed is the Cute Octopus from Makerbot, Created by Jason Bakutis and is a creative common.
What we are Doing
We at Pirate3D are creating a full 3D printing solution for home consumers. We want this technology to be freely available to everyone (at great and affordable prices!) and also easy to use (great user experience!). Our long term mission is to be innovative at every level of 3D printing, from object design all the way to printing.
Here is what we offer:
Easy and Intuitive set up, The Buccaneer is built to be as easily set up as possible. You do not need to mess around with raw spools of plastic lying around on your table because it is now integrated into the machine via cartridges. There are no unnecessary wires or parts that get in the way and every Buccaneer is fully set up and ready to go in minutes.
Cloud Printing like pulling information directly from our store (Treasure Island) into your Buccaneer. You can choose whether you want to hook your Buccaneer into a PC or whether you want to work from a mobile device to make your prints!
Smart Objects allow everyday users to easily customize 3D objects without having to learn how to use 3D Design Software. Just drag/click a few buttons and you will be able to edit and create basic objects in any way you want. Once its done, you can share your image with your friends or send it directly to The Buccaneer to have it made!
Why we need You
As some of you may know, we already have some funding (meaning our project does what it says it does) and with our own savings we have managed to create working prototypes.
However, the magnitude of our dream is too large for just us, and we need you (and your funds), to accelerate development and to help us bring our machines into manufacture and into your homes.
Why our Project Matters
Many prominent people believe 3D printing technology is not ready for the home. We respectfully disagree. When you help us to succeed, you are helping to bring this technology to everyone at a price that is easily affordable.
Our dream is to make the user experience of this technology as seamless as it can be and to open up the technology while at the same time not being greedy and squeezing our customers for unsustainable profits. (How ironic for Pirates yeah.)
Here is our baby, The Buccaneer. We hope you can be as proud of this 3D printer as we are. (Yes we are working to make a capacitive button on the front so you just have to touch it, to turn it on.) For those wondering, "Where are the 3D printer mechanics?" They are all inside the silver area on top. When 3D prints are done, they will come downwards on a plate which you can take out.
Technical Comparison vs Replicator 2 (Makerbot)
Here we have a series of pictures to serve as a quick walkthrough as to what we have today. This will give you a good idea on how our printer is meant to function.
Shipping / How to Buy
For 1 unit and 1 cartridge, with no extra cartridges
1) If you are from USA/Canada and Singapore, choose your reward on the right and key in $397. Select ship to the USA and we will confirm the address with you after this campaign is over.
If for any reason Amazon Payments forces you to pay $497, we will refund you by packing in the difference in materials cartridges for you.
2) If you are from anywhere else, choose your reward on the right and key in $497. Select ship internationally and we will settle the address with you after this campaign is over.
For multiple units
Kickstarter does not allow purchase of multiple units for all technology projects. We will abide by the rules of this house. You can purchase more directly from us in the future.
Thanks for your support!
Why ours is better
Current 3D printers have a very unfinished feel to them. By improving the aesthetics of a 3D printer as well as making the device more user friendly, we felt this could bridge the gap to mass adoption of 3D printing. Along with that, we want to also keep final price affordable so it would make economical sense to purchase a Buccaneer.
Where we are now
The challenge with the Buccaneer project was to cram the mechanical systems into a tiny casing whilst maximising the available print area and maintaining the device’s aesthetics. This required thinking out of the box since contemporary designs tend towards large bulky mechanics with little focus on the machine’s appearance.
One of the first things you would notice about the Buccaneer is the casing. We wanted the Buccaneer to be a device you would love to own and show off to your friends. Drawing inspiration from the design of Apple products, we felt that smooth uninterrupted lines are paramount to creating pleasing aesthetics. As such, the aluminium body is seamlessly encased in the crystal clear acrylic housing. We worked hard to ensure there would be no visible screws to compromise the sleek lines of the exterior.
Great aesthetics makes no sense if the print quality is not up to the mark. As such, we worked creating a mechanical system that can deliver smooth, high resolution prints.
The current XY axis platform design is our 4th major iteration, and we're still making incremental improvements to it. Previously, we've tried ball screw driven systems, belt drives, as well as a gantry system like in the Makerbot Replicator. However, these systems had their flaws. The ball screw system was expensive and unreliable; the belt driven system was difficult to assemble; the gantry system was too bulky.
