3D printing is quickly gaining ground in the personal, professional, and education markets. According to Janne Kyttanen, founder of 3D manufacturing company Freedom of Creation, 'two years ago, there were about 40,000 machines in the world. By the end of this year, that number is probably going to hit 100,000.' (Cnet.com)
However, the typical 3D printer is incredibly expensive to purchase and to operate. With the introduction of 2BOT's new ModelMaker technology, these barriers of entry into the 3D world have been all but eliminated.
Unlike other 3D printers such as Z Corporation's ZBuilder Ultra, which use additive, or rapid prototyping technology, 2BOT's ModelMaker utilizes subtractive technology. With this method, material is removed from a solid billet of material, rather than continually adding material to build-up a model. The primary benefit of the subtractive process is a faster, more cost effective form of 3D modeling that can be used in a broad range of applications.
With a physical size of 25'x25'x13', the ModelMaker is comparable in size with standard 2D printers (this HP all-in-one for example) found in almost any office setting. With a weight of only 48lbs, transportation is relatively easy.
3D Models are subtracted by a specially designed, motor-driven carbide cutting bit, which is controlled by a dedicated DSP processor, and housed in an interchangeable spindle assembly. To allow for XYZ movement, the spindle assembly is attached to a sled and gantry arm, each utilizing their own dedicated motors and processors, which accurately position the spindle assembly for proper model cutting. The base material is loaded into a removable cassette, which can be rotated for two-sided cutting.
All critical hardware and electronics are enclosed within an interlocking case, with the only regular maintenance reported as vacuuming or sweeping out the ModelMaker working area between jobs, according to 2BOT's website.
See the ModelMaker working in real time here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoKyUwfWlNo
2BOT's patented 3D software, 2BOT Studio, works in unison with ModelMaker, via a DSP-based controlled intelligence network. This provides instant communication between software and hardware. In 2BOT Studio, all of the modeling parameters, such as type of base material, stepover rate, model size, and model scaling can be easily adjusted or modified by the user.
2BOT Studio is compatible with all the programs that are considered the standard for virtual 3D modeling, including AutoCAD, SketchUp and Rhino, as well many different file types, such as STL, KMZ, and DAE. For a complete list, visit 2bot.com.
The cutting area of a single piece is 12'x12'x2', but 2BOT Studio software allows for automatic tiling of virtual 3D models, so physical models of practically any size can be created. The ability to use both sides of the same cutting material for making a model allows for extended possibility and detail. Model quality is user selected, and can range from 0.005'-0.065'.
Cost of Operating
With an MSRP of around $12,000, ModelMaker is neither the least or most expensive alternative. But, the operating costs for the ModleMaker are significantly less than the competition. According to 2bot.com, a 2x4x10 in. model would cost ~$4 when using 2BOT-approved base materials - much cheaper than the price of materials for the competition. All types of models can now be produced affordably.
Because ModelMaker models are subtracted out of a solid billet of material, the painstakingly slow process of adding or building-up material to create a model is eliminated. 2BOT's specially-designed spindle assembly moves quickly and efficiently, at a maximum XYZ cutting speed of 1' per second, as compared to a speed of 1000mm (39.37') per minute, using MakerBot's Thing-O-Matic.
As you can readily see, much less time is spent making models with ModelMaker than competitive additive systems, allowing multiple models to be completed on a daily basis, in virtually any setting. Basic models can be made in less than 30 minutes - 60 minutes for a more detailed models.
The Bottom Line
2BOT's patented ModelMaker technology offers a less expensive, faster, and easier 3D modeling solution to hobbyists, educators, and professionals alike. The total cost of ownership of the ModelMaker is significantly less than other 3D printing products, due to its subtractive technology -- allowing the use of less expensive base materials, while still enabling detailed modeling.