#MakiBox A6 Update - Alpha Wrap

2021-12-11 00:43 by Jonathan Buford (comments: 11)

Smooth prints, refined design.

We've been hammering away with testing the AphaBox and have got it printing very fine. It took a lot of testing and tweaking, as you can see here.tl_files/img/2012_12_07_08/20121210_181250_(2048x1536).jpg

We've mostly been sorting out print settings, testing various drive wheels for the filament drive, and generally abusing the Alpha prototype to see what needs to be changed.

One major feature is to the table support to make it more stiff and reduce the part count. Here is a quick print using some settings that ended up not giving us the most filled in print, but this still wound up being very solid. One consistent thing is that our layers are laminating very solidly, so no easy splitting between layers.


The stainless print bed is working very well, taking prints without any real upkeep, just the occasional cleaning to remove oil from fingers, but only because it shows and not because we've had any prints pull off.


After a print finishes, you just let it cool down to around 70C, and the part will pop right off on its own. It would be easy to have an automated build platform with this.



Yesterday we participated in a fair where we showed the Scribble and the Alpha along with some other makers in the community showing their projects.


Kids loved playing with the Scribble. We ended up creating a small Christmas tree that kept on growing as the day went on.


And growing.


And got a figure to go with it.

The output is very clean now from the MakiBox AlphaBox.


Here you can see the surface is uniform. There is one oddity where the first layer is printed offset from the rest, but all other features are coming out very nice and clean.

We are currently testing our firmware, and seeing some improved moves. This week we will be testing the full new firmware with our host software and so switching to the new USB protocol instead of the older COM port based communication protocol. We expect that things will be more smooth and that it will be easier to debug what is going on at that point.


Nice vertical sides, and very uniform output overall.


This is our test piece we've been tuning around. Finally we have very minimal stringing and little variance in the surface. I think we can get this improved with some additional tuning of the printing parameters and also with non-prototype mechanisms.


Again, very consistent and true to form.

tl_files/img/2012_12_07_08/2012-12-08_18.00.53_(2048x1536).jpg tl_files/img/2012_12_07_08/2012-12-08_18.00.30_(2048x1536).jpg tl_files/img/2012_12_07_08/2012-12-08_18.00.14_(2048x1536).jpg tl_files/img/2012_12_07_08/2012-12-08_18.00.03_(2048x1536).jpg

This particular test piece is 10mm on each side for the square and cylinder.


I get similar results when hand machining parts, so this is pretty good tolerance.


The walls are supposed to be 1.0mm thick.


Here is that part in the middle of priting.


So, we are pretty happy with the AlphaBox, and are working on wrapping up the final updates to the model to do the BetaBoxes to send out. If we see that the Beta units are going smoothly, then we will start production on the backorders and start clearing them out as soon as possible.

We are in the process of wrapping up the new store setup. We have the shipping and payments sorted, but doing some final setup to the products themselves before we can make it public. The next step will be to send out email to all existing orders to have everyone log into the new system and select their final order details. We will be giving everyone credit in the new store, so you will be able to choose a combination of material, printer, and casing and order whatever additional material you want at that point.

We are moving as quickly to get into production as we can, but at the same time want to make sure that everything will work consistently. We have heard entirely too many people talking about problems they have had with other printers on the market, and want to make sure we avoid those same problems.

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Comment by Bernd Lübeck | 2021-12-11

Yes Jonathan, it pays of on the end to be passionate and ait untill you guys start to give a go for the serial production. I think the MakiBox Community appreciates your desition to send us units with less bugs ar possible. I know its hard to wait. But your constant communication is worth a lot to keep our minds cool :-)

Comment by andy turudic | 2021-12-11

Nice work Jon & team.

It'll be interesting to see what you come up with as far as containing the Bowden tube and its wires inside the case envelope...there are some 90 degree bends in the filament that'll be needed, while keeping it loosey goosey enough so as not to create drag in the printhead.... I am anxiously awaiting to see how you solve that problem for the production machines...

Now that you're almost done, one thing I'd like to see in the A6 queue is a second filament and extruder on the printhead, ideally for soluble support material. After the pellet extruder is done, of course.

Also am hoping the larger machine will reuse everything except the rods, screws, and case, so that we can upgrade the little machine at some not too distant point down the road and recycle at least half the old machine.

Good work - here's hoping the orders start rolling in and that you can get some decent market placement and visibility now that it's pretty much ready to go.

QUESTION: How do you plan to convert that Christmas tree Scribble into a CAD model that the rest of us can print or modify? 'tis the season, ya know...

Comment by Chris R | 2021-12-11

Shaping up to be a great printer guys, - I appreciate your dedication to getting clean prints.
Re: Andy's question - Use a Kinect to capture the Scribble's motion path and slice the data for 3d printing :)

Comment by camerin hahn | 2021-12-11

Best of luck with USB integration. I have had limited luck with that step in any project. Thanks for the update i am excited.

Comment by andy turudic | 2021-12-11

@Jon: someone brought up the "stability" issue, ehich showed itself to me in the latest videos.

I think a lot of that concern would be addressed if you significantly dropped the mass of that separator block at the end of the y-axis rods. Either swiss-cheese the heck out of taht heavy white block (the clip wouldn't hurt as well, or a better strength to weight material. any improvements there are exaggerated by the moment arm during acceleration/deceleration - you may get a bit better set of dynamics out of the printhead as well.

Also, just brainstorming, but what about using hollow rods (not sure you can get tubing that's accurate enough for bending, finish, and diameter) for the four rods that intersect the printhead? Time is money, so being able to run this thing FAST would improve an already great thing.

Not a designated beta tester, but "I slept at a Holiday Inn" once....

Comment by Jon Buford | 2021-12-11

Thanks Bernd!

@Andy - Filament routing, we already have it running in the box, so no real changes there. It is mounted on a swivel, so just conforms and doesn't take too tight of bends.

For the weight, I'm not convinced that is the problem, it is mostly dependent on the friction of the platform to the guides. Doing some acceleration tuning will get that sorted. I'll let people try the mods you described, but this current setup is what we will go with for production.

@Camerin - We've already got the USB working, I'm going to be eating dogfood this week. It has a very different communication protocol, since USB is packet based rather than character based, and there is no buffering beyond the current packet, only a queue for received commands. This allows for a responsive soft e-stop instead of poke and pray.

Comment by Devendra G | 2021-12-12

Regarding the 10mm square and circle test object that's measured with the calipers... I notice that on the square shape, the top half of the print looks cleaner than the bottom half. IOW, the top half layers stack up cleanly with no variance, while the layers of the bottom half do not stack cleanly.

I mention this because it's important to me to make 0.1mm prints that come out with layers that stack without perturbations. I've seen other printers that can accomplish this, but they're in the $1K+ range, which is out of my league. So I'd really like to see how the A6 does with 0.1mm prints.

Any chance of seeing such prints or your thoughts about this?

Comment by justMaD | 2021-12-12

I'd imagine this could be due to the shaky alpha printbed mounting, which should be resolved in beta

Comment by Jon Buford | 2021-12-12

@Devendra - I'm thinking it is either something in the slicing settings or some interaction between the hot end and the hot bed. I was just starting to look into that yesterday.

0.1mm prints, may be possible, 0.2mm does work, but I haven't tried smaller lately, since I'm working on more general things. I expect beta testers will try smaller layers if I don't.

Comment by Devendra G | 2021-12-12

Hi John, okay thanks. I'll continue to check in and see how this progresses in both areas.