The AON Industrial 3D printer currently being crowdfunded on Kickstarter is a big, beefy and robust machine that was built to be highly adaptable and durable enough for extremely high-volume use. Any company that has found themselves frustrated by their current FFF 3D printer’s limited build envelope, high failure rate and small selection of usable 3D printing materials should take a close look at AON. This isn’t just a big desktop 3D printer that is dressing itself up as an industrial-quality printer; it has several features that make it obvious to anyone that the AON is a serious, high-quality machine built for businesses like 3D printing service bureaus, manufacturing companies, engineering firms and companies that need machines capable of consistent rapid prototyping.
The AON itself was designed by a former 3D printing services bureau team that have run afoul of just about every limitation and problem that could be faced with the consumer-grade 3D printers that they were using. So rather than design a desktop printer, the Montreal-based AON team sourced some of the best materials available to build the 3D printer that they always wished that they had. They included precision components like an XY gantry driven on high-grade Japanese linear guides and a Z axis driven by two large 16mm lead screws supported with four 20mm hardened steel shafts. The frame is made from 40mm extrusions that offer maximum stiffness and eliminate shaking no matter the printing speeds being used and the structural and motion components are all fabricated from metal with no plastic 3D printed parts. The result is travel speeds upwards of 500mm/s on the XY axis for lightning quick and dependable printing.
But the star of the show is clearly the dual, independent printing toolheads that can work in unison, or completely independently. That means that users can print with multiple materials to either provide support material or multi-color prints without worrying about plastic oozing thanks to the head not in use being parked to the side rather than traveling along with the working printhead. So not only will that save material from being wasted, but it can dramatically reduce the failure and printing error rate, not to mention speeding up the entire printing process. And if only a single material is required for a print, the dual printheads can both print jobs independently, doubling the rate of production possible. And don’t worry about running out of printing space, AON has plenty of build space available thanks to a massive 18 x 18 x 25 inch (450 x 450 x 640 mm) build volume.
“Well, I’m a big believer that materials will play a critical role in the future of 3D printing by opening up new applications for the technology. When it comes to FFF technology however, we’re actually beginning to see manufacturers develop products that prioritize printability on limited-capability machines, sacrificing material properties and quality in the process. This to me seems regressive. With AON, we want to send the message that hardware should not be the weakest link in 3D printing, and that the whole hardware sector could and should be doing better. To that end, we’ll be releasing our designs after fulfilling our Kickstarter rewards and we invite everyone to hack, improve, and share your results with the rest of the community,” explained the Founder of AON, Kevin Han, via email.
In order to make the AON the most versatile commercial FFF 3D printer on the market Han gave each printhead high-temperature E3D (Volcano) hot ends that when upgraded with a thermocouple are capable of printing at temperatures of 450°C (840°F) and up. They can also be upgraded with a water cooling system that will eliminate heat creep even when printing with extremely high-temperature advanced materials. AON also offers an actively heated build chamber with up to 1800W of chamber-heating power which will keep the inside temperature a toasty 70°C (150°F). That means AON is capable of printing with just about any 3D printing filament on the market, from standard PLA to ABS to Nylon all the way up to the most advanced Polycarbonate materials.
Founder and designer Kevin Han launched the AON Industrial 3D Printer on Kickstarter late last month to raise capital to fund a new production facility capable of meeting the campaigns order requirements, purchase assembly tools and equipment as well as hire and train assembly and office staff. Han is seeking $65,000 CAD (about $48,700 USD), and with a little under two weeks to go the campaign has already pulled in around $32,000 USD. They were initially offering early bird pricing of $4,150 USD for an AON 3D printer, though those have already sold out. There are a few $4,520 USD printers left, and then the price jumps up to $4,900 USD which Han says is still far below the eventual retail price.
The AON campaign is also offering add-ons like the water cooled E3D upgrade or a stepper water cooling kit each for $38 USD, and if you can’t commit to buying the printer right away for $225 USD you can buy a one-year price freeze and purchase an AON at the Kickstarter price at a later date, which will of course be deducted from the $4,900 USD price. And each AON sold will also be pre-bundled with a licensed copy of Simplify3D and a Raspberry Pi loaded with a custom version of Octoprint to allow full Wi-Fi printer control.
Take a look at the Kickstarter campaign video here:
“It’s been almost 1 year to the day since the concept and target specifications were put down on paper for the first time. After months of modeling and design, building of the prototype began in August and lead to what you see today. The printer is fully functional and has been running production prints for customers for the last month. We’re 95% finalized on the design – the few changes we’d like to make relate to things like better cable management, easier assembly, aesthetics, and reducing the part count for certain subassemblies. We’re absolutely confident in the performance of the core design and do not foresee any major changes that will result in delay of delivery,” Han says on his Kickstarter campaign page.
In order to prevent the Kickstarter campaign from being overwhelmed with orders that they could potentially be unable to deliver, the AON’s Kickstarter campaign is being capped at fifty units. Not only will this protect potential customers, but it will prevent them from over extending themselves. I’ve never seen a crowdfunding campaign limit how many units they will commit to, but after some recent high-profile failures it seems like a smart move. Han estimates that they will start shipping units out as early as March 2016. Discuss this machine in the AON 3D Printer forum on 3DPB.com.
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