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$10/meter, ~$1.00 per joint, 100% off-the-shelf fasteners.  By eliminating specialty screws, you get the best bang for the buck!
$10/meter, ~$1.00 per joint, 100% off-the-shelf fasteners. By eliminating specialty screws, you get the best bang for the buck!
534 backers pledged $100,825 to help bring this project to life.

About

OpenBeam - An open source miniature construction system project video thumbnail
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$100,825

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2012 APR 29 - UPDATE:

With funding about to close, I will no longer be able to edit the project page here.  So, please visit us online at the following locations for the latest updates:

http://blog.openbeamusa.com - for the latest news and updates.
http://www.OpenBeamUSA.com - OpenBeam's webstore and knowledge base.
http://www.TamLabs.com - OpenBeam's parent company.  "Lessons learned" from Kickstarter, as well as my writeup on this project's Kickstarter experience, will eventually be blogged here.

Introduction:

T-Slot extruded aluminum framing systems have been in use throughout the manufacturing and automation industries for machine building, prototyping and robotics applications for the past 30 years.  Unfortunately, all the vendors in this industry utilize a razor and blade business model; while the extrusions are priced low, they require the use of speciality nuts and plates, which can be priced as high as $3.00 per nut and $10.00 per joining plate.

Example of a 60mm Film Maker's rig, built from OpenBeam components

I designed OpenBeam to be a low cost construction system aimed at the hobby and Maker market.  OpenBeam is based around the metric system and 3mm building blocks; to keep the cost of the system low, I designed it to use standard M3 nuts and bolts, available at any good hardware store.  No special fasteners are required.  

OpenBeam Extrusion and Joining Plates

OpenBeam connector plates are injection molded out of a metal-replacement engineering resin to bring the recurring costs down. To take advantage of economies of scale and reduce the upfront tooling costs, only a "T" and "L" shaped plate are offered.  The beam comes in 1 meter lengths and may be cut with a 32 TPI hacksaw, a reciprocating saw, or a miter saw with a non ferrous metal carbide blade.  I can also cut the extrusions to length for you on a computer controlled saw at time of purchase.

Off-the-shelf M3 nuts are used - no speciality T-Nuts that costs 30-70 cents each!

The most commonly used materials on laser cutters in the US are 3mm baltic birch and 3mm acrylic.  All joining plates are therefore designed to match this thickness to encourage users to cut their own custom plates for special applications.  The T-slot can be used to capture a 3mm thick panel; 5 sheets of material may be stacked together to match the width of the extrusion, which measures 15mm x 15mm.

5 sheets of 3mm Baltic Birch stacked to create a custom shoulder brace

The slots in OpenBeam are perfectly sized to capture a sheet of 3mm (1/8") acrylic.  Airtight enclosures and electronics mounts can be easily built this way.

There is a hole down the center of the extrusion length that can be tapped for a M3 screw to allow the extrusions to terminate in a butt joint against another member.  The small groves in the center of the T-Slot serves two purposes; to guide a drill in drilling through the extrusion, and to capture a standard thin gauge circuit board.  Thick gauge circuit boards can be captured via the keyhole slot.

Keyhole slot doing a double-duty as a PCB mount rail.

Four speciality accessories will be available at launch as well:  A universal shaft clamp covering 6-16 mm, a NEMA-17 stepper motor mount, a 608 ball bearing mount and a standard RC servo mount.  These parts are designed specifically with 3D printer, home brew CNC machine, camera rig and robotics applications in mind.  Below are a few examples:

An OpenBeam trebuchet.  Everybody loves a trebuchet, right?

A NEMA17 motor mount.  OpenBeam's T-Slot design allows the motor to be repositioned easily to adjust belt tension, etc.

For more annotated pictures of OpenBeam construction possibilities, please visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/openbeam

--

I worked very hard to keep costs low while delivering a quality product. As a design engineer, it matters to me that my products are built in an ethical manner.  I'm very proud to say that OpenBeam extrusions will be 100% built in the USA.  The plastic pieces will be injection molded at an American owned company that specializes in high end engineering resins and aerospace molding.  

Additionally, all OpenBeam components are RoHS compliant.  The extrusions are 100% recyclable and the joining plates are 100% reusable.

The technical risks on this project are very low.  I've been doing engineering and engineering mentoring for a decade now and you are welcome to check my references on LinkedIn.  All the designs are complete, and I have official quotes for all the components from vendors that I've worked with personally and trust.  But I can't launch OpenBeam without your help.  The money raised will be used to purchase the production tooling and to pay for the first run of parts that will go into fulfilling the rewards and loading the supply chain.

It is my intention to build OpenBeam into a viable prototyping platform for all Makers. To do this, I need to set up distribution channels with fulfillment partners so that the material is always available when project needs arises.  You will be able to buy not just the starter kits offered here, but also individual extrusion pieces, fastener kits, joining plates and accessory plates from OpenBeam's webstore.  You will also be able to buy, for a small additional cut fee, custom length extrusions, cut to length on a computer controlled saw.  

OpenBeam will be an open source hardware project.  Upon completion of project funding, all design documentation, drawings, CAD models, etc, will be released under Creative Commons Attribution license.

Please consider supporting this project.  

