Gigabot Engineering Updates – July 2020

re:3D’s Research and Development team never stands still, and while we’re developing the next generation of your Gigabot® and Gigabot® X 3D Printers, we’re continually looking for ways to refine the current iteration’s user experience, precision, and quality. As of July 1, 2020, all new Gigabot® 3+, Terabot and Gigabot® X 3D printers ship with the below enhancements. Current Gigabot® owners can order these as replacement parts that are fully compatible with previous versions.

New 3D Printed Parts (Polycarbonate unless otherwise indicated)

Gigabot® X

  • [11925] GBX Hopper Hose Clip: To make changing out feedstock less messy.
  • [11948] GBX Motor Coupler Insert (Taulman Nylon 910): more durable than the previous iteration.

Terabot

  • [11914], [11915] Terabot Light Rail End Cap: angled cap for positioning the LED light correctly.
  • Viki Enclosure: Terabot specific VIKI enclosure which takes its size into account.

New Metal Parts

Gigabot® X

  • [11955] GBX Radial Bearing (updated): more durable than previous version

Gigabot® 3+

  • [11953], [11954] GB3+ Hot End 0.25mm nozzle (Optional Part): for those who want finer details while printing big.

Fit and Strength Part Adjustments:

The below parts have had geometry changes or other additions to make them stronger or fit more precisely.

Gigabot® X

  • [11339] GBX Y Slide Bracket
  • [11344], [11342] GBX Belt Mounts
  • [11338] GBX Motor Spacer
  • [11952] GBX Enclosure Bottom Panel

Gigabot® 3+

  • [10880] Viki Mount
  • [Various] Z-axis Threaded Rods now coated for improved corrosion resistance
  • [10257] X Motor Mount
  • [11081], [11136] Left and Right GB3+ Extruder Tensioner
  • [11518] GB3+ Unibody Extruder
  • [10113] GB3+ Dual Extruder Cover

Terabot

  • [11662] Terabot Y Axis Belt Mount
  • [11658] Terabot Y Slide Bracket
  • [11697], [11690] X and Y Motor Mounts
  • [11664] Y Limit Switch Mount
  • [11736] 40×40 Rail End Cap
  • Bed Leveling Knobs Removed and Replaced With Bolts
  • [11504] Full Enclosure

Electrical Updates

  • Improved Viki grounding for all units
  • Electrical Box layout redesigned for Gigabot® 3+

Trash to Treasure: from Reverse Pitch to ReStore

The dream has been the same, since the beginning of re:3D, to create a 3D printer that could print from trash. There was a problem though, first we had to create a printer (the Gigabot), and then we had to figure out a way to print directly from plastic waste (Gigabot X).

The Gigabot filament fed 3D Printer

So the first part of the dream was to create a large-scale, industrial 3D printer that was open-source and affordable, which is just what we did. The creation and sales of Gigabot has allowed re:3D to become a viable, profitable company. However, as a boot-strapped startup, finding more money, especially for R&D hardware projects was always difficult. But we never stopped believing that we could do it.

Two years ago we had the perfect opportunity to finally fund the creation of our Gigabot X 3D printer. The first was the WeWork Creator Awards, which awarded us the ability to expand our team, our facilities, and our R&D budget. The second was a Phase I SBIR (small business innovation research) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF grant was specifically for the creation of a 3D printer that could print from plastic waste. Subsequently we have received a Phase II award for this project to continue to develop an entire ecosystem to grind, dry, and feed plastic waste into the Gigabot X (GBX) printer that was developed as part of the Phase I grant. The dream was alive! The GBX was real!

The Gigabot X, pellet printer

Reverse Pitch:

Each year, the City of Austin, and specifically the Austin Resource Recovery department hosts an event called Reverse Pitch. Reverse Pitch is unique because it looks for companies within the Austin community who are creating waste that could be put to use in other areas or other businesses. The event starts with the Reverse Pitch, where the companies who are creating waste, pitch their product (trash) to businesses, entrepreneurs, or anyone interested. They talk about the quantities, the types of waste being produced, and any other pertinent information that might be useful.

Next, those who are interested in using one or more of the pitched waste-streams, put together a presentation and create a business model/use case around either creating or augmenting their business using the waste.

This past year one of the companies, HID Global, was pitching plastic polycarbonate (PC) sheets. They were the result of creating ID cards in their factory, and they were producing it in staggering amounts. The challenge was to figure out what we could do with it. I had the opportunity to go up to North Austin and tour the HID Global facility (which is amazing!) and see the process, meet the people, and get to know the waste-stream and company a little bit better. It is really amazing that this billion dollar company would be so warm and welcoming.

PC is a very common 3D printing feedstock. Our filament printing Gigabot prints with PC on a regular basis, in fact we use PC printed parts in all of our Gigabot printers. So I knew that it would be possible to print with this waste stream. Next, the entire process for HID to create their ID cards is done in a ‘clean-room’ environment, so we knew that the waste was extremely clean – another advantage because dirt can cause clogs and other issues in the printing process.

I made the pitch for a line of furniture, home goods, and art pieces to be printed on GBX directly from the HID PC waste. It was an idea that I called, Design: by re:3D. And, we WON! It was extremely exciting to win the pitch competition, and we received $10,000 to jump-start the idea (You can see the video here).

But then the joy turned into nervousness – we needed to divert 2,000 lbs of HID PC from the landfill, and quickly! What were we going to do with all of this stuff?

Serendipitously enough, one of the judges for the Reverse Pitch just so happened to work at the Austin Habitat for Humanity ReStore. We struck up a conversation after the competition, and set up a meeting with their team to discuss the idea of turning trash into treasure, and then selling it at the ReStore.

Talk about a dream scenario!

It has been a lot of work to get to this point, almost a year later! The ReStore allowed us to install a small industrial grinder in their back room, and allowed us to send interns over to spend HOURS grinding away at the 2,000lbs of PC that we had picked-up from HID.

We are so excited to announce that the first pieces of furniture are being displayed and put up for silent auction at the ReStore today! These pieces have been printed from waste plastic, this first batch is from plastic water bottles specifically. As we progress with our technology, and hone in our printer settings we are confident that we will be able to print objects from the diverted PC. We have successfully printed small vases and other objects, and we are going to be moving up to furniture shortly.

We are really looking forward to growing our relationship with the Habitat ReStore. And we are so thankful for the continued support from the City of Austin, the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI), and all of the many many more people who have believed in our story and helped us along the way. We look forward to continuing this work, diverting more trash from the landfill, and growing our business and team here in Texas.

On designing this collection:

By Mike Battaglia

When looking around reStore, I was looking for something that would usually be in stock and was an easy shape to design around. For my first piece I settled to design around 2x2s after seeing a bench outside made entirely of them.

