Rapid Prototyping and Low Volume Production for Start-Ups on a Budget

The Dobot Mooz. (Image courtesy of Dobot.)

The Dobot Mooz. (Image courtesy of Dobot.)

The hardest part of writing a review for a 3D printer is forcing yourself to stop fiddling with it for long enough to sit down and actually write the review. Even now, I catch myself pausing to check on the latest print as the Dobot Mooz hums along beside me. I already had some experience with 3D printing at home—after finding out about the Monoprice Select Mini, I couldn’t help myself—but the Mooz is more than just a 3D printer.

The Mooz becomes capable of CNC carving or laser engraving simply by swapping out the functional modules that attach to the X-axis linear actuator. It’s an impressive amount of versatility to pack into a sub-$1,000 USD machine, but how well does the Mooz perform these three different functions?

Let’s find out.

Dobot Mooz Specs

Here are the specifications for each of the Mooz’s three modules:

3D Printing

Nozzle Diameter

0.4 mm

Layer Resolution

0.05 – 0.3 mm

Extruder Temperature

190 – 260 C

Heated Bed Temperature

50 – 100 C

Build Volume

130 x 130 x 130 mm

Materials

PLA, ABS, PC, FLEX

Print Speed

10 – 80 mm/s

In terms of its 3D printing capabilities, the Mooz’s specs are fairly standard.

A layer resolution of 0.05 mm is impressive at this price point—twice as good as the Monoprice Select Mini (0.1 mm). You’ll get better resolutions from an Ultimaker 3 (0.015 mm) or MakerBot Replicator 2X (0.01 mm), but they’re also more than triple the price of the Mooz.

(Dobot Mooz 3D Printing.)

The Mooz has a smaller build volume smaller than the Ultimaker 3 or Replicator 2X, but the flexibility you get from designing for 3D printing can offset that significantly by allowing users to design large models and then slice them into printable sections for assembly.

The range of printable materials available for the Mooz also covers the standard types, though we only had time to test the machine with PLA. The range given for print speed is pretty wide, but discussion of our test prints should help clarify that aspect of the Mooz in the next section.

CNC Carving

Max Spindle Speed

12,000 rpm

Chuck Clamping Range

0 – 4 mm

Standard Bit Size

3.175mm * 0.3mm * 30° flat bottom sharp cutter

Work Area

130mm x 130mm (z-axis depends on cutting tool)

Materials

Non-Metallic Materials, e.g., wood, plastics, PCB

It’s difficult to find a comparable desktop CNC router to the Mooz, which suggests that Dobot may have found an overlooked niche in prototyping and low volume manufacturing. As a rough comparison, the Sienci Mill One has a slightly larger working area (235mm x 185mm x 100mm) and a potentially higher max spindle speed of 30,000 rpm, depending on the router. The MillRight CNC M3 kit has a working area of 260mm x 260mm x 50mm and a max spindle speed 27,000 rpm using the included DeWalt DWP611 router.

Both options are about $100 cheaper than the Mooz, but they’re also dedicated routers—and there’s certainly no way to add 3D printing or laser engraving capabilities to those machines for less than the difference in price.

Laser Engraving

Power

0.5W

Max Speed

1200mm/min

Work Area

130mm x 130mm

Materials

Wood, Paper, Leather, Some Plastics

As with CNC routing, the laser engraving specifications for the Mooz don’t quite match up to those of dedicated laser engraving machines. The FABOOL Laser Mini, marketed as the “world’s lowest priced desktop laser cutter”, starts at $598 and uses a 1.6W laser. Consequently, the FABOOL machine is able to cut a wider variety of materials than the Mooz, but it’s also not capable of 3D printing or CNC routing—and since it only operates in the XY plane, adding those capabilities isn’t really an option.

All of this implies that the Dobot Mooz is what you might call a Jack of all trades, Master of one.

(Dobot Mooz Laser Engraving.)

While it’s possible to find dedicated machines for CNC routing or laser engraving with better specs at comparable price points, that doesn’t appear to be the case for 3D printing. In any case, what you won’t find at this price point is a machine that’s capable of the trifecta of 3D printing, CNC routing and laser engraving—or even one that offers two out of three.

Flexibility is the primary advantage the Dobot Mooz has over its competition. And if you’re a start-up or a small job shop that’s looking to add 3D printing capabilities, whether for prototyping or low volume production, then flexibility and low cost are likely rank high on your list of priorities. The fact that the Mooz can also be used for CNC routing and laser engraving is icing on the cake.

