MakiBox A6 - Integrated Hopper and Drive Renders and Next Steps

2021-07-19 16:41 by Jonathan Buford (comments: 0)

MakiBox A6 - Integrated Hopper and Drive Renders and Next Steps


After a couple of tough weeks working on how all the new drive and hopper will fit both physically and aesthetically into the MakiBox, we are close to wrapping up the modeling and cutting the revised parts. We probably have one more day left on these changes and then we can get the revised case and stainless parts for everything.


We've made a lot of small changes to the layout of things. The controller board is moved to the front left of the machine, so the USB, power, and microSD will be accessible there since many people will be using this intermittently, so having the connections in front will make it easier to hook up.

By doing this, we moved the cooling fan to the rear, so the airflow path has been improved as well. We should be able to tweak it to keep the driver ICs and motors nice and cool during operation.


The hopper itself is integrated into the back portion of the printer, with visibility of the printing stock level from both the front and rear by clear panels.

The gearbox of the pellet drive and the flow of the printing stock into it is also visible via small windows integrated into the sides of the mechanism.


The output from the pellet drive will exit via a cutout under the hopper through the main chasis wall. This opening will also allow for waste heat from the pellet drive help to heat the build envelope.


The drive itself has an additional gearing than the last iteration. This will allow around a 10X increase in torque over the last version of the pellet drive. To counter the increased axial force against the drive screw and barrel, we have added 2mm stainless plates to hold everything together and make it very rigid.


The printer stock will be put into the hopper via a sliding door panel in the top left of the hopper, and unused material can be removed via a sliding opening in the bottom of the printer. This will allow for a user to change materials and put the pellets back into the bag easily.

Next, we will be doing some final touch up on the details of the mechanism and other parts shown here, but no major changes. We will order up a set of laser cut parts from our supplier by tomorrow or Saturday, so should have this revised model put together early next week. At that point, we connect up everything and see how the print quality is without feedback put in. 

We will then design a simple feedback sensor and control system to regulate the output based on the results we see. If the pellet drive can start and stop the flow consistently, then we just put a sensor to watch the output. If it tends to ooze, then we will put a simple mechanism to stop the filament movement as is needed or may be able to use temperature control of the hot end for that purpose.

It is looking pretty sweet and things here in the company in general are good.



David Contreni responded:
I have to say, you guys are really good at making things fit and look nice. Most of the other 3d printers out there look like half their parts are "afterthoughts." I have to admit I get a little antsy when a week goes by and nothing seems to be happening. But then you do a post like this one, followed a few days later by an assembly or a demonstration--And I know I made the right choice.
Jonathan Buford responded:

Thanks! I wish there was a better way to keep sharing what is going on when doing the design work, but it is just one of those processes that doesn't share well. I'm looking forward to see the new prototype from this one, really almond finished.

maximpulse responded:
What is the plan for for manufacturing in quantity?
For instance, do you plan to order and make parts for the first 300 and after fulfilling those orders, then order more parts and make a second bunch?
Or are you planning to make extra right away in order to be able to fulfill the orders that came in after the first 300?
I'm siting on the fence trying to decide about ordering or waiting...I suspect I'm not alone. Cowards have lots of company, while the brave forge on alone...sigh.
Florian Horsch responded:
Very nice update Jon! Wish you guys all the best with the first prints and hope that the setup will make you cry (in terms of happiness) :) It's such a nice moment to see the very first print coming together...
Jonathan Buford responded:
@maximpulse - We are starting to order the longer lead time parts for the second 300 now, and will order the next batch when we hit around 700 orders, which we think will be about 5 minutes after we show the first print. I would expect the first month of production to be the current orders, and then we will do at least 200-300 a week, but can scale higher as is needed. If the volume is high enough, we will switch to injection molded parts quickly, and most of the other parts can be expedited if necessary to catch up the volume if it is significant. We could make tens of thousands a month if there is demand to justify the ramp up.

We anticipate in two months we can get the lead time down to at least a couple weeks and possibly less, if we have stable orders or steady growth.

@Florian Horsch - Thanks, it will be time for our opening party for sure.

maximpulse responded:
Thanks for replying so quickly. You sound just sane enough that I went and ordered a Makibox. 
And I agree that once you demonstrate a first print the fence sitters (like I was a mere 10 minutes ago) will show up, not with beer, but with bottle openers.
It does feel good to send some support to your great idea/quest, too, regardless of how it all turns out...which will probably be marvelous.
I really admire your positive attitude and problem solving skills. 
Going with a pellet feed, even though that required a whole 'nother invention/solution, is such a great hurdle to decide to leap. When I have thought about using a 3D printer to make products to sell, I always trip over the cost of's just too expensive to make gewgaws economically. Using pellets will eliminate that obstacle. It's so exciting to hope to have my own factory cranking out whatever products I dream up! It means I'd be able to produce lots of little products to test the waters and see if anyone wants them without risking my paltry savings. 
Thanks for all your efforts. You are making life more fun.
Jonathan Buford responded:
@maximpulse - Thanks for the kind words! It is always encouraging to see that people are getting the reason behind things. I really do want to turn 3D printing and similar technology into something not just used by enthusiasts and professionals, but something that anyone would use to make or save money on things.
Guyren Howe responded:
Any sort of ETA on this thing that's, what, 3 months overdue now?

Excited to get it, love the improvements, just asking roughly when we might be going into production.

Good luck!

Jonathan Buford responded:

Working to wrapped us the rest of this as soon as possible. Targeting getting existing orders out within August, we will lay out the exact production timeframe as soon as we have a good enough print.

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