We have been working hard on bringing the first beta ABE units online and felt that an update was in order. Over the past few months, ABE has evolved from being a standalone adaptive build environment into the ideal networking solution for open source 3D printers. This change came about after opening up The Printer Farm to the public and beginning the process of adapting ABE to fit our internal processes. We quickly found that, even with the improved reliability and print quality that ABE provides, a networking solution was imperative for us to handle the complexity of fulfilling production orders with quantities in the thousands on multiple customer owned 3D printers. It was clear that we needed a way to centrally store system specific material settings and to slice from a single source. Our solution was to create a universal wireless 3D printing server by integrating additional computing power and wifi connectivity into the ABE platform. This allows us to access and print on any of the 3D printers in The Printer Farm from anywhere in the world via a secure web browser.
All power and data connections on the 3D printers hook up to easily accessible ports inside ABE, requiring just a single 6’ AC power cord to be plugged into the wall externally. This not only decreases clutter from excessive wiring, but also allows for quick assembly-free removal and installation of ABE. Additionally, these integrated 3D printing servers (3D printer + ABE) can be easily protected by economical uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems as our efficient computing design limits the typical power draw for the entire workstation to under 200W. So next time a circuit breaker decides to flip on a 32 hour print, your 3D printer will just keep on running right through the outage without a hiccup.
ABE now comes preloaded with a customized SD3D distribution of OctoPrint, the open source web based 3D printer host. This interface can be accessed from the ABE unit itself via an embedded 4.3” LCD touchscreen display or through a common web browser accessible from your laptop or smartphone. With Bluetooth and wifi connectivity built into ABE, 3D printing is seamless and simple from just about any device on your network. You can also print remotely with piece of mind, knowing your printer is backed by a virtually hackproof 4kbit RSA enterprise level security protocol. In addition to having all of the standard printer control and system feedback features you expect in your 3D printer host, all of the ABE sensing data is also at your fingertips for real-time monitoring of environmental temperature gradients, humidity & vibration levels, ambient temperature, HEPA filtration status, remaining spooled material and critical system alerts. A broad spectrum of sound frequencies are even monitored allowing ABE to listen for any other failure mode that falls through the cracks (pun intended). Live streaming 1080p video and email/text alerts are also available, providing the ultimate remote 3D printing experience.
Printable gcode or stl files can be loaded onto ABE wirelessly via Bluetooth, wifi or directly through SD card, USB drive or just about any other portable storage device. ABE provides the latest version of Cura as the onboard manual slicing program. We have also developed a subscription based cloud slicing service called Layer3Dcloud which automatically monitors the precision bed height calibration and printer specific material settings for each ABE server connected to the network. This allows users to upload 3D files in up to 17 different common formats and have the files seamlessly sliced into gcode using precisely calibrated system specific material settings. The gcode is then sent directly to their idle printer for immediate printing or placed in the queue if the printer is already active. ABE actively monitors which printer and materials it is currently serving so there is never any worry about matching the correct material settings to the destination printer. By automating this, the Layer3Dcloud slicing process takes just seconds as verifying system specific settings is no longer necessary. The user simply selects which of the loaded materials to use, the desired resolution, infill and quantity; ABE takes care of the rest. Print quality and reliability is further improved by ensuring the correct material/printer specific settings are used on every print. Whenever ABE detects a new printer-material combination, it will prompt the user to run a quick calibration print and provide simple feedback based on the actual print results in order to immediately generate precise printer-material specific settings. This process only has to be done once for each printer-material combination. ABE will then actively track any print failures and send diagnostic data back to our servers to be considered by self-learning algorithms designed for continuous improvement of the cloud slicing quality. The Layer3Dcloud service can be activated from ABE’s user interface and costs $19.99/mo for a 250Mb/mo data plan. Additional data can be purchased for $0.10-0.25/Mb depending on contract length. Monthly data usage and account information can be accessed live from the ABE user interface. Reusable RFID tags for material tracking can be purchased from SD3D for $1/ea. Preloaded (RFID tagged) premium 3D printing material spools are also available at standard market rates.
Early beta ABE units are still being developed due to the expansion of the features. Our original internal target was to complete the first production intent ABE unit by July 1st and begin sending beta evaluation units to interested parties throughout the month of July. We are now approximately five weeks behind our original schedule but we have a lot to show for that and believe ABE will bring a much higher value to 3D printing users of every skill level. Amazingly, with all of these additional features, the estimated cost of a production ABE has not increased as we have found ways to optimize our design to reduce costs through efficiency. We have also developed ABE Jr. which has a smaller 18”x18”x18” internal capacity to house the extremely cost effective small format 3D printers that have emerged onto the market like the QU-BD One/Two-UP and the M3D. A complete beta production unit will be ready by August 8th with a Kickstarter campaign coming to fund full production launching shortly after.
You can pre-order ABE today with early December delivery and a pre-Kickstarter discount that will never be seen again by clicking here:
If you are interested in becoming a beta tester before the Kickstarter campaign is launched please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org