Tag Archives: RAMBo

This modified laser cutter can print complex 3D objects from powder

Rice University researchers have modified a commercial-grade CO2 laser cutter to create OpenSLS, an open source SLS platform.

Engineers at Rice University have modified a commercial-grade CO2 laser cutter to create OpenSLS an open source, selective laser sintering platform that can print complicated 3D objects from powdered plastics and biomaterials.


As impressive as that may be, what really sets this system apart is its cost. OpenSLS can be built for under $10,000, compared to other SLS platforms typically priced in the ballpark of $400,000 and up. (That’s at least 40 times less than its commercial counterparts.) To make this a reality, this DIY device is equipped with low-cost hardware and electronics, including Arduino and RAMBo boards. The Rice team provides more detail around specs and performance in PLOS ONE.

“SLS technology is perfect for creating some of the complex shapes we use in our work, like the vascular networks of the liver and other organs,” explains Jordan Miller, an assistant professor of bioengineering and the study’s co-author. He adds that commercial SLS machines generally don’t allow users to fabricate objects with their own powdered materials, which is something that’s particularly important for researchers who want to experiment with biomaterials for regenerative medicine and other biomedical applications.

To test their concept, the team demonstrated that OpenSLS is capable of printing a series of intricate objects from both nylon powder — a commonly used material for high-resolution 3-D sintering — and from PCL, a nontoxic polymer that’s typically used to make templates for studies on engineered bone.


It should be noted, however, that OpenSLS works differently than most traditional desktop 3D printers, which create objects by extruding melted plastic through a nozzle as they trace out two-dimensional patterns and 3D objects are then built up from successive 2D layers. On the contrary, an SLS laser shines down onto a flat bed of plastic powder. Wherever the laser touches powder, it melts or sinters the powder at the laser’s focal point to form a small volume of solid material. By tracing the laser in 2D, the printer can fabricate a single layer of the final part. After each layer is complete, a new one is laid down and the laser is reactivated to trace the next layer.

The best way to think of this process, says Miller, is to think of “finishing a creme brulee, when a chef sprinkles out a layer of powdered sugar and then heats the surface with a torch to melt powder grains together and form a solid layer. Here, we have powdered biomaterials, and our heat source is a focused laser beam.”

The professor, who happens to be an active participant in the burgeoning Maker Movement, first identified commercial CO2 laser cutters as prime candidates for a low-cost, versatile SLS machine three years ago. According to Miller, that’s because the cutter’s laser already possessed the right wavelength and perfectly suitable hardware for controlling power and its axes with precision.

Intrigued? You’ll want to see it in action below, and then head over to the team’s Wiki page and GitHub repository to delve a bit deeper.

[Images: Rice University]

RenderBot is a DIY 3D printer with a focus on quality

RenderBot is a high-quality, inexpensive and easy-to-build 3D printer for Makers of any level.

It’s no secret that new, do-it-yourself 3D printers are a dime a dozen these days. Yet, it seems like a majority of these kits are designed with the goal of packing as many components into the machine as humanly possible, while still maintaining a low-cost and compact form factor. In reality, this leads to a device with limited capabilities and a number of malfunctioning parts, which ends up costing you a lot of more money in the long run. After experiencing the aforementioned problems first-hand with a variety of crowdfunding printers, one Springfield, Illinois startup has set out to change that trend with their RenderBot. This DIY 3D printer kit is not only inexpensive and easy-to-assemble, but more importantly, was created with superior quality in mind.


Tailored to both novice and advanced Makers alike, the RenderBot comes with a completely genuine, all-metal E3D hotend right from the start. This provides users with the durability and flexibility necessary to print with any plastic filament currently available. In addition, the printer is based on an RAMBo controller board (ATmega2560/ATmega32U2), which enables users to upgrade their printer at a later date should they want to add on non-essential components such as a heated bed, an LCD, a dual-extruder or an external temperature sensor.

“This printer is easy to assemble as well. With most printers, wires are difficult to work with. Once they are attached, you have to disassemble the entire machine to rework them. The motors on the RenderBot are all detachable from their wiring, which makes it incredibly easy to install them without having to worry where their wires go ahead of time. Once you are ready, you just plug one end into the motors and the other end into the controller board,” the team writes.


RenderBot is comprised of a sturdy steel frame in the form of two connected right triangles. This allows for the front of the printer to be relatively transparent and easily accessible for part retrieval and inspection. What’s more, users will never have to reach into the device or bend over to see the progress of a print.

  • Printer size: 14.5″ x 16.5” x 17.5″ (422mm x 367mm x 448mm)
  • Build volume: 10” x 10″ x 10″ (254mm x 254mm x 254mm)
  • Layer resolution: 0.32mm – 0.2mm
  • Print speed: Stable at 60mm/seconds (can go higher)
  • Filament type: ABS, PLA, nylon, flexible, wood, ceramic, bronze, polycarbonate, HDPE, PVA (1.75mm)

Interested in a RenderBot for yourself? The printer currently comes in one of three different ways, either as a standard kit, an easy kit upgrade or fully-assembled. Head over to its official Kickstarter page here, where the team is currently seeking $65,000. Pending all goes to plan, shipment is slated to begin in June 2015. (And we’ll have to admit, between smashing objects and lighting things on fire, we couldn’t help but watch the entire crowdfunding video!)

Aleph Objects launches the LulzBot TAZ 5 3D Printer

The LulzBot family continues to grow.

Aleph Objects, the creators of the LulzBot lineup of 3D printers, continues to rise in popularity throughout the Maker community. Proponents of the open-source movement, the company prides itself on the transparency into its product development process. Following their recent announcement of the LulzBot Mini, the team has now unveiled its TAZ 5 3D printer. The device features the same all-metal Hexagon hot end as its siblings, which can heat up to 300°C (572°F), and is capable of printing in even more materials than ever before.


TAZ 5 builds upon the technology released in earlier versions and is equipped with a PEI print bed, providing a better writing surface without any necessary preparation before beginning the printing process. And, once your print is finished, part removal is just as quick and easy.

Based on a RAMBo board (ATmega2560/ATmega32U2), the latest LulzBot printer boasts a build volume of 298mm x 275mm x 250mm along with a maximum print speed of 200mm/second and a layer thickness range of 0.075mm to 0.35mm. In addition, the machine is compatible with a variety of software, including OctoPrint, BotQueue, Slic3r, Printrun and MatterControl, among others.

If this news isn’t exciting enough, Aleph Objects has also partnered with filament suppliers eSUN and Fenner Drives to launch a wide-range of new “officially supported” LulzBot materials. These materials include the following SemiFlex, luminescent, electrical conductive, light-changing, cleaning filament as well as an assortment of new colors ranging from magenta to light blue.


  • Printer size: 680mm x 520mm x 515mm
  • Print area: 298mm x 275mm x 250mm
  • Printer weight: 11kg (24.25lbs)
  • Layer thickness: 0.075mm – 0.35mm
  • Maximum print speed: 200mm/sec
  • Nozzle diameter: 0.4 mm (0.2 – 0.5mm optional)
  • Filament type: ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, wood filled filaments, polyester, PETT, bronze and copper filled filaments, polycarbonate, nylon, PETG, conductive PLA and ABS, UV luminescent filaments, PCTPE, PC-ABS

Interested in a LulzBot TAZ 5 of your own? The printers are currently available for $2,200 each. Head over to its official page here to learn more.