Oct 6, 2015 | By Kira

Earlier this year, we reported on the Makerarm multi-purpose personal fabricator and 3D printer, an exciting robotic arm that combines 3D printing, plotting, milling, pick and place, laser engraving, PCB assembly, cake icing, and even more. As Alec put it, “If this is the future of 3D printing and making, we can’t wait. But of course previews always try to sell you the moon and we’ll just have to wait and see if it delivers.” Today, the Makerarm has launched on Kickstarter, bringing at least some answers to our many questions.

Based on the impressive launch video, the Markerarm truly is an all-in-one making machine—yet you’d never know it just by looking at its slender desktop-friendly design, or by its humble $1,400 price tag. However, those two features are key to why creators Zaib Husain and Azam Shahani developed it in the first place. Having the skill, passion and creativity to be a maker is one thing—but having financial access to a host of different machines, materials and tools is quite another. With the Makerarm, makers of all levels can bring their brilliant ideas to life in a single space, whether that idea requires custom PCBs, engraved leather, 3D printing, or all of the above.

The robotic arm works with interchangeable heads and a UI that automatically detects which head is attached, and displays only options and information relevant to that particular functionality. For us 3D printing enthusiasts, the Makerarm is a pretty big deal—literally. Because it is not confined to a box, it has one of the largest work areas among desktop 3D printers, with a reach of 15.7 x 31.4 x 10 inches. It can print with both resin and filament, and with its auto-leveling function, can print and build on any flat surface consistently and reliably.

Aside from 3D printing, the Makerarm boasts a long list of tool heads and capabilities that could replace almost every other tool in your workspace. It can carve and mill, pick and place, assemble, create PCBs (with automated soldering), and just in case they’ve missed anything, you can even create your own custom tool heads for your individual needs. In terms of functions, the Makerarm can be trained to repeat specific actions, collaborate with other Makerarms, and has WiFi connectivity so that it can be controlled from any device, anywhere.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, the video shows the Makerarm performing ‘everyday’ tasks, such as feeding goldfish, painting, handwriting invitations, and even finishes by building a custom laptop. If I didn’t know any better, I might have thought I’d actually stepped into an entirely robot-assisted future. But, as Alec pointed out, we’ll need to wait for the Makerarm to hit the market to determine if it can truly do all that it claims.

In order to make that happen, Husain and Shahani are relying on their Kickstarter campaign. They have also partnered with Dragon Innovation, which specializes in manufacturing hardware products and is behind some of the biggest names in the industry, including Makerbot. They have three fully working prototypes undergoing internal testing, and have scheduled pre-production units to be available by April 2016 for beta testing, with the final retail units shipping out by Fall 2016.

The Makerarm must sell at least 250 units to get to market, and the Kickstarter has overall funding goal of just under $350,000. So far, all of the early bird rewards are gone, which is a great sign, but there are plenty of $1,399 standard units that need to be funded. To sweeten the deal, the developers have also partnered with Autodesk, and each Markerarm purchase will come with a free, one-year subscription to Autodesk Fusion 360 (valued at $300). There is also a custom control software in development, Makerarm.io, that will ship free with the arm and allow users to view and control the maker arm in 3D, train the maker arm, and connected third part apps or create custom scripts.

“We have spent countless hours developing and perfecting Makerarm for a simple reason: we love to make,” said Husain and Shahni. “By creating an affordable all-in-one digital fabricator, we believe we can allow makers like you to bring your ideas to life with less financial and logistical limitations than ever before.” The saga to determine whether or not Makerarm truly is the future of 3D printing and making continues, but we’re no less excited to find out.




Posted in 3D Printers





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