Peerbhai Robotics was formed when I designed a CNC mill/3d printer hybrid robot I called EasyMaker. This blog was forked off my main ipeerbhai.wordpress.com blog, as I found that the volume of people looking for the robot was high enough to separate out and, with some luck, make the robot available for sale. I then did some additional development of the robot after forking the blog, and eventually, reached a point where I felt it was complete enough to try a Kickstarter. The KickStarter failed, and I’m now designing a new robot, and have reconfigured the site as a blog for the new robot’s development.
The roadmap for the new robot is as follows:
1. Design a new linear motion system. Existing linear motions systems are cheap and have good availability — in China. I have a Chinese supplier, and can get the bearings here in the US for a good price, and the rail comes in many lengths right now. So, why design a new liner motion system, when good, cheap ones already exist? Lead time and production risk. It takes me 60-90 days to freight ship parts to me. I can air ship, but then, the cost and quantity have to go down, and it still takes 4 weeks to get through customs and the like. If I want to control production risk, I need a bearings system I can source in the US — from a large, reputable supplier. I’ve chosen Grainger and VXB as my bearing suppliers, and McMaster as my shaft provider — so, am building my linear motion system around what I can get from these 3 suppliers. The new linear motion system has different designs for X, Y, and Z. Right now, Grover and I are designing and testing bearing elements in different configurations.
2. Design alignment systems. There are essentially 2 major types of error in a cartesian system — they are positional error and square error. Positional error is solved by the linear motion system, and square error by accurate and precise positioning of parts. EasyMaker taught me how to design a system with little positional error — but square error was more difficult to solve. I could do it, but I wasn’t positive users could. The new robot will be designed around easy squaring and low positional error.
3. Cost reduction. EasyMaker has a very large BOM, and thus, it costs a lot. The new robot has fewer parts, more integrated together.
4. Designed for milling. I don’t mean functionality — I mean in producing the parts. I had designed EM to be produced by Laser cutter and 3D printer. This made EM a true RepRap, in that it could make its own parts. But no one technology could make the parts — so I couldn’t outsource to a single supplier, as I’d have to use different job shops to get the best price quotes. This made EM expensive. The new robot, while produced via 3d printing, is designed to be produced via 3 axis milling.
5. Design a secret feature. This is something I won’t blog about — other than the new robot has a secret feature that no other robot has.
6. Put it all together, launch a new KickStarter, and see how it goes. EM didn’t launch — but it did show me that I’m close to the right point. The new robot will, hopefully, align better with what the market wants. EM is a truly great robot. Not just good — Great. I’ve got a Prusa and a mill right now, and EM is a better robot than either of them. Hence, I’m using it in the design of the new robot, and you can see it being my main workhorse robot in some of the videos in the blog. The new robot will take everything I learned from EasyMaker, and improve upon it.
I wanted to also share my market vision, for those of you in the same field. 3d printer/CNC mill hybrids have existed for some time. I know of 5 robots designed around this idea:
1. Zen toolworks F3 robots.
3. QU-BD’s hybrid
More entries are coming into the market, and Hydra-MMM isn’t actually available ( it was a student’s design, and never released to the public ). At the same time, more people are entering the market, and more convergence is happening in designs. I fully expect the “Machine Shop in a Box” concept to reach fruition in multiple offerings over the next 3-5 years, with some strong robots in the space. All of the designs work as claimed. I haven’t seen them all in action, but I’ve seen some of them working, and I designed one of them ( EasyMaker! ). I know what the laws of physics says — and the problems in the space aren’t that hard to solve. A single person can, for a little while longer anyway, solve them all now. I fully expect the robots that can do this to be commonplace, and many conventional ideas to change. I also expect more machines to be converged into the concept. We’re almost at the point of a new singularity here — a revolution in home production. It’ll be exciting to participate in its unfolding!