Lawrence has finalized the open source torch table design, after 11 days at Factor e Farm. Today, we are preparing the workshop space and he’s putting together the frame. Our goal is to complete the prototype in the stated 30 day period.
The design has come a long way since our initial work from 2008 and redesign of 2009. The open source torch table has now reached the technical design stage, according to our open source product development method. The project is part of our flexible fabrication workshop infrastructure, which we discussed initially in an earlier post.
We now have the completed and documented design for an open source, GPL license or compatible, CNC torch table. You can download the Blender design file, which is dimensionally correct and contains the entire design. This design is now up for review, so please comment if you have experience with building CNC machines, or if you can direct other qualified individuals to this work.
We challenge, once again, anybody to propose any further simplification that does not reduce performance. The design uses stock steel throughout, with consistency of parts in the x, y, and z directions. The only fabrication requirement is bolting, after all the steel is cut. This lends itself well to selling CNC torch table kits at competitive cost, especially because the torch table is designed to be self-replicating. With a plasma torch head, one can cut out all the metal parts required to build another torch table!
In this sense, RepRap is our brother, and in fact, we will join the happy family of Arduino controller and RepRap motor drivers to reduce the electronics costs of future torch tables by about 75% below the present $460. The dream of open source fabrication infrastructure is coming alive – at Factor e Farm.
We have a complete bill of materials (BOM). Complete sourcing information is provided in the BOM. The summary BOM is shown here for reference, including parts we bought and outstanding parts:
The torch table features designed into the Prototype 1 build include:
- Full industrial duty torch table, capable of cutting up to 4×8 foot slabs of 1″ steel
- Cost of DIY production is 5-10 times lower than purchasing commercial equivalents
- Fully consistent with OSE Specifications for replicability
- Fully consistent with GVCS pattern language for open source technology infrastructure
- Self-replicability of torch table, and direct link to optimized CEB press and tractor fabrication
- Ready adaptability to router or other cutting heads
- Control via laptop is so far proving effective
These are the technical merits. We must add on the organizational milestones. Lawrence is presently succeeding in doubling Factor e Farm’s technical development capacity under his Dedicated Project Visit (DPV) – by demonstrating capacity to succeed in his stated goals. This has encouraging implications for scaling the project in general – as Lawrence is well on his way to demonstrating the power of well-thought out DPVs in terms of their ability to move design and build efforts forward. Personally, I am inspired – because we’re seeing that aligned effort can accomplish a great deal.
The above should be compelling reason for supporting our first torch table prototype build – as a part of a greater process towards optimized, open source product release. We’re equipped with a robust design, initial review is complete, we invite any further comments, and we are ready to move. Our outstanding costs are $800 for the Everlast plasma cutter , and under $600 for remaining gantry parts – for a total outstanding cost of $1358 including shipping. See BOM above. And then, ChipIn:
Hear Lawrence’s comment on the topic:
This is Lawrence and I have some updates for you.
After 10ish days of work, I have a spiffy blender model, a build of materials, and have laid waste to a whole host of bad ideas that seemed like good ideas at the time.
This project rocks because it is philosophically aligned with open source goodness and is backed up by the GPLv3 to prove it. By the time it’s completed in another 20ish days, it will document the whole work flow process from model generation, g-code compilation, computer-to-motor translation, and plasma torch integration. For Version 2, we want to replace the motor controller to PC setup with the RepRap hardware, which will knock down another brick in the wall. With the second version, we are also going to take a closer look at replicable rapid prototyping the whole machine, so Version 1 should be building Version 2. We also want to take a cold hard look at what a plasma torch can do. The way we have this thing structured, we can do cnc metal gouging. If we can build in enough fine control for this, we might have ourselves a no contact plasma torch lathe, by adding in a constant speed motor to turn the work piece.
At this point, we are looking at a 10/3 price reduction. Ten times (roughly) cheaper than a professional setup, three times cheaper than the DIY plans for MechMate. MechMate is similar, but it’s not a torch table. In our opinion it is too complicated to build – it requires too many steps, and is not buildable by an average person.
How you might ask, did we accomplish such a feat? It is a community effort. Because this is a community effort, please take a look at the design and rip it apart. Most of the calculations were napkin worthy and others might be toilet paper worthy. So flush it out on the wiki, and we’ll get a forum up soon for discussion.
Let’s get this project moving!