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Old Jul 05, 2008, 10:47 PM
Phlathead
ToxicToast's Avatar
Roseville, CA
Joined Aug 2006
624 Posts
Mark, great job on getting close to releasing this to the wild. I know I am very interested. Couple of questions for you, of course.... I know some of these are still in the open but I'll throw them out anyways.

  • Sheet size, is it limited by the table format/structure more than anything? I'm guessing you could do almost any length of foam (not width), even perhaps a 6 ft length of foam?
  • Got an idea (ball park would be nice) on the estimated total costs on the unit as planned?
  • Are those foam rollers simply pipe insulation? If so, is it a problem that they have some inconsistencies in their thickness and change size over time from expansion?
  • Please put your build section open to the public. That way potential (and hesitant) buyers could see how it will go together and whether they have the right tools to get the job done.
  • Speaking of tools, do you need any special machining tools or hardware that will be needed to make the printer?
  • How does the cutting depth work? Is it based on the "Pen" color like many laser cutters work?
  • Does the printer operate from a standard print driver on a PC or does it use a custom piece of software? How easy will it be to plug dxf files straight into it or does one need SketchUp to act as a host?
  • Got any links to decent steppers that would likely work well so I can do a little more homework?
Color me very interested. I've looked at some of the other CNC projects out there and many just don't seem to have a great price point. This looks good and could be the ticket to get me off the print and cut routine. I can easily design a plane in a 3d application and output the dxf/eps files, but going from there to the cut plane is always a time consuming effort I'd just as soon do without. This could be the one...

Thanks!
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Old Jul 06, 2008, 12:27 AM
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kram242's Avatar
New Jersey
Joined Sep 2003
1,333 Posts
Hey guys. It's late. We have been working all day on this stuff. We have some good news that we will share with you tomorrow. We will try to answer all of your questions tomorrow. Just wanted to shout out to you tonight and just let you know we're here and still working at it.

Mark and Trish Carew
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Old Jul 06, 2008, 02:25 AM
Roflsauce Noobcopter!
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Joined Feb 2008
129 Posts
Wow! I like this, and it's quite cool. Though I think ToxicToast is right about a couple of things: you should open up the build section and the cost would be great. I really want to build one of these.

Here's another question for you:
What sort of dremel/multitool are you using?
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Old Jul 06, 2008, 02:42 AM
7up
,ɯǝ ʇoƃ ɐʎ ɟı ,ɯǝ ǝʞoɯs
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USA, KY, West Liberty
Joined Jun 2001
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Maybe a parts list so we could be acquiring some of the materials we will need, after all the printer will be useless without the software/plugin.

BTW, Sketchup is my program of choice for designing models, It is great. When I get this thing built I just have to have some of your "skp" files for some of the Dinosaurs...

Patiently waiting on the good news,
-Buk
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Old Jul 06, 2008, 07:14 PM
The Ultimate Interceptor!
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United States, CA, Hilmar-Irwin
Joined Dec 2004
829 Posts
Count me in! Sketchup is already on the computer; downloaded the template and MACH3 software. All I need now is Ruby and the Phlatprinter plans.

I've always been facinated by CNC but the steep initial cash outlay prevented me from diving into it not knowing if I could use it proficiently. Looks as though you've solved those issues...
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Old Jul 06, 2008, 10:47 PM
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New Jersey
Joined Sep 2003
1,333 Posts
Good News

Hello All. Well, it's been a busy weekend. We spent as much time as possible working on getting the plans ready and coming up with answers to your questions.

Good News!! We have worked a deal with the manufacturer of the stepper motors and the driver boards to create The Phlatprinter Package Deal. This special price will only be for those who buy the plans for The Phlatprinter. As it looks right now, the set up will have a customer code which will be included with the plans and will reduce the retail price by 30%!! This is great news for all of us because it will help keep the price of the build to a minimum!! Please know, we are making every effort to make this affordable and reachable for everyone.

Speaking of prices...we worked on the material list for the build log on our website. We were able to complete this list and set it up in what we hope to be a very user friendly format. The total estimated cost as of now is $450.00 INCLUDING The Phlatprinter electronics package deal!!! We also realize that most of you will already have some of the items on the list, dremel, super glue, spray adhesive, etc. But, we still included them in our estimate. So, if you own some of these items, your total estimated build cost would, of course, be lower. We have not added the price of the plans yet. We are still getting an overwhelming response to the poll on our website so we're still undecided. We really appreciate everyone being honest and working with us. We will keep this price to a minimum so everyone can enjoy it.

As far as build time goes, we were able to build our second prototype in one weekend, maybe even less. At this point, we can not give an accurate build time estimate because as we were building, we were taking pictures and videos for the build log. Now that the machine and plans have been upgraded and modified, we will have to build another one This will be our third Phlatprinter!


