[Figure 1: Demo of WorkHorse 3D Printer]
Even though 3D printing is a newly emerging technology, it has rapidly became mainstream in education, manufacturing and many other industries. 3D printers allow anyone to easily produce complex parts.
However, these machines have one critical flaw. After a 3D printer has finished printing a part, a person must physically go to the printer and remove the part from the print bed. A 3D printer cannot start its next print job, until the previous part is removed. This constraint cripples the productivity of 3D printers. If 3D printers could automatically eject their printjobs, then they could print out a constant stream of parts. The efficiency of the machine would drastically increase.
Many businesses already use 3D printers to manufacture product. Currently, their manufacturing capabilities are constrained by the constant need to manually remove/start print jobs If this task was automated, it would be easier for more companies to use 3D printing for volume manufacturing.
Personally, I work in a 3D printing lab that prints hundreds of parts for my fellow university students. From my position, it is obvious that this constraint significantly limits the number of print jobs our lab can complete per day.
[Figure 2: Problem Pitch Video]
The purpose of this project is to build a fully automated 3D Printer: The WorkHorse 3D Printer. The WorkHorse 3D Printer has a conveyor belt module that autonomously ejects finished print jobs from the printer. With this novel feature, the WorkHorse 3D Printer is able to print a constant stream of print jobs without human intervention. This is a breakthrough for the 3D printing industry. Automatic part ejection will improve the functionality and capability of 3D printers. Within the next few years, autonomous part ejectors will be as ubiquitous to 3D printers as paper ejectors are to paper printers.
Over the past few years, people around the world have been empowered by rapid prototyping. Affordable CNC machines, allow anyone to easily put together a prototype. All of the cool hardware recently developed by makers, students, and startups is only possible because of easy access to these powerful machines. However, mass production still remain out of the reach of most people. Currently, makers can only mass produce by placing an order in an overseas factory. This process is expensive, time consuming and prone to error.
Building an affordable automatic 3D printer will open up whole new doors to hackers. An automatic 3D printer will allow any to wield the power of a factory. Once automatic 3D printers become mainstream, conveyor belt lines will not be exclusive to large companies. The technology will truly be democratized. Providing this tool to DIY enthusiasts will once again allow them to make amazing things.
It will be more feasible for tinkerers to transition from an idea to a bustling company. It will be easier for libraries, schools, and other organization to offer 3D printing services.
It will ensure that making once again reaches new heights.
I want hackers to easily be able to add this hack to their 3D printers. I am excited by the idea of makers setting up small scale factories. Making this technology easily accessible will lead to an explosion of what people can make with their 3D printers.
Therefore, the robotic ejection module is designed to be easily integratable with other...Read more »