Finally, we chanced upon the CoreXY system. The CoreXY has the perfect balance of speed and space efficiency. The downside is that the system has to be incredibly rigid, or it will not print properly. By designing the system around stamped steel parts, we managed to create an XY platform that is extremely rigid yet very economical to produce.
Another major area of mechanical development is the Z axis system. In order to create a spaceship-like feel to the Buccaneer, we've designed our print platform to retract upwards into the mechanical box. This requires a completely different layout in terms of the linear guides and driving mechanism. We designed the entire Z axis’ linear guide rods to move with the print bed in order to achieve the desired aesthetics. In contrast, contemporary 3D printer designs keep the linear guide rods stationary vis-a-vis the print bed.
We've developed top loading filament cartridges. The spool is old school. What we realised about other consumer 3D printers is that the filament spool is an eyesore that breaks up whatever smooth aesthetic lines the designer intended for his device. As such, our filament is delivered from neat contained cartridges that spool from the centre rather than the side. This allows the cartridge to be very compact and top-loading. We decided on top loading as this makes the filament loading process the most ergonomic – no more struggling to hang a bulky 2lb spool off some hook on the side.
In the works / Future Dev
We are putting major work into designing for manufacture (DFM). While our current price just about covers all the costs of production, we would like to have some additional margin so our ship will remain afloat.
Most of the DFM work we’re doing is process engineering. We’re working closely with our contract manufacturer to squeeze more savings from the production process. For example, to make assembly faster we’re working on making the CoreXY’s belt a continuous loop, fastened in place by a single bolt which acts as both a belt tensioner and clamp. Another example is our casing production. We’ve worked out a means of producing both the acrylic and aluminium sections as extrusions instead of machined parts which can provide great cost savings.
A common complaint we’ve had about 3D printers is the speed at which they print. As such, we’re working on incorporating a Bowden extrusion system into our design. Bowden extruders remove the weight from the print head, thus allowing faster print speeds. While this has been the original intention since the project started, we have opted to use a direct drive for development purposes as it is more reliable.
Based on our work with a prototype Bowden extruder, we loved the low weight but hated the lousy retraction and unreliability. As such, here is what we’re incorporating into our new Bowden system:
- Small melt zone to allow better retraction. Cooling the interface with a fan-heatsink combo and doing away with awful PEEK insulators for the win.
- 1.75mm filament. Our prototype Bowden was based on contemporary 3mm filament designs. Finer filament requires less torque (more reliable) and limits the amount of melted material in the hotend (better retraction).
Why ours is better
We realise that the current trend in consumer electronics is towards cloud-based systems and mobile integration. 3D printers should be no different. Contemporary electronics for 3D printers are excellent for hacking and tweaking, but we wanted to move things a few levels over 9000. As such, we integrated a print server together with our control electronics and made the whole thing WiFi controlled.
Where we are now
Controlling the 3D printer via an online cloud server frees the platform in which the device operates on. It also saves on having to develop software specific to the multitude of platforms available on the market today. We have successfully created a system that allows our 3D printer to be operated via a web browser.
We paired a Sanguinololu with a Raspberry Pi for our purposes as there is plenty of documentation and support available. We chose the Sanguinololu specifically, as it is a reliable system that can effectively provide smooth high quality prints with our hardware set up. The Pi on the other hand was chosen because of its low off-the-shelf cost.
The boards are tethered together over a serial connection, with the Pi’s GPIOs hooked directly to the Sanguinololu’s communication interface, doing away with the USB. We did this in order to save on the Pi’s USB ports, which we used to hook up a WiFi dongle for server communication.
Most of the development has been on the UNIX-based controller interface system on the Pi. This system allows the Pi to receive print instructions from our server and spool prints to the Sanguinololu. The software governing the cloud architecture is covered in the next section.
What we are working on
An area that we have been developing is an automatic print bed calibration system. By and large, print bed levelling is the bane of any hobbyist who’s ever operated a 3D printer. This is still in testing but rest assured that as this development shapes up, we will be releasing details via Kickstarter updates!
