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Some of you may have heard the term "fabber" starting to poke its head out in various online DIY circles.

"Fabber" is short for digital fabricator: a device that makes things automatically from digital data. Computer data goes in, and 3-D objects come out.

For example, a CNC machine is a type of "fabber". From what I've gathered, CNC machines qualify as "subtractive" fabbers -- they fabricate by removing material from a solid block, either by turning, milling, or electric discharge machining. Other fabber classifications include "additive" (material is added into place to build up the desired object), "formative" (opposing pressures are applied to material to modify its shape by bending or molding), and "hybrid" fabbers which combine two or more of the above methods.

Obviously, automated fabrication is typically expensive, and generally unavailable to the average consumer.

However, internet do-it-yourselfers and electronic geeks/freaks have been starting to assemble their own fabbers from cheap parts and plans available on the net.

Some of the bigger universities have a hand in the emerging "fabber" culture (MIT, Cornell, etc.), as do some of the lowbuck net-based DIY cultures. There's plenty of information available, from both scholarly circles and basement hacker-folk.

Fabbers have some inherent limitations, especially the DIY kind that most people may attempt to build at home. Nevertheless, they could certainly be useful for low-volume custom parts production for automotive enthusiasts.

Here's a pic from the fabber wiki. It appears to be a Cornell University lab prototype for a basic additive fabber. Lots more links below.



Fabbers.com
Fabber Wiki (run by a Cornell University prof and grad students, lots of pics, and vids of fabbers in action)

Also, The Edge, a group of visionary scientists, writers, and thinkers (among my favorite media sources), has a video talk with a leading MIT scientist on the emergence of fabbers: Fabbers at The Edge
 

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A while back I saw a really neat article about the type of "fabber" that uses a vessel full of a light activated liquid polymer. I believe I saw it in plastics technology magazine as well as a discovery channel tech show..

A CNC set of lasers, concentrated and shot simultaneously on a series of spots within the solution, created very complex shapes, directly from cad files created by a designer. The solid shape was created by the polymers reaction to the concentration of the multiple beams of laser light.
The resultant "plastic" was sturdy and heat resistant enough to be used for intake runners,and ducting. An added benefit was that it could be used for making wind tunnel and flow bench mockups with much less cost than traditional hand made mockups. The uses were seemingly endless in the automotive and aerospace industries.


I did not see that one mentioned in that wiki,
I want one.

The stuff we thought was baloney 20 years ago is coming to be true.

Later, mikey

afterthought edit:
Other uses of the multiple laser technology has found a place in the medical field. :) The convergance of 2 or more lasers to concentrate a pinpoint of heat is used to "burn" out certain tumors and cancerous growths. The benefits to this type of technology are that now the surgery is non invasive, the cancer is obliterated on the spot, which lessens the chances of spreading the cancer through misplaced malignant tissue, and the cancerous tissue does not get exposed to oxygen, which is believed by some to aid the spread of cancer.

Let's give a hand to the propeller headed geeks :thumbup:

Here is a link to a pdf that describes several of the modeling technologies.http://www.mas.dti.gov.uk/pluto-resources/1129632617204.pdf
mikey
 

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Quote:Mikey "The stuff we thought was baloney 20 years ago is coming to be true." .............................................................................. Ain't that the truth! ;)
 

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I found the plans online to build a 3D CNC router, but I haven't done anything with them yet. The builder used it to carve out foam blocks to make the plug for a fiberglass body. My thought was to build a smaller version of his router (which was 10' X 10' I think) to experiment with before building the full-sized article.

The thought of eventually building a 2D CNC machine that would use a plasma cutter to cut out parts from steel plate is intriguing, to say the least. I've seen such items for sale on the net, usually starting at about $4500 and going up from there - PC and CAD software not included.

If this catches on like I think it will, we may consider the bar raised as far as home made bodies and frame/suspension designs are concerned. I think we're in for some wild times in the design department, and that can only be a good thing.
 

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3D Fabrication

We started doing 3D fabrication five years ago but we don't use a CNC; all of our work is hand sculpted. We can also do factory plastic. We are going to do some cars in the near furture. If you go to our web site you see a eight pound bowling ball being droped from four feet on a 3D sculpted fender and it takes the impact with no damage.
 

