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Athena and Franklin: Personal Manufacturing Robot

Posted by wijnen 
Athena and Franklin: Personal Manufacturing Robot
November 07, 2015 09:12PM
Let me introduce you to Athena, our RepRap which is much more than just a printer. Of course you can look at our Indiegogo page, which has pretty pictures and video. I'll give an explanation of some features that I think are most interesting for this forum. We call it a "Personal Manufacturing Robot". We've made it easy to swap out different tools. We've been using it for milling PCBs, printing pastes (such as frosting on a cupcake), cutting vinyl sticker sheets, drawing with a pen and I'm probably forgetting some things. Oh yeah, it's also a great 3-D printer. winking smiley

It can be controlled using standard firmware and host software, but we recommend using our system, which we named Franklin (after Benjamin Franklin, who among other things was against patents). Franklin is host software and firmware, which must be used together (because it uses a non-standard protocol on the serial line).

Franklin provides a website for control. It also allows programs to directly control it. The website allows easy access to most functions, while the programming interface allows extreme extensibility and integration into larger setups. For example, we wrote a script that reads a game controller and uses it to control the machine. And for use when mounting a USB microscope, a script that waits for M0, takes a picture and then instructs the machine to continue.
Franklin's protocol allows it to recover from noise on the serial line, and even from losing the connection completely (as long as the microcontroller doesn't reset, but I'm working on that too).

Oh, and I shouldn't forget, because it is awesome: it does this.

Why do we need money?
We don't need it for designing the machine. The design is finished and we have been selling them in limited numbers (a few hundred) to educators only. Now we want to scale up and offer it to a broader public. So we're running an indiegogo campaign to get money for buying larger machines for production. The money also allows us to spend more time on improving the design, or to hire people for doing improvements.

We love free and open source
All the plans for Athena are available right now. If we missed anything, let us know and we will post it. We do not protect any "intellectual property". If you want to get your own parts and build one, you are welcome to do so. If you want to build a production facility and sell them, we encourage that as well. If you like that we do this, please buy them from us. We plan to set up a network of manufacturers, so that we can make sure that the orders made through us can be produced locally.

We love RepRap
This machine is a RepRap. It prints its own parts and it can also produce part of its own electronics. We plan to do large scale production using 3-D printers, so without injection molding. We have designed the "delta-4" for this, which is 4 Athena's stacked on top of each other. We currently have two of them and expect to build several more. Unless sales go through the roof, we should be able to produce all machines on those.

Let us know what you think about it. And if you like it, please support our campaign!
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