For months now, I’ve been wanting a 3D printer to create plastic parts and I’m guessing that I just made the best choice by buying the Robo C2.
First of all, it’s an attractive printer in the same way that EVE (from the WALL•E cartoon) was cute. Perhaps you can see the resemblance?
Second—and you guys should know by now how I love them—this printer is driven by a Raspberry Pi 3 computer inside! I hope to clone the microSD card in that computer and go to school on their efforts to hack an even better printer out of it.
Third, the product is open-sourced and crowd-funded.
Fourth, they’re a local company. Their office is maybe a 20-minute drive from where I live in San Diego. Given that most people would have to purchase this online and have it shipped, they wouldn’t get to see it in action like I just did.
Fifth, it includes an iOS app which allows you to control this and any other Octoprint-enabled printer.
Sixth, at 20 microns, it looks to have the best resolution of any of the printers I saw at Frye’s Electronics and most of those had a price tag above $1400 to reach the 50 micron resolution level.
Finally, it looks like it comes with a one-year license for Autodesk Fusion 360 which appears to be a very nice program for designing.
Research and Past Experience
I spent a fair amount of time before purchasing this by researching 3D printing, the types of plastics, the pitfalls to overcome, etc.
This particular printer doesn’t have a heated bed (the place where the project is made) so it may not do a great job with ABS plastic without a lot of trickery. The standard voodoo that is necessary is to get inventive with the bed covering so that the project adheres nicely, doesn’t skip around and further, doesn’t warp due to uneven heating.
So for an unheated bed, the PLA type of plastic is the suggestion here and I’ve purchased an additional two rolls of the stuff to get things started.
Interestingly-enough, a few years ago I worked in a large plastic manufacturing plant so I have a little experience making plastic of the rotomolded variety.
In this industrial-sized version, colorized plastic powder is measured and put into aluminum molds on a steel frame wheel. And this wheel then is inserted into a very large 700°F oven.
But for the consumer variety, you spend most of your time in a computer-aided design program, send a job to the printer and then wait hours (usually) to see how it turned out. This ought to be interesting.
I have a few projects in mind for this. I snagged a Robo Drone Kit while I was at Frye’s to give me a project which should produce some reasonable results.
I hope to design and print an enclosure for the e=mc2 project from earlier. Although it’s difficult, I hope to make this a clear enclosure ultimately.
I’d like to work up a design for a heated bed for the Robo C2 since it sounds like this would make ABS-related print jobs more successful. I think I’d also like to test new bed materials since the field of 3D printing is still new and inventiveness is required here.
Given that the Robo C2 has a Raspberry Pi computer inside with OctoPi software running on it, I should be able to modify the design, add things onto the printer and do notifications, for example. I could add an internal webcam to it, for example.
And then finally, I think I’ll spend some time on post-print finishing techniques to see what I can do in this area.
Here’s the first printout from the Robo C2 after some upgrades and dialing in that critical z-adjustment. Obviously, it’s a money clip. It’s light blue but the red background makes it look gray otherwise. It’s very smooth for a 3D-printed project and amazingly so for the $699 price tag on the printer. The small, flat piece is called a “raft” and is meant to make things stable during printing, btw.