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Race The Truck
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I put in a over head crane for a company in CA that build air craft landing gear. Starting a landing gear as a casting. Went on to a CNC machine then went in to a fabber they call the green monster. everything was automated. Change its own drill bits end mill and so. We were told it took one year for all the machining to be done. Back then late 80's was a new tech deal which took the human factor out of fabrication. We all said wow we are all going to be replace one day. So true I should have boned up on my computer skill. :D
Still I bet it a little impractical for the back yard guy. bet that cost 5,000.00 to build. I don't thing thats cheap.


Craig
 

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3D Customs said:
We started doing 3D fabrication five years ago but we don't use a CNC; all of our work is hand sculpted. QUOTE]

That does not have much to do with the "fabber" as described in this thread. Your artwork is very nice, and intricate and takes a great deal of talent, but the process here is that a part is created directly from a digital file. Imagine how much easier your process would be if you could put a tank or fender in a machine like is pictured in the first post and have epoxy deposited directly on the part in the shape you designed.

The traditional CNC process is one of material removal, which makes waste, no matter how you do it. Several of the fabbers described use a deposition process that only uses the material as needed.

Several of the machines themselves seem easy to build at home, using off the shelf robotics parts and controllers. The programming is probably fairly easy.

I think the idea is that a guy could build one of these machines for a fraction of the cost of a CNC machining center and create much more intricate parts than could be done with a regular 3 axis machine.

The materials being developed today are easier to create shapes and parts from, and many can replace their metal counterparts. Imagine some wild dashboards or fenders or headlights that could be made with the process. And it doesn't require the hand /eye coordination that a sculpting process does.

I will say that nothing will replace talent. But if I could take a picture of something one day, and have it recreated in an epoxy or plastic just by letting the machine run for a day or so, well that would be cool. :thumbup:

Later, mikey
 

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Sorry to drag up an old thread like this (I know, I do it a lot) but I saw an ad on TV this morning for a computer-controlled carving machine from Sears called the CompuCarve.

I checked it out online and found 2 sources for this machine - Sears and the original manufacturer CarveWright. I won't link either place in this post, because I don't want to have it popped for advertising. A Google search will give you the links.

Currently as sold, the machine will carve wood, plastic, and some types of foam - perfect for some hotrodding applications. I like the fact that you don't need a computer in the shop - the projects are loaded onto a memory card, and the card is inserted into the machine. The machine then walks you through the process via prompts on a LCD display. At the CarveWright site, there is a demo video that can be downloaded, and it is pretty cool.

The machine has some limitations, like a 1 inch depth of cut limit, but I can see carving some items in several sections, then gluing those sections together, stacked one atop the other, to make larger pieces - i.e. dashboards and consoles. The CarveWright site lists the machines size limitations as a maximum of 5" tall, 15" wide, and a length of 12 feet - but that's because of weight, not length. I'm thinking a person could use the machine to create molds for fiberglass parts, positive molds for castings, wooden or foam parts that will be covered by upholstery such as arm rests or door panels, and various other applications. The list is endless, really. (Custom garage/house signs?)

One of the things I really think is cool is the fact that you can import photographs into the software, then carve the photo into wood or plastic. There are examples of this on the CarveWright site.

Has anyone here on the board used this machine? Any input, whether good, bad, or indifferent, would be greatly appreciated. I'd really like to talk to somebody who has one and see what they think of the machine. They currently retail for about $1800 - $1900 depending on the source, and it appears both sources are currently out of stock - must be a popular machine! I'm thinking I might check into this machine a bit more seriously once one source or the other has some in stock. Thanks for any input you may have!

Dusty
 

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Haven't seen any more on that machine than the ad you saw (saw it as well).

But, am really looking into these '3D Printers', or 'fabbers'. Tried a couple out at SEMA. Wow. Making separate components that thread & lock, complete heads, carbs, etc. And they're fully functional to testfit & build around for prototype work. What a step forward in the prototype / design step for small businesses. The ones I'm looking at run about $30k in ready to run form.
 

