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My doubts about BotObjects

BotObjects launched their full color desktop 3D printer with a podcast and a webpage. You should check out the page and read their claims because below I will discuss why I doubt their claim that this is currently a fully functional device that they have and will be launched in a matter of weeks. I really want this thing to be true and real. It would be wonderful. And I will be the first to admit I was wrong and apologize profusely if this incredible idea is real. If this were a concept I would go easy on it but they say they have this device and it will be on the market in weeks. I am highly skeptical. Technically I don’t think its possible, they also don’t seem to have the required knowledge of people who would have done this. If they would have they would explain themselves differently and would ascribe a different relative importance to their innovations.

But, the most important thing to me is: Why the hell is this thing orange? Why did they go through the trouble or making a semi transparent orange cover? Why choose orange? Did they like the color? Did they think people wanted to see their prints but not see them really well in a transparent cover? The Form1 uses an orange cover but that is because it uses SLA and needs the orange to block out light to  prevent it being harmful to peoples eyes and most to stop the light in the room from hardening the resin before the laser does. Why in a non-light based 3D printer would you pick orange as a color? This thing use FDM so the orange is not needed. Knowing, as I’m sure that the people capable of making a full color desktop 3D printer would know, that all the  light based systems will tend to use orange to do this, why pick orange. Why not pick another color to differentiate yourself? Any color but orange? Why pick orange, this is totally amazing to me.

I’ll go through their site, header by header.

“Just like normal ink printers, the ProDesk3D uses its proprietary 5-colour PLA cartridge system, capable of mixing primary printing colors to generate the colors of choice for the object you wish to print. This is delivered seamlessly with our software included with the ProDesk3D.

Why “delivered seamlessly with our software included with the ProDesk3D” is that really important considering the invention itself?

Why mention this and not talk about other color related things?

DPI, colors, color capability?

The form factor of the thing leaves too little space for 5 regular print heads plus everything else.

The mechanics of the thing would be too complex.

And why not mention the complex mechanics?

Why not mention all the breakthroughs needed for this in switching/gates/extrusion technology?

If the complex mechanics would be there they would also not fit in the machine. Or did they perhaps have a huge stride in some kind of electronics field?

If they did this why not mention it.

Mixing like this would not be feasible without some huge tech gains.

Purge times would be too high. Or if purging would be done, would require more equipment.

Why not talk about these challenges?

Why not mention what colors are in the cartridges?

Color mixing is hard.

And all the mixing is done in the cartridge? Or cartridges individually?

If the cartridge is the magic is the magic then done in each cartridge individually? The podcast seems to imply that this is the case. This is confusing to me. Or is it a cartridge system? If there is a mixing system why not give that a name and mention that? Our ColorMixerPro is amazing…”

If you could mix any color, how would this create true full color? How would that work exactly?

If I’d have to mix for skin color, print, mix for eye color, print, mix for pupil color, print, mix for eye color, print, mix for skin color print all in one layer wouldn’t it take too long? How would it purge/cut off the stream?

And if it would do these things they would need much more space.

“Improved accuracy with printed Support Material 
To support your printed 3D objects, the ProDesk3D delivers a PVA-based Support Material via our proprietary Dual-Extruder head. Now the most complex 3D designs can be printed with ease. Our Support Material does not require a messy finishing set or any chemicals to complete your design.”

“Improved accuracy with printed Support Material” is bull. They go on to say that it does improve the number of things you can print but support material is support for geometry not something that increases accuracy. How would it increase accuracy actually?

Why not mention how support is removed? Ultra sonic wash tank?

It is not messy, maybe, but how does it work then?

Why not make a bigger deal about support in the first place?

“Fast automatic set-up – with self-calibrating build platform
Just like normal ink printers, there shouldn’t be any complex or tricky set up, the ProDesk3D arrives out-of-box complete. Plug it into the mains, quick auto software download, insert your cartridges in seconds, and load up your 3D design and print it! Our industry leading proprietary Self Calibration Software talks to the ProDesk3D, understanding the composition of your uploaded 3D design, and while it auto-sets the printer, it also self calibrates the printer bed. No more tricky software set up!”

Whats the big deal with a self calibrating build platform? Why is that a huge selling point?

Does the extruder self calibrate?

Why does only the build platform self calibrate?

Why not both the platform and extruder?

How does it do this?

Why is this more important than highest speed and accuracy (see below)?

And the self calibrating build platform is more important than outperfoming the entire industry in every metric (see below)?

“Delivering industry leading accuracy, speed and durability
The ProDesk3D will be capable of printing down to 25 microns, beating industry leading speeds using durable PLA and PVA support material. The ProDesk3D sets a new standard for PLA-based 3D models, leading the industry on finish quality and durability. The ProDesk3D is capable of printing ABS material.”

