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!

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!

FFF1: Our FFF1rst Polymer Derby

On April 9, 2019 re:3D hosted the first annual FFF1: Polymer Derby!  You may be wracking your brain trying to figure out what we are talking about here, so let me explain:

We challenged each other to a gravity car racing competition.  Quite similar to a Pinewood Derby (in fact we borrowed a pinewood derby track from local Cub Scout Pack 595) – each competitor designed a car, printed it on Gigabot, attached some wheels – and we were off to the races on derby day!

As a distributed team, with competitors in Houston, Austin, Puerto Rico, and New York – we established a rule from the start that you must design your own car  and if you require help with your design (since not everyone is a 3D design wizz) you had to reach out to someone in a different location from your home office.

We thought this was a great opportunity to not only get everyone designing and printing in 3D – but to also make sure that our distributed team members interacted with someone from a different office on something fun that wasn’t just work related.

Almost immediately after announcing the competition, (in mid-January) we had questions, everyone wanted to know the rules, which admittedly didn’t yet exist, and our engineers were particularly interested in finding loopholes in said rules so that they could cheat the system.  I promised the team that I would write-up an entire tome of rules and got to work, we started with the basic size parameters (borrowed from the pinewood derby to fit their track), and then added layer upon layer of bureaucracy and ridiculousness on top of what should be a relatively straightforward idea (I will post rules examples at the very end of this post).

The cars had to:

  • Weigh no more than 5.00 oz
  • Length shall not exceed 7 in
  • Width shall not exceed 2.75 in
  • Car must have 5/16″ clearance underneath
  • Wheels must be unmodified (we gave everyone a standard set of wheels)

Ultimately the designs were up to each individual’s creativity.

Come derby day, there was an amazing diversity in designs.  The track was setup in the front showroom of our Houston HQ.  We had an official weigh-in and measurement period to check that all cars conformed to the rules.  We made up t-shirts to memorialize the day.  And then we started the competition.

Each competitor chose a number from a hat – to get randomly assigned a place on our competition bracket.  We then competed best out of 3 heats, with racers switching sides (there were only 2 racers at a time) after each heat. As the day went on, the biggest determining factor in the fastest cars was the weight.  Any racer that was below 5.00 oz was at a distinct disadvantage, and all of the cars in the quarter-finals and beyond were at the target weight exactly.

When all was said and done we had a winner! Technically we had two winners – the Fastest Car – won the racing piece of the competition.  The Flyest Ride – was voted as the best looking car by all of the competitors.   Congratulations to Samantha (fastest car) and Mitch (flyest ride).

Stay tuned for more Polymer Derby fun, as this will definitely become an annual event at re:3D, and perhaps across the world?!  Sign-up for our newsletter to always be up-to-date on what’s happening at re:3D.

Looking forward to next year's competition!

International Polymer Derby Congress Rules & Regulations (These are just a small sampling of the rules for this competition):

  1. Cars shall be 3D printed – in any material that is currently able to be 3D printed.
  2. The majority of the car shall be printed on an FFF/FDM style 3D printer, but does not have to be printed in one piece.
  3. The car must be free-wheeling, with no starting or propulsion devices

Inspections:

The day of the race, while style voting and race seeding is taking place, race officials will open the Inspection Zone:

  1. Cars will be Inspected individually for conformity to all rules of the IPDC and the Polymer Derby Championship Racing Series (PDCRS).
  2. Each car will be weighed (see weight requirements Sec. 1.2 A-I. above)
  3. Each car will be measured for length, width, ground clearance, and wheel clearance (Sec. 1.2B – I-IV).
  4. Each car will be thoroughly inspected for any potential safety or hazard violations
  5. Each car’s wheels will be gone over with a fine tooth comb, as modification of stock wheels is strictly prohibited (In accordance with Sec. 1.2 C – I & II)
    1. Any car found to have illegal modifications to the wheels is subject to being gleefully smashed with a hammer by a race official (viewer discretion is advised)