The first design relied on glue to keep it together and I ultimately decided that this wasn’t sustainable. To complete the loop, I wanted the chair to be able to be disassembled, ground up, and turned into new feedstock for GBX. The second design had screw holes so that the 2x2s could be fastened and removed/disassembled. I definitely prefer this design but have already moved on to other ideas that will be even easier to assemble.

Lead Designer: Mike B. Assembling Furniture

Designing for GBX requires adding a little bit more tolerance than you would for a regular print. The layers are larger and slightly less consistent. I learned the hard way when realizing that the tolerance I had designed in was not enough, and had to plane down each piece of wood to fit.

Currently I am experimenting with 3D printed molds for pouring reclaimed cement+polycarbonate scrap into to create side tables.

Check out a quick video about the furniture:

What do you think we should make next? Email: info@re3d.org and let us know!

An Update: 3D Print Blobbing and How to Fix It

Maybe you’ve read our blog from several years back about improving a 3D print’s surface quality by reducing the triangle count of your STL file, or maybe you’ve just experienced some surface blobbing on a print and are looking for an explanation and a fix.

Well, you’ve come to the right place! This update blog will serve as both a complement to our original post, as well as a jumping off point for anyone experiencing issues described here.

Have you ever had the problem of little filament blobs dotting the surface – like in the picture below – ruin an otherwise great print?

Those blobs are due to a buffering issue. There is a speed at which the board feeds the printer information and a number of commands it holds in the queue. It’s like a restaurant putting out orders for people to pick up. There’s speed at which they make the orders, and only so many spots for orders waiting on pickup.

If the printer comes to a bunch of really quick moves, it clears out all the stored commands and has to pause a second to wait for more. That pause lets some plastic ooze out and create one of these blobs. Having fewer triangles equals fewer commands to make the same shape, so the average move is longer. This is one solution to the blobbing problem.

Another fix is to increase the buffer size (room for more pickup orders) or speed. We have been playing with buffer size since it is a setting in the firmware. The buffer speed depends on the capability of the board, so that would require a hardware upgrade to be faster.Lowering the mesh count on a model helps ensure that the printer can achieve its best performance for that print. You are modifying the part to match the capability of the printer. STL files are just a list of triangles that occupy a 3D space – curves are stored as a series of tangent triangular planes. Smaller triangles give a more accurate interpretation of the curve. So long as the facets are smaller than the printer can actually print, the result is a smooth curve. Technically you are degrading the mesh curvature. It’s the same as the transition from analog to digital. Analog is more information, but it overloads the system which makes digital better.

When we wrote the first article on this topic, we changed our firmware to have a large buffer for prints via SD card. Gigabot’s board can only support a certain buffer size, so that buffer space was taken from the USB. We recommend Gigabot users to print via SD because it has a larger buffer size and it also avoids other complications involved with keeping a computer connected to the printer. Recently we have been working on a touchscreen interface for Gigabot, which communicates over USB. We started to see print quality differences in SD card prints versus touchscreen prints in the form of globs on curved surfaces. Changing the buffer size for the USB is one of the changes that will roll out with the new touch screen.
 
Join the conversation on our forum if you want to continue this discussion with us!

Innovating in The Time of Corona(virus)

The exponential spread of the novel coronavirus across the globe led to overwhelming demand on supply chains and disruptions to traditional manufacturing and distribution systems. Because of societal lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, a dire need quickly arose for locally fabricated, specifically focused and creatively sourced solutions to equipment shortages and emergency supplies. At home and across the globe, designers and engineers quickly mobilized into online, open-source prototyping groups to solve the challenge of a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and medical device accessories. 3D printing and additive manufacturing was an obvious go-to, with the ability to rapidly prototype and iterate on the fly, teams could utilize 3D printers to supply healthcare providers with equipment now, as soon as there were designs to print. The intention and needs were obvious and clear – to aid humanity and fill the gaps in supply chains – however, organizing volunteers and streamlining the process to avoid duplicate efforts was a daunting task.

As a company with a wealth of R&D project experience and long used to working as a distributed team, re:3D put out the call that we would prototype – for free – any life-saving devices or PPE in order to expedite review by medical professionals. We are conscientious contributors to the open source design community for COVID-19 response. We take a First, Do No Harm approach to any design work we do for this effort, meaning that it needs to be designed with input from, and in partnership with, the individuals who will utilize any equipment we prototype. We will not create anything that gives a false sense of security, but is ineffective or harmful. Our medical providers on the front lines are in need, and we are honored to take on the challenge.

Face Shields

In two overlapping efforts, we prototyped a design for a 3D printed face shield with full visor coverage and an adjustable zip tie style latching mechanism. The inquiry started in Puerto Rico. Vicente Gascó, our friend and colleague from Tredé and Engine-4 shared he had a supply of 4000 clear plastic lenses for face shields, but no visor to which they would attach to the head. Armed with only the measurements of the lenses and aided by an idea from assembly guru and NASA technician Andrew Jica in Houston, Brian Duhaime, our mechanical engineer in Austin, and Alessandra Montano, our graphics designer in Puerto Rico, pumped out five different iterations of a face shield in only 48 hours.

Vicente and Luis Torres, co-founder of Engine-4, pulled our Puerto Rico Gigabot out of Parallel-18 and added it to the existing Gigabot at Engine-4. Gigabots in Austin and in Puerto Rico printed out iterations of the designs for testing.

In Houston at the same time, CTO Matthew Fiedler, mechanical engineer Helen Little and community liaison Charlotte Craff were meeting with doctors from a local hospital to discuss their needs for a face shield. Knowing that vetted, open source face shield designs were already available, the group reviewed designs by Prusa, Lazarus3D, Budmen and Professional Plastics. The Houston team 3D printed existing options for the doctors to test, but the designs didn’t meet all of the doctors’ needs:

  • Lightweight, fully closed top
  • Reducing the air gap between lens and chin
  • 180 degree lens coverage
  • Limit number of parts to reduce need to source materials in short supply

Knowing that supply chains were disrupted and very little raw materials were available in a timely manner, re:3D conferred with Professional Plastics and determined that plastic sheeting supplies were well behind schedule, but that there were excess pre-cut face shield lenses available. Again, re:3D opted to prototype to existing, local supplies, keeping stress off of traditional supply chains and getting creative with what was available.

Over the next week, Helen built on the work done for the Puerto Rico design, integrated the needs of the doctors and iterated ten different versions of the face shield while working from home and rarely getting to hold a print in her hands. The result is a single print, face shield with an adjustable latching mechanism. It’s designed for 180 degrees of protection and comfort without the addition of foam padding.  It has the approval of the hospital’s Infection Control and  is currently available at the National Institutes of Health 3D Print exchange for COVID-19 Response. https://3dprint.nih.gov/discover/3dpx-013504

Hands-Free Door Pulls

Eliminating unnecessary shared contact surfaces is imperative, especially in buildings where essential workers are operating to continue necessary services. Our team includes multiple military service members. One of our reservists was activated when she sent out a call back to our team to make some hands-free door pulls to use on the base. Aided by Matthew Fiedler, Mike Battaglia, our designer in Austin, and Brian Duhaime went to work prototyping hands-free door pulls for lever-style and bar-style door handles.

