2011 was a difficult year for the Drumm’s, but it ended well. January 2011 was the month I built my first 3D printer – a Makerbot Cupcake. February 3rd, I printed my first object. By August 13th, I had designed, printed and built my first functioning prototype of the printrbot. After a few months of testing and rapid improvements, our kickstarter launched on November 17th. A very long month later, our kickstarter was a huge success. We ended the kickstarter and the year in utter disbelief – thanks to all of our backers. What a year.
But it is also the beginning. The beginning of printrbot, the beginning of a huge ground swell for 3D printing, the beginning of so many possibilities in the homes of our backers recieving and building the printrbots all over the world. I can’t wait to see what the world does with these printers! 3D printing truly changed my life and it is going to change the world.
2012 will be a very good year.
Thank you all and Happy New Year!
We moved into a commercial space for our botfarm in Lincoln, CA. It is currently very sparse, but we are printing our botfarm to fill it. There is so much work to do, but we are having a blast!
I hired some part time help – Alex and Caleb. They are both members of the Reprap meetup group that I started in Roseville, CA. They are both doing great work and we all are learning so much as we go – it is quite intense.
The holidays hit and TONS of family activities have almost completely taken me out for the entire week, but I have been sneaking out from time to time to run errands and keep the infant bot farm fed and growing.
We toured another meetup member’s machine shop and loved it! Cary has some sweet equipment and is a great guy. We are having him make some custom aluminum Z-couplers (to be sold as upgrade parts). He is also doing our knurled bolts for the extruder. They are currently in use in a couple of bots at printrbot headquarters and working great. I love that we have one more part whose manufacturing is completely scalable. They also look and work great. We will keep you posted as our testing continues.
The printrbot+ is printing better and better as we continually improve the hardware and calibration.
We have ordered an 80 watt laser cutter to put in printrbot HQ. It should arrive this week or early next week.
Speaking of laser cutting, the printrbot+ has gone through some great improvements under the skilled hand of Brian Roe. These improvements include endstop mounts, adjustable belt tensioning for the X axis, a stronger X-carriage, and a new quick(er)-change mount on the X-carriage for other tools or extruders. All these improvements trickle down to the printrbot L.C., too.
In the “still experimental” category, the printrbot+ on Brian’s desk is sporting 12mm Z rods! WOW, is it awesome. It would cost significantly more to build with those massive Z rods, but it is choice. I am a little concerned that it will send shipping cost higher, too, but we will keep experimenting. The beauty of a small company is we can iterate quickly and often.
I have been almost silent about the hotend, at Carl’s request. He has been hard at work on improvements, heavy testing, and tooling to scale everything up to massive production. I will continue to allow him to reveal the details of the design as he sees fit. I do want to say, though, that I can’t even imagine a more efficient, durable, affordable, scalable design. He has done so much R&D – with all the right tools – that I have supreme confidence in the Ubis Hotend. Of note, I am leaning toward a .5mm tip, instead of a .4mm tip to compete evenly with the other tips out there. Other tip sizes will be available in the printrbot.com store, btw. We are also shipping every kit with an extra tip just in case.
The electronics are coming along nicely, with some being assembled this weekend for testing. Laine has done a great job with all of our last-minute changes on the design. He has already open-sourced the design and asked respected leaders in the reprap community to offer their input. We are really proud of how this has turned out!
In an effort to keep all of you informed, I do want to mention that the power supply sourcing has frustrated me. It is unbelievably expensive to have one custom made – the Chinese New Year affects almost every electronics supplier! We are going to go “off the shelf”. This will work perfectly, falling back to an ATX computer power supply, or a ready-made laptop power supply. Frankly, we are still deciding. I just wish the ATX power supply was in a smaller, more attractive package. In the end, we will do what we need to do to deliver the right power supply for the job – putting function in front of form…. I just wish I could have both. We did some experimenting with the XBOX 360 Slim power supply – a great design, but the manufacturing was not exactly up to par on the units we tested. In an effort to ensure ease of replacement and open up options for you to easily and inexpensively upgrade your power supply, the ATX solution really makes sense. I will keep you posted on how this develops.
I know this has been a long update, but I wanted to be sure you were all informed on everything that has been happening on printrbot. I know you want to see pictures and video of printrbot HQ, but it is just not ready for prime time yet.
More news is on the horizon, but I will stop here and wish you all a Happy New Year!