In the past few months the world has seen the power of 3D printing in action. As Covid-19 continues to disrupt and overwhelm global supply chains the 3D printing community has stepped in to fill the gaps with masks, face shields, swabs, ventilator parts, and more. The importance of local and on-demand manufacturing has never been more clear.
Imagine if every small business, college, hospital, or fortune 500 company had just one 3D printer? Of five of them? Just imagine the impact this would have. It’s time for all industries to get involved with 3D printing. It’s time to establish your own manufacturing plant. Your own print farm. Your own creative space. It’s time for you to get the essential office machine.
Essential Machine – Essential Accessories
We are proud to introduce our new F1 3D Printer and line of F-Series accessories. It’s where high performance meets incredible value. We did our best to infuse the F1 with best-in-class safety, print quality, and reliability. It’s also the most affordable industrial grade 3D printer we have ever built. We also did our best to design much needed accessories that work with nearly all 3D printers on the market today.
NOTE: just to be clear, the F1 printer does not come with an F-BOX, F-PAC, or F-FLEX, these must be added to your pledge. See the FAQ.
Note: F1 printers do not include the F-BOX, F-PAC, or F-FLEX accessories, even though it’s shown in the photo. The F1 reward tiers correctly list the items that are included with the F1.
We take safety very seriously because we know where our F1 printers are going to end up: at hospitals, business offices, schools, research labs, shop floors, college dorm rooms, and of course, people’s homes. We all know that 3D printers are run overnight, and sometimes for days on end. We also know that many users run their printers unattended. That’s why we built a printer with unmatched safety features.
Advanced thermal runaway protection. What’s thermal runaway? Basically, it’s when your hot end keeps heating up and wont shut down until you cut the power. This can happen if your controller board fails, the temp sensor fails, the temp sensor gets dislodged from the heater block, or your firmware freezes and fails to reset.
Most printers on the market today only rely on firmware to protect against thermal runaway. Software is not good enough. To make matters worse a lot of cheap printers didn’t even enable these basic software protections, even though they are built into the firmware. In the vast majority of cases firmware protection works well at protecting you. However, no firmware is going to protect you if it crashes or if you experience a controller board or temp sensor failure.
The F1 solution. That’s why the F1 incorporates redundant specialty electronic power cut-off circuits. These specialty circuits are completely independent from the firmware or other software controls. In other words, a bad transistor or crashed firmware is not going to prevent the specialty safety circuit from doing its job. The F1 also uses two temp sensors for added security. That’s right, two temp inputs, and each input is run through it’s own specialty circuit. If the circuit reads a temp higher than 325 C it will cut the power to your hot end. Please see the illustration below.
Better temp sensors, mounted better. The F1 uses PT100 temperature sensors made from Platinum, so they are extremely reliable. Furthermore, we designed our hot end to specifically prevent the temp sensors from dislodging during use. First, we use TWO temp sensors to add redundancy, as mentioned above. Second, we use multiple fastening points to retain the sensors. Third, our temp sensors are potted into metal cartridges, which allows us to attach them more securely. Finally, we engineered the cable management of the hot end wires to further prevent the sensors from coming loose.
Special hot end heat break and heat sink. We also use a special Bi-Metallic heat break sourced from Slice Engineering to keep the heat in the heater block instead of migrating upward into the rest of the hot end assembly. Not only does this improve the printing process, it makes the hot end safer overall. Finally, we designed our own heat sink to bleed off any excess heat that rises from the heat break.
The filament drive and hot end mount uses UL approved flame retardant materials for an extra level of safety. The hot end heat sink and heat break were designed to bleed off the heat before it can rise and damage the other components on the print head.
Insulated and guarded heater block. The stainless steel guard around the heater block helps reduce severe burning. It still gets very hot, so be careful!
All connectors are genuine MOLEX brand, not some cheap offshore knockoff found on many 3D printers. Moreover, we selected connectors that are rated to carry at least double the circuits required amperage. If that wasn’t enough, we only use glow wire rated connector housings. This means that if you take a hot iron (the glow wire) and pushed it into the connector, the connector would just melt instead of burning up.
Special Z rod guards protect your hair and fingers from getting pinched or wrapped up. Each Z Axis lead screw gets its own guard. This also keeps the lead screws cleaner and reduces maintenance.