Failed Inspections:

  1. Any competitor’s car that is found to not pass inspection will have an opportunity to adjust/fix their vehicle and have it re-inspected. An explanation of why the car failed inspection will be given to each competitor and the racer will have 10 minutes to make the proper adjustments to bring their vehicle into conformity with the race rules.
  2. If the racer fails to bring their car into conformity within 10 minutes, fails to present their car for re-inspection before the 10 minute time period is up, OR fails the inspection for a second time – the car is no longer eligible for the Fastest or Flyest awards (Sec. 8 Subsec I-III.), but is eligible for the Junker award (Sec. 8 Subsec. IV.).
    1. Cars that fail the secondary inspection may still participate in the tournament for fun, but will not be eligible to win.
    2. If you make illegal modifications that go undetected by the judges, but manage to make your first run before judges take notice, you may continue using your illegal car without reprimand. Gamble at your own risk.

Style Voting:

While the fastest car down the track is the ultimate winner – there will be style points given out for the car that looks the best.

  1. Subjective voting will take place by each competitor at the beginning of the competition.
  2. The voters/competitors may use any method of determining the best “looking” car that they see fit.
  3. Each competitor will fill out a secret ballot to determine their favorite car.
  4. Each competitor will vote only once and can not vote for themselves
  5. Bribes for style votes, while not illegal, are harshly discouraged.

Grievances:

Official grievances may be filed.

  1. For a grievance about a particular heat/race the grievance will only be valid if:
    1. Filed within 180 seconds of the race ending, in written form, adhering to the following parameters:
      1. Printed, in landscape orientation, on standard sized paper (8.5”x11”)
      2. Comic sans font
        1. font size = 17.5pt.
      3. The grievance must follow the standard limerick format
        1. Five lines – 2 long, 2 short, 1 long,
        2. Rhyme scheme AABBA
      4. Sent via USPS standard mail, postage paid to:

International Polymer Derby Congress
Department of Rules, Grievances, and Dispute Resolution
re:3D, Inc
1100 Hercules Ave, Suite 220
Houston, TX 77058

Or hand delivered, with a bow/curtsey, directly to the Rules Czarina or Czarina designate for an immediate ruling

Awards:

  1. Fastest: Fastest car to win the final race, wins the Polymer Derby Champion Award
  2. Flyest: Top vote getting car for style wins the “Best-in-Show” – Flyest Car award
  3. Little Miss Fly-Ride Should the top style car and top speed car be one in the same – the title of “Champion of Champions” or “Little Miss Fly-Ride” will be bestowed upon the winner along with lavish praise and an award of at least one but not to exceed 100 cheap beers.
  4. Junker: The “Junker” award goes to any car that fails to make it down the track, or breaks at any point during the competition.  It is quite embarrassing.
  5. Flunker: The “Flunker” award goes to any car that fails the pre-race inspection, and is not eligible to win awards I-III of this section.

The Power of Printing With PETG

We’re excited to now sell PETG at re:3D! Why do you ask? I sat down with Co-Founder and Head of Technology, Matthew Fiedler, for some Q&A on the power of 3D printing with PETG. Read below, check out some video footage of how we are using PETG at re:3D and tune into our inaugural Meet with a 3D Printing Engineer live session next week no matter where in the world you are to chat with our 3D printing engineers live and bring any questions you may have.

Why is re:3D releasing and deciding to sell PETG now?

“Polyethylene terephthalate Glycol is an interesting material for FFF AM because of the enhanced material properties compared to the most common filament, PLA. PETG exhibits high layer to layer bonding strength, slightly elevated Tg of 80C over PLA which has a Tg of around 55C. PETG also allows better light transmission which can be a great benefit for parts that require visible light to pass through them.”

What do people use it for?

“PETG is most commonly known as the plastic used in water bottle and soft drinks containers. In 3D printing, it makes an excellent breakaway support material for parts printed in PLA. The opposite is also true where you can use PLA as breakaway support material for parts made in PETG.”