These designs were drafted before we had dimensions for either of the door styles, so had to be modeled in such a way to enable incremental dimensional adjustments while preserving the models’ shapes. During her free time, the service member sent feedback on the first versions via pictures and notes, and Brian and Mike iterated the changes remotely, melding organic shaped and attachment options into single print solutions.

The hands-free door pulls are now successfully in use on base, protecting our military personnel as they work to respond and aid COVID-19 efforts. These models are available for download here https://3dprint.nih.gov/discover/3dpx-013825 and here: https://3dprint.nih.gov/discover/3dpx-013822

From Intubation Box to Drape Stands

As a 3D printer manufacturer, we are understandably advocates of 3D printing use in manufacturing. However, we recognize that not all innovations require, or are best served by, an exclusively 3D printed solution. As we do much of our manufacturing in-house, including machining parts on our CNCs, we can apply rapid prototyping principals to traditional manufacturing methods. Take the example of an aerosol or intubation box:

We were contacted by an anesthesiologist based in Austin about modifying such a box, used to protect doctors and nurses from aerosols released when intubating a patient. The doctor’s main concerns were ability to clean and the need for a “helper” hole. This equipment needed a curved, clear surface rather than sharp corners where germs could hide. We offered to prototype using polycarbonate sheeting and an aluminum framework available in our machine shop.  In this case, the request for aid evolved before we produced a prototype. The anesthesiologist reported that the existing boxes were unwieldy and took up too much space, so instead requested a solution for supporting clear plastic drapes to achieve the same purpose and be easy to store. Matthew Fiedler proposed a combined 3d printed base and a bent aluminum frame for the project. Design work is ongoing and we will update this post as the prototype develops.

Are you a healthcare professional needing a COVID-19 related equipment solution? Please reach out to us at info@re3d.org to begin coordination. Should you wish to purchase any of our COVID-19 designs. They’re available in our online store: https://shop.re3d.org/collections/covid-19

Interested in supporting existing efforts to fight COVID-19? See below for how to help in Austin, Houston and Puerto Rico.

There is a huge maker community that has sprung to action to support the 3D printing of PPE here in Austin and the surrounding areas.  One of the largest efforts is being run by Masks for Docs (masksfordocs.com), who are actively soliciting donated face shield prints, assembling the shield, and distributing them to hospitals, health clinics, nursing homes, etc – all around the Austin area.  To help with this effort, re:3D will be collecting donated 3D printed face shields in drop-boxes at two locations, Brew & Brew and the Draught House Pub.
 
If you have a 3D printer at home or work & want to help out in the Austin area, you can access the Face Shield Design here.
 
Recommended Print Settings:
  • PETG is preferred, but PLA is completely acceptable if you don’t have PETG or are not able to print with it.
  • 3-4 solid top/bottom layers
  • .3mm layer height
  • 5 Perimeters (AKA Shells or walls)
  • 0% Infill
 
Drop off boxes can be found at:
 
Brew & Brew
500 San Marcos St #105, Austin, TX 78702
 
The Draught House
4112 Medical Pkwy, Austin, TX 78756
TXRX and the amazing maker-community continue to organize face shield collection around Houston.  We are donating 3D printed face shields as well as hosting a community donation box for makers in the Clear Lake area who are printing the face shields at home.  At our factory, the batches are consolidated and sent to TXRX for assembly and distribution to hospitals and first responders in the Houston area.  To date, over 1600 face shields have been donated from the Clear Lake area –  keep it up!
More information and the design file is available here.
 
The Clear Lake drop off box can be found at:
re:3D, Inc.
1100 Hercules
STE 220
Houston, TX 77058
The maker community, including a few Gigabots have done a fantastic job collaborating in San Juan & beyond. We are currently collecting requests for those in need of PPE and sharing opportunities to connect with Engine-4 and Trede’s efforts in Bayamon and additional efforts. If you live in Mayaguez and would like create face shields to be assembled with sheets that have been donated to Engine-4, a drop off box has been established. A UPRM student has also initiated a Slack channel to share other needs. Email info@re3d.org for access.
 
The Mayaguez drop off box can be found at:

Maker Chris’ house at:
76 Calle Santiago R Palmer E, Mayaguez PR 00680


If you live outside of these areas and/or are seeking ways to contribute, A Form to Volunteer is Available Here. We will be responding to inquiries this weekend and doing our best to facilitate introductions:)

Global Gigabot Community Rises to the Challenge of COVID-19

As we all face our new normal and adjust to the realities of life during a pandemic, our 3D printing friends and colleagues around the world have stepped up to provide much needed personal protective equipment, filling the supply gap for everyone on the front lines. This isn’t just for doctors and nurses, it’s also for the police, EMTs, grocers, gas station attendants, and every other essential worker who suit up to keep our societies’ services going during this crisis.

More close to home, we couldn’t be more honored to count many of these selfless volunteers as our customers. re:3D’s social mission to democratize manufacturing and 3D print with purpose tends to attract like minded individuals and businesses whose first instincts are to be the problem solvers for their communities.  Featured below are our friends’ efforts in their own words.

Engine-4, Tredé, Parallel18 & Daniel Varela

Bayamón, Puerto Rico

Tell us about the design you are printing.

After learning about a need for PPE, we started printing a derivative of the 3DVerkstan visor design for face shields that could accept pre-cut shields that had been donated. We chose that design because it was the fastest to print. It was nice to see along the way that it got NIH endorsement. Our expanding print farm of Gigabots & Prusa printers is located at Engine-4, and includes local Gigabots that Parallel 18, Daniel Varela, and Atlantic University (once it clears customs!) loaned to help bolster production.
Design Inspiration: https://3dverkstan.se/protective-visor/

PR Variant: Link to .stl file direct download

What material are you printing with?

We are currently printing with PLA.

Who are you printing this design for? 
We are donating face shields to health professionals across PR. So far we have donated 1400. We’re also helping a doctor with 3D printed splitters. Just today we got a tightly fitted design and are doing further testing.

This fabulous group of makers who combined forces can be found online:

@engine4cws @tredeprinting @p18startups

https://engine-4.com/

http://tredeprinting.com/

https://parallel18.com/

Bill Albertini

New York City, New York, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.

When I heard about a potential shortfall in PPE supplies at New York area hospitals, my first reaction was to research mask/respirator models but soon realized they were not an ideal candidate for FDM printing. Face shields are also in short supply and there were a couple of designs that looked promising. I downloaded and tested several candidates before I found a design on March 26th by Swedish 3DVerkstan which they had just released in the wild, I soon I discovered that Weill Cornell and several other institutions had adopted this model because of its simplicity and ease of assembly. It consists of two components, a 3D printed head strap and a clear plastic shield which can be easily fabricated using letter size acetate sheet .005 or thicker and a standard 3 hole punch.