The Dobot Mooz Hands-On

The Mooz isn’t a plug-and-play machine, but assembly is relatively straightforward.

Mooz Unboxing.

Mooz Unboxing.

Switching between the modules using four hex nuts is easy, though you shouldn’t expect to do quick changes between functions for consecutive operations. That being said, if you wanted to set up a small manufacturing cell using a farm of Mooz machines, you could conceivably have a set for 3D printing, a set for routing and a set for laser engraving, with plenty of back-up modules to go around. Add a cobot for switching parts between operations and you’ve got a low-volume production line going.

Desktop 3D Printing

Our Dobot Mooz completes its first print: #3DBenchy.

Our Dobot Mooz completes its first print: #3DBenchy.

I started with the Mooz configured for the function most familiar to me: 3D printing. Setting the zero point using the A4 method was simple and easy, though the step distance behaved a bit oddly at times—jogging the motor by 1 mm somehow resulted in a 0.06 mm difference, which was finer than the finest setting of 0.1 mm.

Software setup is a breeze for anyone familiar with Cura or other free slicing software. The recommended settings yielded a decent first print (#3DBenchy) though you may not want to have supports enabled by default. Although you can connect the Mooz directly to a PC via USB, our workspace layout necessitated using a microSD card to transfer the Gcode files.

Once it was clear that the machine was working properly, I sent out a general email to the rest of the office asking for 3D printing suggestions. The requests came pouring in, and for the next week the Mooz was running almost continuously throughout the day. The majority of the 3D prints came out well, save for a few cases in which the errors were, admittedly, my own. You can see the results below:

Engineering.com Geodesic V1 (top), V3 (bottom left) and V4 (bottom right).

Engineering.com Geodesic V1 (top), V3 (bottom left) and V4 (bottom right).

Anyone who’s had experience with 3D printing knows how much troubleshooting is involved. There are those days when it seems like you’ve spent more time fixing problems and printing test layers than actually making anything. Fortunately, that was never an issue for the Mooz, which proved to be a robust and reliable 3D printer.

Desktop CNC Routing

I used to think 3D printing would replace all other manufacturing processes, but now that I’m older and wiser, I recognize that there are plenty of cases where you’d be crazy to use 3D printing over a more conventional process, such as CNC machining. That’s why I was excited to try out the CNC routing capabilities on the Mooz. To do that, I needed to download Dobot’s slicer software: MoozStudio.

Since you also need MoozStudio for laser engraving, it’s worth pausing to give the software some consideration. The slicer is designed to take a 2D image and generate a complete Gcode program based on the parameters you input. For the router, these include:

  • Speed
  • Min/Max Carving Depth
  • Contrast (on the image)
  • Tool Diameter
  • Step Depth
  • Safety Height

For me, the routing function was the most intimidating because it’s the process with the greatest potential for catastrophe if something goes wrong. If you screw up setting the zero point for 3D printing or laser engraving, the worst that happens is that your workpiece gets damaged or, more likely, the operation simply doesn’t work at all.

If you mess up with a CNC router, however, you could end up with a broken machine.

The engineering.com geodesic carved into pine.

The engineering.com geodesic carved into pine.

Consequently, using the router was a matter of some very cautious trial and error. It took some time to get a feel for MoozStudio, and I’m still not completely comfortable using the software—due in large part to my inability to read Gcode beyond the superficial coordinate level.

However, there are still some peculiarities to MoozStudio regardless of your skillset. For example, the program displays imported images on a 130 x 130 grid, representing the millimeter dimensions of the Mooz on a 1-1 scale. Where this gets complicated is in translating images from pixels to millimeters.

Importing a 100 x 100 pixel image results in a 19 x 19 mm translation. Importing the same image scaled up to 200 pixels results in a 37 x 37 mm translation, and importing a 2,000 x 2,000 pixel image results in a 71 x 71 mm translation. Fortunately, this sort of software quirk is much easier to fix than a hardware issue, of which the Mooz router module had none.

Desktop Laser Engraving

Working with a laser has an intimidation factor all its own, though the concern is less about damage to the machine than to one’s eyes. Of course, safety glasses are included with the Mooz. The setup for the laser is almost the same as for the router, setting the zero point at the bottom left corner of the workpiece. Doing so is a matter of making incremental stepper motor adjustments while the laser is turned on at the lowest setting.

(Tip: Make sure you use the + button to turn on the laser, rather than just hitting the ON button. Otherwise, the laser will come on at full power and could bore a hole into your workpiece.)

