Archive for September 16th, 2010

What would you do with a MakerBot Botfarm?

Printing two parts simultaneously

Printing two parts simultaneously

With the introduction of the automated build platform MakerBot has moved from the realm of affordable prototyping into ultra-low-cost manufacturing.

What’s most interesting to me about the possibility of a MakerBot as a manufacturing tool is that it may actually be the most cost-effective option for certain objects.  For many objects, a injection-molded plastic solution will be the cheapest option.  Overall, injection molded plastic is probably the most scalable method of plastic manufacturing.

But, what if you have an object that can only be effectively created by3D printing?  It’s more problematic to print overhangs with 3D printing but it does have the possibility to create fully functional captive parts without the need for assembly.  My favorite example is probably Zaggo’s treasure chest, pictured above.  By printing the hinge’s pins extending into the other half of the printed object, Zaggo was able to print an object that just cannot be created by other, typically cheaper, means.

An interesting side effect of printing “captive” parts is that it can reduce or eliminate production times – since the parts are created together, they don’t need to be assembled.

This means there’s an object (and possibly a business mdoel) out there that is best suited for production on a MakerBot! 1

I wrote a post earlier in the week asking what you would do with a fully automatic MakerBot before I heard about extent of the MakerBot ‘Botfarm.  What would you do with an army of robots at your disposal?  Bonus points for any ideas that involve objects that can only be printed using FDM.

  1. I’m excluding commercial 3D FDM printers from the running because of their “cheap printer, expensive toner” business models.  They’re just not meant for large scale production. []
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Get Ready for Maker Faire New York

The Botcave is a flurry with activity in preparation for the upcoming New York City 2010 Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Sciences.

Clear your weekend September 25th and 26th to attend this event. The festival will last from 10 am to 7 pm on Saturday and from 10 am to 6 pm Sunday. MakerBot Industries will be right next to the 3D printing village. We will have a farm of MakerBots printing all day long.

A day pass is $25.00 for adults, $20.00 for seniors, $15.00 for students, and $10.00 for kids, and $50.00 for families. If you buy a subscription to Make Magazine for $35.00, a Maker Faire day pass is included.

Buy a ticket here and we’ll see you there!

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The Launches Must Continue!

STS-1 Launch
Ok, it’s been a wild week! On Monday we launched the MakerBot Automated Build Platform and A LOT of them are now in the process of being shipped to MakerBotters around the globe. On Tuesday we launched the MakerBot 3D Scanner which sold out instantly. (We’re busy producing those as fast as we can to get them to you!) On Wednesday we didn’t launch a product, but we launched a project that will become a product with the Makerscanner! Oh and there is a new version of ReplicatorG out.

So what are we going to launch today? So far, nothing. We need your help. We don’t have anything to launch today! Can you launch something and take a photo or shoot a video to help MakerBot keep the dream alive? Maybe a MakerBotted boat or a MakerBotted space ship? If you can, you’ll make this the ultimate week of launches!

Photo courtesy of NASA which now is uploading to Flickr!

Paddle boat

Ok, I made a paddle boat and launched it!

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We better keep an eye on these guys…

Robot armies for peace

Robot armies for peace

Unfortunately, I have never been to the ‘Botcave, MakerBot headquarters, or the general vicinity of either.  So, I learned about MakerBot’s Botfarm comprised of sixteen MakerBots at the same time you did.  Sixteen MakerBots!  After reading about the MakerBot build party at NYC Resistor, I figured they might have plans for a four ‘bot farm, maybe five.  Eight if they were going to be ridiculously extravegant.  But sixteen? 1

Perhaps most cryptic and ominous was Bre’s tweet on Tuesday:

Thanks, stay tuned! 😉 RT @kwiens: @bre Wow, you guys are on a roll! That’s my two biggest requests knocked off in two days.

Clearly they have some designs for such production capacity in the form of Makerscanner kits.  But they don’t need sixteen ‘bots with automated build platforms cranking out parts to meet the entire world wide demand for Makerscanner parts.

Sixteen!  What hubris!  For $20,000 you could get one commercial grade 3D printer or you could have a ‘Botfarm sixteen strong equipped with MK5 plastruders and Automated Build Platforms.  The largest internal build volume for any commerical 3D printer I can find online is about 6000 cubic cm.  A MakerBot has about 1300 cubic cm of build space. Thus, a ‘Botfarm sixteen strong has about 22% of the commercial printer.

Importantly, that’s not the only metric.  I don’t know how fast a commercial printer is, but let’s assume for the sake of argument it is twice as fast as a MakerBot. 2  That still means a ‘Botfarm could crank out parts eight times faster than a commercial printer.34

What in the world could they need that kind of raw production capacity for?  I don’t know what they have planned for the ‘Botfarm, but it is either going to be awesome or apocaplytic.

  1. Photo courtesy of camerondaigle []
  2. I suspect a commerical printer using FDM tech isn’t going to be that much faster than a MakerBot, but I’ve got nothing to support this guess. []
  3. Not to mention at about 1/5 the cost of plastic. []
  4. For those of you interested in such things, imagine their ‘Botfarm churning out all the parts for a RepRap every 90 minutes. []
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