Download Site: https://www.youmagine.com/designs/protective-visor-by-3dverkstan
Design Site:https://3dverkstan.se/protective-visor/

What material are you printing with?
I am currently printing with PLA but I am going to switch over to PETG as soon as I can set up better ventilation. This is an old fashioned New York loft work/live situation.

Who are you printing this design for? 
Most of this first batch was donated to DIY Shield Project through connections with nycmakesppe.com, and they have been pretty much distributing to (public) hospitals with severe shortages like Elmhurst and Lincoln. I am also giving 50 kits directly to someone I know at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx. I have also been in contact with Jenny Sabin who is running a site for Weill Cornell https://www.sabinlab.com/operation-ppe

Bill Albertini can be found online:

@bill_albertini

billalbertini.com

Efes Bronze | Serdar Erol

Yalova City, Turkey

Tell us about the design you are printing.
It is a simple face shield design that can save lives. The design came from 3BOYUTLUDESTEK.ORG platform. There are thousands of volunteers in this platform with 3D printers. “Sizi seviyoruz” is located on the shield and means that we love and thank you to all struggling with COVID-19.

What material are you printing with?
PLA

Who are you printing this design for?
All sanitarians, policemen, and some other officials that have to contact each other everyday.

Where can people sign up to assist with this effort?
WWW.3BOYUTLUDESTEK.ORG

Efes Bronze can be found online:

@efesbronze

Metabolic Foundation | Christie Mettes & Tony Sevold

Aruba

Tell us about the design you are printing.
We started working with the design from Prusa, which looked like it was carefully researched and tested and approved and it worked well, so we printed about 400 of those in total. We’ve recently moved on to the 3DVerkstan design, which takes half the time to print so it helps us increase our production. In addition to these, we’ve also designed a copy of some safety glasses they use at the hospital, which print even quicker and use less material. The different designs and files are linked on our wiki page here: http://wiki.brenchies.com/index.php?title=3D_printing_face_shields

What material are you printing with?
We’re printing mainly with PLA because that’s what we have, and it’s easy to work with. We’ve also used a bit of PETG and some ABS because that’s what we had, and it should work fine according to the Prusa and 3DVerkstan websites.

Who are you printing this design for?
We’re printing for the two main hospitals on the island, Horacio Oduber Hospital, and ImSan (Instituto Medico San Nicolas), as well as the department of health who are doing the testing (DVG, Directie Volksgezondheid), the psychiatric hospital organization (Respaldo), the union of family doctors and dentists, as well as individual health workers including nurses and family doctors who ask us specifically.

Where can people sign up to assist with this effort?
If you’re in Aruba, and have a 3D printer or can sew, you should sign up. Best way is to email us at lab@brenchies.com, or WhatsApp us at +297 630 2475

Metabolic Foundation can be found online:

https://www.facebook.com/brenchieslab/

https://www.instagram.com/brenchies/

Plodes® Studio | John Paul Plauché & Roya Plauché  

Baytown, TX, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.
We are printing a head banding component of a protective face shield. It is based on a design by Prusa, and had been approved by the Czech Ministry of Health for use to help fill the void of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). The version we are printing is a redesign by TXRX Labs and part of a volunteer effort that they had organized to help with our own local need for PPE during this worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. We are excited to see local additive manufacturing step up to a shared worldwide call, where intellectual property and design ego take a back seat to provide real time evolving, useful, and needed objects for humanity.

What material are you printing with?
We are printing with PLA from re:3D, always our first choice for on hand reliable material. We are printing 24×7 on our original (but upgraded a little) Gigabot #21! Each part is around 1hr and we are doing at least 6 units at a time.

Who are you printing this design for?
These prints are for our Houston area doctors, nurses, and staff on the front lines of the COVD-19 pandemic in hospitals and stations that are in need of PPE or anticipate a need in the coming days/weeks. Our parts are delivered to TXRX labs in Houston and are assembled with laser cut shields and elastic bands to complete the product and are distributed from there.

Where are you located? 
We are located in Baytown, TX in our home office. My wife (Roya Plauché) and I (John Plauché) make up plodes® studio. We are a Texas based multidisciplinary design firm that draws from a coalescence of art, product, and architectural design. Our products are varied, authentic, minimal, and distilled with rigorous process to a balanced purity. Currently our best sellers are fire pits, so check them out and make a backyard escape for yourself while we are in this ‘Great Stay’. Help flatten the curve and please stay home as much as possible! 

Where can people sign up to assist with this effort?
We could use local area volunteers to pickup parts from us and drop to TxRX labs when we get 50-100 units at a time. Please email info@plodes.com with subject “TXRX pickup”. And please everyone visit TXRx’s go fund me at https://www.gofundme.com/f/txrx-manufactures-protective-medical-equipment and give what you can!

plodes® studio can be found online:

http://www.plodes.com/shop

@plodesstudio

CM Welding & Machine | Corey Mays

Midland, TX, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.
We were printing a prototype ventilator splitter designed by Texas Tech and UT Permian Basin to allow up to 4 patients to use one ventilator. The first run has been sent for testing and we are waiting to hear back on that part. In the meantime we started reaching out to local medical personnel and some of the rural areas to see what needs they might have. We found the biggest need was for face shields. We chose a simple open source design and have been printing these 24/7 to fill these needs.

What material are you printing with?
For the ventilator splitter I chose PETG material and we are printing the face shield headgear out of PLA.

Who are you printing this design for?
Any medical personnel in need of face shields. 

Where can people sign up to assist with this effort?
I encourage anyone with a 3D printer to contact your local medical personnel or local universities of schools to help fill immediate needs there. Also, go to www.matterhackers.com and sign up for the COVID-19 response team. They will send out requests and files.

What has it been like for you working on this project?
It’s been exciting to be able to work on this project. As a manufacturer and mechanical designer I’m a problem solver by nature so being able to have the capability to help has been really fun and exciting! The Gigabot has been absolutely rock solid through this project. The larger print bed allows us more freedom to run different part arrangements so that we do not have to have someone here 24/7 to watch the machine. With the face shield head gear, we start a run of 6 in the morning and that run is ready to be pulled off by 5 pm. We then start a run of 8 that is ready when we come back in the following morning. I don’t think it has been off in almost 2 weeks and still going strong!

CM Welding & Machine can be found online:

Facebook: CM Welding & Machine

@cmayswelding

Pamton 3D | Pamela Szmara

Youngstown, OH, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.
The headband design is PRUSA stl file. It is an existing design.

What material are you printing with?
We are using PETG from Village Plastics in Barberton, Ohio.

Who are you printing this design for?
We have supplied masks to Hospice of NY, the Ravenna Fire Dept in Ohio, and doctors at the Cleveland Clinic. 