To determine the module’s correct height, you’ll need to watch how the laser spot changes as you move the Z-axis and aim for the focal point. It took a little trial-and-error—which included the inspiration for the tip above—but I was able to get it sorted in short order.

As with the router, the laser engraver gets its Gcode from Dobot’s MoozStudio. Like routing, there are a few settings you can tweak—including Speed, Laser Power, Contrast and Beam Diameter—but speed seemed to make the biggest difference in terms of engraving quality. You can see a sample part that demonstrates this below:

Test workpiece for the Dobot Mooz laser engraver. The pattern on the bottom right was made with default settings and is practically invisible. The top left was engraved at the same speed but with a higher minimum laser power. The top right and bottom left were engraved at 1/8 max speed.

Test workpiece for the Dobot Mooz laser engraver. The pattern on the bottom right was made with default settings and is practically invisible. The top left was engraved at the same speed but with a higher minimum laser power. The top right and bottom left were engraved at 1/8 max speed.

3D Printing for Start-Ups & SMEs

After spending a couple of weeks with the Mooz, I can think of no better endorsement than the fact that I’m already trying to figure out how to convince my wife that we need a second 3D printer. My plan is to emphasize the Mooz’s capabilities for CNC carving and laser engraving.

But the real question is whether this machine makes sense for start-ups and SMEs.

The two biggest things the Mooz has going for it are its low price and its flexibility, both of which are high priorities for small businesses. Where the Mooz is most lacking is in supporting software—though it’s worth noting that Dobot has already released several updates for both the Mooz’s firmware and MoozStudio, and will no doubt continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

(Top) From left to right: articulated slug, filament guide, microphone shock mount. (Bottom) From left to right: I Roll 20’s D20, V29 whistle, SD card holder.

(Top) From left to right: articulated slug, filament guide, microphone shock mount. (Bottom) From left to right: I Roll 20’s D20, V29 whistle, SD card holder.

Moreover, even with my lack of Gcode skills, it’s obvious that a skilled Gcode programmer could do even more with the Mooz. MoozStudio outputs the simplest path, but certainly not the most efficient one—and if you’re a start-up or SME that’s considering 3D printing, odds are you already have at least one person who knows their Gcode on staff.

Overall, if you’re looking for an entry point into additive manufacturing and you also happen to have some light carving and laser engraving work to be done, the Dobot Mooz is a great option.

To learn more, visit Dobot.

Dobot has sponsored this article.  All opinions are mine.  –Ian Wright

OOKU® Creative 3D Printing Pen Kit – 3D Pen with 1.75mm PLA ABS Filament for Building, Crafting, Drawing, Prototyping | Smart AutoOff | Slim Light design | 3 Speed Auto Extrusion – PINK

OOKU 3D Printer Pen – Creativity Unleashed | with USB charger cable

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Quickly melt and cool the ABS/PLA/HIPS printing material to create rigid free standing structures, forms, and shapes. Create individual parts and pieces or combine pieces together to unleash your imagination.

On demand Prototyping, drawing, and crafting is here.

Features

– Ooku’s Natural Slim Fit design ensures the pen fits to your hand comfortably & naturally at just 52 grams.
-OLED display
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Safety and Warning Instruction

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2. The output nozzle tip can reach 250 degrees F so keep your hands and fingers away from the nozzle and avoid direct contact.

Product Features

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Check Out Our Website For Details…

Stratasys Targets Professional Prototyping With First-In-Class Office-Friendly, Engineering-Grade …

MINNEAPOLIS & REHOVOT, Israel–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

SOLIDWORKS World 2017 — Stratasys Ltd. (SSYS), the 3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions company, today unveiled the new professional, versatile and fast FDM-based F123 Series (F170, F270 and F370) for smarter prototyping, designed to make professional rapid prototyping more productive for design workgroups.

This Smart News Release features multimedia. View the full release here: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170206005910/en/

The Stratasys F123 Series empowers virtually any user, regardless of 3D printing experience, to build durable and accurate prototypes using a range of functional FDM 3D printing materials. A single Stratasys F123 Series 3D Printer addresses the complete prototyping workflow, from initial concept verification to design validation and final functional performance, to ensure product designs are thoroughly evaluated and endorsed before manufacturing – resulting in better products and shorter lead times.

Perfectly Addresses Customer Needs for Rapid Prototyping in Workgroups
Design workgroups play a dominant role in product design and development in consumer products, aerospace, automotive and other key industries. According to recent Stratasys surveys, accessibility, ease of use and material choice are among the top priorities in the wider adoption of 3D printing for rapid prototyping in workgroups. The F123 Series addresses these and other rapid prototyping requirements to potentially accelerate the adoption of 3D printing for product design and development.