What are some unique advantages of PETG?

“Parts printed in PETG are also slightly more flexible than those made from PLA.“

What have engineers done with it at re:3D to date?

“We show several videos on our YouTube channel how well it works as support and raft material (like this video). In pellet form, we use PETG with Gigabot X to produce skateboards, decorative interior design pieces and a basket for coffee pickers in Puerto Rico. (You can watch Gigabot X 3D printing a vase with PETG here.)”

What are some of your favorite prints or examples of 3D printing with PETG?

“My two favorite are Gigabot X produced interior design vase because of the stunning visual and light qualities of PETG and the coffee harvest basket for the coffee farm in Puerto Rico.” 

Any additional context or pre-emptive answers to questions people may ask about materials?

“You can purchase 5lb and 15lb spools of PETG in our online store. You can print PETG on your Gigabot with a nozzle temp of 235C and bed temp of 60C. A thin coating of Elmer’s X-treme glue stick on the PRINTinZ surface will provide excellent adhesion. You can use the same print speed and layer heights as PLA. We have created a special Simplify3D profile for using PETG and PLA together. You can download it from our Wiki here.”

Have more questions for Matthew on 3D printing wit PETG? Tune into Meet with a 3D Printing Engineer next week via Facebook for a live session with him. Also, if you’re as excited as we are about 3D printing with PETG – watch videos on our YouTube and buy PETG online at shop.re3D.org!

Buy PETG online at shop.re3D.org!

Hurricane Maria forces Parknet to Pivot, Gigabot Lowers Risk

Antonio Ramos takes a deep breath. “It was really depressing.”

A native Puerto Rican, he was living in San Juan when Hurricane Maria hit. He described the sentiment on the island when the storm was forecasted: Irma had just passed by with little effect, and the general feeling was that Maria would also spare them. The island is used to storms, he explains, and they usually bounced back after big ones in a couple weeks.

But this one turned out to be different.

He remembers seeing the radar images of the vastness of the tempest bearing down on them, their island dwarfed next to it. The dire situation quickly became apparent. Antonio recalls his reaction: “Okay, we’re screwed.”

It wasn’t just Antonio that had to weather the storm – he had a company to tend to as well.

From Capstone Project to Company

Antonio and his cofounder, Alan Lopez, started Parknet when they were still engineering students in university. They used the idea for their Capstone Project, building a controller that could connect to the Internet using Wi-Fi or SIM cards and control a boom barrier or electromagnetic gate – “really anything that could be activated,” Antonio explains.

They approached a local company with their idea, proposing to them that they could reprogram their controller in real time.

“They actually challenged us,” recounts Antonio. “They told us, ‘Hey, that can’t be done.’” The company said the only way to reprogram it was to go into a computer, use their software, and reprogram the whole controller.

Antonio didn’t balk. “I told them, ‘No, we can actually hack your controller.’” The company didn’t budge.

“So, it was a challenge,” says Antonio. “And challenge accepted. Something that we’ve learned is that you never challenge an engineer and say that they can’t do something, because they will do it.”

Six months later, Antonio and Alan demoed for the company their “unhackable” controller working as they had originally pitched. Parknet was born.

Maria's Arrival

Parknet makes cloud-based controlled access systems which provide facility administrators the ability to control access points – think entry doors or parking gates – in real-time, through the use of a web-based app accessible from any device with an internet connection.

Antonio and Alan explored different routes for how to market their system in Puerto Rico.

“At first, we wanted to use it for a parking lot payment system. But we found a bit of resistance here from the parking administrators,” Alan explains. They shifted their focus to gated communities and apartment complexes.

They joined the Generation Four cohort of Puerto Rican incubator program Parallel18 in August. And then, in September, Maria arrived.

“After the hurricane, we had no cell phone communication, we had no Internet, no power. It was really depressing,” Antonio recounts. “Our business needs Internet. It’s an Internet of Things device, so it needs Internet to operate and it needs power. So we were kind of stuck there.”