How do they get better durability exactly? How would a printer give a part better durability?

So not only can they do full color but they are also faster and more accurate?

What does printing down to 25 micron mean? Does it refer to layer thickness? Detail?

Win on one maybe, win on many fronts and it seems too amazing.

Why are these things lumped in one sentence and not explained? Each part of the first sentence below the header is amazing.

And how do they achieve a better surface finish?

Is this a another process?

“Cutting edge tri-fan system
In order to ensure consistency of airflow within the enclosed casing, the ProDesk3D delivers a unique proprietary based tri-fan system to balance airflow across the cubic space of the build platform, enabling time and time again consistent 3D builds, and eliminates inaccurate modeling.

But their 3 fans get their own header?

In the previous header they mention in one sentence, oh yeah we outperform the entire desktop 3D printing industry in every important metric. But, we thought that this was less important than our self calibrating build platform. We will lump the amazingness all in one sentence and then for another header talk about these amazing fans we have.

Also the usage of “cubic space” just bothers me.

What does eliminates accurate modeling mean? in the previous sentence the fans provide “consistent 3D builds” ok, so far so awesome and this in line to what they help do. But what is eliminates inaccurate modeling mean? Do the fans make sure I don’t make any mistakes in Solidworks?

“A beautiful anodized aluminum safe casing – highly functional
The ProDesk3D arrives in a high quality, beautiful and safe anodized aluminum casing. The goal had been set to think about the maturity of 3D printing, what would it look like in 5 years time, and how would the right case endure these times. Setting new standards with aluminum design, the ProDesk3D separates itself from the kit-like contemporaries.”

High quality, beautiful and safe are important but…uum…maybe the case does something else for your printer?

Is it rigid for example?

Why not mention the other benefits the case brings?

Marketing & Claims

I could understand not disclosing tech before launch. But, then why not talk about the other non patentable technolgy?

Why not mention all of the breakthroughs you had to make. “We had to make major advances in….”

Why not file first, then disclose?

Why not file, disclose and then launch with a working machine?

If the machine works right now and is ready, why not wait and show upon launch? Why the lag between now and the garden party?

Why not launch at the garden party? What is the  purpose of putting this live now a month in advance?

If as they say they have it right now why not go to BBC, CNN and show the thing working.

Why not launch at the 3D printing event that they say they attended?

Why soft launch something that answers every question and problem in 3D printing? What is the point of this from a marketing perspective, when with a few images and a video shared privately you could launch this with a newspaper, blogger or TV channel of your choice.

Soft launching this would be comparable to soft launching a chocolate bar that tastes great and makes you thinner.

Why no images of printed objects now?

From the Podcast

From the Engineer & Designer podcast: “we got cracking on this over two years ago” when they were involved with 5 other companies as CEO and CTO.

The “cartridge system is eco friendly and reusable, that was a big challenge for us, huge challenge” compared to the other stuff, not so much.

“We’ve got a self calibrating build platform, it took for ever”, uum why? How? Compared to the other things that they must have done to get the color to work the platform doesn’t seem like a hard challenge.

Also compared to the higher, accuracy, higher speed and other innovations it doesn’t seem like a huge challenge.

The build platform and cartridge are the only “big” and “huge” challenges mentioned. None of the other stuff, support, writing the mixing software etc.

Why not talk about the speed and accuracy?

“the tri fan system, was critical to making this work” How come? It would only improve builds, its not critical for the whole machine.

How are the fans critical to making this whole machine work?

300mm x 275mm x 275mm build platform is mentioned. But, this is not mentioned as amazing even though is 3 times Makerbots and second only to Rostock Max and German RepRap.

“sliders and autochecks (of machine software) go immeasurably further than whats available on the market today.” Sliders? How so? After a story about the sliders being used to adjust parameters, a question is asked What parameters do you have to adjust? “Its more around coloration. And what you can do with coloration.” uum?

 In summation

But, most of all, I go on Twitter and  in the comments box of Solidsmack and express my doubts about this machine. The logical response for them is that the sweet sweet smell of victory is near. Because if they have this machine and  it works as they say and it is going to be shipped in a matter of weeks as they say this is a beautiful moment. There is one 3D printing guy expressing his doubts. He doubts that this machine we made exists. He is a 3D printing consultant and he doesn’t even believe that this machine we spent two years on exists! Could you believe this? How awesome this would be? How great this would feel?

Other people also doubt it and start posting their doubts to twitter and in comments to articles. Oh no, we’re about to launch everyones dream 3D printer and this may cloud our launch. This is a risk. And we’ve been working on this thing for two years and have made multiple breakthroughs in multiple technical fields and will this will blow everyones mind.