“It’s pretty powerful having this much capability in a single system that sits right in our work space. We’ve tried lower-end 3D printers in the past, and to be honest, they’re dimensionally inaccurate. The Stratasys F370 matches the CAD input every time with accurate, high quality prototypes,” said Jesse Hahne, Partner, Center for Advanced Design. “The key for us to fast-track product development is getting physical samples in front of our customers as soon as possible. With our new Stratasys F370, we’re able to get brand new iterations in a matter of hours. This rapid prototyping solution has truly become a member of our team.”

Designed from the Ground Up for Office and Classroom Environments
The exterior design for the Stratasys F123 Series was created together with leading industrial design firm Designworks, a BMW Group Company. Most operations are easily performed using a touch screen user interface. Stratasys F123 Series can be operated remotely from any networked computer in a shared workgroup setting and build progress can be monitored from portable devices. Installing and replacing material is equally fast and easy.

“Our inspiration for the design of the Stratasys F123 Series was advanced robotics. Just as robotic tools of the future will adapt to their envisioned usage environment, we worked with Stratasys to create a look, feel and ergonomic design for the F123 Series that would offer expertly crafted user interactions,” said Andre de Salis, Creative Director, Designworks. “The Stratasys F123’s striking metal cladding expresses the performance, durability and refinement of the 3D printer to bring a new level of excitement and accessibility to professional 3D printing.”

“Today there is a vast market opportunity in product prototyping that we feel is not being addressed by current 3D printing systems. The launch of the Stratasys F123 Series targets these product design workgroups, industrial designers, engineers, students and educators who demand a professional quality rapid prototyping solution that’s simple to use, produces reliable, engineering-quality results, integrates perfectly within an office or lab setting, and is affordable to own and operate,” said Zehavit Reisin, Vice President, Head of Rapid Prototyping Solutions, Stratasys. “As the company that invented FDM, Stratasys brings a rich pedigree to the F123 Series, providing our customers an optimal balance between usability and high performance.”

A long-time member of the SOLIDWORKS Partner Program, Stratasys is also announcing a GrabCAD Print Add-In for SOLIDWORKS. It enables the user to estimate and 3D print parts for a range of Stratasys systems, including the F123 Series without leaving the SOLIDWORKS environment, giving 3D printer access to the entire community of SOLIDWORKS design and engineering professionals.

To witness the power of the Stratasys F123 Series and the new GrabCAD Print Add-In for SOLIDWORKS first-hand, please visit Stratasys at SOLIDWORKS World 2017 in Los Angeles, CA at Booth #701.

Notes to Editors:
The Stratasys F123 Series is available in three models with build sizes ranging from 10 to 14 inch (25.4 cm to 35.56 cm).

The Stratasys F123 Series accepts up to four material types in 10 colors to support a wide range of prototyping and tooling applications. For example, the F123’s new Fast Draft Mode leverages PLA material to quickly produce conceptual prototypes at a low cost per part. Production-grade ASA and ABS are ideal for producing strong, stable, repeatable parts and for even stronger, impact-resistant parts there is engineering-grade PC-ABS.

Enhanced user experience dominates the Stratasys F123 Series design, with no special 3D printing expertise required to achieve professional results. Fueled by Stratasys Insight software, almost any CAD file can be utilized while Stratasys’ GrabCAD Print eliminates time wasted on file conversion and STL preparation.

The Stratasys F123 Series employs 15 new Stratasys patents in its design.

For more than 25 years, Stratasys Ltd. (SSYS) has been a defining force and dominant player in 3D printing and additive manufacturing – shaping the way things are made. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Rehovot, Israel, the company empowers customers across a broad range of vertical markets by enabling new paradigms for design and manufacturing. The company’s solutions provide customers with unmatched design freedom and manufacturing flexibility – reducing time-to-market and lowering development costs, while improving designs and communications. Stratasys subsidiaries include MakerBot and Solidscape, and the Stratasys ecosystem includes 3D printers for prototyping and production; a wide range of 3D printing materials; parts on-demand via Stratasys Direct Manufacturing; strategic consulting and professional services; the GrabCAD platform with over 3 million professional users; and the Thingiverse and GrabCAD communities with over 2 million 3D printable files for free designs. With more than 2,700 employees and 1,200 granted or pending additive manufacturing patents, Stratasys has received more than 30 technology and leadership awards. Visit us online at: www.stratasys.com or http://blog.stratasys.com/, and follow us on LinkedIn.

