Oct 5, 2015 | By Kira

Even though we think 3D printing is a wonderful, life-changing technology, it’s far from perfect. For one, it can be loud, and trying to get another any other work done with a 3D printer whirring away on your desktop can be a challenge. To solve that issue that many others, Intelligent Agent AS, the Norwegian designer and manufacturer of 3D printer electronics and systems, has created the Replicape, an open source, Internet-connected 3D printer control board compatible with BeagleBone and Raspberry Pi that is as smart as it is silent.

Designed specifically for people building their own 3D printers and CNC machines, and for 3D printer manufacturers, the Replicape is the finely-tuned result of three years of development, various prototype iterations, and loads of customer feedback (positive and negative) on the initial Revision A cape. “When the first batch was sold out, a decision was made to rectify these mistakes in a new revision, this time backed by a Kickstarter,” said Replicape creator Elias Bakken. “We are doing it right this time, documentation and everything.”

In his excellent and exhaustive YouTube review, Tom Sanladerer describes the Replicape as falling into the “all-in, more is better” class of 3D printer boards. Among the long list of its features is the fact that all settings are controllable from software: “once the board is installed, physical access is no longer required.” With browser-based system OctoPrint, all units in your home or office will have access to controlling and seeing the status of the printer. Speaking of control, each Replicape comes fitted with the user-friendly Manga Screen, a 3” high-resolution multi-touch display for controlling the printer designed by Thing Print and successfully launched on Kickstarter last year.

The Replicape is also very, very fast. “The BeagleBone Black has 1GHz of processing power, giving a standard Linux distribution plenty of headroom. But mainline Linux is not a real time OS,” said the developers. “Therefore two dedicated 200 MHz processors (Programmable Realtime Units) are utilized to handle the real time aspect of the printing, so stepper and end stop monitoring happens at the right time.” Then, of course, the Replicape is silent. With state of the art stepper motor drivers (TCM2100) and four-layer layout, the board runs “smooth as silk”.

The Replicape shown running with various 3D printers

Finally, the hardware is completely open source and licensed as CC BY-SA, meaning that it can be modified and remix for anything, including commercial use. The design files are available at the Replicape respository, and the mostly-open source software files can be found on the Kamikaze wiki page.

The Bakken and his team have done extensive research and collected feedback on the developer edition from selected beta testers. So far, the reception for the Replicape has been overwhelmingly positive, and with upgraded features and a significantly lower price than the previous Replicape A4A, it’s headed towards becoming their second Kickstarter success story. But, just to be extra certain about a positive outcome, they’ve partnered with Elmatica, one of the best PCB curators in the business, with over 40 years of experience. Not only has Elmatica connected them with a fabrication house, they are offering a generous three month extension of the payment, so that production can start the moment their roughly $10,000 Kickstarter goal has been hit (they’re already really close at 68, 595 Norwegian Krone, or about $8,000 USD.)

Upgraded features from the Rev A to Rev B

The early bird special is only $79, but even at the actual retail price of $99, the Replicape is going to be a very appealing option for 3D printer builders and manufacturers. Additional rewards include either a BeagleBone Black or Kamikaze SD Card. As Bakken and his developer team (the three ‘bearded share holders’ who make up Intelligent Agent AS) put it: “If you are building a 3D printer and you want that printer to be connected to the internet, not be noisy and be accessible from every phone, tablet and computer in your office, you should get this board.”



Posted in 3D Printer Accessories





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