MiseryQ, How much fabrication is needed? There is going to be fabrication involved. You are building a CNC machine. I tried to keep it as simple as possible not using linear slide bearings or anything too complicated. Everything is made by drilling holes, cutting out on the lines of the template with a jig saw or a scroll saw, if you can follow a line, you can build this. We also are working very hard on having the easiest step by step instructions to help with this process.

totalywicked For a model do you just have to make it as "lines"? Or can you use polygons as well???
Is there a special way to format a model? Good question. As far as 3D goes, there are a lot of free software titles out there that will carve 3D shapes or polygons like I think you mean but there are two major types of CNCing. One is 3D relief carving and the other is 2.5D cut out and engrave. For instance, in the video, instead of carving an angle out of the foam for the elevons, I had each vector line step down a little more than the last creating an angle cut. With the ability to do that you are able to tell each line how deep you want the cut. For example, half way through the foam, quarter way, etc. The sketchup plug in will grow with us all as users to include more features and functions as we go.

That plane design is really cool. If you send me a dxf, I will cut one out and post a picture for you. Do you mind if it ends up in The Phlatprinter picture gallery and the free PhlatCodes section? Thanks for sharing that with us.

thewz, Soon....does that mean 2 days.....a week.....a month? I know you guys love to build things and so do I. The part I hate is the paperwork! But, it's necessary in order to share this with everyone. So, here we are. We're working as hard as we can to get this to you as soon as possible. As we check off our list, we will keep you updated. Some time of a ball park release date is hard for us to predict. We do know this, the plans at this point are 95% complete! The plug in still has a ways to go. The build log has been started but is going to take some serious work to get it done and easy to follow. We released the idea on my birthday, July 2. We thought, if there is interest, we hope to have it in your hands with builds complete, by my wife's birthday, August 22. This was a goal we had in mind. The response has been overwhelming. We are now spending every chance we have working on this. If we could, we would be mailing them tonight. Thanks for your support.

ToxicToast, Sheet size, is it limited by the table format/structure more than anything? I'm guessing you could do almost any length of foam (not width), even perhaps a 6 ft length of foam? The maximum cutting area width wise is about 20 inches. As far as length goes, if you had rolls of foam or a way to tape the foam together and feed them one right after the other, you could cut continuously with no length limit!

Are those foam rollers simply pipe insulation? If so, is it a problem that they have some inconsistencies in their thickness and change size over time from expansion? No, they are not pipe insulations. They will not be affected by expansion.

Please put your build section open to the public. That way potential (and hesitant) buyers could see how it will go together and whether they have the right tools to get the job done. We are considering this but will have to think about it more after it's complete.

Speaking of tools, do you need any special machining tools or hardware that will be needed to make the printer? Good question. We are going to post the needed tools to complete The Phlatprinter build. The tools are normal every day woodworking tools that most people already own. Nothing needs special machining or anything like that. If you don't have the tools, beg, borrow, or steal them. JK maybe your neighbor or a friend has them. The tool you will be using the most is a cordless drill to give you an idea. You may need some bits that you might need to borrow. Other than that, all of the tools are pretty standard.

How does the cutting depth work? Is it based on the "Pen" color like many laser cutters work? I believe you are referring to the plug in and I am trying to have it set up so that if you select a line that you want to be a bend line or a fold line in sketchup, you would right click and select fold line from The Phlatprinter's menu. That would automatically log the information needed and in turn, change the color of the line or lines to red or whatever color we pick.

Does the printer operate from a standard print driver on a PC or does it use a custom piece of software? How easy will it be to plug dxf files straight into it or does one need SketchUp to act as a host? Yes, the printer operates from a standard serial printer port from your PC. Mach 3 is the software that drives the machine. Sketchup is the design software that you import your dxf or design your entire model in. The The Phlatprinter plug in is the host that creates the PhlatCode that Mach 3 needs to cut out your design.

Got any links to decent steppers that would likely work well so I can do a little more homework? I have researched this extensively! The stepper motors that we use now produce 90 oz. of torque. They are, in my opinion, the best stepper motor for the price and that is when I was paying full price. Now, that we have negotiated a deal for Phlatprinter customers it's even better. There are a million ways to make this machine better and I'm sure, as we all move along mods will be created. Our goal, at this stage, is to keep the total build cost low enough that eveyone can have one. Also, I personally can't wait for the mods. I have been rattling around inside my head about how to print full color graphics on full sheets of foam as they shoot out of The Phlatprinter or a continuous feed operation like we talked about earlier. I'm sure as we work together, we will start to come up with amazing ideas. You guys will love this machine and it will open new doors for everyone.

LlamaFragments What sort of dremel/multitool are you using? We are using the two speed multipro. The plans are based around this particular Dremel because it was the cheapest one I could find at Lowes. The truth is, there are two inch wide clamps that hold it in place. So, if your Dremel would fit in those clamps, it should be fine. I have even used a chainsaw sharpener on the first Phlatprinter prototype and it worked fine.

