a4In the last two to three years we have seen an explosion within the RepRap community with all sorts of new designs for 3D printable 3D printers. As the number of potential machines grow, nearly exponentially, so does the need for components for those printers.

When I first found out about the RepRap movement, I had barely even understood how typical FFF-based 3D printers had worked. All I knew was that the thought of 3D printing a 3D printer intrigued me to no end. As I read more and more about RepRap I began tinkering around in my garage, eventually constructing my own 3D printer out of parts I printed on an old MakerBot. The printer worked, but not all that well. I used cheap components and a cheap control board which made things clunky and probably not worth the effort it took to construct the printer.

Here we are several years later and RepRappers now have so many awesome design options to choose from in addition to components and control boards which would have made me drool when I constructed my first 3D printer. To bring even more optimism to the RepRap crowd, Perugia, Italy-based company 3DArtists.org has just launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for what they claim to be ‘the new generation electronic for RepRap 3D printers’, the Alligator Board.

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The Alligator board is perfect for standard Cartesian-based 3D printers, but will suit the more data-intensive Delta-style 3D printers as well. The company has been working on these boards for approximately a year before finally unveiling them at Maker Faire Rome 2014. The Alligator board has the following features:

  • CPU Cortex M3 Atmel ATSAM3X8EA-AU, Arduino-Due-Compatible
  • High Current connector for power input, bed and hot-end heatersa2
  • Power Input 12-24Vdc
  • 4x Stepper Motor driver running at 1/16 or 1/32 microstep and based on Texas Instrument DRV8825
  • 6x End-Stop input compatible with both mechanical and optical/magnetic solution
  • 2x Precision analog input for temperature measurement with RTD
  • 2x External FAN output with PWM speed control
  • 3x Generic PWM open drain output
  • High current Hot-End Heater driver output
  • High current Bed Heater driver output
  • 32MB External Flash memory, and 64Kbit EEPROM
  • Micro USB connector
  • Native USB port
  • A microSD Slot
  • 10/100 Ethernet Port
  • 26 pin Raspberry-PI Compatible expansion connector

Now the company just needs one thing to begin mass production of these boards, and that is cash! This week they’ve launched their Indiegogo campaign to raise €10,000 by April 7th by pre-selling the Alligator boards along with several expansion pack options. The expansion options include the Piggy Module Lite, which allows for one additional extruder, and the Piggy Module Plus which will allow for the addition of up to three more extruders. There is also a Thermocouple Module being made available, as well as an entire package which includes the Thermocouple and Piggy Module Plus expansions, along with the base Alligator Board

Piggy Expansion

Piggy Expansion

For those interested in pre-ordering any of the packages listed above, while also helping 3DArtists reach their Indiegogo goal, the Thermocouple Module is priced at €20, the Alligator Board starts at €160, Piggy Lite Expansion €40, Piggy Plus €90, and the complete bundle starts at just €250. The first units of the Alligator board should begin shipping in April with the Piggy Modules and Thermocouple Module shipping sometime in June.

Let us know if you have pre-ordered any of these boards, as well as your thoughts on the specifications of each. Discuss in the Alligator Board forum thread on 3DPB.com.  Check out 3DArtists’ Indiegogo pitch video below:

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