They pivoted yet again, strategizing how to stay afloat and retain their employees.

“We had to survive,” Antonio says. “The sales cycle for gated communities and apartment complexes can be from four to six months. It takes a lot of time and a lot of meetings and convincing.” But they found that with commercial spaces, the process was faster. “We started selling to co-working places and offices.” One such customer is Parallel18 itself.

Antonio stopped paying himself in order to keep his team on payroll. “We were in survival mode,” he explains. He began working in generator repairs, a service in high demand on the island following Maria.

They weathered the monster storm and its lingering aftermath, and several months later the company was back on its feet. As Parknet started demanding more from Antonio, he wrapped up his generator repair work and went back to it full time.

3D Printing Before Moving to Manufacturing

In the Parallel18 program, Parknet crossed paths with re:3D.

They began using Gigabot to 3D print enclosures for their printed circuit boards, or PCBs. “We can build a box in like, two hours, and we can test it before we send it to the manufacturer,” Antonio explains. “The manufacturer had a minimum of 10 boxes, and if it didn’t work correctly, we were going to waste 10 boxes.”

Once they finalized the enclosure design, they moved to a sheet metal forming process, but they continued to turn back to Gigabot for custom requests. “One of the advantages is that we can offer a customer a custom design,” Antonio says. “If they want a diamond shaped scanner, we can build it for them. If they want it embedded into a gypsum board, we can also do that.”

One Parknet customer in San Juan who has requested a diamond-shaped scanner is El Almacén, a speakeasy-style bar tucked away just off the buzzing square of La Placita.

They’re using Parknet’s technology to text message patrons digital keys and grant them entry to the bar with the swipe of a phone. The door unlocks and the e-key-holder descends into an old-timey themed lounge.

It also gives the bar the marketing opportunity to track and quantify their marketing. They can compare how many people the text message key was sent to and how many people used it, rather than their old method, which was a post on their Facebook page with the password for the night. There is also the location-based aspect of it – if a patron gets within a certain radius of the bar, their phone will remind them that they have a key to the nearby locale.

Moving Forward Post-Maria

It’s just past the one year anniversary of Hurricane Maria’s landfall.

Puerto Rico has recovered fairly well given the incredible destruction of the storm. The land itself looks lush and green, and the people I spoke with are propelled by a resilient spirit and a desire to rebuild and strengthen their island for the future.

Antonio is one of those very people. Parknet came out the other side of Maria arguably a stronger company, with more applications and a wider customer base than he and Alan had originally imagined. It’s been a big cycle for them that has taken them through multiple major pivots in the company’s lifespan.

After the trials of Maria, Parknet is now focused back on gated communities and apartment complexes and is ready to tackle their original vision of parking lots.

Learn more about Parknet: https://site.xubo.io/

Learn more about Parallel18: https://www.parallel18.com/

Skating on Water Bottles

This post is a follow-up to this one on the Gigabot X pellet printer. If you haven’t checked it out or watched the video, start there!

We know you’ve been dying to know what on Earth our Gigabot X pellet printer prototype was printing in the last update video, so we’re here to deliver!

Without further ado, the reveal.

The slick design was dreamt and drawn up by one of the students working on Gigabot X material validation at Michigan Tech University. Our team was really excited about the idea of printing the board using one of our favorite new materials we’ve been testing: recycled PET.

Giving water bottles a second lease on life as a fun, functional object? As Robert put it, “You know, we had to do it.”

We went through a few trials of the board, snapping a couple of the earlier prints due to the design being a little too thin or not printing it with enough infill. We thickened up the design and increased the infill percentage to make the board a little sturdier, leaving us with a roughly six and a half hour, five pound print.

After popping on some trucks and wheels, re:3D Engineer & Resident Skater Jeric Bautista took the board for a spin behind the Houston office.