Thank you,

-=- Terence, Rachel and her furry monster puppy

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 5 or more About $5

    Every little bit helps! For $5, you'll have access to project updates, including discussions about the design decisions that drove the product to its final form, and behind-the-scenes look at how the product is actually built at the different suppliers.

    All information presented in the updates will be made available within 90 days after the project completion and after rewards have shipped, under Creative Commons license.

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    Pledge US$ 20 or more About $20

    Every little bit helps! For $20, you'll have access to project updates, including discussions about the design decisions that drove the product to its final form, and behind-the-scenes look at how the product is actually built at the different suppliers. You will also be credited as a sponsor on OpenBeam's website. All information presented in the updates will be made available within 90 days after the project completion and after rewards have shipped, under Creative Commons license.

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    Pledge US$ 45 or more About $45

    OpenBeam Basic Kit!

    Project updates, plus:

    1 meter of OpenBeam 1515 Extrusion, 2 "T" Plates, 4 "L" Plates, 1 pack of fasteners (100 pieces), 1 2mm Allen key.

    Material is enough to build an iPad stand or a really cool picture frame.

    Includes S&H within the lower 48 States

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    Pledge US$ 65 or more About $65

    OpenBeam Basic Plus Kit! Project updates, plus: 2 meter of OpenBeam 1515 Extrusion, 8 "T" Plates, 8 "L" Plates, 1 pack of fasteners, 1 2mm hex-drive screw driver.

    Includes S&H within the lower 48 States. Normally a $80.00 value.

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    Pledge US$ 75 or more About $75

    Basic Plus - International Edition

    International Edition kits have extrusions that are cut down to 550mm in length to conform to the requirements for international first class parcel from the US. Kit contains: 4 x 550mm poeces of extrusion, 8 T plates, 8 L plates, 100 fasteners, allen key. Includes global shipping by US Postal Service first class international parcel. Allow for 2 weeks for delivery.

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    Pledge US$ 100 or more About $100

    OpenBeam Basic Elite Kit!

    4 meter of OpenBeam 1515 Extrusion, 8 "T" Plates, 16 "L" Plates, 2 pack of fasteners (100 pieces), 1 2mm Allen key. Material is enough to build a desktop trebuchet. Includes S&H within the lower 48 States.

    Normally a $125.00 value.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 125 or more About $125

    Camera Rig Builder Kit!

    Includes all parts shown to build the 60mm camera rig shown in the video. Follow focus and photography accessories not included. Note that these extrusions will be anodized black for anti-reflective properties.

    15mm rods are NOT included! Add $30.00 for 2 1 meter section of carbon steel 15mm tubing.

    Includes S&H within the lower 48 States. Normally a $175.00 value.

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    Pledge US$ 150 or more About $150

    Trebuchet kit! Includes everything you need to build the trebuchet in the CAD rendering as shown. Comes with all hardware parts, speciality parts, counterweight, and laser cut target set, assembly diagrams with online video instructions.

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    Pledge US$ 150 or more About $150

    Basic Elite - International Edition International Edition kits have extrusions that are cut down to 550mm in length to conform to the requirements for international first class parcel from the US. Kit contains: 8 x 550mm poeces of extrusion, 8 T plates, 16 L plates, 200 fasteners, allen key. Includes global shipping by US Postal Service first class international parcel. Allow for 2 weeks for delivery.

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    Pledge US$ 200 or more About $200

    Limited Edition OpenBeam Basic Elite Kit! Same as OpenBeam Basic Elite kit above, but includes individually serial numbered and signed engineering prints for all OpenBeam components, printed on art paper, and a titanium allen key, forged out of 6Al4V aircraft titanium alloy.

    Includes S&H within the lower 48 States.

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    Pledge US$ 300 or more About $300

    The Roboticist / Machine Builder Kit!

    8 meters of extrusion, 40 L joints, 40 T joints, 32 shaft holders, 3 NEMA17 brackets, 3 servo brackets, 300 fasteners, and a 2mm allen screw driver.

    Material is enough to build the framework for a RapRep 3D Printer, small scale CNC mill, or 3D scanner.

    Includes S&H within the lower 48 States. Normally a $375.00 value.

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    Pledge US$ 375 or more About $375

    Same as Roboticist kit above, but includes individually numbered and signed engineering prints and titanium allen key.

    Includes S&H within the lower 48 States

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    Pledge US$ 1,024 or more About $1,024

    The Hackerspace / Research Lab Kit

    40 meters of extrusion, 120 L joints, 120 T joints, 80 shaft holders, 10 servo brackets, 10 NEMA 17 brackets, 1000 fasteners, 10 allen keys, 2 allen drivers.

    Good for a hack night. Remember, everything is reusable...

    Includes S&H within the lower 48 States. Normally a $1300.00 value.

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    Pledge US$ 1,100 or more About $1,100

    Hackerspace kit, plus titanium allen key and signed engineering prints.

    Includes S&H within the lower 48 States

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    Pledge US$ 2,000 or more About $2,000

    The Grandmaster Kit.

    80 meters of extrusion, 240 L joints, 240 T Joints, 160 shaft holders, 20 servo brackets, 20 NEMA 17 brackets, 2000 fasteners, 20 allen keys, 4 allen drivers. Plus, bonus titanium allen key, signed engineering prints. Includes S&H within lower 48 states, add $250 for international shipping by USPS Priority International Parcel

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Funding period

- (30 days)