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yeah, awhile back I was reading some site on cnc equiptment people built at home. Pretty cool, like for example a foam cutter, where you could model a hot rod body in a software program and then the machine would cut a block of foam out to shape which you could then lay up fiberglass on. Pretty interesting some of the things people made. Having a cnc plasma cutter would be neat too. One I saw someone made would probably have taken up most of my small garage. Even building one yourself looked a bit pricey to me with the ball screw, servo motors, steel and software, but would be cool to try to maybe build something one day. I would like to build a lot of things, but too dumb and too poor, so probably won't happen anytime soon. Does make for interesting reading, but I usually hurt my brain trying to comprehend some things. Another thing I started looking at was scanners which would create the capture the shape of the object with lasers and then in a software program would create a 3d model which then you could then be used by cnc equiptment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Dusty82 -- good post (BTW, it's OK to post links to any commercial sites, as long as you're not personally affiliated with them :)). I saw that new machine too, it's all over the DIY blogs. It looks like Sears got permission to re-brand the CarveWright machine as the "CompuCarve".

More info: Toolmonger, CarveWright.

IMO, both the Cornell fabber and the CompuCarve are harbingers of a new era in home fabrication.

Recall how, a couple of years ago, those custom machining websites started to appear. You send in a diagram, you get a custom-machined part mailed to you. Now, look how the home-fabrication culture has advanced a few steps with these machines. What's the next step in the evolution of DIY fabber culture? Can the machines feasibly evolve to work metals, without becoming prohibitively expensive for the average consumer?
 

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Sculpting plastic

There are some very good machines out there but I would like to find one that can sculpt a rattle snake twisting around a piece of tubing or carve these flames in these intake vents and be affordable. Sculpting plastic is very diffifcult.
 

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powerrodsmike said:
afterthought edit:
Other uses of the multiple laser technology has found a place in the medical field. :) The convergance of 2 or more lasers to concentrate a pinpoint of heat is used to "burn" out certain tumors and cancerous growths. The benefits to this type of technology are that now the surgery is non invasive, the cancer is obliterated on the spot, which lessens the chances of spreading the cancer through misplaced malignant tissue, and the cancerous tissue does not get exposed to oxygen, which is believed by some to aid the spread of cancer.
Not to hyjack the thread, but what was your source on this information, I'd be interested to read it. Superficial cancers can be treated from the skin or body openings (using an endoscope). Any time you enter a body cavity with any instrument, its considered invasive. Laser therapy inside the body does not always involve burning out cells (only when lasers are used as a scalpel alternative). Some laser therapies only use a temperature of about 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Cancer tends to be a bit more susceptible to higher temperatures (generally protein chains tend to start breaking up at higher temps). With any laser therapy cancers aren't usually just obliterated on the spot (unless you're talking about standard surgical excision). Its somewhat like radiation which is harmful to the cancer cell, and after treatments the cells are monitored and hoped to shrink or die after some time. Laser therapy is generally used in conjunction with several other therapies. Also I've never heard that open cavity traditional surgery which exposes cancer to open air aids in its spread. Cancer is exposed to more oxygen through the blood than it is through the air (which is 80% nitrogen) continuously.

K
 

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killerformula said:
Not to hyjack the thread, but what was your source on this information, I'd be interested to read it. Superficial cancers can be treated from the skin or body openings (using an endoscope). Any time you enter a body cavity with any instrument, its considered invasive. Laser therapy inside the body does not always involve burning out cells (only when lasers are used as a scalpel alternative). Some laser therapies only use a temperature of about 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Cancer tends to be a bit more susceptible to higher temperatures (generally protein chains tend to start breaking up at higher temps). With any laser therapy cancers aren't usually just obliterated on the spot (unless you're talking about standard surgical excision). Its somewhat like radiation which is harmful to the cancer cell, and after treatments the cells are monitored and hoped to shrink or die after some time. Laser therapy is generally used in conjunction with several other therapies. Also I've never heard that open cavity traditional surgery which exposes cancer to open air aids in its spread. Cancer is exposed to more oxygen through the blood than it is through the air (which is 80% nitrogen) continuously.