What would you do? What is the only thing to do, to tweet, “@pilz glad that the botobjects is so amazing you cant hardly believe it, come to our garden party June. Heres an invite” But instead silence. The sweet vindication is so near. Would you wait? Would you not respond?

Or maybe you just would have taken one photo of one part and then presto this would all be gone and you’d have had 1.2 million visits and 200,000 newsletter sign ups by nightfall and been on the BBC in the morning. Then in 24 hours with some canny PR support you could have been on many major tv stations and papers the world over.  After all you have the device? It will be shipped in a few weeks?

And if you are not ready why say you are? Why launch this now? To promote the garden party? I mean if you invited a few journalists and told/proved to them them before that you have a full color desktop 3D printer that is also the fastest and most accurate system in the world well…I think they’d come. Given the high media interest in 3D printing you could make a huge event out of this. It just doesn’t make sense.  In short, I don’t believe the BotObjects is real. I understand I’m putting my neck out there but I just think that someone needs to stand up and say this before people get taken for a ride.

For some research on the topic of color mixing you can check out Myles Corbett’s report about RepRap color mixing (Thank you Richard). One thing mentioned in there is that for CMYK color to work on a FDM machine you’d need a fifth color, white to get lighter shades and no color. This would mean that including the support material the BotObjects machine would need 6 cartridges total not five, as mentioned. Or perhaps you would need the 5 cartridges as mentioned and an additional filament spool of support. But, this is not mentioned by BotObjects, they only mention a 5 cartridge system.

 

 

 

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14 Comments

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  1. Zheng3
    29. Apr, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    Yeah, color me skeptical, too.

    The mockups look nice enough, but it really does have the whiff of vaporware around it.

    Of course if it’s the real deal I’ll be happy to fork over the cash for such a revolutionary improvement.

    I’d settle for an FDM printer with an auto-leveling build platform.

  2. berkal
    30. Apr, 2013 at 3:26 am #

    3D systems recently announced their x60 series. Do you think anyone will buy those printers given that the botObject full color printer is just around the corner? Or are they two different printers? Sorry I’m a bit of a newbie on the subject.

    • Joris Peels
      30. Apr, 2013 at 7:58 am #

      I think they are two different things, the x60 is probably real, this one probably isn’t.

  3. John Morewood
    03. May, 2013 at 12:54 am #

    The physics behind the liquid to solid phase shift of ABS/PLA puts a limit on slice size… At 25 microns the temperature control is nearly impossible with the slightest air temperature differential causing the solidification phase to be unstable – there is just not enough mass coming out of the nozzle to overcome the solidification.

    • Joris Peels
      10. May, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

      Interesting point, I had not considered that.

  4. rsilvers
    06. May, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    Support material certainly increases accuracy by keeping areas of the model from not drooping.

    I think this is a hoax. Just the orange cover alone is enough to make it a hoax.

  5. bobc
    06. May, 2013 at 10:20 pm #

    “It’s a fake because it is orange”.

    Now that is just funny :) What is wrong with orange?

  6. Temujin
    10. May, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    I agree, Why Orange?! Yellow is the new “in” color. ;-)
    Being a practicing Industrial Designer, I would say that they chose orange because its hip, not that its necessary, because Form1′s color scheme looks “cool” regardless of functionality, so this means they are just jumping on the band wagon. No big deal. Unless, of course, you don’t like orange, in which case, that is subjective. By the way, I really enjoy the articles on this website.

    • Joris Peels
      10. May, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

      Thank you. The bandwagon idea is an interesting one. But, given that they’ve said that they plan to price this in the same price range as the Form1 in a “prosumer” segment that today consists of the Form1 and only the Form1 it is suspect to me.

  7. Rob
    23. May, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    Just had an email from botObjects with a link to buy the printer in new “Blue” color.
    Their website also has a link claiming “The founders release the first product samples from the ProDesk3D”, when you click on the link it’s very obvious they are showing not particularly good 3D renderings.
    While I want this to be real, it seems less legit each time they have a chance to really show us something!
    Link to the “Product Samples”…
    http://botobjects.com/latest-updates

  8. Mr. Konstrukt
    24. May, 2013 at 6:46 am #

    Why orange? Because they probably only have one employee working for them–a graphic artist.

    If you compare the orange color of the floral vase print with the images of the pre-rendered floral vases in the software screenshots you’ll notice that the colors match perfectly.

    No real world object under natural lighting is going to have a perfect color match with a computer render–it’s hard enough to get a color printer to match the color on screen let alone a 3D print.

    This smells of a scam–I hope no one loses their shirt ordering one of these.

  9. MARCEL BRADET
    09. Jun, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    my comments. the 3d printer is beginning and he needs more experience by the your co to get a better product, a copy is ok, the techno is not Advanced yet to be a final product and will be never Advanced to get a perfecr product. in 10 years perhaps,

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