Visiting Metrix

Al Billings

Last week I was up in my old home of Seattle for a few days to see family and friends (my daughter just turned 17).

While there, I dropped by Metrix Create:Space on and off as I was staying a 10 minute walk away and the owner, Matt, is a friend of mine. I talk to Matt on IRC fairly often and have been monitoring 3D printing developments at Metrix through him and watching their flickr feed. Since I had the time, I came to the weekly 3D printing night to meet folks working on projects at Metrix.

Johann Rocholl has been the primary moving force in the current interest in Delta printers within the reprap community. He has a tumblr with many pictures of his work and maintains a github repo for development. Terence Tam also does a lot of work at Metrix with his OpenBeam aluminum extrusion, which is a 15 mm profie extrusion that is open source and used by a lot of folks for building 3D printers. There is also Mattew Wilson, who has developed the Brainwave all in one printer control board (which is very nice), working out of Metrix.

They have quite a critical mass of people doing fun things with 3D printers and open source.

You can see the “OpenBeam Kossel Pro” that Terence and Matt have been developing:


Johann was also working on his “Mini Kossel” (which also uses OpenBeam), which is his attempt to build a portable Delta printer that can travel easily and maybe even be battery powered:


From talking to folks, I expect that there will be announcements at Maker Faire in Redwood City in a few weeks and Delta printers, among others, will make a heavy appearance there.

It was nice to see folks actively working on printers and advancing the technology associated it.

I haven’t posted much about my printer projects in the last few months as I’ve been making incremental progress. My Rostock Mini is largely stalled out due to lack of desire to deal with some design issues on it (though I may pick it up again soon) but I have a Hadron Ordbot that is completed except for mounting the heated build platform and splicing some wires. I’ve tested all of the electronics and motion but haven’t printed with it yet. The Foldarap has been waiting for the last six weeks or so for me to mount its printing bed and carriage but I hope to have it on the Ace Monster Toys table at Maker Faire in three weeks.

current state of my Foldarap

my Hadron Ordbot

One thing that I’ve been doing is co-hosting an ongoing 3D printing meetup every other Wednesday night at Ace Monster Toys. People have been showing up to work on printers, discuss issues around them, and generally show off their work. I’m actively working on creating a bill of materials to self-source parts to do a workshop series where 10 people (hopefully) build a Printrbot Jr. clone at AMT. The real issue there is trying to get the cost of the materials as near a $250 price point as possible (and it may not be possible to get below $300 really). Electronics from Printrbot are $129 retail, the hotend is $59, and, realistically, we need four stepper motors for roughly $15 each plus all the screws, rods, etc. It is the combination of the electronics, hotend, and motors that is kind of hard to move without just completely replacing them with someone else’s parts.

Atom Bomb at AMT is actively discussing the development of a new “all in one” 3D controller board with built in stepper controllers that do 1/16 motion. We’re hoping to publish a specification and have PCBs made for this, even if we don’t use this for the 3D printing workshop. The end-goal is to have a solid board with a total cost for the bill of materials around $40, which is half or a third of the common cost for RAMPS and other 3D controllers. I expect we’ll have more news on this in a few weeks or a month.

I’m hoping to have more announcements in the future but all of this means that I’ll probably be assembling a Jr. (or a variant) soon because I’m going to need to know it backwards and forwards to teach a class on it and I may wind up making a bit of a variant later.