Jeric gave the board his stamp of approval. “The skateboard was really fun to use,” he said. “It was smooth to ride and the PET made it nice and springy, which is similar to normal skateboards. Seeing firsthand the functionality of recycled plastic was definitely very cool.”
 
Keeping plastic bottles out of landfills by giving them a new life as functional objects? That’s something we can roll with.

Grand Opening of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering Veterans Future Lab

On Monday of this week I had the privilege of attending the Grand Opening of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering Veterans Future Lab in Brooklyn, New York.

A very special lineup of speakers graced the event, including New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Dean of Engineering at NYU Katepalli Sreenivasan, New York State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, Barclays Group Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley, and one of the the engineering school’s namesakes, business-leader and humanitarian Chandrika Tandon.

Housed in Industry City on Brooklyn’s “Innovation Coastline,” the lab will be an early-stage startup incubator for United States military veterans.

More than a third of all returning military veterans have entrepreneurial ambitions, speakers at the event remarked, but just under 5% launch their own businesses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With some 18 million veterans in the country, that’s a lot of unrealized business ideas.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul told a story about a moment that left a profound impression on her on a visit she made to an American military base in Afghanistan. Sitting around a table with a group of soldiers, she asked them about their greatest fears. And in that tent in the barren, almost lunarscape-esque terrain of Afghanistan, in the heart of Taliban territory, the soldiers’ response stunned her. They were worried about finding a job when they returned home.

The Veterans Future Lab addresses exactly this fear.

The goal of the program is to provide business support and mentorship to a group of people who have given so much to serve their country, to enable them to be successful in this next mission in their lives.

With their first round of 15 companies starting in January, the program will offer participants 12 months of incubation, mentorship with New York City industry professionals and NYU faculty, and free legal services, among many more benefits.

One of the other perks of the program is the makerspace.

The businesses will have access to a bona fide buffet of prototyping equipment, from laser jets to water jets, injection machines to sewing machines, and – you guessed it – a Gigabot (among a list of other 3D printers).

As a veteran-owned company ourselves, we couldn’t be more excited to have a Gigabot available to the participants.

Split between the NYU Tandon School of Engineering Makerspace in Downtown Brooklyn and the Veterans Future Lab offices in Industry City, any physical design and prototyping needs the entrepreneurs may have are covered from all angles.

A big deal for not only veterans but also the city and state of New York as a whole, the lab was made possible with the support of Barclays and the Empire State Development Corporation.

As Lieutenant Governor Hochul put it, “This is a very good day in the state of New York.”

THE GIGAPRIZE: 2016

I’m going to be forthcoming in this introduction and tell you that I have no background in 3D printing. In fact, working with the community during this year’s Gigabot Giveaway was my initiation into this world and network, and it has been nothing short of inspiring. My name is Beth Eanelli. You may know me as the community manager of the New Year’s Gigaprize: 2016 and I possibly sent you an email or asked to use one of your photos in a social media post.

As I mentioned, this was my introduction into 3D Printing, and I have been simultaneously humbled and overwhelmed by the innovation in the field. I had heard of 3D printing, read about it in magazines and articles, but as I was graduating University, I remember the first 3D printer coming to the Engineering Department, but I never had a chance to see the machine, or to watch it come to life.

My background is in public health and international development and I have dabbled in social impact, though never in the tech realm. I returned just in time for the holidays in 2015 after spending two years living and working as a health volunteer with the Peace Corps in a little country called The Gambia. The village I lived had no electricity and no running water, and health issues like Malaria and diarrhea still run rampant. In short, there were minimal resources and with the capital being across the country and transit towns having sporadic electricity and no consistency with products sold, managing projects and creating programs required constant rescheduling and a lesson in being a true MacGyver.

