When we started the Robox project we saw some of our competitors closing the source on their software and hardware after being bought up by large corporations. Although we could understand these commercial decisions we also empathised with the open source community which had helped with the birth and growth of 3D printing as we know it today. We didn’t want this to be the case with the Robox project and very early on we decided to try and make a project and eco-system that would allow a wider audience to get involved with 3D printing. Hiding much of the tech away, still allowing our customers to tinker with the process and itch their own scratches as new materials and processes became available. This approach was both a blessing and a curse, it allowed us to very quickly gain traction with audiences this fit with, like schools and businesses, but it irritated the self-builder and open source community who wanted access to all areas. The truth was, at the very start, we had used some bits of open source hardware and software to accelerate the development, but we very quickly outgrew this technology as it simply didn’t fit our hardware or philosophy. We went on to fully develop our own electronics, hardware, firmware and software, the only aspect we didn’t see a reason to make ourselves was the slicing engine as this was the most rapidly developing areas at the time and our very limited knowledge and resource could not realistically develop anything better. We found a manufacture in the far-east who was excited about the project and they partnered with us to get through the Kickstarter Campaign and distribute our products around the world.
We are very proud of our products and what we’ve achieved with such a small team. Yes, it’s not perfect, we fully acknowledge this, but we’ve worked very hard to fix issues as they have arisen and help as many people as we can use our products so they can achieve their own goals. Without blowing our own trumpet too much, IMHO Robox represent the biggest leap forward with FDM technology since the original patents expired. So many of the features of Robox were ground breaking and now 7 years on, you see a lot of our features in our competitors machines. Our software and hardware is far from obsolete and with the introduction of our new electronic suite we will be back at the bleeding edge of the technology. We’ve tried many different 3D printers and bits of software and still find the work flow in AutoMaker a truly results based experience (when everything goes right).
It has always been our intention to open up all our work for our customers to use, to allow the development of the platform to continue and ensure the community that we have worked so hard to gain continues with their investment into our project. We’ve been very lucky with the majority of our customers, they are kind and understanding of our intent and even when we miss the mark they’ve stuck with us and continued to support us and the project. The world has changed and we are starting projects which will see the next leap forward for the technology. While we’ve got our heads down making this happen it seems a perfect time to open source all our software so that our customers and anyone else that has followed our progress can itch some of their own scratches and maybe help each other.
This is not the end for Robox, far from it! Product support, development, supply of parts and materials continues as normal. Our next development program is even bigger and better! We’ve got ideas that should see FDM stay are the forefront of additive manufacturing, learning from and removing the problems of FDM processes. We’ve spun-out a company to start the development of these radical ideas www.q5dtechnology.com. The Robox products and eco system will enjoy their next leap into the future when we’ve finished developing these systems and processes ensuring that Robox continues to grow and continues to push what’s possible with FDM.
We are so incredibly proud and excited to open our work and offer all our great customers the ability to help us and each other continue the development of what we feel is one of the greatest workflows on an FDM platform.
Parallel to the release of the source code we are receiving the first of our next generation main boards using the latest and greatest motor driver chips. This new electronics heart for Robox bring a host of more features and addresses issues like noise level on the original systems. As with all our hardware its fully backward compatible, any Robox can be brought fully up-to-date.