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Raspberry Pi based 3D printer has huge build space

Dec 7, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 1,538 views

[Updated: 1:30PM] — An “AON” Kickstarter project is pitching a $4,500 and up, Pi-based industrial 3D printer with dual FDM extrusion heads and a 18 x 18 x 25-inch chamber.

Montreal-based AON started as a 3D printer service provider, but is now switching to the hardware business after the owners became frustrated with the limitations of the dual-extrusion printers. Limited build sizes, high failure rates, and cracked and warped end products were said to be all too common.

To address these problems, AON built a prototype for a high-end, dual extrusion AON 3D printer with a huge, 18 x 18 x 25-inch (45 x 45 x 64cm) build area that can be heated to up to 70°C. The device is also notable for having a mind of its own in the form of a Raspberry Pi SBC running open source Linux 3D printer host software called OctoPrint.

AON prototype
(click image to enlarge)

With two weeks to go, AON has surpassed the halfway mark to its Kickstarter goal for building 50 units. This would be a modest goal for a typical KS project, but in this case funders are asked to pony up $6,000 Canadian dollars ($4,440 US), soon to rise to $6,500 ($4,810).

It’s not exactly an impulse buy, especially since consumer 3D printers start at under $300, but the eventual retail price will be $5,500 Canadian ($4,070 US). A favorable write-up in suggests the discount price appears to be more than right for this “fascinating” printer.

Like the MakerBot Replicator and most consumer 3D printers, the AON uses a thermoplastic extrusion technology called fused deposition modeling (FDM). Unlike most of these, it offers dual extruder heads, and they can operate independently. You can use both extruders to speed printing on one complex object, or do two identical designs simultaneously, using the same or different colors or filament materials. The design also lets you park one extruder off to the side to minimize the mess and waste of plastic from the oozing of temporarily inactive extruders, say the developers.

AON’s dual independent extruder= heads
(click image to enlarge)

The AON is equipped with an 1800W heater that can heat the chamber up to 70°C. This reduces the warping and cracking that often happens when using high-end materials like ABS, Nylon, or Polycarbonate, claims AON.

High-end E3D Volcano hot ends reinforced with a heat-resistant thermocouple and water cooling help “to eliminate heat creep whether you’re experimenting with crazy high-temp materials or printing with PLA,” says AON. Other especially robust features are said to include a high-end XY gantry featuring 500mm/s travel on the XY axis.

The printer can use any 1.75mm materials, and offers a variety of nozzle sizes ranging from 0.4mm to 1.2mm. AON provides XY resolutions ranging to 0.025mm, and Z resolutions to 0.001mm (both theoretical estimates).

The 80 x 90 x 125cm device integrates an Azteeg X3 Pro controller board with SD8825 SureStepr motor drivers, as well as the WiFi-enabled Raspberry Pi (type undisclosed). The price includes preloaded OctaPrint and a license for a copy of the Simplify3D printer software.

OctaPrint is designed to run on the Raspberry Pi or other embedded Linux boards, and supports a wide variety of 3D printers via WiFi from any web browser, so you don’t need to tether a laptop. The web interface provides the usual print control features, including uploading and previewing gcode files, as well as configurable custom controls. There’s also temperature monitoring, as well as remote visual monitoring via webcam.

Options include a Water Cooled E3D upgrade, and a Stepper Water Cooling Kit. Other options, including a built-in LCD display and PEI Build surface, will be available later as an add-on option. AON plans to open source the design schematics for the printer once all units have shipped to Kickstarter backers.

Further information

At publication time, a few more AON 3D printers were available on Kickstarter for $6,000 Canadian dollars ($4,440 US), with delivery in April 2016, with the next package rising to $6,500 ($4,810 US), with shipments in May. Funding ends Dec. 21. The prices include a license to Simplify3D, as well as discounts to products on materials, spare parts, and accessories to be sold at a future AON online store. More information may be found at AON Kickstarter page.

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