This project is about workflow. Robox is an amazing tool; it enables its users to concentrate on the function and design of their ideas rather than getting caught up in the process of creation. RoboxDual is the second addition to the Robox family, it is not a replacement, more an evolution of the original. An original Robox can be upgraded to become a RoboxDual.
As part of our first Kickstarter we hinted at control devices for Robox. We are very pleased to be able to show Root and Mote, a control device and an interface. We deliberately chose not to include control hardware and a user interface built into Robox hardware to prevent that hardware from limiting the potential of the basic functions which is an XYZ motion frame. By keeping control hardware separate we are able to alter and improve it without disrupting that simple and robust system. This helps to reduce cost, keeps development simple and fast, and allows great flexibility as described below.
We have partnered with RS Components and Polymaker to take the next step into distributed manufacturing. Robox will producing high quality printed components using Polymaker's innovative PolySmooth material system and RS Components providing the hardware. This manufacturing model can be repeated around the world after the products are launched.
Root is based on a Raspberry Pi 3 | Model B, it runs services which allows other systems to view and control connected Robox units remotely. A wired or wireless network connection can be used via a computer running AutoMaker, a tablet, smartphone, or our very new and purpose built Mote device.
AutoMaker was developed as USB connected control software. With the Root update it can be used with remote and directly connected Robox units at the same time. Our goal was for every engineer to have a Robox on their desk to make development faster. Now those Robox units can be shared across the network as needed so a few Robox units becomes a print farm. Root is a key component to a print farm setup such as those shown in our Tree Rewards.
The concept of Tree came from conversations about build volume. By limiting the external size of Robox so it fits in an office environment – i.e. on a desk - we had to keep the build volume to a reasonable size. Of course we are asked about and have done a lot of research into larger Robox versions, but we always come to the same conclusion – printing big objects is rare and the potential of failure grows with the size of the object and time spent printing. The core thinking behind Tree is to maximise the use of space and to enable users to become more productive, regardless of how they use 3D printing. Printing a big object ties up a printer for long periods and that large printer has a much larger initial investment. Breaking an object into smaller parts increases success rate, reduces waste and by splitting the object between several printers the print time can be significantly reduced. Multiple Trees can also be tessellated together to create a print farm – a ‘forest’ if you will.
If you don’t have a Robox. These prices are Kickstarter only, grab a great deal. This is the only place to get a Robox with Root included.
If you already have a Robox. Get a Root™ package which includes hardware.The price is great, plug and play with full Robox support. Or grab another Robox!
If you are a business. Your designers and engineers will love you for the freedom provided by the Tree™ packages. Scale and share print resources as needed.
I want to add more options. Items like Mote™ and extra SmartReels will be offered after the campaign to everyone who pledges.
I am still not sure. Pledge a small amount to get all the updates sent to you, we will convince you.
Robox is not just another 3D printer.
What makes Robox/Mote/Root/Tree better?
Why buy one big printer when you can have 4 smaller ones? A large printer has no redundancy, it costs a lot, and will only be able to do one job at a time. Having several smaller printers provides more print time, splitting a model between several printers results in a completed model far more quickly and with less risk of wasted print time in case of a failure. This concept is not new in IT systems; just like a computer disk RAID, multiple individual units are used to increase speed, extend capacity, incorporate redundancy and reduce risk.
Why is there no SD card slot available on Robox? Loading an SD card to walk to the printer is like using an old fashion floppy disk. Some of our competitors have just realised this and now their flagship printers use the same method as Robox. With Root you can connect using wired or wireless methods, and you can even use a USB connection at the same time. If you are old school and like moving data about manually using an SD card, Root can support that, along with USB drives.
Why should I buy a 3D printer which is a complete product and ready to use when there are kit or hobbyist printers for such low prices? Kit and low cost printers can produce great prints, but what typically happens when something goes wrong is that you are left to figure it out yourself. With a kit printer you might need to solder electronics or wade through masses of help files which are barely relevant because they tend to be heavily modified or slightly different to yours. A low cost printer will have low value customer support, if any. It might be possible to get a good print from this but we don’t think this is good enough. Robox is designed to work the same for you as it does for us or any other expert, out of the box. A 3D printer should be a tool, not a hobby. A tool should make a task easier, not be a task in itself.
