Nov 22, 2016 | By Andre

3D printing is growing at a faster pace than ever before, yet there are still many elements of the technology that remain inaccessible to people. While the 3D printers are still a long way away from realizing their full potential, the technology's user base, also has a long way to go. This is largely because there is a disconnect between understanding the rules and restrictions of the machines themselves and how users can design and ultimately program components that are created from modern day 3D printers.

Thankfully, there are a number of STEM related endeavours that put a playful twist on educating the increasingly curious makers around the world today. And, as we’ve seen with 3D Printed educational robots like WireBeings or the open-source Marty, robots tend to make for perfect examples in demonstrating the practical use of a variety of important STEM based skills.

Following in the footsteps of the aforementioned robots, comes a new Kickstarter campaign for the QuadBot, a 3D printed robotics set made primarily to inspire and educate makers, from newcomers to 3D printing veterans.

The QuadBot, comprised of roughly 27 hours of 3D printed parts, an Arduino based QuadBoard, servo motors, bluetooth module, cables and some cords, is fully open-source. This means that after eventually receiving and going through the challenge of assembling the bot, you are able to change its code and 3D print custom modifications (using raw Autodesk Fusion based design files) to your creative liking.

So what exactly can QuadBot do? Well, for starters it can walk, dance, light up, follow you around, avoid obstacles and play songs. The campaign team does however stress that the potential lies in what the curious maker can come up with on his or her own. Custom bots already include those with motion guided lasers, Gundam Wing inspired mechs, light following plant bots and wildly abstract geodesic shell bots.

Like any well-run Kickstarter campaign, the pledge perks are broken down into several categories including the lower cost Maker Kit (starting at £123, which includes everything but the 3D printed parts (STL print files are included)), the full-kit (everything including the 3D printed parts starting at £199), and the full kit + bluetooth capabilities (£205). The higher price perks include bulk purchase discount rates as well as the £1,999 Mystery Robot (of which there is only one).

The Arduino derived QuadBoard is packed with motor mounts, onboard battery charging, smart RGB LEDs, 5V and 3.3V external regulation sensors and more so you won’t have to fiddle with complex wiring right out of the box. They even go so far as suggesting you can get everything assembled from the starter pack in under two hours so even those easily distracted can complete the project.

Additionally, there’s no doubt that the Engimake team behind the Quadbot has put the time in to come up with a sophisticated, well planned device. Starting out as a Machester Robotics Society project in 2013, they moved from early laser-cut iterations to the 3D print focused versions seen in the Kickstarter campaign.

Of course, there remains a long road ahead before the promise of delivering QuadBots to curious makers around the world can come true. Some design changes are still being developed and it isn’t 100% sure if the full-kit versions will be 3D printed or injection moulded (this depends entirely on campaign demand). And while the electronics have been tested as a prototype, they have yet to go through the headaches often associated with manufacturing once everything is green lit.

All said, if they can hit their April 2017 shipping deadline or even come close I would call their campaign a success. Their STEM focused ideals and creative approach to keeping today’s youth engaged is at the very least something to admire. But ultimately, before part sourcing, manufacturing, and ultimately shipping can happen, the campaign first has to gain traction and funding. So all I can hope for them is best of luck for what they are hoping to accomplish. I’ll be watching this one closely.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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