Pamton 3D can be found online:

http://www.pamton3d.com/

The Kinkaid School | Jeff Diedrich

Houston, TX, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.
The design is from TX/RX, a non-profit makerspace here in Houston. My first prints were based on a single design where I could fit 9 on the bed. Then Patrick Ferrell @PBFerrell told me about a stacked design with 9 high which meant I could do 81 at a time. This was a 110 hour print.

What material are you printing with?
PLA

Who are you printing this design for?
These are being printed for TX/RX

What has working on this project been like for you?
I am fortunate to work at a school with a Gigabot, and our head of school, Dr. Ed Trusty, was more than happy to allow me to use the school’s equipment and material to give back to the community.

Jeff Diedrich can be found online:

@misterdiedrich

Qrint Studio | Qumar Mirza

Toronto, Canada

Tell us about the design you are printing.

 The designs we printed are our own design for non-medical grade face shields for local business and restaurants. Due to this reason, we made it so it could have a minimal cost.

What material are you printing with?
We printed with PETG.

Who are you printing this design for?
 A local community non-profit.

What has working on this project been like for you?
We started just to help the community, but we end up applying for a health certificate so we could produce medical grade face shields.

Qrint Studio can be found online:

https://www.facebook.com/qrinting/

@qrintstudio

Doug Mockett & Co | Paul de Leon

Manhattan Beach, CA, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.
We started printing designs a friend of mine sent to me – all from Thingiverse. After printing for a few days, I realized our two Gigabots weren’t going to be able to catch up with the demand, so Carlos and I played with the settings and got the print time down to 28 mins per visor for open visors, 35 mins for closed top visors (some hospitals preferred closed visors) which still wasn’t enough. I saw a post by a company from another country which did in house casting. That was clever so I thought we should do the same. I contacted our local silicon and plastic supplier for molding instructions and to buy materials to make silicon molds. I designed a closed visor that could work with molding and casting. I printed a few versions using our Gigabot 3+  and used that print to create a silicon mold.

We are also printing ear savers (mask extenders). These seem to be quite popular.

What material are you printing with?
PLA

Who are you printing this design for?
Local hospitals and nursing homes:

  • Torrance Memorial Hospital, CEDARS SINAI & Providence Little Company of Mary (earsavers), Long Beach Memorial Rehab, and other local clinics.
  • Delano Hospital, VA Palo Alto and other smaller clinics in other states

What has working on this project been like for you?
It has been a privilege and an amazing team experience to be able to create something to help in this time of need. It means a lot to our team to be a part of this project and donate to healthcare providers.

Doug Mockett & Co can be found online:

@dougmockett

https://www.facebook.com/dougmockett/

https://www.youtube.com/user/dougmockett

https://twitter.com/dougmockett

https://www.pinterest.cl/dougmockett/

Compendium Federal Technology LLC | Stuart Langford

Lexington Park, MD, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.
Originally, we were going to make frames and donate them to Makers Unite in Baltimore, MD. At the time, they were asking us to use the Prusa v.RC2 face shield design.  In the meantime our CEO was communicating with local first responders, and Medstar Saint Mary’s communicated that they were running low on face shields. We used the Prusa v.RC2 face shield, but we made some minor changes so they would print faster. The straps are our design. We tried several designs including the strapless, but we received the best feedback from the modified Prusa v.RC2.

What material are you printing with?
PLA for the frame. NinjaFlex TPU 85 for the straps. The clear screens are made from clear acetate or PVC sheets.

Who are you printing this design for?
Medstar Saint Mary’s Hospital, Charlotte Hall VA Clinic, several nursing homes and private practices.

What has working on this project been like for you?
It has been busy, but rewarding. I wasn’t the only person contributing. My CEO John OConnell did the leg work, and my coworker Cedrick La Marca assisted with the CAD designs and resin printing. In addition to the face shields, we also printed spare ventilator parts for Saint Mary’s Hospital. Everything was donated free of charge.

Our story was featured on WJLA-TV Washington DC ABC affiliate.

Compendium Federal Technology LLC can be found online:

https://www.facebook.com/compendiumfederaltechnology.llc/

Are you a re:3D Gigabot customer working on COVID-19 efforts? We’d be happy to add your work to this blog. Email us: info@re3d.org 

COVID-19 Update: Operations, Serving Educators & Joining the Fight

Update May 29, 2020

It’s been a month since our last update, and our COVID-19 response is still going strong! On May 12, we were honored to receive an honorable mention in the America Makes Fit to Face – Mask Design Challenge.  Designer Mike Battaglia and Engineer Samantha Reeve submitted a mask in two sizes designed to be printed with NinjaTek Cheetah. We continue to collaborate with projects for supplying PPE and consulting on new solutions for face shields to ventilators.

Our Houston factory is still closed to the public, but our team remains committed to building your Gigabots and filling your supply orders and service needs.

Gigabot customers around the world are tirelessly supporting their communities and we are honored to share their stories. If you have been doing COVID-19 work, we’d love to hear from you!

AUSTIN UPDATE
Thanks to the efforts of so many groups in the city, the PPE needs for healthcare workers there have been met and we have wound down our collection boxes for 3D printed PPE.

HOUSTON UPDATE
As the city begins to open back up we have teamed up with Impact Hub Houston on PPE for the People, an effort to provide PPE to workers in minority and under-served communities who are at greater risk of critical illness from COVID-19. Please support this project by sharing, donating and letting local businesses know about the opportunity.

PUERTO RICO UPDATE
The PPE support work in Puerto Rico continues and the Gigabot collaboration at Engine-4 keeps churning out supplies for the island.

If you’d like to be connected to any local effort we would be happy to make introductions and provide resources. Please reach out to us at info@re3d.org.

Update: April 25, 2020

It’s hard to believe that two more weeks have past since our last post! We continue to aggregate and collect your PPE donations in Austin, Houston and PR. We also (just met the deadline for the America Makes Mask Fit Challenge). The final design will be posted to our NIH 3D print exchange tomorrow:)

We continue to be inspired by YOU, and welcome your pics and videos for future stories!

For those of you looking to help with PPE shortages near Austin, Houston and Puerto Rico, details can be found below:

AUSTIN
There is a huge maker community that has sprung to action to support the 3D printing of PPE here in Austin and the surrounding areas.  One of the largest efforts is being run by Masks for Docs (masksfordocs.com), who are actively soliciting donated face shield prints, assembling the shield, and distributing them to hospitals, health clinics, nursing homes, etc – all around the Austin area.  To help with this effort, re:3D will be collecting donated 3D printed face shields in drop-boxes at two locations, Brew & Brew, Capital Factory and the Draught House Pub.
 
