World Maker Faire 2013: Makerbot Digitizer

I was really looking forward to seeing the new Makerbot Digitizer in person at Maker Faire in New York. During the three days I spent at the venue, I was able to stop by the Makerbot booth quite a few times to watch it in operation and discuss the unit both with the Makerbot employees and potential users. Downloading the digitizer documentation from the company website made it possible to ask intelligent questions and to verify key points.

Overall, I left with a fairly positive impression of the digitizer. It works as advertised, is dead simple to use, and produces robust STL files that can be sliced and printed immediately. The unit looks very professional and would look right at home in a engineering lab or design office.

So, what were the downsides? Unfortunately there were a few that will probably keep me from placing an order, at least for the time being.

First is the price. At over USD$1,500, before shipping/handling, it would be hard to justify amortizing the cost over the number of times I could put it to good use for client projects. I'm sure that there are potential customers with a different business model that can use the Makerbot Digitizer, I'm just not in that position right now.

Second is the lack of detail resolution - for me this is a non-starter, and I think it will impact a lot of potential users as well. A good (or bad) example is the puppy model shown above that Makerbot used at the event to show off the digitizer. As you can see from the photo, the puppy has a lot of fine detail, including the hairs on its back. Unfortunately the digitizer can't resolve that level of detail. The STL mesh created by the Makerbot Digitizer application produces smooth surfaces instead.

Third, and this is good news/bad news, the digitizer scan envelope will handle parts that can fit into a cylinder 203 mm in diameter and 203 mm high. While that sounds great, the digitizer can not handle parts that are under 50 mm in diameter or under 50 mm tall. This rules out quite a few of the typical parts I work with regularly. My first thought was to place my parts on a small cylinder, digitize everything, then remove the cylinder by processing the resulting STL data. But the lack of digitizer resolution appears to make that approach impractical.

All things considered, the new Makerbot Digitizer will be attractive to creative artists, some designers, and perhaps consultants, as long as they don't require fine resolution and can afford the price tag.

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World Maker Faire 2013: Liquid Metal 3D Printing

Scott Vader and his son Zachary showed a early prototype model of their Liquid Metal Jet Printer.

Although the printer was non-functional at Maker Faire, Vader, with over 30 years experience in manufacturing and engineering speaks with a lot of confidence and is sure he will be able to bring the product to market in the near future.

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World Maker Faire 2013: Innovative New 3D Printer Design

Nicholas Seward at ConceptForge gave us a demonstration of "WALLY", an innovative new 3D RepRap design at Maker Faire.

WALLY uses a SCARA/pantograph approach that totally eliminates linear rails, appears to be more compact, and is able to print parts for a next generation copy/clone that is 20% larger than itself. According to Seward the process can be repeated with each generation being as much as 20% larger than it's predecessor.

The part print quality was a bit rough, but Seward explained that the prototype WALLY on display had only been running for 3 days. He expects the print quality to match other 3D printer designs on the market after he has a few weeks for fine-tuning.

WALLY features a 3/8" water jet cut basalt bed with a laser cut registration grid; Anubis hotend equipped with a FEP Bowden tube (similar to Tantillus) that minimizes the print head mass resulting in smoother prints; linear motion drive utilizing 100lb test braided fishing line (another design approach similar to Tantillus); and is wall mountable.

The print envelope is 200 mm in diameter by 150 mm tall. The printer is designed to use 1.75mm PLA filament, though it could probably be modified for use with other filament sizes or types.

Seward estimates that WALLY will cost USD$450 for a "print your own" version and plans to offer a full kit priced around USD$600.

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World Maker Faire 2013: 3D Printed “Pot Head”

It's surprising how rapidly the capability and capacity of affordable 3D printers has increased.

There were several exhibitors at Maker Faire in NYC last week showing off printers with print envelopes large enough to print really big objects. Of course the print times can be extremely long, and there is also the issue of warping with large parts. Still, the results were very impressive and encouraging.

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Robot Japan 5 – Photo Set

130106 Robot Japan 5-25 by Robots-Dreams
130106 Robot Japan 5-25, a photo by Robots-Dreams on Flickr.

The Robot Japan competitions get better and better each time. The 5th bi-annual event, held last Sunday in Tokyo, was the best competition yet from all aspects. The professionalism, showmanship, energy, and excitement was absolutely fantastic.

Here's my photo set of the afternoon. I'll be posting several videos of the action on the Robots Dreams YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/robotsdreams) also.

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ROBO-ONE Light 6 and ROBO-ONE 22 Competition Schedules Announced

ROBO ONE OFFCIAL SITE

The ROBO-ONE organizing committee announced that the 6th ROBO-ONE Light competition will be held Saturday, February 23, 2013 at the Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science in Tokyo.

The qualifying tests for the 22nd ROBO-ONE competition will be held the same day immediately following the ROBO-ONE Light event, with the full competition scheduled for Sunday, February 24th, 2013 at the same venue.

The events, which will be staged in the large 7th floor auditorium, are open to the public with free admission.

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ROBO-ONE 21 Humanoid Robot Competition Rules Released

robo-one rules

The rules for the next ROBO-ONE Humanoid Robot competition have been released. There are no substantial changes to the rules, though the latest revision includes a new provision prohibiting the use of 'hooks'.

In other words, builders can't design robot appendages that would deliberately hook behind their opponents or get entangled in opponents wiring cables.  This does not rule out the use of grippers or techniques that involve grabbing or hugging opponents.

For most builders this doesn't represent much of a problem, though it may be a challenge to some aggressive competitors. I'm not sure how the new rule will apply to robots like King Kizer that have unique arm/hand designs.

The ROBO-ONE 21 competition is scheduled for September 1st/2nd, but the venue hasn't been announced yet.

Via: ROBO-ONE 21 Rules (pdf)

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8th Kondo KHR Robot Anniversary Celebration Schedule Announced

kondo robot

The 8th Kondo KHR Robot Anniversary event will take place in Tokyo on August 4th (Saturday) and 5th (Sunday). Competitions will include Kondo Battle KHR Class which follows the standard ROBO-ONE competition rules, and KondoCup Robot Soccer.

Since this event celebrates the anniversary of the popular Kondo KHR humanoid robot series, it will feature the KHR classifications for all competitions.

The event will be open to the public, and admission is free. The venue is the 3331 ARTS CYD facility at 11-14 6-chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Sotokanda, in the Akihabara district just a few minutes walk from the Kondo RoboSpot location.

Via: Kondo-robot.com news

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