Feb 10, 2017 | By David

Back in 2013, we reported on a project by a new 3D printer startup called FABtotum. It ran a successful Indiegogo campaign for the production of an all-in-one Computer Numeric Control (CNC) device that is capable of 3D printing, 3D scanning and 3D milling, dubbed the Personal Fabricator. We are excited to report that it has now put the finishing touches on some new developments for its Personal Fabricator that will increase its functionality even further. Most significant among these is the FABtotum Laser Head, which can easily transform the Personal Fabricator into a laser cutter and a laser engraver.

Intended to be a ‘mini laboratory on a desktop’, the initial model of the Personal Fabricator has been described as one of the most innovative tools on the market, due to its multi-functionality, its relatively small size, and most of all its adaptability. FABtotum's aim was to create a tool that can be constantly updated and improved.

The new Laser Head clearly displays this adaptability once again, as the Personal Fabricator can be transformed into an entirely new device, with a minimum of fuss. All the transformation requires is for the Laser Head to be plugged into the main carriage of the device. 

The benefits of the Laser Head are numerous. Laser beams offer an incredibly high level of precision compared to the conventional 3D milling head, and the head will be using the same Cartesian axes already implemented by the Personal Fabricator. Users will now be able to make PCBs with the device, something which is usually prohibitively expensive and time consuming. The range of materials that can be implemented in designs has also expanded dramatically. The Laser Head has a power of just under 500mW, which will allow it to engrave patterns on wood and balsa. There is the potential for up to 255 different shades of grey, meaning that images can be replicated on these kinds of surfaces more faithfully than previously thought possible. The fact that paper and cardboard can also be easily cut by the lasers gives users the option to make products for arts and crafts, such as foldable pop-up models and origami. 

Despite the power of its parts and the complexity of its functioning, the broad range of uses of the Personal Fabricator clearly positions it as a tool that can be used by anyone interested in 3D technology and manufacturing, regardless of their situation or level of expertise. A new user-friendly software package will be released along with the new Laser Head, to make the process even more simple and accessible. The software comes with preset profiles, speeding things up greatly for the amateur designer. It will automatically generate a GCODE from a picture or photo that a user uploads, meaning that in a matter of minutes they can start creating what they want. For more experienced or skilled users, there is still the option to change settings or generate the GCODE in a different way.

Not content to simply offer upgrades and add-ons whilst leaving the initial device unchanged, the FABtotum team has improved the hardware, which it now refers to the FABtotum CORE. Its motherboard is much faster and more reliable than when the device was first released, and the milling heads and printing heads are stronger and able to withstand much higher temperatures. Furthermore, the FABtotum CORE will soon be equipped with a new operating system, the first OS built entirely from the ground up to be compatible with 3D printing. Known as FABUI Colibri, it will dramatically increase the speed of the hardware system, as well as adding full filesystem recovery and networking improvements.

It’s always a pleasure to see a project that starts off from a humble crowdfunded beginning achieve even more than it set out to, and the latest developments from the FABtotum team suggest that this success is set to continue in the near future.



Posted in 3D Printer



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