The First Design(above) went through many changes, single & dual extruder, horizontal & vertical arm. Cantilevered Counter Balanced Motor, Centered on Z-Axis or Under-slung? With no way to economically make all the parts in the first designs from aluminium, an alternate way to build the first machine needed to be found.
The problem with 3D Printers made from 3D Printed parts, 'besides looking a little rough around the edges', is you need a 3D Printer to make 'your first 3D printer'. Sure you could use Shapeways, but that could soon get expensive! Luckily the local FabLab where there to assist in making the first parts.
But 3D Printing can be a slow process, which can take hours to print one object, so the laser cut 6mm perspex was introduced to test out some more ideas for parts that could be made from 3/4/5 or 6mm Aluminium sheet. In one hour we had over 40 parts to play with, most have been included, In fact so many parts where produced I had to rethink how the final parts would be made, design some new shapes, the first batch created so many useful parts, it's been tricky trying to fill the next template with additional ideas for parts, as the printer is already working without them, still a little work on the bed needed. So many parts where utilized, with only a few left overs, for testing other configurations, and additional printer builds.
The next perspex parts produced will be mainly to enclose the Arduino, but there will be a few new parts to play with, this time using Black Perspex, but some 3mm Carbon Fibre is also on the shopping list.
From the first moments of the design I knew I wanted this machined the old fashioned way, Metal to Metal. Ideally Modular, Morph-able, built to stand the test of time, and handle a few tool changes along the way, as the 3D Printing revolution brings new advances.
Choosing between a £10 plastic part & a £10 machined aluminium part is easy, and despite the added Mass, I wanted to make this machine from industrial quality, military looking, black anodized, machined aluminium parts, but with no Mill to hand, I had to select just the right parts, even if they required a little modification, trying to keep the costs down to make the project viable, I'm sure there are cheaper ways to do things, but there's no other 3D Printer out there that looks like the MechaBot
There are many similar looking parts but none quite as useful as the ones finally chosen.
The Mechabits range of parts will be the idealized versions of the parts needed to best fit the modular configuration & expandability of the Mechabot 3D Printer.
Each part of this printer can be utilized again & again as the machine develops
to do what's required of it. from 3D Printing, Mini Router, Laser Engraver/Etch, CAD Plotter
to 5 Axis Robotoic Camera Motion Control System.
If there's one thing that gets my back up with certain products, it's planned obsolescence, and the waste that goes with it, this system is designed to grow & evolve but never become redundant.
Perspex Parts are so much quicker to make than 3D Printed parts, and where used to full effect in the Prototype, though I tried to keep them to a minimum. Depending on response to the project these would be replaced with custom machined aluminium parts.
There are still a few more parts to be made, some perspex, some 3D Printed, before the final parts are produced, either water-jet cut or 5-axis machining or a mix of both, but in the meantime while waiting for the word to spread, this 3D Printer will be put to work making the MechaBits.