Apr. 8, 2015 | By Alec

Optimistic makers often talk about 3D printing technology in terms such as revolutionary and world-changing – and we here at 3ders.org catch ourselves thinking in those terms as well – but the march of 3D printers into society has been a steady, if slow one. For something to be truly revolutionary it needs to take the world and the society around us by force and change everything at a high pace. Can we really say 3D printing has done that already?

Nonetheless, a new British venture on Kickstarter boldly claims the revolutionary epithet for their new and exciting IR3 3D printer (short for Industrial Revolution III). Developed by London-based Buzz Technology Limited, this new 3D printer could very well unleash a revolution due to a truly unique (in terms of 3D printers) property: it doesn’t just 3D print components, it’s also capable of picking and inserting non-printed components into the design. In a nutshell, it creates theoretically (almost) fully functioning products.

While we come across a lot of interesting 3D printers on Kickstarter, all of which claim to be different and exciting, the IR3 manufacturing machine really is that. It’s been a long time coming as well, having been extensively prototyped and tested throughout last year. The final machine launching on Kickstarter is really much more than a 3D printer, though it largely functions just like any desktop machine you have at home. Printing objects through g-code data in a number of possible materials (including multi-material printing), it simply has the additional option of grasping and inserting other parts into the rest of design. 3D printing can just resume once those components have been inserted.

While sticking to a 3D printed remote controlled car toy in their examples, its authors claim that the IR3 can also work with almost countless kits of standardized non-printed items to make just about anything. ‘Some examples may include: smartphone controllable electronics, rechargeable power packs, touch screens, keypads, motors, wheels, sensors.’ They write.

Crucial for making objects with all these different parts are the three nozzles for printing that can extrude plastic, conductive and support or separation materials. ‘To keep the price down, the electronics used is for a dual extruder 3D printer so a relay is used to switch between extruders. This means that only one extruder can be operated at a time,’ they explain. These conductive filaments, they argue, can be used to wire together any and all electronics in the products you choose to produce.

As you might imagine, operating one of these machines isn’t easy. Inserting components into the g-code will require some careful editing, but the British team seems to have covered all bases. A series of webinars and podcasts are planned that will teach all users to do this, while special software is scheduled to be developed to make this far easier. The series of 20 webinars are projected to cover topics as diverse as: ‘3D printing & the IR3 - what's possible now & what's coming, the IR3 global designer offer - working together, how to come up with next generation product ideas, open, fair & closed source making, protecting your ideas, potential routes to market and using the IR3 platform to collaborate on projects.’

Wheels being inserted into the 3D printed car body. 

Should you want to get on board with the expected IR3 printing revolution, there’s some good news. As the machine is essentially tried and tested, the current Kickstarter campaign is largely aimed towards financing production. ‘Our aim is not to reinvent the wheel, so we are using with tried and tested solutions and proven suppliers where possible,’ they write. ‘At this time we intend to provide the IR3 with E3D volcano hot ends, but these may be upgraded to the E3D Cyclops to enable quad extrusion in a smaller print head so that the Y-axis build size can be increased. Other proven elements of the machine are the main electronics controller, extruders, motors and position sensors.’

Should the Buzz team gather the necessary £50,000 (approximately $75,000) in pledges by 7 May, shipping of the early bird IR3s should begin as soon as October 2015. A pledge of £3,350 (about $5,000) is enough to get your hands on one of these early bird machines (including shipping). This will get you a fully assembled machine and a starter parts kit (including an electronic controller, motor and shield, wheels, display – enough for an rc car). You will also be given full access to the IR3 global developer platform for two years. Unfortunately some additional options – including a hot bed, a high capacity clay & paste extruder, or a food extruder, will require you to pledge more. Go here for more information on joining the revolution.



Posted in 3D Printers


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