7up Maybe a parts list so we could be acquiring some of the materials we will need, after all the printer will be useless without the software/plugin. Well, we're not quite ready to send the parts list out. But, the tool list will be coming out soon.

When I get this thing built I just have to have some of your "skp" files for some of the Dinosaurs We have tons of dinosaurs, bugs, etc. that will be freely available on our site and ready for printing.

DeltaDart and EVERYONE Just a note on Mach 3, do NOT be intimated with this program. It looks extremely complicated but we will walk you through the entire set up process and you will quickly realize as you use this program with The Phlatprinter that you will only utilize some parts of the program. This is a very well written program and it is capable of controlling machines with up to six Axis (steppers). So, there are a ton of extra features that we will never need but it's nice to know that they are there just in case Also, not sure if everyone knows this, but the developers of Mach 3 have created a trial version that will allow 1000 lines of code to be cut before it stops and you can check out all of the different things it can do which is very cool of them and very cool for us because most of our designs to not even use 1000 lines of code But the better the design and more complex, the more you will realize you just have to have it. I am considering talking to Artsoft, the makers of Mach 3, to see they will give us a discount so that we are able to post a link from our website just for your guys like we are doing for the electronics Phlatprinter package. The link for the trial for Mach 3 is on our website under Phlatprinter links. You would want Mach3 Release 1.84.002 which is about the 4th one down.

Thanks again for your support. I hope we have answered all of your questions. Have a great night and we'll keep you updated.
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Old Jul 06, 2008, 10:52 PM
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Norfolk, Va
Joined May 2006
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Thanks for the update.
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Old Jul 07, 2008, 12:03 AM
Phlathead
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Roseville, CA
Joined Aug 2006
624 Posts
Thanks for the in depth information. Like the others, I'm definitely interested in the developments.

Credit Card on Standby.....
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Old Jul 07, 2008, 12:35 AM
"It's a Quad" :O
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Temecula
Joined Jul 2004
3,179 Posts
$450 for a DIY CNC foam cutter! Now I am very interested. I've wanted to build one for a year now but the cost was way too much. I am currently working on a project that will require a lot of prototyping so this will cut the time way down and take some stress off of me....I hate cutting and taping the paper and then the foam.....
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Old Jul 07, 2008, 12:43 AM
"It's a Quad" :O
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Temecula
Joined Jul 2004
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Artsoft Mach 3 demo is installed....waiting on hardware......
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Old Jul 07, 2008, 09:05 AM
Registered User
Gloucester Ma
Joined Dec 2002
1,038 Posts
I'm very interested

I work in a small metal fab shop and have made templates for models on a plasma cutter but still had to hand cut from them.
It may be purely an optical illusion but I thought I saw the cutter moving in the same axis as the roller (in the jig saw demo) if so this seems to make the design and software more complex?
Is the vertical axis at this time just steps or will it follow a 3D line?
Anyway I'm looking forward to seeing how this progresses and Good Luck with a great idea! Alex
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Old Jul 07, 2008, 09:35 AM
KK4EHM--FPV Mon!
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United States, FL, Sebastian
Joined May 2005
1,445 Posts
Awesome work! I'm in for sure!

One major thing I see is how the customer service will be. Mark...I just want to say thank you for getting back to eveyone here even if they ask the same questions that have been asked by others. Your going to be a great asset to the RC community.

Keep up the great work.

Shaun
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Old Jul 07, 2008, 11:07 AM
Caster Of Pods
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Waco, Texas USA
Joined Feb 2005
1,001 Posts
I am watching this thread very closely! I build LOTS of foamies for myself and friends and to have a machine for less than 5 bills that can automate the cutting (let's face it - the HARDEST and most cumbersome part!), I can cut out planes for all of my flying buddies!!!

I do all of my own designs using Illustrator CS, since I have a great amount of experience with it and I already own it. Illustrator offers the ability to import and export DXF files, so the Phlatprinter seems quite conducive to my workflow!

Keep up the good work! I'll be building one of these when everything is available!
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Old Jul 07, 2008, 11:23 AM
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Game-Changer

Mark,

What a breakthrough! If the complete cost of materials (sans PC) does come close to $500, you can count me among the early adopters. I hope this becomes a very satisfying business venture for you. It is easy to envision applications in the craft/hobby arena as well as Architectural Modeling, Mechanical Engineering POC, etc.

Bravo!
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Old Jul 07, 2008, 12:07 PM
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Placentia, CA
Joined Feb 2006
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Thanks for the update I guess only thing we can do now is patiently wait for the blue prints, who am I kidding??? I want them now!!!!!

You can go ahead and cut out my plane, and post Picís no problem there.
I am just going to convert it to simple lines first, and then I will post file. Iíll try to do it tonight if not tomorrow.

Is there a way you can post one of the file ready to be ďPrinted/cut-outĒ so I can see the structure???

Iíll post some more planes as soon as they become available. Meaning I am not too lazy to finish them.
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