Maxifab 3d Printing Framework
The Maxifab 3D Printing Framework builds on the RepRap project's ideals, but not its design. The Maxifab is probably closest to the Ultimaker in its general principles of design, but not in its mechanics. The Maxifab 3D Printer Framework was designed with a focus on multifunction parts, and a low distinct part count. For example, there are only two parts that make up the “upper gantry support” but each part functions both as a structural corner support for the case as well as a mounting point for key printer components.
The Maxifab Framework utilizes an XY gantry and floating print head design with a separate hot end and a remotely mounted filament feed mechanism connected via a Bowden tube. The build base moves only in the Z direction, which eliminates any wobble associated with a build base that moves in either the X or Y direction and thus allows for reliable printing of tall parts. The separation of the extruder motor and the print head allows for a lighter print head, which correlates into faster motion and therefore faster prints. This design also reduces wear and tear on the Maxifab's novel belt-drive system and its motors.
In order to keep things simple and alleviate supply-chain bottlenecks, the Maxifab Framework is designed around standard and readily available components such as Nema 17 style stepper motors, sanguinololu electronics, lm8uu bearings, and 8mm precision hardened linear rods. More design details and a overview of the Maxifab can be found at http://maxifab.blogspot.com/2012/02/what-is-maxifab.html . If you want to support the project the kickstarter page is at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1642112198/maxifab-3d-printing-framework
Framework Rather Than Printer
3D printers are the next evolutionary step in desktop computing, but until recently that has been the domain of either expensive professional machines or cheaper, but limited, hobbyist machines that must be assembled by the user. The high end models, often costing $30,000, are far too expensive for the average consumer. And while decent hobby-level kits such as the Ultimaker or the Thing-o-matic are available at a somewhat reasonable price, these machines are often of a fixed-size design with no options to expand the build envelope of the printer. The Maxifab 3D Printing Framework aims to address some of the limitations of those other designs. The heart of the framework consists of a set of plastic parts that hold the key functionality of the machine and allows for an almost limitless choice of case materials, designs, and dimensions. Using the Maxifab framework, the end user can build his/her machine from anything ranging from plywood to carbon fiber, and as small as a shoebox or as big as a refrigerator – the build envelope is directly related to the case size. And since the plastics, motors, electronics, bearings, etc are reusable, it is possible to start small and expand later.
Realizing that designing a case may not be for everyone, we have designed a complete 3D printer kit with a choice of either laser-cut wood or plexiglass. It has a footprint of 12” x 12.5” x 18”, which is slightly smaller than the Ultimaker but with a similar build volume of 8” x 8” x 8”. We are also designing a larger kit with a build volume of 8” x 18” x 8” to accommodate larger prints.