Introducing my latest creation...
I know a lot of you have been getting anxious about my "big announcement", but the wait is over... Today is the day! ... so without further delay, I'm introducing to you a brand new concept in 3D printing. I call it the "PiMaker."
The PiMaker was an idea I came up with while working on the Ultra-Bot 8" unit. In trying to design the larger extruder gantry, I realized that I could actually increase the build area by rotating the entire gantry. That led me down the path to the PiMaker. I've thought long and hard about this design and finally in the end decided that I couldn't in good conscious sell you the Ultra-Bot and then turn around and introduce this right after shipping you them. I also realized that you were the perfect audience for the PiMaker. The Ultra-Bot was designed to solve a lot of problems with the MakerBot Cupcake, and the PiMaker fulfills those same goals, but to an even larger degree.
The innovative rotating platform of the PiMaker allowed me to design a system that was physically no larger than the Ultra-Bot, but gave it over twice the build area. In fact, the PiMaker has a build area that is larger even than the MakerBot Replicator 2... and that's just for starters.
I've actually designed two PiMakers. Those of you who ordered the small Ultra-Bot, will receive a PiMaker with an 9" build platform. Those of you who upgraded to the larger 8" Ultra-Bot Ultra will receive a PiMaker with a 10" build platform. Because the build area is circular, that means that the build areas of the PiMakers are 508 cubic inches and 785 cubic inches respectively.
It doesn't stop there... both units are capable of using the standard heated build platform, so those of you who ordered it will receive that as well. (It does take a little height away... but with large parts, I don't recommend ABS anyway... PLA is way friendlier with larger objects... as it doesn't shrink and curl like ABS does.)
I have a few other surprises in store for the PiMaker... Like dual extrusion and built in 3D Scanning! These are optional features that I'll be offering very soon because the PiMaker was designed from the beginning with them in mind! The scanner will incorporate dual cameras and custom software that will rotate an object placed on it. It will take from 60 to 120 pictures for processing with software like 123D Catch from Autodesk. From their app, you'll be able to download the 3D model and print it directly from our software.) The dual extrusion is equally revolutionary, as it avoids a lot of the problems that classical printers have had with alignment issues between the heads in a unique way... but stay tuned for details on that!
Now for some technical details and q&a.
1) It's round... how does it work? The major difference and innovation of the PiMaker is the fact that it uses the a polar coordinate (radius, angle) system for calculating the tool path instead of the standard cartesian (x,y) coordinate system. The system will automatically accept standard G codes for X,Y and Z, but it will automatically convert them to the corresponding polar coordinates. This allows you to use all the standard software like ReplicatorG, Prontorface, Repetier... but we've also tailored a version of the Repetier to the PiMaker, which will display the round build plate instead of the rectangle plates of the other systems.
2) How big is it? The PiMaker is the exact same size as the Makerbot Cupcake. In fact, it still uses all the same parts! Everything I learned from designing and building the Ultra-Bot is in the PiMaker... just with a little (ok... a lot) different configuration.
3) Is it open source? No... this design is so revolutionary that I had to patent it to protect my IP. This design has the potential to change the 3D printing industry. It affords many benefits that make it stand out above all other 3d printers. The two most beneficial items are the increased build volume (200%+) and the decreased parts count (30%.) With that said, the original Ultra-Bot is still 100% open and will remain that way. In fact, I'll be posting the design files for it later this week.
4) What about those of us who ordered the kits or parts? You'll still receive what you ordered... but for the PiMaker instead. The Cupcake can be upgraded to the PiMaker the same way that the Ultra-Bot was.
5) I don't want a PiMaker... can I still get the Ultra-Bot? Yes... for you Kickstarters who really want it, we'll still ship the Ultra-Bot to you, but we will not be going further with any development on it. The PiMaker is our future! :-)
6) Clear is very cool... but will it come in other colors? Yes... the PiMaker will also be available in a White or Black chassis with Red, Yellow, Green and Blue accent colors! (The lettering and build plate are in the accent colors!) We will be contacting each one of you asking you for your color selection so we can place the bulk order for the acrylic. (We received a refund for our previous acrylic order that was lost due to Hurricane Sandy... and have not placed the new one yet.)
7) Can I see a video of it in action? Sort of... here (http://sdrv.ms/SBu7ei) is a video of it printing a Darth Vader keychain without actually extruding. I'll have a video posted shortly of it actually printing.
I'd love to get your feedback on this exciting new design.
Lastly, I'd also like to thank Ben, Brian, Maggie and Mike for providing me valuable feedback on this exciting new printer.