If you have a 3D printer at home or work & want to help out in the Austin area, you can access the Face Shield Design here. Recommended Print Settings:
  • PETG is preferred, but PLA is completely acceptable if you don’t have PETG or are not able to print with it.
  • 3-4 solid top/bottom layers
  • .3mm layer height
  • 5 Perimeters (AKA Shells or walls)
  • 0% Infill
 

Drop off boxes can be found at:
Brew & Brew
500 San Marcos St #105, Austin, TX 78702
The Draught House
4112 Medical Pkwy, Austin, TX 78756
Capital Factory
 701 Brazos St, Austin, TX 78701
(located in the parking garage, next to the loading dock:)
 
HOUSTON
TXRX is winding down its collection of its 3d printed face shield as they have been able to move to injection molding; a move we fully support! We are keeping our drop box open for community PPE donations and will make sure they get donated to those in need. Currently we can accept: assembled face shields, ear savers and Montana Masks. As we get more requests we will post opportunities here.

The Clear Lake drop off box can be found at:
re:3D Inc
1100 Hercules STE 220 Houston TX 77058
 
PUERTO RICO
The maker community, including a few Gigabots, have done a fantastic job collaborating in San Juan & beyond. We are currently collecting requests for those in need of PPE and sharing opportunties to connect with Engine-4 and Trede’s efforts in Bayamon, or other groups mobilizing. If you live in Mayaguez and would like create face shield to be assembled with sheets that have been donated to Engine-4, a drop off box has been established. A UPRM student has also initiated a Slack channel to share other needs. Email info@re3d.org for access.
 
 
San Juan face shield coordination:
Engine 4 Co-working Space: donation3dprinting@outlook.com
 
Mayaguez Drop-off: 
UPRM Transit and Security, Tránsito y Vigilancia:
Enter UPRM Campus through main gate, and guard will direct you

Update: April 10, 2020

What a week! You all have done an amazing job helping our neighbors & the community at large!

While we continue to iterate this face shield design for the Texas Children’s Hospital (you can view the design on the NIH 3D Print Exchange), as well as hands-free door pulls, we have been blown away by the many Gigabots around the world who are helping with the fight. We’ve started collecting some stories. If you would like to be added, please feel free to share your pictures, details and video with info@re3d.org!


Some of you have also asked how you can use Gigabot and/or other printers to support the local movements near our offices. For those of you looking to help with PPE shortages near Austin, Houston and Puerto Rico, details can be found below:

AUSTIN
There is a huge maker community that has sprung to action to support the 3D printing of PPE here in Austin and the surrounding areas.  One of the largest efforts is being run by Masks for Docs (masksfordocs.com), who are actively soliciting donated face shield prints, assembling the shield, and distributing them to hospitals, health clinics, nursing homes, etc – all around the Austin area.  To help with this effort, re:3D will be collecting donated 3D printed face shields in drop-boxes at two locations, Brew & Brew and the Draught House Pub.
 
If you have a 3D printer at home or work & want to help out in the Austin area, you can access the Face Shield Design here. Recommended Print Settings:
  • PETG is preferred, but PLA is completely acceptable if you don’t have PETG or are not able to print with it.
  • 3-4 solid top/bottom layers
  • .3mm layer height
  • 5 Perimeters (AKA Shells or walls)
  • 0% Infill
 

Drop off boxes can be found at:
Brew & Brew
500 San Marcos St #105, Austin, TX 78702
The Draught House
4112 Medical Pkwy, Austin, TX 78756
 
 
 
HOUSTON
TXRX and the amazing maker-community continue to organize face shield collection around Houston.  We are donating 3D printed face shields as well as hosting a community donation box for makers in the Clear Lake area who are printing the face shields at home.  At our factory, the batches are consolidated and sent to TXRX for assembly and distribution to hospitals and first responders in the Houston area.  We’ve received up to 300 donations in 6 hours- keep it up!
More information and the design file is available here.
 

The Clear Lake drop off box can be found at:
re:3D Inc
1100 Hercules STE 220 Houston TX 77058
 
 
 
PUERTO RICO
The maker community, including a few Gigabots, have done a fantastic job collaborating in San Juan & beyond. We are currently collecting requests for those in need of PPE and sharing opportunties to connect with Engine-4 and Trede’s efforts in Bayamon, or other groups mobilizing. If you live in Mayaguez and would like create face shield to be assembled with sheets that have been donated to Engine-4, a drop off box has been established. A UPRM student has also initiated a Slack channel to share other needs. Email info@re3d.org for access.
 
 
San Juan face shield coordination:
Engine 4 Co-working Space: donation3dprinting@outlook.com
 
Mayaguez Drop-off: 
UPRM Transit and Security, Tránsito y Vigilancia:
Enter UPRM Campus through main gate, and guard will direct you

 

If you live outside of these areas and/or are seeking ways to contribute:

A Form to Volunteer is Available Here. We will be responding to inquiries this weekend and doing our best to facilitate introductions:)

Update: April 3, 2020

re:3D is working on a number of different projects related to 3D printing and COVID response.  Our Houston factory is helping to support two efforts.  The first is supporting the efforts of TXRX and the amazing maker-community organizing taking place around Houston.  re:3D is donating 3D printed face shields as well as hosting a community donation box for makers in the Clear Lake area who are printing the face shields at home.  At our factory, the batches are consolidated and sent to TXRX for assembly and distribution to hospitals and first responders in the Houston area.  Second, the re:3D design team is prototyping a custom face shield design, in conjunction with doctors from Texas Children’s Hospital.  The new design incorporates a pre-cut clear plastic face shield with a 3D printed holder/headband.

In Austin, re:3D is rallying the local maker community.  While there are a number of people working on the 3D printed PPE issue in the Austin area, re:3D is hoping to help organize these efforts.  The Austin team is designing hands-free door pulls and intubation boxes, and we will be releasing all of the 3D printable open-source designs that we have created, including face shields, door pulls and anything else we develop, free of charge. We are opening Austin community drop boxes at multiple locations where anyone who 3D prints can donate their COVID-19 parts. location information will be released as soon as it’s finalized.

In Puerto Rico, re:3D is supporting efforts led by Engine-4 on 3d printing face masks and ventilator splitters. Thanks to efforts by Parallel18, our Gigabot has been relocated to Engine-4 to print for this effort and we are hosting weekly calls for healthcare professionals, designers and makers to organize the community to support creating PPE unique to the needs on the island. We are connecting with every available Gigabot owner on the island to help them join the cause.

For anyone who wants to volunteer to help, please fill out this form.

Updated: March 25, 2020

To our Global Gigabot Family and Supporters,

We hope this message finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy. The 3D printing community is a talented, diverse and compassionate arm of the creative tech ecosystem. We are energized and inspired by the mass mobilization of 3D printing to tackle COVID-19 head-on by providing protective gear to medical personnel, medical equipment to aid victims and filling gaps in supply chains. Every day, you are proving that this technology changes the world for the better. Keep at it!

re:3D IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS!