Advanced firmware. The F1 uses a modular firmware by Repetier that includes the standard thermal runaway protections found in other firmwares, but it also includes a watchdog system that helps identify firmware crashes. If a crash is detected it resets the printer to rectify the situation.
2. Print Quality
How do we achieve best-in-class print quality? We do it by getting rid of resonance, zero crossing moire patterns, ringing, z wobble, thermal banding, and other artifacts that show up in your prints. Oh, how did we do that? Now that’s where it gets complicated! It involved engineering, proper selection of components, and lot’s of testing. Here’s a few examples.
We started by making the F1 frame and gantry system as strong and rigid as we could. The frame is then perfectly squared during assembly, and will stay that way for the life of the printer (unless you drop it off your desk onto a concrete floor!). Next, we engineered a simple but effective chassis dampening system using visco-elastic polymer because it has a very high dampening coefficient. It combines shock absorption, good memory, vibration isolation and vibration damping characteristics. Cheap rubber feet would have saved us a lot of money, but that’s not what the F1 is about.
Next, we designed the best filament drive and hot end we could. Our filament drive uses our special filament drive gears and gear reduction design for increased power and precision. The drive gears are hardened steel and the reduction gears are stainless steel, not plastic. The F1 hot end is all metal and carbon fiber ready. The key to making a high performance hot end that works with a large spectrum of filament types is to use a heat break that has the highest temp gradient you can find.
3D printing is about more than just creating “perfect” and pretty looking prints. Best-in-class print quality is also about parts that are accurate, and fit together. Parts that have sharp corners and no over extrusion.
The F1’s firmware incorporates a hot end pressure balancing feature that reduces the extruder movement precisely as needed before the hot end reaches any portion of the part that slows down. This allows the pressure inside the hot end to release and do the extruding instead of the filament drive. It’s clever and it works great. In fact, the F1 doesn’t require any slicer tricks, like coasting or wiping (combing).
Here is an example of the quality you can expect from your new F1. Most of these prints are just stunning, and big credit goes to the following designers: Fotis Mint, Clockspring3D, Wekster, Daniel Noree, 3Dprintlab, and Sid Naique. We’ll have full credits and high res photos for these designers up on our website soon.
This model by clockspring3d is a great example of what print-in-place looks like.
This is varioshore filament from colorFabb. You can change the level of softness by changing the temperature. This part is all the same filament!
It starts with engineering and ends with the selection of premium components and high quality manufacturing.
Better by design.
We all know that hot ends jam for a variety of reasons. The cause is usually wet filament, improper retract settings, bad temp settings, poor quality filament (bad diameter tolerance or debris in the filament) and bad hot end engineering. Oh, leaving the hot end idle at full temp for a few hours is another great way to jam your hot end! If you’re like us you’re not perfect, that’s why the F1 hot end can be changed in seconds. This makes it fast and easy to change nozzles too.
Lets take a close look at the 600 watt power supply built by Artesyn. The price of this key component is over $250. Heck, you can buy an entire offshore 3D printer for this price! So why do we use a premium power supply instead of one we can source offshore for 25 dollars, or less? Reliability and performance and safety. Our power supply incorporates PFC (power factor correction) which ensures that input voltage and current waveforms are as sinusoidal as possible. Besides, PFC is required by international regulations. Cheap power supplies don’t use PFC and are not as reliable. Our power supply carries a 2 year warranty and should run for many years under normal use.
Another example is our Vanadium nozzles made by Slice Engineering. These high speed steel nozzles are alloyed with Vanadium (increases strength and hardness) and then hardened to 65 Rockwell C. They cost over 30 dollars and imported nozzles cost less than 2. You get what you pay for. Slice nozzles carry a lifetime warranty against abrasion, and cheap nozzles wont last one roll of carbon fiber filament. We want you to swap nozzles to change your extrusion widths, not because they’re worn out.
Is the F1 for you?
We built the F1 for every type of business, school, or organization. It’s a true industrial grade printer, so this means it’s perfect for work groups big and small. It’s also ideal for print farms and maker spaces. The F1 is a high performance printer with advanced safety features. This means it’s safe enough for hospitals, research labs, schools, offices, and of course, your home.
