XYZ Printing Shows 3D Printed DIY Robots at CES – Kits to Hit the Market Later This Year

DIY robot

XYZ Printing has quickly developed a strong reputation for their low cost, high performance, 3D printer line, but most people aren’t aware that they also have a robotics division - XYZ Robot that develops and markets both service and personal robot products.

In the past, their robot division has primarily focused on their service robot line, offering a mobile remote telepresence type robot platform that can be used for auto-mapping, research, surveillance, and other similar applications. However, at CES 2015 the company unveiled an innovative strategy to combine the strong points of both divisions by offering a series of humanoid robots that feature body shells that can be printed using XYZ Printing devices.

While the company hasn’t released exact availability and pricing information yet, the robots are expected to come in two different configurations - Advanced and Intermediate. According to information circulated at CES, the lower end Intermediate robot configuration will sell for just under US$300. We’re speculating that the Advanced configuration will be closer to US$800-$1,000 since it utilizes 18 DYNAMIXEL AX-12A servo motors that typically retail for around US$45 each.

The kits will include the necessary servos, controller, AC adapter, internal frame, software and other parts. The users are expected to print their own body shells. Here’s what we know about the specifications for the two kits so far:

DIY robot 1

Hopefully the company will make some, if not all, of the 3D printed shell design data available for downloading and modification to help users kickstart their robots.

 DIY robot shells

Via: DIY robot

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Is 3D Printing Practical and Accessible? They Think So. (Video)

Get a look at 3D printing at the Boise Public Library  YouTube

People are always asking me if I think that 3D printing will become pervasive, if the average person would have any need or interest in printing out items. Being a strong believer in the proverb that “Seeing is believing”, I think this video that shows a Boise, Idaho father and daughter printing a custom wall outlet cover at their local public library says it all:

Of course, there will be those readers that question whether or not government funds should be provided to libraries for services like this - but that’s a totally different debate.

Via: Get a look at 3D printing at the Boise Public Library - YouTube

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World Maker Faire 2013: Passing On Skills

The "maker movement" is much more than just hacking, experimenting, or playing around with hobbies. A big part of it, at least for me and many of my friends, is the ability to pass on skills and know-how to others, including passing them down from generation to generation.

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World Maker Faire 2013: Humanoid Robot

One of Michael Overstreet's humanoid robots playing soccer at World Maker Faire 2013 in New York City. Michael puts in a tremendous amount of time and effort each year attending Maker Faires in NYC, Detroit, San Mateo, and Kansas City, along with RoboGames, because he gets real inspiration from introducing kids and adults to robotics.

13092X World Maker Faire 82

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World Maker Faire 2013: Sugru

"If Superglue and PlayDough had a baby" is the tag line for Sugru, a surprisingly useful self curing rubber concoction that turns out to be extremely useful.

Want to quickly fabricate a simple stand? Need to patch some rough edges or a break? Don't like the sharp corners on your smartphone or tablet? Sugru is the answer, and it's a whole lot of fun to boot.

13092X World Maker Faire-10

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World Maker Faire 2013: FormLabs Form 1 3D Printer

The FormLabs Form 1 high resolution desktop printer has some limitations/drawbacks for the type of work that I typically do, but it is so incredibly awesome that I want one anyway.

The part resolution, surface finish, and ability to produce parts that would be difficult if not impossible with other additive 3D printers, is really striking. Take a close look at the print developing in the Form 1 photo above. How difficult would it be for you to produce the same print with a Makerbot Replicator 2?

In addition to the print quality and performance, I love the aesthetic design of the printer itself. If Johnny Ive designed 3D printers instead of iPhones, this is the type of printer he would create.

At the same time, there are some downsides/limitations. The Form 1 won't be available until January 2014 at the earliest, and not in all US states or countries overseas. Japan is one of the countries that's obviously missing from the list at this point, though I did hear from the FormLabs staff at Maker Faire that plans for Japan sales and support are in the works.

The initial cost is higher than other printers, which I can rationalize given the higher performance and print quality. What's harder to justify, for my unique needs, is the higher projected running cost given that the printer resin has to be purchased from FormLabs and it isn't readily available locally. That implies that users will have to stock resin or risk running out just when they need to produce parts for projects or clients. For overseas users, like me, where it can take a week or more even for expedited FedEx delivery (not to mention costing an arm and a leg), this is a serious concern.

There are also some limitations that might be troublesome, depending on your particular use case. For example, one of the FormLabs booth staff explained that the Form 1 resin parts take several days to cure to the point that they are solid enough to be used in functional parts that might be subjected to stress. This wouldn't be a problem for artistic or concept designers, but would definitely pose significant problems for the type of parts I design and use regularly.

All things considered, the Form 1 is in a class by itself and definitely worth serious consideration if it's characteristics match your typical use case.

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