We have been closely following COVID-19 developments in our areas and listening to the recommendations from local and federal authorities. The small yet mighty re:3D team has always been mobile and adaptable, and we are continuing our regular operations while keeping the health and safety of our team at the forefront of all considerations. Here’s how:

    • Your Gigabots® are being built and shipped on their regular schedule.
    • Your supply orders are being fulfilled with minimal delay.
    • Your 3D printing, design and 3D scanning services are moving forward as planned.
    • As an essential business, the Houston factory is open and fully operational. In-person visits are restricted to deliveries and pickups only to respect guidance on social distancing.
    • Meetups, walk-in tours and in-person classes are suspended until further notice.
    • Classes will move to online-only as format and demand allows.

$100 SERVICE CREDITS FOR EDUCATORSThe education landscape has dramatically changed in the last few weeks and as many educators gamely adapt to new methods of teaching, you have awed us with your adaptability, tenacity, and positivity. In recognition of your herculean efforts, now through April 10th we are offering to educators a $100 credit, with no minimum purchase required, for re:3D printing, designing and scanning services.

For all those schooling from home, we are extending a 20% off discount on all services (scanning, design, printing, materials testing) for any effort supporting distance learning.

Service quotes can be requested at re3d.org/services

HELPING THE EFFORT TO FIGHT COVID-19

re:3D’s Houston factory is equipped with a printer farm of large-format industrial Gigabot® 3D FFF and FGF printers, a metrology-grade 3D scanner, a full machine shop that includes two CNCs, manual lathe, drill press and cutting tools. This equipment and our team of 25 engineers, designers and technicians is available to fabricate equipment for healthcare providers that has been reviewed for viability and safety by medical professionals. Please reach out to us at info@re3d.org to begin coordination. We are happy to prototype any life-savings device for free in order to expedite review by medical professionals.

For those looking for ways to put your 3D printing know-how to work in the effort to fight COVID-19, we are collecting contact information to share further developments and opportunities to 3D print for those in need.

 A Form to Volunteer is Available Here 

Additionally, a great list of other projects has been curated by our friends at the non-profit Women In 3D Printing.

Stay Healthy and Keep Printing!

  ~Gigabot & The re:3D Team

Gigabot Engineering Updates – February 2020

Over the last few months, our engineering team has made some iterative design changes to both our Gigabot 3+ and Gigabot X 3D Printers.

Parts modified are:

Gigabot 3+

  • 10063  GB3+ Bed Side Plate
  • Z-Axis Stepper Motors
  • 11907 GB3+ Acme Flange Nut Cup
  • 11093 GB3+ X/Y Upright

Gigabot X

  • 11377 GBX Stepper Driver

 

View the video below to find out how they’ve changed!

Optimizing the Properties of Recycled 3D Printing Materials

Below is a repost produced by 3DPrint.com last year, which highlighted our first peer reviewed paper on Gigabot X. You can view download the research, along with other papers under the Gigabot X section at https://re3d.org/gigabot. 

Top: virgin PLA, bottom: recycled PLA

In an attempt to mitigate the environmental impact of 3D printing, several organizations have taken to creating recycled filament, made not only from failed prints but from water bottles and other garbage. Inexpensive filament extruders are also available to allow makers to make their own filament from recyclable materials. Not only does recycled filament help the environment, but it also helps 3D printer users to save money and be more self-sufficient, making the technology more viable in remote communities.

3D printer manufacturer re:3D has been working on making their Gigabot 3D printer capable of printing with recycled materials, for the purpose of helping those in remote communities to become more self-sufficient. In a college paper entitled “Fused Particle Fabrication 3-D Printing: Recycled Materials’ Optimization and Mechanical Properties,” a team of researchers used an open source prototype Gigabot X 3D printer to test and optimize recycled 3D printing materials.

In the study, virgin PLA pellets and prints were analyzed and compared to four recycled polymers: PLA, ABS, PET and PP.

Top: Recycled ABS, bottom: recycled PET
“The size characteristics of the various materials were quantified using digital image processing,” the researchers explain. “Then, power and nozzle velocity matrices were used to optimize the print speed, and a print test was used to maximize the output for a two-temperature stage extruder for a given polymer feedstock. ASTMtype 4 tensile tests were used to determine the mechanical properties of each plastic when they were printed with a particle drive extruder system and were compared with filament printing.”

The Gigabot X showed itself to be able to print materials 6.5 to 13 times faster than conventional 3D printers depending on the material, with no significant reduction in mechanical properties. This is significant because each time a polymer is heated and extruded, whether during the filament creation process or the 3D printing process, its mechanical properties are degraded. One option to reduce degradation, the researchers explain, is to 3D print directly from scraps, or particles, of recycled plastic.

The Gigabot X was also capable of 3D printing with a wide range of particle sizes and distributions, which opens up more possibilities for the use of materials other than pellets and filament. The processing of the materials was minimal – they only needed to be cleaned and ground or shredded. Mechanical testing using tensile strength was performed and showed that the polymer properties were not degraded; however, the researchers suggest that further mechanical testing should be performed to test properties such as compression, impact resistance, fracture toughness, creep testing, fatigue testing, and flexural strength.

There are a few limitations with the prototype Gigabot X, including lower than normal resolution in the XY plane. Due to the high heat transfer rates from the large contact area of the printer’s hotend, parts that are less than 20 mm x 20 mm cannot be 3D printed reliably. The Gigabot X also currently lacks a part cooling system, so it is limited in the geometries of parts that it can print. However, it is still a prototype, and so can be considered a work in progress.

Authors of the paper include Aubrey L. Woern, Dennis J. Byard, Robert B. Oakley, Matthew J. Fiedler, Samantha L. Snabes and Joshua M. Pearce.

Gigabot 3+ Updates for Fall 2019

re:3D’s Research and Development team never stands still, and while we’re developing the next generation of your Gigabot® and Gigabot® X 3D Printers, we’re continually looking for ways to refine the current iteration’s user experience, precision, and quality. As of October 1, 2019, all new Gigabot®3+ 3D printers ship with the below enhancements. Current Gigabot® owners can order these as replacement parts that are fully compatible with previous versions.

Major Changes

LED Light Cover

To enhance user comfort and safety, we’ve created a full length 3D printed cover that fits over the top of the front-mounted LED light strip.

Printed Extruder indicators and part numbers

Our Unibody Extruder design, which was released this past spring, as well as our Filament Detection units now features numerical hot end indicator labels for a visual aid for filament loading. Additionally, these and many other 3D printed parts now include part and revision numbers. Not sure what a part is called? Search our store using the part number or share the part number with customer support to help streamline troubleshooting communication.

