The mission of the ORB 3D project is to dramatically improve the speed, open innovation, and accessibility of 3D printers, so that they become as ubiquitous and useful as common paper printers.
We also envision ORB and its groundbreaking technologies aiding many worldwide issues, including medicine, food, disaster relief, and medical research, where timeliness and open development saves lives.
We understand three main challenges that 3D printers must overcome in order for 3D printing to advance.
- 3D printers are too slow, making it difficult to rapidly prototype in homes and schools. Faster 3D printing speeds are also needed in other environments, such as manufacturing.
- 3D printers are too complicated to modify, as all parts are centralized into pre-made driver boards.
- 3D printers are too complicated to use; they have much steeper learning curves than “2D” paper printers. Primarily designed for computer geeks, they do not integrate software, hardware, and design well.
We are currently on the 5th major revision of our prototype, standardizing the electronics modules, improving hardware configurations for the end-user and developing the ORB Studio software. In designing the ORB 3D printer, we have worked hard to grow our understanding of 3D printers, learning new techniques with each iteration of our design. Each major revision is dramatically different from the other in how we’ve come to realize the mechanics, architecture and interface for ORB. They all approach our vision of a more user-responsive paradigm for 3D printing.
We are approaching what we would consider our “Alpha” model, featuring demonstrable functionality in the core principles of our Design Paradigm.
INCREASE PRINTING SPEED
The pace of our world demands faster printing. Just like the dot matrix gave way to the inkjet, ultimately being replaced by the laser printer, ORB aims to revolutionize the speed of 3D printers in the industry.
We envision a world where 3D printing would move at your speed. In schools, real world-design would take place at a real-world pace with 3D printers allowing for rapid iteration in-class. Imagine the possibilities for disaster relief and assistive technologies in remote regions of the world. Utilizing three core technologies, our goal is to make objects as quickly as you need them.
ORB utilizes three new technologies with the goal of making objects rapidly.
- Spinning Disc: Much like a vinyl record player or hard drive, ORB’s spinning disc spins while the extruder moves over it. By rotating at high velocity, it allows objects to print much faster.
- MultiHeat: Multiple heater elements are stacked on top of each other with a small gap. By heating incrementally, fast-moving plastic can travel much more efficiently. Without MultiHeat, the movement speed of the spinning disc is still limited to how fast the heater can warm plastic.
- Multi Material: Custom plastic filaments and Modules allow for printing anything from circuitry to cakes. We are also researching materials that allow for quicker and more imaginative prints, constantly experimenting with combinations of materials and different methods to produce precise, dynamic objects.
MODULAR ARCHITECTURE (for easy and open printer development)
Today’s 3D printers are generally closed for innovation; you need to have extensive engineering experience to add to or change your 3D printer. While the proliferation of open-source 3D printers has sparked a global maker manufacturing revolution, the modification of these 3D printers still remains limited to a select few of engineers due to the growing complexity of centralized CNC control.
ORB solves this issue with Modularity. Every major mechanical/electrical component in ORB is an individual Module, or building block, that can be connected to add more functionality. Modularity vastly reduces the risk of failure of the entire system by removing interdependencies and ‘sandboxing’ individual Modules from the rest of the system.
The fundamental printing modules for the ORB 3D Printer are called PEASH:
- Platform (up/down movement)
- Extrude (bowden extruder)
- Angle (radial rotation over disc)
- Spin (spinning disc rotation)
- Hotend (heats up material)
More ORB Modules, such as a laser scanner module, can be added to the existing array of fundamental printing modules.
ORB is a “Makesumer” 3D printer. We cater to both end-users (who want their printers to “just work”) and Makers (who want to modify their printers to their hearts’ content).
ORB Modules (and therefore the entire printer) are built on Arduino, a strong global open-source microcontroller platform. By allowing anyone to create and use Modules, innovation can occur much faster and new 3D fabrication technology can reach many more people around the world.
In addition to a friendly hardware aesthetic, we have created ORB Studio, our CAD/slicing. ORB Studio is designed from the ground up with accessibility in mind. ORB Studio operates seamlessly on every Internet-connected device with a cross-platform web app. Combined with ORB Modularity, this will allow users to print anything from a simple plastic cup to much more complex devices, such as a full smartphone.
Through the modular architecture of ORB “Building Blocks,” the user can customize their print, with each module integrating seamlessly through the ORB Studio software. This also allows for additional functionality without sacrificing accessibility. Modules such as a Laser Scanner can be attached, so that making a duplicate of an object can be as easy as pressing the “copy” button on a Xerox machine. Supporting open-source, we envision a community of users able to create their own modules, opening up possibilities we may never have imagined.