K
I tried to find the source for that bit of stereo laser stuff so I could back it up, but I could not. :( I want to say it was on one of those discovery channel shows about up and coming medical technologies.) As much as I'd like to, I can't find a reliable source to share with the group. You can call it wishful thinking on my part, although you know that I don't usually make stuff up.

The theory about cancer spreading upon exposure to the atmosphere seems to be a belief among some cancer surgeons. I know that I have heard it mentioned by 2 different surgeons who had the opportunity to cut pieces out my relatives. (it's fun getting older and getting to take your parents to the doctor) It was usually mentioned as a cause for reoccurrence about the time the cancer came back after surgury and radiation. That could be flim flam also, I only repeated what I'd heard.. If you read back, you will see that I wrote "some believe" regarding that theory.

All I know is that just about the time someone comes up with a better treatment for cancer, a worse cancer comes along.. :(

I saw that craftsman cnc machine also. I thought it looked cool.

Later, mikey
 

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Jon said:
Dusty82 -- good post (BTW, it's OK to post links to any commercial sites, as long as you're not personally affiliated with them :)). I saw that new machine too, it's all over the DIY blogs. It looks like Sears got permission to re-brand the CarveWright machine as the "CompuCarve".

More info: Toolmonger, CarveWright.

IMO, both the Cornell fabber and the CompuCarve are harbingers of a new era in home fabrication.

Recall how, a couple of years ago, those custom machining websites started to appear. You send in a diagram, you get a custom-machined part mailed to you. Now, look how the home-fabrication culture has advanced a few steps with these machines. What's the next step in the evolution of DIY fabber culture? Can the machines feasibly evolve to work metals, without becoming prohibitively expensive for the average consumer?
Thanks Jon! I wasn't sure about posting links to commercial sites, so I figured I should err on the side of caution.

I joined the forum over at carvewright.com, and some of the things these guys are making with this thing have to be seen to be believed. I'm most impressed with its ability to carve a scanned photograph into wood, polycarbonate, or acrylic. One guy even carved a couple of photos into a sheet of Corian solid surface countertop material. (See below.) No, that's not a photograph pasted onto Corian - that's a photograph that was scanned into the design software, then actually carved into the surface of the Corian.

You don't have to join the forum to go over there and look around, but you do have to join to post. Check out the Gallery forum when you get there.

http://carvewright.com/forum/index.php

Both sources of this machine are out of stock. As soon as somebody gets some in, I'll be checking one out. They can't work with metal, but I'm thinking some pretty spectacular molds for fiberglass parts could be produced, as well as wooden interior accent pieces. I mean, can you imagine the speaker enclosures or door panels a system like this could create?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Extremely cool, thanks for the forum link. I checked out the gallery -- it looks like everyone is just figuring out the basics of the CarveWright, and they're still turning out some impressive work. I liked the guitar body threads. I'm going to add their forum to my "wait-until-they're-a-little-bigger" list, and then I'll add them to our Crankshaft Coalition Master List of Hotrodding Forums.

Online communities go hand-in-hand with digital design fabrication. Note how the members are posting CAD files, and working together to fabricate and exchange ideas.

Looks like they can carve polycarbonate and acrylic too.

The FAQ forum will be most interesting for people wanting more information on CarveWrights: CarveWright FAQ.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Here's another machine similar to the one I posted in the first post in this thread: The RepRap. Another DIY fabber, this one can be built for under $500. CNN covered it: http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/06/02/tech.reprap/index.html . It does primarily plastic fabrication, but the cool thing is that it can (mostly) build itself -- which would qualify it as a Self-Replicating Machine, something that science has been chasing for a while. Low-cost self-replicating fabbers could be very advantageous for third-world or developing nations.
 

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I have nothing to add to this thread, but it is very interesting to me. I teach various CAD softwares and we work with CNC machines in our classes. We currently have a CNC plasma burn table and a rapid prototyping machine. We will be getting some type of CNC milling machine soon (I hope).

This is the future for sure. It saves a lot of time and money.
 
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