Microcluster

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Sep 26, 2018

We're Live!

We’re Live! After many months of community feedback, testing and tweaking, we’re finally ready to release the Colorado Printing Project’s second product, the Microcluster!

I’ll be following up with lots more updates about the technical details of the Microcluster and the open source tools used to design it, but I want to start things off by explaining why I wanted to build the Microcluster.

I’ve been using 3D printers professionally (and recreationally) since early 2012 when I bought my first printer, a used Prusa Mendel clone from Aleph Objects (Aleph-P70). I immediately fell in love with the technology and learned all too well how heavily print quality is influenced by environment that the printer is in. Within a month of printing and dozens of splitting and warped parts I built my first enclosure; a cardboard box with a plastic window taped to the side. It did the job, but always felt like a hack, not to mention a fire hazard (this was before there were firmware safeguards against a printer lighting itself on fire).

A year or so later, and I found myself working the night shift running Aleph Object’s early cluster of 28 AO-10X machines, producing the first test parts for the first TAZ printers. The “fleet” as it was called at the time was neatly set up on shelves which made it possible for a single person to run all 28 printers, but wasn’t enclosed. Every time the warehouse door was opened, several prints would fail from the sudden rush of cold air coming into the building. The shelves were eventually covered by plastic sheeting that you could duck under to harvest prints, but again this felt like a hack.

A year or so after this, I had moved into a full time engineering position working on the LulzBot line of Printers, Aleph Objects had grown massively and moved to a new larger where they built a state of the art production printing setup. This came to be known as “the Cluster” and was the largest group of networked printers in the world at the time. This setup was the inspiration for the Microcluster, and I personally believe that it was the key to LulzBot’s success. With the ability to reliably and repeatably print parts in house, we were able to iterate quickly and implement new features and bug fixes without the cost impediment of retooling molds.

A little over a year ago I started the Colorado Printing Project with the goal of making this production printing technology more accessible. The first product released was the Twoolhead, a parallel printing accessory for TAZ 5 and 6 printers. To produce the printed parts for the Twoolheads I built my own mini-cluster and have been refining it ever sense. Last March, I brought an early version of the Microcluster to Midwest RepRap Fest and received a ton of valuable feedback on what people from all ends of the maker spectrum want out of a 3D printer enclosure.

The Microcluster is our take on the perfect 3D printer enclosure system. The panel kits provide a great starting point, the upgrades allow you to pick and choose exactly the features that you need and the bundles are finely tuned versions of the printer setups that I use day to day. I set out to make it easy for makers and professionals to get the most out of 3D printing, and I received a lot of great feedback from close friends and the 3D printing community. Hopefully the Microcluster will help 3D printing professionals and makers improve their 3D printing experience without spending unnecessary time and effort on solving the common problems with 3D printer enclosures.

Thank you all so much for helping bring this project to life, and please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or comments.

Thanks again,

-Brent & the Colorado Printing Project team

$2,009 raised

of $500 goal

14

days left

401%

funded

3

pledges

Pledge Now

$5

Support Us!

Thanks for helping make the Microcluster a reality! You will be rewarded with good karma, regular backer updates, and your name will be included in the source material as a part of the team that helped bring this open source technology to life.


$249

Microcluster Half Stack Kit

This panel kit makes it easy to enclose half of a standard steel shelf, providing a lovely home for 1-4 printers depending on their size. Magnets embedded in the lightweight plastic panels make assembly a snap and the clear PETG doors allow clear viewing of the print while keeping the printing environment perfectly stable. Includes smoke alarm to mount in the Microcluster for peace of mind regardless of what type of printer you're running. Does not include printed parts or shelf.


$349

Microcluster Full Stack Kit

This panel kit makes it easy to enclose half of a standard steel shelf, providing a lovely home for 3-6 printers depending on their size. Magnets embedded in the lightweight plastic panels make assembly a snap and the clear PETG doors allow clear viewing of the print while keeping the printing environment perfectly stable. Includes smoke alarm to mount in the Microcluster for peace of mind regardless of what type of printer you're running. Does not include printed parts or shelf.


$99

Printed Part Kit - Edsal HD version

This Printed Part kit contains the parts to mount the sliding doors of the Half Stack panel kit. This Kit saves you the time and effort of printing the door sliders for the Microcluster kit, which can be over 100+ print hours depending on the machine you use! These will be printed in house with the COPrintPro developed Ludicroustruder with 1.2mm nozzles for maximum strength and durability. For the Full Stack version of the Microcluster, 2 Printed Part Kits are needed. This version has only been confirmed to fit the Edsal(R) and Muscle Rack(R) Heavy Duty Storage Units. For all other shelves, easily modifiable design files will be available for you to print your own parts.

Microcluster printed parts.

$199

Octoprint kit

Easy to install and set up, the Octopanel allows you to set up wireless control of your printers in minutes and is designed to work with any desktop printer. The included logitech webcam allows constant monitoring of printing as well as the ability to take time-lapses of individual prints. The Octoprint system allows authorized users to access the printers, upload print jobs and monitor them remotely from any web connected device. A portion of every Octopanel purchase will go towards funding Octoprint, the open source project making this technology affordable and accessible.


$225

Photo Booth kit

Easy to set up, the Photo Booth kit allows you to set up a professional quality photo booth as part of your Microcluster setup. Included are (2) 50W photo lights with height adjustable stands and reflectors for bright and even lighting, as well as diffuser filters to soften harsh shadows. Also includes a 48" x 100 foot roll of thick white kraft paper and hanging hardware so you can take photos with a clean, even background.


$99

Light Kit

Easily installs in 5 minutes, kit contains all parts required to quickly and securely hang light. Bright 3000 lumen LED light bar guarantees better visibility of prints, low energy consumption and long lifetime. One kit needed per shelf you want lit up. This upgrade allows for clear webcam monitoring even in a dark room!


$950

Maker Bundle

This is a complete turnkey version of my personal favorite Microcluster configuration. This bundle includes 1 Edsal HD shelf, 1 Half Stack panel kit, 1 printed part set, 1 Photo Booth and 1 Light kit add-on. It's the perfect size for 1 TAZ, 2 LulzBot(R) minis or up to 4 smaller printers, and ships to you on a pallet to get you up and running in no time. The Colorado Printing Project is an official reseller of industry leading LulzBot(R) printers, save money by bundling with brand new machines covered by one of the best warranties and technical support teams in the industry. Bundles only available to backers within the continental US (sorry!).


$1,999

Production Bundle

All the bells, all the whistles. This a complete turnkey version of the epic parallel printing Microcluster configuraton that we use in house for ultra fast batch printing. This bundle contains 1 Full Stack kit, 1 Edsal(R) Heavy Duty shelf, 3 Light Kits, 3 Octoprint kits and 2 printed part kits. Designed to be bundled with 3 TAZ 6 Printers with Twoolheads or 6 Minis, this bundle is a turnkey solution for any business looking to bring production in house. Outfitted with the highest output Twoolheads, this Microcluster configuration has an output of up to 13kg (30lb) of custom plastic parts PER DAY. The Colorado Printing Project is an official reseller of industry leading LulzBot(R) printers, so you can save money by bundling with brand new machines covered by one of the best warranties and technical support teams in the industry. Bundle only available to backers within the continental US (sorry!).

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Credits

Colorado Printing Project

The Colorado Printing Project is an open source skunkworks and microfactory based in the Denver metro area of Colorado, USA.


Brent MacKenzie

Thing-doer #1

Patricky Bobby

Thing-doer #2

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