This week we catch up with our friends at MAKEiT, Inc on their project Bigfoot as well as their new technology. Check out how MISUMI Aluminum Extrusion, bearings and shafts gave them the precision they needed to create their 3D printed parts! If you missed out on the series on MAKEiT, Inc, check out the first post here.
Q1: Has there been any design changes with Bigfoot? Provide us with an update on the project.
MAKEiT has been collaborating with Autodesk’s Escher project to further develop our large format 3D printer, nicknamed “Bigfoot”. It is now mounted on a wall, operating daily!
BigFoot’s heated bed reaches max temp 100c. Two gantries are equipped with single extruder head on each gantry.
Currently, we are test running with single gantry single print head (max temp 275c), using PLA and PETG as primary materials. 1.75mm filament is preferred vs larger dim filament in order to produce more accurate prints. In addition, BigFoot extruder has the flexibility of utilizing different size nozzles, from 0.4mm up to 1.2mm based on printing job requirements. With the present printing area around 31 cubic feet, this machine can print smoothly without producing loud background noise.
Designs have been finalized for our base-level production models. Off-the-shelf models will have a XY-plane printable area of 2’x4’ and the nature of working with MISUMI components allows us to offer scalable made-to-order machines in larger custom sizes up to 3’x6’.
The overall architecture of the Bigfoot prototype is mostly unchanged but many feature improvements are in the works. New automatic leveling systems enable more accurate and reliable printing with multiple print heads and also allow independent printing of different parts with each printhead, essentially operating a single printer as two or more independent machines. This is in addition to the capability developed by Autodesk’s “Escher” program, which allows running multiple different heads on the same part simultaneously to speed printing times. We have also begun development on a new method of material switching that will enable printing with multiple materials through each head. The same system also allows common standard filament reels to be
combined automatically, increasing the maximum size and weight of individual printed parts without requiring manual changeovers.
From the beginning, we wanted to make a big machine with simple design and lightweight, unlike any bulky and large machine build out in the market. After studying all materials on the market, we took advantage of Misumi EFS series. Misumi EFS light weight type aluminum extrusion enables our simple but unique design. Now we can make stable and sturdy but lightweight structure. The whole frame structure is over 30lbs less compared to competitor’s extrusion, which is a big factor to reduce shipping cost and installation difficulty.
Per customer’s requirement, we can build 2x4ft or 3x6ft platform with single or multiple gantries. Please contact us for more details.
Q2: What components have been created thus far with Bigfoot?
We have been running our original “Bigfoot” prototype nearly constantly over the last 5-6 weeks, turning out functional parts and fitment prototypes for some of our
development partners. We’re regularly running parts in excess of 80 hours uptime on the machine in functional PETG plastic material.
The orange part pictured below is a front bumper design for a kit car called Exocet. Exocet vehicles are ultra-lightweight tube frame race cars which use donor parts from typical Mazda Miatas, combined with a custom chromoly frame made by Exomotive in Georgia. Automotive designer Bruno Gallardo (no official relation to Exomotive) used the Exocet as a platform for his own wild imagination, creating the Orion body kit for the vehicle (digital render pictured below). We are working together with Bruno to develop an effective process of manufacturing his components through a combination of direct 3D printing of final parts and also 3D printing of molds which are then used for making carbon composite panels.
Another automotive partner is Icon, a Los Angeles based manufacturer of boutique vehicles ranging from high-end luxury off-roaders to ridiculously fast custom EVs. Pictured below is a front suspension subframe prototype for one of their upcoming projects. This part was used for fitment before investing the time and cost of making a metal part for use; although everything fit perfectly the project isn’t public yet so, unfortunately, we cannot show images of it in place on the vehicle.
And of course we have some fun with the machine as well, making things for our own use in the office when there’s time for it:
Q3: Tell us about your wireless plastic flashlight and how MISUMI products helped create this design.
The wireless plastic flashlight is a good case to see how advanced 3D printing capabilities can reduce complexity and add value in design. Engineers and designers can take their engineering projects to the next level with MAKEiT exceptional 3D printing hardware and the technical expertise.
Take a close look and compare the MAKEiTⓇ 3D printed flashlight (left) with the more traditional design on the right and you will notice something very unusual. Our 3D printed flashlight has no battery holder, no metal pins, no casing, no screws, no switch, no wires, no label. By comparison, the traditional methodology requires 17 components to accomplish what we’ve done with only 7 parts. Many visitors at 2017 Pasadena Space Tech Show were amazed, asking “how did you make that?””
The entire flashlight assembly is actually 3D printed by MAKEiT Pro-M and Pro-L model, using a mix of conductive and non-conductive PLA ( polylactic acid) to create all circuitry and insulating
housing in one step. After printing, the LED and four 1.4V hearing aid batteries are inserted afterward with no soldering.
This innovative design would not be possible without 3D printing. More importantly this design requires high accuracy 3D printing in order to have electric current flow in the right direction.
Inaccurate 3D printing, such as mixing of any layers of black conductive and red nonconductive materials, will cause current leakage and short circuit. Together with Misumi’s precision bearing and shafts, MAKEiT Pro 3D printer is capable to deliver precise 3D printing.
As a team of designers and engineers, we are very excited to bring more innovation in the near future, and we are fully committed to supporting our clients, providing value-added design-to-print
engineering services. If we can be of any help to add 3D printing value to your organization, please contact us, we love to share our knowledge.
Thank you MAKEiT, Inc on the update on Bigfoot. We look forward to seeing future designs using MISUMI Components!
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