FIRMWARE RELEASE VERSION 4.2.3

Our newest iteration of Gigabot®3+ firmware has been posted at wiki.re3d.org along with instructions for how to flash your firmware. This firmware update includes the following changes:

  • Increased electrical current to X and Y motors to prevent layer shifts.
  • Decreased filament feed rate during the Filament Change routine for easier purging.
  • Minor Bug Fixes

Fit and Strength Adjustments for Polycarbonate 3D Printed Parts

The following parts have had material added for improved strength and durability:

  • 10870 Extruder Tensioner Left 
  • 10871 Extruder Tensioner Right 

The below parts have had their designs modified for better fit or print quality:

  • 11157 Gigabox Magnet Bracket 1 
  • 11245 Gigabox Magnet Bracket 3
  • 11158 Gigabox Magnet Bracket 4
  • 11159 Gigabox Y Support Magnet Bracket
  • 11238 Gigabox Enclosure Corner Cap
  • 10511 XY Upright Cover
  • 11251 Filament Detection Cover Right
  • 11252 Filament Detection Cover Left
  • 10599 Filament Tube Connector

We’ve upped the durability and longevity of our head cable and added 3D printed wire separators inside the cable carrier to protect the electrical wiring as it rolls and unrolls during normal Gigabot® operation.

Under the category of non-3D printed parts, we’ve thickened our bed plates to improve strength and rigidity. The square, left and right leveling blocks attached to the bed frame have had fit adjustments. We’ve also adjusted hole spacing for Gigabox Enclosure panels and split the top panel on the Gigabox Enclosure into two pieces. This improves manufacturing quality as well as increases modularity, as one piece can now be removed for venting or other customizations.

Do you have an improvement or a design change you’d like to see for this or future versions of Gigabot®? Fill out our New Feature Request form and share your ideas with us!

Gigabot X Update

It’s been a long road for Gigabot X up to this point, and in many ways – as the first batch of printers is now shipping out to their owners – the road is just beginning.

re:3D was born in 2013 with the mission of creating a large-scale, affordable 3D printer that could use trash as input material. We quickly realized that these were several huge challenges wrapped into one dream, so we began by breaking it down into chunks.

Starting with the affordable and large-scale aspects, we launched Gigabot on Kickstarter in March of 2013. Several years and Gigabot versions later, we felt ready to take on the second part of the original dream.

We determined that the best method of tackling the challenge of printing using recycled materials was with a pellet printer. This does away with the need to extrude recycled plastic into filament, instead making use of a screw to extrude plastic pellets or flake.

Printing from pellets or flake comes with a host of benefits: it allows for faster printing due to the increased volume of plastic that can be pushed by the screw rather than pulled through by a filament drive gear, the input is an order of magnitude less expensive than extruded filament, and there is a much broader variety of plastic available.

With the support of many – WeWork, the Kickstarter community, Startup Chile, NSF SBIR, Parallel18, USAA, the Puerto Rico Science & Research Trust, America Makes, Hello Tomorrow, Wired/Gentleman Jack, Bunker Labs, MassChallenge, and a DoD SBIR Phase I grant – our team began work on our first pellet printer.

Over the course of three years, we built several iterations of the machine, redesigning tricky components like the extrusion screw, adding features like linear rails, and reworking the design of the pellet hopper and feeding system. What we’ve arrived at is Gigabot X, a pellet printer that has undergone thousands of hours of test printing and is now making the leap into the hands of early Kickstarter backers.

There are several main features of the pellet-printing Gigabot X that differentiate it from its filament-printing Gigabot cousin.

The main is – of course – the extrusion system. An industrial-strength, alloy steel screw drives the pellets with a compression ratio of 1.75:1 for less plastic degradation and better homogeneity within prints. The long barrel is equipped with three heating zones which allow for precise temperature control and material-specific custom profiles. The nozzle is removable and interchangeable, with options of 0.8mm, 1.75mm, and 3.0mm orifices.

To move around Gigabot X’s larger toolhead and to accommodate the larger volume of plastic being pushed through the nozzle, we have outfitted the machine with NEMA 23 stepper motors, in contrast to the NEMA 17 motors on the standard Gigabot. Linear rails replace v-groove wheels to allow for smoother, more precise motion of the bridge. A 8893 cubic centimeter printed polycarbonate hopper sits atop the machine to allow for 24 hours of gravity-fed printing at a time.

On the materials testing side of Gigabot X development, we’ve been so fortunate to partner with Dr. Joshua Pearce from Michigan Tech University. His lab has done an incredible amount of rigorous testing and research on Gigabot X, the data from which allowed us to co-develop two peer-reviewed publications about the optimization of recycled materials for 3D printing and the economic savings of Gigabot X when used as a distributed recycling/manufacturing system.

With the aid of Dr. Pearce and his lab, we’ve tested the following materials: virgin PLA pellets, virgin ABS pellets, recycled PLA regrind from failed prints and support, recycled ABS pellets and flake, recycled Polypropylene pellets, recycled PET pellets, recycled Polycarbonate pellets, recycled PETG regrind from rafts and support material, Taulman 920 pellets, recycled Polystyrene (#6), Cellulose Acetate pellets, and TPU pellets.

We are continuing to test new types of plastics – in addition to recycled and repurposed plastic like water bottles and 3D printed rafts – to refine our printing profiles so that users can enjoy the benefit of pre-configured Gigabot X Simplify3D profiles for a variety of materials. We’ve also launched a forum to share insights with the technical community as we continue testing.

The biggest takeaway we can offer so far is that printing from recycled materials is its own beast, and it’s an imperfect science. Even with pre-loaded Simplify3D profiles, this will be a different printing experience than that of using filament, and users should be ready for more trial and error and setting tweaking.

We continue to look for new sources of waste plastic that we can work to repurpose and test as Gigabot X input material. Our very own Mike Strong took home the top prize at the [Re]Verse Pitch Competition in Austin where we pitched using the scraps of polycarbonate from die cut sheets of ID card manufacturer HID Global with Gigabot X. As we learn more about where the platform has value in circular economies, we’re working to source other clean manufacturing waste like this – in addition to clean consumer waste, like water bottles – for testing with Gigabot X.

If you are a manufacturer willing to share potential waste streams, or have connections that may be valuable as we search for different plastic sources, we want to hear from you! Contact us at info@re3d.org and we can talk trash.

At this point in time, our team is working on finalizing the design of Gigabot X as well as creating Simplify 3D printing profiles for a variety of materials for our Kickstarter backers, who recently started receiving their bots. At this time we are taking a limited number of deposits for the next batch of pellet printers, with delivery later this summer.

We will be selling a number of configurations:

  1. A complete Gigabot X unit. The early release will be $16,950, without an enclosure or additional accessories.
  2. An upgrade kit to convert a standard Gigabot 3D printer from filament extrusion to pellet extrusion. The early release will be $6,000.
  3. Just the pellet extruder on its own. The early release will be $3,000.

We are taking $1,000 deposits for early delivery on the product offerings listed above. If you would like to hold your spot in line for the next round of beta units, please contact us at sales@re3d.org.

Download the Gigabot X PDF