Wednesday, December 2, 2015

NB #5 updated Git

A little afterthought on post #4

Here are some more specific details about the events and their consequences...

I added Git-LFS and added the model files back to the Repository last week.

The current state of the projects consists of this list of tasks:

Finalize all the details of the "Ultimaker compatible" 3D printer:

-Bowden Tube - since this printer design does not have an open space above it - the free form Bowden tube concept does not apply, I  will modify the Ultimaker printhead design to accommodate a connector oriented on the side of the head at the lowest angle that will still provide clearance, a shelf or thin gauge shield above the front-Y drive rod and the Right X drive rod may be necessary to prevent the tube and wiring  from interfering with the drives

X and Y
The drives, limits and all other motion features are functional and tested

The pallet arms have been rebuilt, clearance for the pallet loader will need to be machined in the forward facing ends

Custom Pallet,
The removable pallet that carries the print-bed has been designed, but needs to be machined

I have allowed for a self leveling mechanism and for an electrical socket to engage power for a heated bed option, the mechanical lock-down latches are built and installed.

NewBlog #4 Ultimaker Module ++

Much toil this week in finishing out the "Ultimaker 2" Module.
I have encountered a few minor problems due to the constrained space to fit in the bowden tube - a misunderstanding on my part about direct drive extruders and 3mm filament resulting in a switch to 1.75mm filament for this printer and the attendant conversion of the hot-end and extruder feeder

The real intent here is to make it easy to transition an Ultimaker printer's original parts into an automated machine. Anyone who has operated a production machine knows the tedium associated with setting up the job on a machine, then baby sitting it as it performs some short run task.

So ultimately, getting the machine and its support services to:

  • Set up the job (from a section in the digital template) Calibrate, Align, Level, check for supplies on hand etc etc
  • Run the job (next section ;-) )
  • Cope with failed runs, errors,  (?? are we there yet ??) and re-run or correct the problem if necessary... 

These 3 little bullets represent a lot of bundled concepts, none of which are beyond the realm of the possible so down the garden path we go...

While this represents an approach to the solution we will also have to accumulate these case specific  solutions into a database relevant to the model/version/type of machine and process, once a significant number of these type of solutions are accumulated, then training an AI to attempt to extrapolate new solutions should become possible as well.

But back to the real and current plans:

The next machine will be a better incarnation of the small CNC mill. The milling machine is kind of a swamp of extended detail, since a robotic mill needs a lot of support services to operate:

Stock prep, probably a few cutoff saws, a small bandsaw and possibly a cold saw

Fixturing, which leads to a requirement for a modular fixturing solution, which then leads to a pick and place fixturing cell to set up jobs and that means a machine-command-translation-template to get a fixtures requirements encapsulated in a meaningful way to translate the fixture "recipe" into placement motion. not to mention fastening the pieces down so a screw gun with torque checking/strip prevention/and the fastener handling - then there will be fixture component storage and transport.....

Tooling, this one is big, since a toolchanger is only the frontend to a tool setter, possibly a tool sharpener/custom tool grinder/profiler and a tool magazine for several different cells (Tapping, anyone?)

Needless to say staying focused can be difficult!!

And tomorrow, we shall do it again!! (Solve some small portion of these problems, I mean)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

NewBlog #3 Making Mechanical Modules

Brief Update: making parts for 8 Mechanical Modules today: Using this model

and So it begins!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

CubeSpawn Post #2 New Blog "An Introduction to CubeSpawn"

Or: What I did last Summer, and the one before that...

A Conceptual Render showing Pallets, the conveyor and work cells.
Firstly, we should answer the question of "Why":

Why is building a bunch of small cubical machines that work together a good idea?

If you can envision a future where things are made on demand, locally, from recycled materials, using local alternative energy sources,

then you already grasp the benefits of:

Eliminating millions of ton miles of freight from the cost of finished goods and eliminating the pollution it causes.

Cleaning up trash by recycling on-site, everywhere.

Eliminating the wasted power of centralized, long distance power transmission.

These issues are well explained in "The Story of Stuff" Video.

CubeSpawn is a fairly simple idea, but not one that is easy to implement:

"A collection of identical enclosures, each housing a manufacturing machine of some sort..
with a built in material handling system and fully automated operation, driven by digital templates for parts, tools and assemblies..."

The tagline I have been using with a few variations for a few years is:

"CubeSpawn is an Open Source, Affordable, Modular, FMS (Flexible Manufacturing System)

I'll attempt to break this down and expand the description a little.

Open Source
We want a LOT of people to build these machines, since the larger the group of people using them, the more quickly they will improve both in their range of functions and their effectiveness.
Documenting everything is difficult and time consuming, So...

...we're taking lots of pictures to give proof of progress and

we are publishing the 3D models of all the core components as a way to pass the mechanical specifications to others

To make the first set of machines affordable, they are about the same size (In terms of build envelope) as the "Desktop/Benchtop" machines being released in the maker-hacker projects, plus we are using the open source controllers that have become popular to allow anyone with knowledge of the Arduino/Raspberry Pi/BeagleBone to setup and run these machines.(you can also use just about anything else if you so desire)

A great deal of thought has gone in to all the parts and components of CubeSpawn.
The enclosure has about 14 unique part numbers so that it can be made with relative ease, the goal is progressive recursion and bootstrapping systems.

So you COULD build your first few machines from scratch, (Like we are) then use those machines to build more over time as more capabilities are built into the system.

We hope to be able to make most of the parts FOR the machines ON the machines.

The machines also scale up by doubling so the smallest is 300mm (about 1 foot)
The size we are focusing on first is 600mm and a goal is to make most of the parts for the first 1.2 Meter machines on the 600's, allowing us to bootstrap to the next size.

FMS (Flexible Manufacturing System)
FMS's have been around since the mid 1960's but they have always been a capital intensive resource only big industry could afford. By building much smaller machines, leveraging Open Source control software and creating a system that can make its own parts to extend its own capabilities at its existing size, plus make parts for larger and smaller scale machines, most of the limitations of expensive industry machines are removed.

These are core concepts of the CubeSpawn project.

The benefit lies in getting many machine designers building machines that are capable of working together, this avoids one of the biggest expenses in industrial manufacturing: integration, bringing a collection of proprietary architectures together like they do in industry is complex and expensive, by building to a common pre-integrated standard, machines can work together "off-the-shelf"

By focusing on a few basic industry machines first (Milling Machine, Lathe, 3D Printer, Surface Grinder) a huge range of parts can be made with only 4 machines,

Leading to making all sorts of more specialized machines at the cost of materials and energy.

CubeSpawn Updates Late 2015!

I'll be reviving the old Blog for the purpose of reporting technical information, design changes and other miscellany about the project...

For Reference, at this time the projects resources are as follows:

This Blog

Social Media:
Linkedin, G+, Twitter, Ello, (and more rarely) Facebook

System Pix
The whole group
Current Progress

3D Models (in lieu of a gazillion CAD drawings)
CubeSpawn 3D warehouse

I'll add more as time permits.

 CubeSpawn System Components 11/2015