Additive Manufacturing Strategies

FLX.ARM 3D Printing Robotic Arm, Launches on Kickstarter to Raise $50K

ST Medical Devices

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While Flux Integration LLC, a software and hardware developing company, has received an initial grant from The Maine Technology Institute, it’s hard to believe their robotic arm, FLX.ARM, hasn’t caught the eye of a big investor yet. FLX.ARM is a precision robotic arm designed for 3D printing, light-duty milling, and electronics assembly.

With a campaign just launched on Kickstarter, perhaps all they will need is the help of many smaller investors, in hopes to raise $50,000 by October 7, 2014, to continue design and production of the robotic arm.

“Our product focus is on small businesses and individuals with who have limited budgets and time but understand the benefits of designing and manufacturing a product in-house,” said founder Joshua Heckman.

3d printer toolhead

3D Printing Attachment

He emphasizes that they wanted to make the robotic arm as useful in prototype as it would be in production, thus offering a very thorough example of what it is they can offer to individuals and businesses in their industry.

Aside from the fact that it is a really cool robotic arm, the initial, standout feature of the FLX.ARM is price. It is priced to sell for as little as $1,799, which should catch the attention of industry-savvy consumers. While low-cost precision robotic arms can cost on average from $10,000 to $40,000, Flux Integration has changed things by “using off-the-shelf components for actuation and by automating the manufacturing and calibration processes.”

Says Jake Burrows, Lead for Manufacturing Design, “We really had to find what components were readily available and design the arm around those components. Each prototype became a little cleaner.”

Milling toolhead

Milling Attachment

Features of the robotic arm include all of the following attributes:

  • Closed-Loopflx
  • Dynamically Stiff
  • Zero Backlash
  • Backdrivable
  • Trainable
  • Collision Detection

Multiple toolheads can be used with FLX.ARM, allowing it to do multiple tasks.

The 3D-printer toolhead integrates the all metal E3D hot end with their bowden filament drive. Printable materials include:

  •  PLA
  • ABS
  • HIPS
  • Flexible PLA
  • Nylon
  • Polycarbonate

The pick and place toolhead integrates a rotary joint, solenoid valve, and your choice of a venturi vacuum pump or micro-electric vacuum pump.

The light-duty milling toolhead provides a precision mount for the Proxxon IBS/E rotary tool.  The Proxxon IBS/E is capable of 5000 – 20000 rpm and is powered from 115 VAC.  The Proxxon IBS/E is not included but is readily available in most parts of the world. FLX.ARM is able to mill a variety of materials including:

  •  Hardwood
  • Softwood
  • Plywood
  • Aluminum
  • Copper
  • Brass
  • Acrylic
  • ABS
  • Acetal/Delrin
  • FR1-FR4
  • Foam
  • Wax

It’s important to keep in mind that precision robotic arms are challenging to design and produce, but the engineers at Flux Integration have given many months to “refining design and automating processes to limit this difficulty.”After spending four years developing their core technologies and the software and hardware to design and manufacture FLX.ARM at such an affordable price, Flux Integration needs help from their community so that they can take production capabilities to a larger scale for FLX.ARM, and hire additional staff.

Is this a campaign to which you will contribute? What are your thoughts on price?  Let us know in the FLX.ARM forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the Kickstarter pitch video below for further details:

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