|MakerBot CupCake CNC|
While most new ideas start as drawings and sketches, there comes a moment when one must see the work in their hands. When I started creating my own robot I tried using many forms of media to create rough drafts. I used Paper mache', a slew of different plastic parts, motors, and wires stripped from different objects around the house, nothing was safe from becoming apart of my bot.
In college I entered a mechanical engineering class that taught the students to draw sketches on computer programs. These programs included Autocad, Inventor, and Solidworks. This class used two different rapid prototyping 3D printers, the Dimension Series from Stratasys and Z-Printer from Z corp . These two printers cost $30-50K each. Not the price a to ordinary robot hobbyist like myself could afford. Luckily, less expensive rapid prototypers are available.
An art teacher named Bre Pettis was passionate about invention, innovation, and all things DIY. He helped start a small company called Makerbot Industries. Their MakerBot is capable of printing any plastic objects within a 6"/6"/8" tall area. These objects or things are stored in a growing upen source data base called Thingiverse then downloaded and printed free of charge. They recently added a build platform belt that spits out one creation after another on the cache. This CupCake model runs $699 and is said to be on it's *absolute last batch*. The company is moving to their more expensive model the Thing-O-Matic, priced at $1299. Replacement parts can be printed directly from the unit. Some smarter enthusiasts have built replica MakerBots from existing models.
The RepRap Darwin is the original Godfather of homemade 3D printers. RepRap comes from Rapid Replication. The idea was to make a machine that could create a copy of itself. It theorized that appliances like these would change the entire economy. Imagine it, being able to have any product produced for only the price of the materials. This cuts out shipping, labor, tools, and all the other overhead costs. While only a percentage of the parts are actually printed, the project hopes to be able to print it's own circuit boards. There is newer model called the Mendel after the scientist that discovered genetics. Make a RepRap printer of your own.