STACKER F1 FEATURES
- T-Slot Accessory Rail: Use the upper rail to mount your tool caddy, webcam, filament spool holders, etc
- Zero Maintenance V-Slot Wheels: ultra smooth, no noise linear motion
- Quad-Gear Filament Drive: powerful and flex filament ready
- Quick Change Hot Ends: swap nozzle sizes fast, all metal, 310C max temp
- Hardened Steel Nozzle: a must for abrasive filaments, made by Slice Engineering
- Dual Heater Blocks: faster and more even heat distribution for more even extrusion
- Redundant Electrical Cut-Off Circuits: These special circuits guard against thermal run-away of the hot end, the most critical part in any 3d printers. Provides: an extra safeguard beyond the standard firmware protections (firmware alone is not enough!), a must for safer printing, uses dual PT100 temp sensors for even more reliability
- Ultra Flat Print Bed: with auto bed leveling,a flat bed is key for proper fitting parts, bed leveling is, and should only be, for adjusting first layer heights to the particular bed surface
- Print Bed: Cast aluminum precision ground, with a 300 watt silicone mat heater and “Level Once” bed levelers.
- Carry Handle and LED Light Bar: comfortable grip and looks cool
- Customizable Front Logo Plate: print your own in the color you like
- Dual Z Screw Guards: keeps hands and hair safe
- 600 Watt Industrial Grade PSU: PFC type for EU regulations, smoothes out A/C pulses, more efficient, quiet,safe, reliable. Artesyn model LCM600Q-N
- Stacker Designed 32bit Electronics: faster printing, smoother and quieter operation, advanced safety features built-in
- Wire free controller box: eliminates the potential for shorted wires and reduces heat and complexity
- Genuine Molex Brand Glow Wire Electrical Connectors: Safest connectors on the market, oversized to easily handle the current loads.
- Motor Drivers: ultra quiet type for smooth operation
- High Resolution Stepper Motors: 2X more precision over standard motors
- Ultra-Rigid Frame and Ganty: superior prints at a faster pace
- Flexplate System with BuildTak PC and PEI Bed Surfaces: optional nylon surface also available
- Visco-elastic Dampening System: reduces noise and vibration, better print quality, won’t mar your table top
- Repetier Firmware: our custom version uses advanced motion planning and pressure balancing hot end controls to prevent over extrusion
- Repetier Server Software (requires dedicated pc, linux embedded device, or Pi): the best way to control your printer from any web enabled device, webcam option, time lapse, and a host of other amazing features, enterprise ready, NO WIFI for increased security (you can add WIFI with a Pi, we strongly recommend ethernet)
- Slicing software: One licence for Simplify3D, powerful and highly accurate slicing, multiple process feature, fantastic multi material print capabilities and the industry standard for generating support structures that break away cleanly.
- 285 x 285 x 285 mm Print Size: big prints from compact desk-sized printer
- Compact Frame: fits on your desk
- Filament Spool Location: Multiple mounts available for front, top, rear mounting
- F-BOX Compatible: Mounts in multiple locations
- Made in the USA
Print Bed Surfaces
We partnered with BuildTak to manufacture our custom printed PEI and Polycarbonate bed sheets and flex plate system for two reasons. First, they know what they’re doing. They are also a print shop, so they know how to produce high quality prints. Second, they make their products in the USA, and they don’t use cheap offshore components. Again, it’s not the cheapest way to make a 3D printer, just the best. The F1 comes with a single steel flex plate, a mag base, and one sheet each of the PEI and PC. The black sheet is genuine Garolite and works amazingly well for nylon, sold separately. The PEI sheet has easier part release for a wider range of materials, but doesn’t hold has tight as the original PC sheet, especially when using PLA, PC, and PETG.
Autodesk/Kickstarter FDM Test
We scored 28 out of 30. If you’re getting a lot of stringing between the spires it probably means that your filament needs to be dried (and/or your retract and esteps are incorrect). Here’s how we scored it. Go here for more info on this test.
- Dimensional Accuracy: Score of 5
- Fine Flow Control: Score of 5
- Fine Negative Features: Score of 4
- Overhangs: Score of 4
- Bridging: Score of 5
- XY Resonance: Score of 2.5
- Z-axis alignment: Score of 2.5
It starts with a sketch
Step one for any new product starts as an inspiration, filling of a need, and filling of a demand. And then we sketch the product, the market, the features, etc. In other words, we make more of a story board than a pure sketch. It gave us a road map before we started the CAD modelling stages. As soon as we started to generate CAD models we began to test.
