MMM Production Prototype & MMM-DIY
MMM DIY Version & Production Prototype Version
What an interesting full month this has been in terms of the R&D and finalizing of the designs for the Mini Metal Maker. September is the month for getting all the DIY plans and the printed parts kits out to contributors. Of note to me has been the process of designing for DIY (do it yourself) vs the process of creating a production prototype.
At the very start of this project, the DIY version and the production version were one-and-the-same machine. Now, however, we are working with two distinctly different versions of the same big idea: The DIY Version and the Production Version.
DIY Version of the Mini Metal Maker:
Parts accessibility is the name of the game when we're talking about designing for do-it-yourself. This means use of 3d printed parts (or files that we can share, which can be printed anywhere) and also of standard easy-to-find hardware. Typically things like threaded rods and the bearings, springs, and microcontroller circuitry commonly used for REPRAP type open-source printers. I feel like we have done a very good job in staying true to this concept with the MMM-DIY v.1. In particular, we've designed a machine that uses four of exactly the same motor, an Arduino/RAMPS controller, and a total of 3d printed parts. Beyond that, it's just nuts, bolts, and some plywood. The machine will accomodate a variety of syringe sizes (depending on what syringe carrier you choose to print) and we'll include mixing instructions for metal clay or other types of clay. All-in-all, it'll be a great project for all of you fellow experimentalists who really want to play with dispensing different materials.
Production Prototype Mini Metal Maker:
This is the machine that has seen the most design changes since the start. The premise behind this machine is that it can be produced commercially somewhere down the road, and is specifically for metal clay use by jewelry artisans. Much of the work on this machine has gone into cost optimization for the factory production of the enclosure and the mechanical subsystems. (A 3d printable part, as for the DIY version, does not necessarily translate into a part that can be easily made with injection molding.) Also, we have put extra effort into making a stronger, larger volume extruder, at the trade off of increased complexity and cost.
Again, I can't express how thankful we are at all of the support, both initial and continued, through this process.