3D Hubs printer guide 2017 mentions a warranty. “Our community praises CEL for their high level of customer service, in part thanks to its best in class two-year warranty”. Why would I need a “best in class two-year warranty”? Our users are more than just customers, they are a community. We get our share of questions but we never stop until there is a resolution, we want you to be happy and the people who contact our support and admin team give us great, unprompted feedback.
Makezine.com says “Robox AutoMaker software is some of the best 3D printer control software I’ve seen”. What is so special about this software? AutoMaker is the main interface for a great tool - Robox. We don’t want users bogged down in the details of running this tool, we want them free to create. Powerful features are working below the surface and are accessible when users want them, the rest of the time we just push Make! Robox does the rest.
3D Hubs printer guide 2017 says “CEL manufactures their award winning Robox machine with leading features such as an interchangeable print head, a heated build plate and auto-levelling.” Why is that such a big deal? Those things are all essential in a modern 3D printer, a modular print head makes the platform more versatile and all the hard working parts of Robox are easy to swap out, which makes factory assembly faster and more consistent, servicing easier and fault diagnosis certain. A heated build plate allows a greater range of materials to be printed more reliably and with better accuracy. Auto-levelling is simply the only way this should be done, there’s no need to get frustrated trying to manually level an inferior printer. Best of all? The needle valve system - stop and start the flow of plastic without waiting, without wipe towers and without dribbling.
Makezine.com says “Robox is a truly “Plug and Play” machine”. What does this mean, aren’t all 3D printers like this? Robox was designed to make prototyping and part creation easier. Plug it in, run a couple of quick calibrations of Yes/No questions and start printing. Once you are set up you have 3 steps to printing. Load a model, choose the profile, press Make. There are not many printers that can claim to be Plug and Play.
My company already has a large enterprise level 3D printer which cost more than 40x one of these Robox units yet the specifications are similar if not better on Robox. What is going on? Patents are made to expire so that an idea or method can be used by others to evolve technology. This is what happened with 3D printing. People and companies were allowed to commercially use the FFF/FDM process and now it is better than ever; the cost is lower, the results are better and 3D printers have evolved from the big clunky machine which filled a room in many engineering firms, usually with a staff to run it and manage the print queue. Now every designer or maker can have a machine and there is a huge range of materials being released nearly every day with new and exciting properties.
SmartReels, why? Each filament has a lot of settings which are specific to it, liquid transition temperatures, hardness, diameter and many more. To remove the need for a user to know and alter all these settings we put them onto a chip on the reel. This makes changing materials much easier and removes human error which can harm the hardware. For a user unfamiliar with these settings it means they can start printing immediately, with no prior knowledge or training. Please note that the SmartReel system does not lock users to Robox filament, the system allows the use of any 1.75mm filament or material type as long as users take responsibility for the safe use of third party filaments.
Why we need you!
We came back to Kickstarter because we want you to be involved in the next phase of Robox. We need your ideas, we need feedback on our ideas and can’t wait to put it all together. From the beginning Robox has been designed to be a platform; a base for tools which increase productivity, which enable creativity, which allow us to make our ideas a reality. These new products allow us to continue to expand on functionality, your support in this campaign will help continue the development of the software, delivering feature you want.
This project consists of several parts, Robox is the centre of this and is ready to ship. Grab a Robox or RoboxDual at a great price. Mote is as simple as it seems, a touchscreen interface, easy to source, easy to make. Tree is similar, a CNC cutting template which will be shipped or collected in flat pack form. Read about distributed manufacturing below.
Root is the basis for a lot more functionality and is the main reason we came back to Kickstarter. We already have a functioning system, we use it in the office and in demonstrations because it is easier. My Robox can be shared, the Tree on the other side of the office is available to all of us in the office and the other units around the office are also visible and available. We all have our own but if one is not being used it is there, ready to be used by anyone on the network who needs it. Next we need to add features to the software, features which you will help us to prioritise and design. Security, workflow, streaming video from, streaming jobs to, print queues, usage statistics. There are a lot of possibilities, what would you add to this system?
The story of Robox, Root, Mote and Tree
We started the Robox project after becoming frustrated by the amount of effort required to get consistent prints from a series of rep-rap machines we had purchased to help with prototyping. CEL has been designing power tools and household electronics for over 10 years and our spending on prototypes over this time made in house 3D printing very attractive. After a few months using kit printers and researching replacements for these we saw that there were no plug ‘n’ play printers which would satisfy our requirements. We started a list of what we wanted from a 3D printer; top of this list was minimal effort to run the printer. We wanted our engineers to be designing, not fiddling with print settings and calibrations.
