Back in the 1980s I was a budding electronics geek working in a TV repair shop. I spent most of my time lugging TVs to and from customers, but I did get a little bench time in. By then new TVs were entirely solid-state and built on single PC boards, but every once in a while we’d get an old-timer in with a classic hand-wired tube chassis. I recall turning them over, seeing all the caps and resistors soldered between terminal strips bolted to the aluminum chassis and wondering how it could all possibly work. It all looked so chaotic and unkempt compared to the sleek traces and neat machine-inserted components on a spanking new 19″ Zenith with the System 3 chassis. In a word, the old chassis was just – ugly.
Looking back, I probably shouldn’t have been so judgmental. Despite the decades of progress in PCB design and the democratization of board production thanks to KiCad, OSH Park, and the like, it turns out there’s a lot to be said for ugly methods of circuit construction.
Continue reading “Getting Ugly, Dead Bugs, and Going to Manhattan”
Back in Feburary, I was one of the first people to throw some cash at the Voltera V-One circuit board printer on Kickstarter. With an anticipated delivery date of Q4 2015, I sat back and waited. This week, my V-One arrived!
I’ll preface this article by pointing out that I do know the folks at Voltera as we went to university together. That being said, I did put down my own cash for the device, so I’ve bought the right to be critical. I also have no relationship with their company. In this article, we’ll go through unboxing and printing, then get into a review of the V-One based on what we’ve seen so far.
Continue reading “Review: Voltera V-One PCB Printer”
One of our tipsters just sent us a link to some fascinating videos on a new style of rapid prototyping — Laser Origami!
The concept is fairly simple, but beautifully executed in the included videos. A regular laser cutter is used to cut outlines of objects in clear lexan, then, by unfocusing the laser it slowly melts the bend lines, causing the lexan to fold and then solidify into a solid joint. It becomes even more interesting when they add in a servo motor to rotate the workpiece, allowing for bends of angles other than 90 degrees!
Depending on the part you are designing, this method of rapid prototyping far exceeds the speeds of a traditional 3D printer. The part shown in the included image could be printed in about 4 hours, or using the laser, cut and folded in 4 minutes flat!
Stick around after the break to see this awesome demonstration of the technology!
Continue reading “Laser Origami!”
[Gavilan Steinman] just printed and assembled his own RepRap machine and filmed the process. This isn’t news but we found it very interesting to watch. He started with a RepStrap, a rapid-prototyping 3D printer that as built by hand instead of printed by a similar machine. This is the seminal step in the self-replicating process.
From there he prints an extruder head which improves the quality of the parts the RepStrap can produce. We then see time-lapse footage of the printing process for a Mendel unit, the second generation of RepRap machines. We’ve embedded the video after the break. It’s a great way to spend ten minutes on a Sunday afternoon.
Continue reading “From RepStrap to RepRap; a 3D printer is born”
[Ned] tipped us off about his project for a class at Carnegie Mellon. Utilizing a Denso 6-AOF robotic arm they have built a rapid prototyping machine that uses Lego as the building material. LDraw, the open standard Lego CAD program, is used to build a model which is then translated into MATLAB files that the robotic arm can use for placement commands. Right now pieces need to be placed on a template for the robot to find and pick up.
It’s great that Lego pieces are used because they are readily available and inexpensive, but this type of precision robot makes the project unattainable for most tinkerers. Still, the concept is interesting and we could see an end goal being a more widely available machine. It’s not too much of a leap to image a RepRap type machine that takes internal measurements of a circuit board and the components, calculates inside case dimensions, then builds a prototype enclosure from common Lego pieces.
Generation 2.0 of RepRap, the self replicating 3d printer, is approaching realization. Code named “Mendel”, the new design will be wedge shaped rather than a box which offers a few benefits. The overall design is smaller than the original RepRap but the printable area is larger. This means more functionality with less building material. With each new generation of this project the assembly gets easier and total parts price drops making the RepRap available to a much wider audience.
The RepRap blog has put forth some design specs, a picture of the assembled prototype, and has links for general assembly information (ZIP). We won’t see a finished version of this released for a few months but so far it looks like a big leap forward.
The RepRap project has been working on bringing 3D printing to the masses by creating a extrusion printer that can also make the majority of its own parts. For the most part, these print ABS or HDPE plastics which are strong and recyclable. In order to create these replicating printers, similar machines called RepStraps are built out of either laser-cut parts or machined elements. They are functionally equivalent to RepRap printers, but are not made of printed parts. [nophead] documented his RepStrap, HydraRaptor, that is based off a milling machine. He had already printed a set of RepRap parts, and he documented printing a second set. The machine worked for about 100 hours over the course of 2 weeks, printing about 1.5 kg of parts. He made a few adjustments, such as replacing ABS bearings with HDPE to reduce friction. The parts are for Factor e Farm so they can get started with 3D printing.
Related: RepRap pinch wheel extruder