Here we’re discussing the relationships between our key verticals and feature set. It’s super important to understand what the market demand is so you can deliver on the final product. Below is the final CAD model we used for the printers you see in the video.
We usually begin by building discrete sub assemblies and important components, like the F1 Y axis (print bed) assembly shown below. The F1 uses a special 80mm wide extrusion for the Y axis, or moving print bed. This gives it rock solid stability so your prints come out accurate and looking fantastic.
The frames are now complete.
And then we keep adding more and more components until we’re getting close to a finished prototype. We use advanced prototyping shops for metal, CNC, 3D printing (including a lot of prints on our own fleet of 3D printers), and fabrication. We like to have prototypes that VERY closely relate to the final product. This type of prototyping style costs more up front, but saves you a TON of headaches later when you’re into production of your first units. It just helps eliminate the inevitable surprises!
We went through a number of filament drive iterations until we finally settled on design shown on the bottom of this photo. We’re especially proud of our filament drive because it’s just so reliable, and so strong, and so light. It integrates the following components into a single 3D printed production part.
- adjustable print head mounting bracket
- filament out sensor bracket
- fan mount bracket
- ABL sensor mount
- blower mount bracket
- hot end attachment bracket
- wire and cable management
- filament guide tube mount
- belt guard
No matter what printer you own or what type of printing you do, we all want stronger, better looking, and more reliable 3D prints. It’s why we spend our money on top quality printers, filament, and other performance upgrades like better nozzles.
But there is one performance upgrade that is better than all the rest combined. This upgrade is guaranteed to make your prints stronger and better looking, and this upgrade works on any 3D printer. And it’s really affordable.
It’s called dry filament!
No question about it, dry filament makes your prints stronger, better looking, and the printing process more reliable. The problem is that there is no easy and quick way to dry your filament, and keep it that way while you’re printing. If there was we would all be doing it. The current ways of doing it are just not very convenient, compact, and effective.
The F-BOX works with ALL 3D printers (that use filament of course!). We already have designed custom mounting brackets for most popular printers. CAD files and STL modes will be available on our website by the time this product ships. Or, simply feed your filament from the desktop, as shown above. Use the PTFE guide tube that comes with every F-BOX.
WHY WE NEED TO USE DRY FILAMENT
Nobody likes ugly prints with a poor surface finish, so for this reason alone you should be drying your filament, but there are two more important reasons.
First, dry filament produces much stronger parts. You dry your filament to prevent polymer chain degradation, known as hydrolysis. Hydrolysis leads to really weak parts. The strength of your filament is derived from long chains of polymers. When humidity gets into your filament it acts like a knife, cutting up the long polymer chains into much shorter ones.
Once your filament is dry you need to keep it this way at all times, before, during, and after the printing process is complete. In other words, drying your filament is good, but if you don’t dispense it from a dry box it will pick up new moisture in as little as 15 minutes. Also, don’t expect your filament to be dry from the factory. It’s not even close. Polyethylene bags are not impervious to air moisture.
What size spools does it fit?
1 Kg spools and smaller
- Reduces jamming and stringing
- Dramatically improves print quality and layer bond strength
- Works with all filament, especially needed for ABS, PLA, PETG, PVA, Nylon,
- Keeps your filament dry, clean, and safe
- Helps reduce filament overrides
- Stackable design saves space
- Saves you time and money
- Better first layer adhesion
- Keeps you filament clean and dry
Note: the F-BOX comes with TWO desiccant packs, not three as shown in some photos.
- Exclusive square thru hole allows you to mount the F-BOX directly to any 3D printer! (may require printing a new square post spool holder, STL files available on our website).
• Special seals keep out the moisture and dust.
• Four quick release latches ensure a tight seal
• Open lid design allows for fast filament spool changes
• High performance quick change desiccant cartridges.
• Color changing desiccant to let you know when a recharge is necessary
• See thru box design for easy identification of filament levels, color, type, etc
• Bowden tube fittings allow for closed loop dispensing and custom length tubes
• Stackable, nesting, interlocking design.