Our design and manufacturing experience allowed us to design a product that could be manufactured consistently and without special training. Good design removed problems of assembly and calibration. Quality components maintain reliability. Custom electronics and firmware give us full control specifically tuned to this system. Our software is constantly being updated taking feedback from users and adding features which prioritise efficient workflow.
Feedback from users, reviewers, businesses which rely on Robox and our peers in this new 3D printing industry is overwhelmingly positive.
We have a great product but we have not stopped to rest, we are constantly testing new materials, methods and systems to increase the ranges of temperature, speed and versatility. DualMaterial heads were planned from the start but delayed until the system was more mature, during development of these we found ways to improve reliability of the QuickFill head and implemented them by adding titanium heat bridges across the range along with a lot of changes to the way needles, cavities and seals were created. The same system allows flexibility in the materials which are used and gives a lot of scope for some very exciting developments which reach into the extreme regions of additive manufacturing such as very high temperatures and high performance engineering materials.
Prototypes of the next generation of future heads are functional and just need that ever stretched resource of time to become the next upgrade for your Robox.
Our design office is in Portishead, near Bristol in the South West of England is the base for our hardware and software development and all the documentation and media for Robox. Our customer support is also based here and interacts daily with other support agents globally. We are really excited about the future for Robox as a micro-manufacturing platform, add-ons to this system and the many ways the new Mote, Root and Tree can be used to increase productivity through simplified workflow. We hope you are just as excited and encourage you to share and support this project.
Why our project matters
By supporting this project you can get the newest parts of the Robox system and help us shape these parts into the manufacturing system of the future. Networks of distributed manufacturing accessible over web interfaces will enable local design and manufacturing. For business users there is a clear advantage to redundancy and scalability in their prototyping, these new tools are perfectly suited to make this into a simple and reliable system without a huge cost.
This isn’t the end of our development path, that path is long and full of very exciting adventures. New modules will expand the way our 3 axis system can be used, new accessories will help users fit these new tools into their workflow, improving it by making the design and development processes faster with less dead-ends. The new parts which we are introducing are the building blocks for a much bigger and more efficient rapid prototyping and micro-manufacturing future.
We want your input, we need your case studies to be sure that our designs enhance your workflow, and that the steps to creation are compatible with other systems that our core can be built upon in the future.
Robox® and RoboxDual™
Our previous Kickstarter campaign launched Robox. Since those first units we have worked to get the best reliability and consistency from our production line, there have been a lot of hardware changes but the core design concepts are still as strong as ever. Constant software development has made the process of preparing a print very easy and the print results achieved by novice users right out of the box speak for themselves.
There is a lot more detail about Robox and RoboxDual available on our website, we encourage you to visit www.cel-robox.com. Comparing Robox to RoboxDual you will notice that there is a lot of shared parts, in fact, changing Robox into a dual material machine only requires a few extra parts. Comparing RoboxDual to competitors machines shows that other machines are overpriced in the extreme and offer far fewer features than Robox machines.
The following prices are recommended retail prices, including tax: RoboxDual £1499.90, Ultimaker3 £3354.00 (Extended is £4242.00), BCN3D Sigma £1848.00. These 3 printers are able to create dual material prints but all except Robox need to produce wipe towers or dribble into waste bins which can result in 50% Plus material wasted material per model. Robox is the only of these printers which is designed to print in engineering materials such as ABS and other shrink prone materials, Robox has an enclosed build area, very quick heated build plate and enables use of a far greater range of materials. We are so confident in Robox and it’s ability to reliably create prints that we off the best warranty and support service of any 3D printer company at no extra cost. Our current customers love us for this and you can be confident that you and your business can rely on Robox.
Robox Tree is a bespoke furniture system that utilises the compact nature of the Robox micro-manufacturing platform to increase productivity. With a strong-open frame design which allows easy access to the door, side windows and SmartReel dock of Robox, Tree is the perfect solution to printing larger models, quickly. Designed for up to 5 printers and coming in two variants with 3 or 5 shelves, this product is a great way to maximize vertical space on your floor or desktop.