The first time I met Samantha was at Unreasonable Impact, a program created with Barclays, which brings together entrepreneurs working towards social impact and change to build community, create jobs and help the entrepreneurs maximize their influence (blog to follow). In her introduction to re:3D, Samantha described the printers as having the ability to be mini factories in countries with little to no resources. Having seen the possibilities of what 3D printers could bring to communities such as the one I lived in, I was hooked, and Samantha and I spoke at length about what re:3D had and continues to accomplish. I imagined my community with a 3D printer, the nearest town with continuous access to a makerspace, and couldn’t believe this was a reality in some places because of re:3D. I learned of re:3D’s 1 Gigabot 3D printer donation for 100 sales during one of many conversations with Samantha and we connected right after the program. Shortly afterwards, I was asked to be the 2016 Community Manager for what was formally called The Great Big Gigabot Giveaway, renamed the Gigaprize due to Unreasonable mentor feedback that the opportunity should not be framed as a handout, rather recognition for global citizens doing extraordinary things to improve society.

I’m going to be honest and tell you that I watched each Giveaway entry video with an open jaw. And while many of you know that 3D printers can be used to print prostheses and create Makerspaces, I was learning along the way, consumed by the novelty. Some of our Gigaprize: 2016 applicants are impacting their communities by printing prostheses for low income families, using plastic waste to create clean energy, using makerspaces as a learning tool in schools and libraries and to keep students in school. There are entrepreneurs among us using plastic bottle tops as filament and creating jobs for those who are unemployed in the industry. Each applicant is a catalyst, an innovator and an inspiration and I am looking forward to the chance to see what everyone continues to do.

The most difficult part of the Giveaway was choosing just one winner to receive a Gigabot 3+ kit. Each person and group is contributing to their community in a profound way, so choosing just one entry isn’t easy. Emergency Floor, the winner this year, has an amazing story. They’re using the Gigabot to prototype flooring to be placed in refugee camps, providing refugees living in these camps warmer, safer and more hygienic. Amazing, right?


I also want to express my gratitude to the judges who helped us make this difficult decision, and brought their vast knowledge and range of expertise to the table. We could not have made this Gigabot giveaway possible without each of these individuals.

Lastly, I want to express my gratitude to the applicants and the 3D printing community for your ideas and innovation, your drive and passion, and for allowing me insight into this world. I also want to that the thousands that voted to share their support for such phenomenal idea. If you didn’t have a chance to watch the entries as they were live, you can still do so here. Want be introduced to one the amazing applicants? Feel free to send me a request!

Happy Printing!

~Beth

  • beth@re3d.org

PS- you can be the first to hear about Gigaprize : 2017 by signing up for the re:3D newsletter. Simply enter your email at the bottom of re3d.org 🙂

 

 

 

 

Pitching for a Circular Economy: Why We Went to Hello Tomorrow in Paris

With the momentum of the Bunker Austin win behind us, Matthew & I flew to Paris and grudgingly paid the shipping for Gigabot to meet us in the gamble that either we would either 1) Get a selfie with Mr. Bloomberg (and much needed press) 2) meet someone willing to cover the bond & buy the ‘bot in France, or 3) we’d win our pitching track & return net positive.

It was a huge risk that our company really couldn’t afford in addition to our discounted flights and a shared hotel room (thankfully Matthew has a very supportive girlfriend with access to deals!). But as Matthew & I firmly believe printing from reclaimed plastics takes an ecosystem of problem solvers, which frankly needs more support, we felt that we had to attend once we were notified that we were pitching finalists.

We also were also intrigued by the premise of Hello Tomorrow, which unites technologists, academics, and corporations to solve the grand challenges facing humanity. 3D printing from trash appeared to be a perfect fit, and Gigabot had to be there. With the promise that we would print a kickass logo during the event, the incredibly kind Hello Tomorrow staff agreed to find space for Gigabot.

Matthew arrived in Paris first from Houston, and greeted the oversized crate while I gave a talk on the social potential of 3D printing at Singularity University in effort to be considered as a speaker and then flew out from San Francisco.

