The arrival of 2 new 3D printers will be taking TinyCircuits in new and exciting directions, like Robotics. Each machine uses a different method of producing 3D parts, each with their own niche to fill.
The new FFF(Fused Filament Fabrication) is similar to the FDM(Fused Deposition Modeling) machine that was used to fabricate the Tiny Watch, Tiny Arcade, and others, for both prototyping and production parts. Although they use different acronym names they are actually the same thing, just different machines. The major difference is that we now have a much wider variety of colors and material types we can work with. We primarily use ABS, the same material used to make car bumpers, since it is very durable, which is pretty much a requirement when making robots that move. I've decided to use up the green for the prototyping stage, as you can see in this picture:
A good many of those prints, about half, were also getting to know this new printer, adjusting the print settings and finding the best orientation for the parts to be printed in. The other half is more typical prototyping, test fitting components and finding the best way to make it all fit together in the end. You can also see a few pieces from the other machine, bottom left corner of image. The one major difference is the use of dual materials, one being a dissolvable support material. However this is a temporary difference, we have a new dual material head on back-order for the new machine, once it arrives we should be able to succesfully produce more complex parts.
The SLA machine is a different beast altogether, it uses lasers to solidify a UV cured resin, and can produce parts in much higher resolution. The material costs more and exists in a smaller variety of colors, although it does come in a decent range of material types. For now we are using clear, and it is perfect for producing joystick knobs for the clear acrylic Tiny Arcade, as you can see here:
Trying to do that on an FFF(FDM) machine would not work out anywhere near as well. So we can use this SLA printer to produce various tiny parts that need to meet higher tolerance standards, like tiny switches and knobs and so on. We can also make larger parts, but the cost would be higher, and again we would not have so many colors to choose from, as we do with the FFF machine.
Between the two there are a lot of exciting new things on the way here at TinyCircuits. We are still adjusting and getting to know these new machines, but there will be an update later this month on some of the upcoming Tiny Robots we currently have in the pipeline. Stay tuned and start thinking about the kinds of robots you would like to see, and even design and make yourself, with the next generation of electronics from TinyCircuits.
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