The trunk of the tree has a cable management channel accessible from all shelves, enclosed by a removable rear panel. There is sufficient room for a 6-way power strip and Robox Root, with a cable recess at the base of the tree which allows all necessary cables to pass into the trunk. When a printer is installed onto each shelf there is room behind each machine for up to 2 SmartReels, print heads and accessories. It is fully compatible with both the original Robox® (RBX01) and the new RoboxDual™ (RBX02), as well as Root™ and Mote™.
Tree™ is precision CNC machined from high quality birch plywood with a choice of two different finishes, and is supplied as an easy-to-assemble ‘flat-pack’ solution. Using familiar fasteners (if you’ve ever assembled anything from IKEA!), Tree can be assembled by anyone in under 30 minutes with just an allen key and screwdriver.
As part of the design of Tree, we have included a number of extra fixing holes/locations to open it up to a wide variety of accessories, increasing its functionality. These could include external reel holders, material lockers, tool storage/organisation, screen mounts or other hardware such as computers, UPS etc.
- 5 Shelf – 48.5 x 44.5 x 164.5cm (19.1 x 17.3 x 5’5”) - 197cm (6’6”) height clearance needed when fitted with 5 machines
- 3 Shelf - 48.5 x 44.5 x 87.5cm (19.1 x 17.3 x 2’10.5”) - 120cm (3’11”) height clearance needed when fitted with 3 machines
- 18mm Birch S/BB Plywood OR/
- 18mm Laminated Birch Plywood with Black PP Coating
- All flat-packed wooden parts in your choice of material finish
- All fixings and fasteners for assembly and securing to a wall
- 6 way BS (UK) power distribution strip
Robox Root is a connectivity extension platform for all Robox printers. Its core function is to add network capabilities to multiple Robox from a single Root, with secondary functions to include a web interface and printer sharing across a network. Any machines on the network will be automatically discovered by our AutoMaker software, allowing them to be controlled from multiple locations. It is perfectly suited for use in offices, schools or other professions where multiple users need easy access to a single or multiple printers. The on-board HDMI port also allows you to connect Root to any external display or touchscreen, including its companion, Robox Mote.
Root™ includes a custom made dual colour 3D printed case, designed to be as compact as possible and to follow Robox design cues, with a mounting position for Tree or directly to the rear of Robox while still allowing access to all ports and the microSD card. Use with a separate powered hub to connect more than 4x Robox (or 3x Robox if using with Mote™). Fully compatible with all elements of the Robox eco-system; Robox® (RBX01), RoboxDual™ (RBX02) and Robox® Mote™ (RBX-MT1).
The software for Root can be updated over the network to always ensure that you’re using the latest version, and firmware for all connected Robox can also be updated remotely. The embedded web server hosts an interface which can be accessed from any device, whether it is another PC/Mac, Phone or Tablet and allows a number of status and control functions including:
- Status Display
- Nozzle Temperatures
- Bed Temperature
- Print Progress and Project Information
- Status Updates – Running/Paused/Error etc.
- SmartReel information and parameters
- Pause/Resume/Cancel Prints
- Purge Material
- Unlock and Open Door
- Eject Material
- Maintenance Functions e.g. Gantry Levelling / Eject Stuck Material / Swap Head
- Control ambient lighting
- Execute pre-sliced GCode from SDcard/USB Flash Drive
- PIN based access control
The Root allows for a new platform for future upgrades, and with your help there are a huge number of added features which can be added to the system, including:
- Easy Wi-Fi setup wizard
- WAN connectivity for remote monitoring over the internet including uPnP
- API to allowing users to design their own interface using Robox protocols
- Repeating jobs which have already been transferred to Robox’ on-board SD card
- GCode console for advanced control functions
- Improvements to the embedded web interface including:
- Real-time print adjustments to speed, temperatures etc.
- Job reporting and statistics for detailed information about the job in progress including material used, print duration, energy consumption, material cost etc.
- Display of connected webcams for remote print monitoring with sharing via secure links to allow you to share prints with friends as they happen!
- Jog controls for manual motor movement
- Timelapse controls for connected cameras / webcams
- Notifications – Email / SMS / Wearables / Phones
- Print queue – allowing you to set up multiple jobs and execute them directly from Root and Mote
- Printing directly from .stl/.obj files stored on an SDcard/USB flash drive (on-board or cloud based slicing) including the ability to lay out parts for printing.
