Monday, February 28, 2011

Protobot and self replication

A few people have asked about the purpose of this machine and why certain features exist. So I have some explaining to do.

It is interesting to follow the history and evolution of industrial machinery. ( please correct me if I mess up here.) First of all there were archaic tools, these were used to make more and more precise hand tools, which were eventually used to make simple machines. Simple machines were used to make essentially the first drilling machine. drilling machines evolved into the drill press and later the lathe. All sorts of other machines were being designed in other veins. Eventually drill presses evolved into the lathe and the lathe had a sort of vertical crossfeed attached that allowed a person to mill. Drill presses were beefed up and the same crossfeed mechanisms installed to make a milling machine. Milling machines and lathes have evolved exponentially since then primarily in times of extreme need ( Industrial revolution and many wars really helped.)

At this point these machines are very complicated and proprietary, I was at a machinery dealers a few weeks ago who had mills and lathes that you could easily put a car in. I asked him about business and what he generally had difficulty obtaining. He said the biggest issue he has is with proprietary equipment on these machines, to make matters worse he knows that a lot of the parts he is looking at are the same as what are on other machines but he can't buy them for fear of voiding warrantees, losing support etc.

Here's my point:

Yes this machine will be proprietary, but we plan on making everything readily available including the designs and part sources in the hopes that others will be able to obtain them and use them. Furthermore, We hope to use this machine to make other better machines just like old times. As an example, one of my biggest costs was making up the frames ( base and X/Y subframe.) I looked around and it would have been very difficult to get good castings at a good price so we ended up using metal from the hair sorting machine for these parts. When the machine is done i'll be able to route out wooden parts and take them to the caster, have them cast, certain areas ground and be able to provide a part that is +- .0005" rather than the +-.006 that we are struggling to maintain now. This is the difference between a homemade device and a world class machine. The same will be true of almost all components except ball screws, nuts and linear bearings/guides. This will drop my costs by thousands of dollars and allow me to provide them reasonably.

Sorry for the diatribe.

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