One area of future development is a dedicated electronics board. We realise our current solution is very ad-hoc. The Atmel on the Sanguinololu has 20MHz processing which we feel can be improved upon for our platform. While the Raspberry Pi serves most of our needs, we do not need its HDMI output and other redundant features. We considered using the newly launched BeagleBone Black, which has everything we need. However, 3D printer firmware for the BeagleBone system is still in its formative stages and we will want to work on this further to improve it.
Depending on how our Kickstarter campaign shapes up, we may have sufficient resources to pursue a dedicated electronics system. This would not be easy and would require many manhours of focused work, which necessitates that we greatly expand our team. Seeing as how our current electronics have drawn heavily from the open source movement, we will release the design of our future boards as open source.
*Note that the printers can operate offline without going through the Pirate Cloud*
Why we created this
The concept for a cloud-managed printing solution was first conceived by Neo Kok Beng (one of our co-founders) in late 2012. His belief was that the continued consumer preference for tablet and mobile devices meant that the “personal computer” or PC was being slowly phased out. This mean’t that hardware devices such as printers can be more appropriately managed by an external cloud, rather than by a local device such as a PC.
In the old paradigm of home-based printing solutions (be it 2d or 3d printing), the printer is linked directly to a personal computer. In most cases, the printer is connected to the PC via a USB cable, which imposes limitations on where the printer can be placed relative to the computer.
In the new paradigm of home-based printing solutions, involving a mobile device as the “host”, a cable is often an unwanted accessory. For the simple fact that “mobile” implies some form of wireless technology as the communication medium. In fact most mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads don’t even include a port for a USB cable.
This means that an alternative wireless communication method must be devised to bridge this gap. Our system architecture is thus designed to provide a “wireless 3d-printing solution” for mobile devices such as iPads and iPhones and also desktop computers (PC and Mac).
How it works is very simple. All .stl files (that you create or download) are uploaded through your computer / mobile device into our web server which slices it into G Code and is subsequently fed into The Buccaneer via wifi.
If you tried to create your own 3D object today, you would have to learn a traditional 3D design software which can take awhile to learn. Even if you wanted to create basic objects, you would still have a steep learning curve. What we have with our Smart Objects is an easier way to create objects with just a few clicks and zero prior experience required. This saves you time and the pain of picking up a 3D design software, when you really do not need to.
Try it for yourself
You can already test our demo Smart Object at http://pirate3d.com/demo/. Just drag-and-drop the colorful circles wherever you want and watch the object change. Create anything you want and download the file for printing!
What we hope this to be in the future
We hope that in the future, the community will be able to use our SDK to write their own Smart Objects and share them with everyone! For example an easily editable cup or a ever changing dragon!
Where we are now + Dev (The Really Technical Bits)
We're developing the entire set of tools for artists to create their own Smart Objects. They can then share them with the community for people to play with.
The process goes like this : A Smart Object is defined by a piece code, this code describes the algorithm that −given parameters− results in an object. The code in compiled into programs to work on each platform (PCs, iOS, Android, Browsers, …).
We've been developing a dedicated language to make describing Smart Objects fast and intuitive. Artists will be able to develop and test straight from our website, and a dedicated SDK software will be provided later on. It goes without saying that the vision wouldn't be complete if the language wasn't meant to become open-source eventually. We are heading there.
As of today, Smart Objects work on browsers (WebGL) and Android. They will soon be working on iOS and more browsers (we are looking at compiling with Unity 3D). The language is in alpha version and not ready for user testing yet. We're working fast though, so it's a matter of weeks before you can touch our first web-based SDK, and write your first algorithms.
Why is this better than what is out there
We are not the first ones to provide algorithm-apps for generating objects, but we are the first ones with a big vision for it.
In this regard, we are largely improving upon 3 main domains : accessibility, responsiveness, and community development. Among the algorithm-apps existing today, you can find :
- Server-side apps. They work everywhere, but take seconds to refresh after each click.
- Java-applets apps. They work well on PC, but the Java player is complicated to setup and often considered unsafe.
- WebGL & Three.js apps. They work well on browsers, but they can get really slow and overheat your computer.
Faced to today's large diversity of platforms, we decided to target each of them with the most fit technologies : native apps for Android and iOS, WebGL for PCs, and Unity 3D to back up WebGL. All smart-objects are implemented that way. Easy to start and responsive to use.