- Cloud library browsing
- Stereo computer vision for print accuracy verification
- Dimensions (LxWxH): 96 x 76 x 24mm (3.8 x 3 x 1”)
- Hardware architecture based on Raspberry Pi 3 (Model B)
- 1.2GHz Broadcom BCM2387 ARM Cortex-A53 Quad Core Processor (64-bit)
- 1GB LPDDR2 RAM
- 802.11b/g/n Wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.1
- 10/100 BaseT Ethernet Socket
- 4x USB Ports
- HDMI Output
- microSD Socket
- Custom 3D-printed case designed for use with Robox® and/or Mote™
- 16Gb microSD (Class 4) card with Root™ software pre-loaded
- 5m Cat5e Patch Cable
- 2.5A 5VDC power adaptor
Robox Mote is our custom designed controller for Root. Using a 5” touch screen connected directly to Root, you can see the status of any connected machines and also control them directly. This allows you to control and execute prints without a connected PC from pre-sliced GCode on SDcard or USB flash drive.
Fully compatible with all elements of the Robox eco-system; Robox® (RBX01), RoboxDual™ (RBX02) and Robox® Root™ (RBX-RT1) which is required for Mote to operate.
- Dimensions (LxWxH): 120 x 95 x 150mm (4.75 x 3.75 x 6”)
- 5" 800x480 LCD Touch Screen
- Sleep/Wake Button
- Custom 3D-printed case designed for use with Root™
- 25cm flat HDMI cable for connecting to screen
- Touch pen
- 45cm microUSB to USB Type A cable for connecting touch sensor
Development and shipping timeline
Credits and Attributions
- RS Components - RS Components is the trading brand of Electrocomponents plc, the global distributor for engineers. With operations in 32 countries, RS offers more than 500,000 products through the internet, catalogues and at trade counters to over one million customers, shipping more than 44,000 parcels a day. RS products, sourced from 2,500 leading suppliers, include electronic components, electrical, automation and control, and test and measurement equipment, and engineering tools and consumables.
- PolyMaker - Polymaker is a company committed to innovation, quality and sustainability, in the pursuit of producing safe and clean materials for the 3D printing industry. We do not simply adhere to current standards, but are surely becoming a market leader for quality in the filament industry.
- Big Ben by Makealot http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:33913
- Computer Fan by ebmpapst - http://www.ebmpapst.com/en/products/compact-fans/axial-compact-fans/axial_compact_fans_detail.php?pID=120061
Music used in video:
- Jay Dred -Jayz Dead Track5 (intro) and Track 22 (looped) https://jayzdead.bandcamp.com/releases
Risks and challenges
Our manufacturing schedule for Robox is smooth and regular. The new parts of this campaign are to be created using CNC or rapid prototyping methods which we have in great supply or intend to contract out to services local to you, our customers.
Distributed manufacturing has a lot of benefits. Environmental benefits from reduced transport requirements, reduced waste through smaller batches and far less obsolete stock. The development routes to production are shorter, changes are easier and have less impact and there are far more opportunities for customisation, users get products faster. Perhaps the best part is the ability to link designers with local manufacturing professionals and skilled makers, a sharing of skills, methods and ideas which makes the world a better place. Local jobs linked to pride in local production. The increased cost of small batches and higher employee wages is often offset by all of these things and the end result is greater happiness.
Mote, Root and Tree are digital designs which can be made locally and fitted with commonly available electronics and hardware. We can make and send the complete items to you, or we can gather orders and have them produced local to you. The timeframe depends on demand and the availability of local facilities. Connect with us, let’s make happiness.
If you are able to produce accurate and good quality 3D printed parts or CNC cut 18mm plywood or know of someone who can, please make contact with us. Spread the word, help us to link customers to makers, locally.
The only risks we can think of are a sudden and unpredicted shortage of very common electronics; in this case we can quickly alter the design of the cases to use a different type of screen for example. And if local manufacturing or parts are not available in your area then we will be shipping from the UK internationally which can introduce small delays, this is something we have been doing every day for 10 years so we are full of confidence.
Creating the cases and cutting the profiles for tree will take some time so we have split the rewards into smaller batches to help us stick to the schedule better.
- (30 days)