We’ve seen quite the gamut of 3D printers come out of the crowdfunding space, and although many have been able to take off successfully, few have really been able to hit the jackpot and sustain long after their campaign ended. CEL Robox has been one of the exceptions, releasing new software, finding new partners and so far have been picking up great reviews. Stuff Magazine gave them a 5 star review, noting that the Robox was unlike other 3D Printers out on the market, and “thanks to the Robox I think I’m ready to trust a 3D printer again.”
We managed to catch up with CEL CEO Chris Elsworthy and ask him a few questions about everything from what makes CEL different from other 3D printer manufacturers and what he can tell us about his new Automaker 3D printing software.
There are literally hundreds of 3D printers out there now that use FFF/FDM and it’s getting arguably difficult to tell them all apart. What is so unique about the CEL Robox? What is it that the Robox does that no other machine can do?
Printers based on fused deposition modeling (FDM) use a thermoplastic filament, which is heated to its melting point and then extruded through a nozzle, layer by layer, to create the object. One of the main advantages of the Robox using FDM/FFF is that it works with a wide range of materials. Additionally, unlike many other FDM-style printers, the Robox can print in very fine layers and has one of the highest print resolutions of any FDM/FFF printer on the market — 20µm (0.02mm) layers for detailed prints – meaning the print quality truly stands out in comparison to other printers on the market.
I wanted to try out your software, but it didn’t work when I installed it (Mac OSX 9.5). I can’t contact support because I don’t have a Robox. It made me want to ask the question “Are you going to release your software for use with any 3D printer?’
Automaker is designed to make 3D printing easier and can only do this by talking to the extra hardware the Robox contains such as the automatic material recognition and the extruder’s feedback loop. Because other printers don’t contain this extra hardware, Automaker couldn’t achieve the same easy-to-use results with other printers.
The goal from the beginning with AutoMaker is to make 3D printing easier; we want users to concentrate on designing parts to print, not needing to fiddle with the print settings to try to get a result. We’ve incorporated myriad improvements to AutoMaker based on feedback from the community of Robox early adopters, including the introduction of an expert system capable of diagnosing faults with the Robox and calibrating it or guiding the user towards rectifying those faults themselves. Further, the software integrates open source Cura and Slic3r slicing engines, two of the most widely adopted software for speedier and higher quality prints.
*Note: we managed to get Automaker working on another Mac. We left the software in the hands of our independent tester, who was alright with the program but noted it’s non-intuitive UI, at least in comparison to Makerware which he usually used. However, we did not have a Robox 3D Printer on us, so we can’t say that this was a complete review but a comment on the model and slicing interface.
What does the future of your partnership with iMakr look like? Are you looking at a service similar to 3DHubs? Sharing models from the software back onto their network?
Launching AutoMaker with MyMiniFactory integration will pave the way to future collaborations with iMakr. We share the same vision as iMakr, which is widening access to 3D print technology overall and plan to work closely with them in the future.
At the moment, MyMiniFactory is a huge library of parts, as our community widens we’ll be feeding back into freely available designs.
I understand that iMakr has a ton of qualified 3D prints, that is, they’re confirmed that they can print. Are you going to share printing data from your users using these files with iMakr to confirm or ensure quality of the prints is being upheld?
We’re working closely with MyMiniFactory to help improve and curate the library, we’ve requested and are working together on a number of changes to improve documentation on print testing and the settings to produce good results. The relationship is evolving all the time and the possibilities for our involvement are endless.