• Tightly sealed box to extend the life of your desiccant
• Recharge your desiccant over and over and over.
We spent months perfecting the design of the F-BOX. There’s a lot more to this product than meets the eye. Take the spool post, it snaps into the main housing and has two special seals to keep out the elements, while allowing your filament to effortlessly unspool. The lid has four latches to ensure a proper seal. The high quality fitting has dual o-rings to create a perfect seal. The feet allow the boxes to stack and nest. Finally, the exclusive square thru hole allows the F-BOX to be mounted directly on your printer.
F-BOX early prototypes
As you can see our first model was, how should we say, a start? It was a bit too big and clumsy. By model two we were off to the races and our final iteration proved to be everything we wanted. Along the way we went through MANY iterations of the feet, latches, and center post, not to mention the gasket types, sizes, etc. There is a lot more to this product than meets the eye.
We combined our F-BOX, F-PAC, and F-Flex into the Essential Accessory Kit.
F-FLEX Part Removal Tool
Removing prints from the build plate is an essential aspect to 3D printing in general. Even with modern “flex” plates, like those on the F1 and many other printers, the preferred method is still the scraper, especially for smaller parts.
The problem with using a putty knife is the blade is too thick, the edge too dull, and the corners to sharp. We designed the F-FLEX to solve these problems.
First, we designed the blade with just the right amount of flex. Second, we made the blade incredibly thin and sharp, very sharp. Third, we gave the blade special rounded edges to prevent it from digging into your build plate. Fourth, we fitted it with an ergonomic soft grip handle. Finally, a striking cap in the handle will allow you to “knock-off” your models.
We can’t stress this point enough, THIS BLADE IS EXTREMELY SHARP! So please be careful and do not let children use this product. Always keep your hands behind the blade in case your print suddenly breaks loose.
F-PAC High Performance Desiccant Pack
We know that most users store their opened spools of filament in big airtight containers, like these. It’s simple, effective, and affordable. Just make sure you’re using ones with foam gaskets for the best performance. It’s surprising how long your filament will stay dry in these boxes if you use enough desiccant. That’s why we designed the F-PAC.
WHAT IS IT?
The F-PAC is a custom designed high capacity desiccant pack used for keeping your filament dry. Contains approximately 2.5 lbs (1130 grams) of desiccant.
WHAT SIZE CONTAINER DOES IT FIT?
It fits virtually EVERY container on the market today. Use one F-PAC for 5 -10 gallon containers, and more for larger ones.The size of the F-PAC is about the same size as a spool of filament.
WHAT DOES IT DO?
The F-PAC is a high performance molecular sieve. It absorbs moisture from the air.
• High performance desiccant
• Color changing desiccant to let you know when a recharge is necessary, the orange color is NOT a hazardous substance (the blue desiccant contains cobalt, and is hazardous).
• Recharge your desiccant over and over and over, great value.
- Weight: 2.5lbs (1130 grams)
- Shipping weight: 3 lbs
- Box material: Polycarbonate
- Chemical Description Orange to Green Indicating Silica Gel
- Formula SiO2 + H2O + C25H30ClN3
- CAS (R Phrase Classification) 112926-00-8 amorphous silica 98.2%, activated coloring agent 0.2% max
Making a video during a pandemic
We thought long and hard about how we were going to keep everyone safe in our office. Of course the first thing we did was have everyone wear a mask during the entire shoot, except for some on camera work. We also limited the number of team members present at the shoot to just a small handful. Finally, we opened all the doors and windows and we used a number of portable HEPA air filtration units. The good news is that nobody got sick and we are all extremely grateful for that.
Why we chose Kickstarter?
For us this was an easy decision. First, this is our third campaign, so we have come to really value our backers on this platform. Second, Kickstarter is a fantastic platform to let the world know about your new ideas. Finally, most trade shows have been canceled for 2020 and this limited our reach. Getting early backers is so crucial to these types of products, because they take a huge amount of up front cash for molds and inventories. It’s backers like you that really make a difference in the world. Without you a lot of products would simply never see the light of day, even from established companies. Thank you for your support Kickstarter!
We are really impressed by the printer at least via the videos and photos and the company. The design specifications and promised capabilities are impressive too. We backed the accessories since they are in the budget. If we had the funds we would back the kickstarter without a doubt or hesitation!