Thursday, April 16, 2015

Unibody Tiko 3D Printer

Core 77 reports: [edited]

When we think of FDM 3D printers, we think Cartesian; the print head always rides along rails in the X- and Y-axes, and the machines are cubic in form. But the developers behind the low-cost Tiko have literally been thinking outside of the box, adopting a triangular form factor and opting to use a delta-style mechanism to drive the print head.

This solves a lot of problems at once. The key issue with a Cartesian system is that you need highly accurate, precision-machined parts to achieve the tolerances necessary for dead-on printing. By going with a delta mechanism, which drives the print head via three arms and essentially triangulates the position, they eliminate the need for expensive parts.

For the delta mechanism to be accurate, it has to be connected to three precisely-spaced rails. The development team has got around this by opting for an extruded unibody design. Hundreds of feet worth of body can be extruded at once and sliced into individual units; the stiffness of the triangular shape ensures rigidity; and this completely eliminates the need to assemble and connect rails, with the tolerance woes that can bring.

The end result is that the Tiko is priced at just $179. Interested parties are numerous and have responded positively: The team was seeking $100,000 on Kickstarter, and, at the time of the blog being published, has racked up nearly $2 million in pledges.

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