Anybody can develop new Smart Objects, and anybody can share their code with the community. Code can be packed as libraries that anybody can reuse, modify, and mix together.
We want a dynamic community to develop the new open standard for algorithmically generated objects.
Our 1.75mm PLA cartridges can be fit into the top of the Buccaneer. We are selling them at 12 USD / cartridge (300 grams). On Kickstarter, we will be selling our cartridges at 10 USD instead as a small discount to all our awesome backers!
Our cartridges are designed to be easily disposed off. When are done with them, just buy a new one and replace it. Don't worry, they are all 100% recyclable.
If you want to use your own filament, you may do so without the cartridges however we recommend using our cartridges as its neater and its designed to ensure that less jamming occurs. (But you should really use what we provide as it is easier for you to just change cartridges than to try and refill it on your own.)
Our filament comes from a very reputable large filament supplier who will be able to meet any demands we have. They have been producing filament for years and sell to mainly small time 3D printing companies.
Manufacturing Plan and Timeline
You must be wondering, how on earth do these guys sell at $347? We figured out how to make it for cheaper and Kickstarter allows us to sell it to you at a much lower cost. We do not earn that much off our machines and will always strive to keep them affordable. We believe that we can earn a decent living from this but do not have to be greedy on the profits.
We also have a procurement specialist whose connections are invaluable in sourcing fairly priced parts so that we are able to keep our manufacturing costs low.
We already have a contract manufacturer in Asia and a design house working with us to help us DFM The Buccaneer.
Your funds will be used to pay for tooling as well as for our batch manufacturing. We hope for enough support from the community, as our 3D printers are sold at near cost price.
Here are some dates that we have agreed on with them where production is concerned and this should help you to further appreciate our manufacturing timeline:
- 10th June - Testing on beta prototypes complete
- 30th June - Design for manufacture complete
- 1st July - Prototooling batch to be manufactured
- 1st August - Prototooling batch to be delivered for testing
- 1st September - Finish Prototooling tests; start tooling for actual production units
- 15th October - Manufacturing starts
- 1st December - Delivery of 500 early production units
Pirate3d’s Kickstarter Stretch Goal for $1,000,000
Pirate3D will be offering official acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) support at the $1,000,000 mark! We will be providing software settings for ABS plastic as well as offering the material itself in our cartridges.
This stretch goal was based on feedback from you guys calling for ABS support. Rather than stop at providing a heated bed and unofficial hacks to use ABS, we've decided to incorporate ABS as an official material. After rigorous testing with our current system, we have found that we can offer ABS support without compromising the usability of the Buccaneer.
This involved ensuring that extrusion would still be perfect with the ABS material, and refitting the carbon filter ventilation system such as to minimise ABS odours. We are still working to determine which grade of ABS would be optimum with the Buccaneer. Furthermore, we will have to work out terms with our suppliers to ensure we can provide a steady supply of the material.
As for our next stretch goals, stay tuned! Our development team is working round the clock on some exciting new concepts that will push the boundaries of home 3D printing!
Pirate3d’s Kickstarter Stretch Goal for $500,000
Dear Kickstarter backers,
The Kickstarter admin have informed us that our previous $500,000 stretch goal of bringing 3D printers to African institutions is not allowed.
This is regrettable, however we must abide by their guidelines. As they have stated, "this rule exists so that projects are always about the projects themselves and not about anything else." We of course wholeheartedly agree with this.
Nonetheless, Pirate3D will still be continuing with our social outreach initiatives. This is something we would have engaged in anyway as it ties with our long term vision of democratizing innovation.
These initiatives will no longer be tied in any way to our Kickstarter campaign, so back the Buccaneer only because you like the product!
Our future stretch goals will be a little more traditional...NOT! Check out Update #3.
Risks and challenges
We have built a few functional prototypes already of not only The Buccaneer but also all the other supporting areas such as Treasure Island and Smart Objects. However, with all hardware projects, there is always a risk when it comes down to manufacturing.
We are serious about keeping to our schedule but if there are unintended delays during material transport, manufacturing processes and then shipping; we will always be upfront about them and plan an appropriate course of action and share it with all of you.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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