Stratasys, Stratasys signet, ABS-M30, GrabCAD Print, and Stratasys F170, Stratasys F270, Stratasys F370 are trademarks or registered trademarks of Stratasys Ltd. and/or its subsidiaries or affiliates and may be registered in certain jurisdictions. All other trademarks belong to their respective owners.

Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
The statements in this press release relating to Stratasys’ beliefs regarding the benefits users will experience from the F123 are forward-looking statements reflecting management’s current expectations and beliefs. These forward-looking statements are based on current information that is, by its nature, subject to rapid and even abrupt change. Due to risks and uncertainties associated with Stratasys’ business, actual results could differ materially from those projected or implied by these forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to: the risk that users will not perceive the benefits of the F123 to be the same as Stratasys does and other risk factors set forth under the caption “Risk Factors” in Stratasys’ most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on March 21, 2016. Stratasys is under no obligation (and expressly disclaims any obligation) to update or alter its forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as otherwise required by the rules and regulations of the SEC.

Attention Editors, if you publish reader-contact information, please use:

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View source version on businesswire.com: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170206005910/en/

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Klarm Prototyping Ltd Promotes Rapid Prototyping Services via 3D Printing

This press release was orginally distributed by SBWire

Guangzhou, China — (SBWIRE) — 10/31/2016 — Klarm Prototyping Limited offers a wide range of rapid prototyping services to small and medium-sized businesses, including product engineering, research and development , custom plastic injection molding and custom pressure die casting, general assembly and small appliance manufacturing.

3D printing applications are continuing to develop as the technology expands. Designers and engineers find it very useful in the creating of design prototypes. Not only does 3D printing technology offer many useful design features, but prototypes can consist of many different kinds of model materials.

Currently, fabrication materials used to produce prototypes range from resins, polymers and plasters, many new ones may be on the horizon as well. Depending on the scope of the prototype to be produced will determine which 3D printing fabrication materials designers prefer. Key factors that can influence the choice of materials used in 3D printing prototypes are model durability, expected lifespan, and the complexity of design.

Many companies rely on the use of prototypes and models produced by 3D printing for the purpose of conducting product, and focus group testing. The test groups are looking for design preferences from consumers or end-users. The feedback received is incorporated into the design during this stage of the process.

The data gained is used to make changes to the product as it is prepared for manufacture. 3D printing is a crucial tool for quickly making cost efficient design changes, and the ability to rapidly produce a new prototype. 3D printing applications for marketing and design function is able to cut the time necessary for producing a workable prototype. Time and cost savings using 3D printers can be as much as two-thirds.

Prototypes produced, tested and redesigned utilizing 3D printing is highly efficient because designs can be easily changed until the engineering is ideal. Instead of gaining performance data as a result of field failure, data can be easily gained in the design process. Inexpensive materials such as resins and polymers used in 3D printing offer the most durable prototype models, and also reduce cost. Research and development in 3D printing technology continually advances with new materials being developed all the time. This technology plays an important role in the efficient production of prototypes for research and product development.

3D printing creates three-dimensional objects in few minutes. It takes digital input from 3dimensional model or data and creates three-dimensional object through an additive. It is easy to use and affordable. Used by designers or for concept development or even product design to speed up the design process. Using 3D printing process, you can be able to create actual end parts and objects of your own choice. Some objects that you can create using 3D printing process include crafts, jewelry, fittings and many more.

3D printing stands on the forefront of many new product markets, fabrication materials, and hardware applications, both for the business and consumer markets. Advancing technologies are steadily developing and many advantages in advanced hardware, software and fabrication materials used in available rapid prototype systems have resulted.

3D printing advancements allow for the faster and more cost efficient prototype, and fabrication model. 3D printing advantages also include the elimination of expensive tooling, manpower, and the costs associated with the creation of design prototypes. All of these 3D printing advantages help firms to create the models necessary in order to bring their products to market.

About Klarm Prototyping Ltd
Klarm Prototyping Ltd strives to turn out to be the most professional rapid prototype from China supplier. The firm continuously tries to reach top excellence level in quality. They want to deliver customers with precision prototypes sold at competitive prices and delivered on time.

Media Contact:
Company: Guangzhou Klarm Prototyping Ltd
Contact: Lanny Larm
Phone: +86-20-3486-3083
Address: Guangzhou, China
Email: klarm.prototyping@gmail.com
Website: http://www.rapidprototypechina.com

For more information on this press release visit: http://www.sbwire.com/press-releases/klarm-prototyping-ltd-promotes-rapid-prototyping-services-via-3d-printing-737538.htm