As we had witnessed at other events this winter, Gigabot arrived in perfect condition & was up & printing without any calibration. Jet lagged but determined to give it our all, we stayed up late practicing for the pitch competition the next day.
The day kicked off with an outstanding keynote by Imogen Heap, who demoed her novel gloves to give more dimension to sound. Afterwards, we were humbled when she visited Gigabot and mused with us re: the intersections of community, technology & creativity. We (err….I) shamelessly asked to take a pic in return for a print.

Matthew unfortunately had caught a terrible cold from the travel & lost his voice, but powered through the day, ensuring Gigabot was tended to, I ate some food and we were set up for success at the competition.  We weren’t the only team committed to (or perhaps delusional about) our cause. The other startups were just as hungry to further their passion by building connections with other attendees, and meet corporations in order to foster partnerships. Even the Hello Tomorrow staff exemplified commitment to curating an ecosystem of problem solvers & pioneers, with a teammate receiving a Hello Tomorrow tattoo on stage live!

After witnessing one of the other finalists, Tridom, bring their impressively large robot to the stage, we seized the opportunity to roll Gigabot over as well, leaving the poor Hello Tomorrow staff with little space, and lengthy power chords to manage. However it was worth the inconvenience as our respective machines found love at first print & the selfies of Gigabot & Madeline were adorable.

Tensions mounted as each co-founder took the stage and presented the benefits our ideas offer society. The competition was fierce. Each company had significant traction, an impressive technology, and solid teams. Further adding to my nervousness was the realization that not only was this strongest cohort we had ever pitched against, but the judges were tough!  With Matthew manning Gigabot, I stumbled through slides & questioning. The judges challenged the market for 3D printing as whole as well as the profitability of printing from waste & thus eliminating the feedstock from what largely is a blade & razor model today. While I could certainly have done better, I did my best to build upon lessons learned from Atech in Aruba. I shared the promise of the growing industrial 3D printer segment, the opportunities to increase the market by enabling more people to fabricate onsite, and upside that direct drive pellet extrusion expands the library of printable materials while decreasing print times. Stepping off the stage I was sweaty, shaky, and confident we had lost. I apologized to Matthew, congratulated the team I thought had won and set our sights on the meetings we had arranged with L’Oreal, Michelin, and Airbus.

The afternoon flew by. We gave out all of the flyers we brought, and pitched several blue chip companies to give us access to their post-manufacturing waste. Gigabot had a blast 3D printing Hello Tomorrow logos for the staff & we found that while we likely hadn’t won our track, an unexpected gain from the event was that we had found our tribe.

The attendees were just like us: problem solvers spanning hard science, technology & impact. We met nonprofits such Claire from MSF (Doctors Without Borders) and academics from around the world that challenged us with their questions & feedback. Aside from the criticism we fielded from the pitch judges, we found the Hello Tomorrow community truly understood our vision & was incredibly supportive. Our only regret from the event was not having more time & resources to stay in Europe with Gigabot to follow-up on the multiple insightful conversations we had (or in Matthew’s case had pantomimed).

Tired, but encouraged & full of great French cuisine we caught a few more hours of sleep and dug out any remaining flyers we could scrounge up for a possible meeting with Mr. Bloomberg the following morning. We also stole an hour to sample French food- my taste buds were blown away!

Meeting the former mayor of NY turned out to be a challenge as he was a popular man, and despite our best efforts we were unable to wrangle a selfie. We did however manage to meet a number of amazing people and took the time to visit the other exhibit booths. Before we knew it, the time had come to join the audience at the big stage and learn who had won the event.

Coincidentally Matthew & I ended up sitting next to the team from Haelexia, which I was convinced had won. We argued about who was about to take home 15K euros until the programming began, and our track was announced first. To my utter surprise our name was called, and I wished I had taken the time to touch up my makeup, & brush my exhibit – day hair & coffee stained teeth while stumbling over legs and the sea of people between us & the stage.

I arrived on stage with watery eyes and speechless as we received a hug & trophy from Airbus. You can imagine my consternation when I was then handed a microphone and told we had the next two minutes to pitch two rows of judges for 100K. Feeling ill prepared, I gave everything I had left in an enthusiastic and emotional appeal. While 15K would fund our prototype within a year, 100K could bring what we see as inherently right to commercialization. I did my best and knew that while willing the Grand Prize was a long shot, I was humbled to share our passion with such an amazing group. I also secretly hoped that Michael Bloomberg was watching from the sidelines and would offer our much sought after selfie.

The best part of the night however, was backstage. As each other track winner joined us, we were blown away by their technologies and the awesomeness of each team. We also noted a curious fact: half of the track winners were pitched by females and/or also came from gender co-lead teams like us. We quickly assembled a cheering squad to celebrate the other winners as they joined us backstage and sponsor Chivas ensured there were plenty of drinks for the multiple toasts that ensued.

After all had joined, we headed out to join a big band for the announcement of the Grand Prize winner, Lilium. Although the money would have provided what we desperately need to scale our vision to 3D print from waste globally, we were thrilled for their team!

We joined Gigabot & all for the after party and then rushed to pack up Gigabot before security threw us out.

The next day we caught a train and headed outside of Paris to meet a local Gigabot owner. At re:3D we try to visit customers when on the road as it not only provides valuable business intelligence but also is an incredibly rewarding opportunity to connect with the customers personally. We had a blast, and were super honored when they blessed us with a guided tour of the city on the way home and drove us to the Eiffel Tower. We couldn’t go up the monument due to the tools in our backpack, but we were fortunate to walk around the legs and stare into the impressive infrastructure for several minutes.

After pausing to reflect on the engineering & creativity above us, we grabbed dinner & prepped to leave.

On the flight home my mind was filled with lights, relationships, and next steps. To all who made Hello Tomorrow and my first trip to France a success: thank you. Thank you for believing in bootstrapped underdogs, and for giving us a platform & resources to make the impossible slightly more tangible!

Happy Printing!

~Samantha

  • @samanthasnabes
  • samantha@re3d.org

Improving Your Manufacturing Equipment with Gigabot

Below is Gigamachinist Steve Johnson’s second blog on 3D printing for re:3D’s Gigabot fabrication shop.

 Improving Your Manufacturing Equipment with Gigabot

by Steve Johnson

Sometimes, you have a product that works, but there is a way to improve it to make it work better.

A few months back, we added a 4th axis rotary table to our mill at re:3D. It has allowed us to begin to capitalize on the full milling envelope of our machine, allowing us to mill as much as 8 times more parts per program cycle, and reduced the need for multiple operations on some parts.

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We quickly found a weak spot in our rotary table though. The table was designed without any seals to prevent shavings from entering the gearbox. As a result, we have had to disassemble the rotary table twice now in order to clean out aluminum shavings that had bound up in the worm gear. We decided this time, that we needed to find a solution for this issue, to keep our mill up and running longer between needed maintenance.

gasket2

Once we had the rotary table apart, we found the area where the shaving were getting into the gearbox. There is a groove in the back of the table section, and a boss on the rotary body that rides inside the groove. But the fit between the two, once assembled, is very loose, and will allow anything smaller than .1 of an inch to pass through. Obviously we needed some type of o-ring, or gasket in order to seal this gap, without creating unwanted friction.

gasket3

A few quick measurements, and Matthew headed to the computer to create a short profile on Solidworks, that would fill the gap. Using Ninja semi-flex filament from www.ninjatech.com, we made a first print of that profile on Gigabot, and took it to the shop to test fit. It was a little tight, so back to the computer to adjust a couple dimensions, and another short profile print. Once we had the right fit, we revolved the profile into a full circle on Solidworks, and 15 minutes later, we had a custom made flexible gasket that seals the rotary table from chips without creating drag on the axis motor.

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We found a problem. We imagined a solution. And with Gigabot, we made it a reality today.

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Now we are back up and running so that we can manufacture the parts for YOUR new Gigabot.

Happy Printing!

  • steve@re3d.org