RapMan – The Future is here Today!
A1 Technologies has just launched the revolutionary RapMan, a cutting-edge 3D printer that is also highly affordable.
The last few decades have seen a huge increase in the use of rapid prototyping (RP) —sometimes referred to as 3D printing — and rapid manufacturing (RM) across many industry sectors.
Computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) is a core part of the national curriculum, yet many schools struggle to deliver the manufacturing side (CAM) because, to date, the equipment has proved too expensive.
Until now, the lowest cost 3D printer has been the SD300, which builds good solid models out of layers of PVC sheet. This has proven to be a good technology both for designers/ manufacturers and for schools. However, priced at over £11,000, it is affordable for only a limited number of schools — for many it is out of reach.
A1 Technologies is therefore launching the RapMan 3D printer, which will allow this genre of technology to be affordable for all schools with Design & Technology on their curriculum and also within the new Diplomas for Engineering, Construction and Manufacturing. It is also a great tool for after-school engineering clubs.
A1 Technologies’ RapMan comes in kit form. Building the RapMan allows pupils to learn basic engineering principles; research has demonstrated that it is well within the capabilities of 14 year olds, or even younger. Once the RapMan is built, 3D parts can then be produced using a specially designed extruder head laying down a fine bead of molten plastic.
3D printing typically takes place inside a ‘black box’, which means that pupils are divorced from the process. With the RapMan, the printing is completely open to view; the machine has been specially designed using clear acrylic parts so that students can see and understand the production process.
Accessibility does not just apply to the use of the machine; it is also accessible in terms of price. At £750, it will cost more than £10,000 less than the nearest equivalent product! The price includes everything needed to assemble and run the equipment, including software to slice an .stl file and convert it into the G Code read by the RapMan machine.
RapMan is also highly cost effective to run, with materials costing from £20 per kilo. This means that a typical 3D model produced on the RapMan will cost pence rather than pounds.
RapMan also offers a good variety of materials. Supplied in filament form in 1kg reels, the RapMan can extrude a wide range of polymers, including ABS (widely used in car parts amongst other applications).
A1 Technologies recommends starting with ABS as it is strong and gives an excellent finish. Other material choices include polyethylene (high and low density), polypropylene, polystyrene, PVC, polycarbonate and polylactic acid, which is starch-based and therefore bio-degradable.
A1 Technologies’ CEO, Martin Stevens, said: “We are very excited about this new product as we believe it will allow schools to deliver the curriculum more effectively. The price falls within the budget of most schools’ D&T departments and it will change the way D&T and engineering are taught.
“RapMan was recently launched at the BETT Show and visitors to the stand were wowed not only by the concept but also the price.
“When asked to guess the retail price most suggestions were between £3,000 and £8,000. They were amazed to learn the actual sales price — £750 for a complete RapMan kit.
“We have also been intrigued that an educational product should attract such a high level of interest from industry. We have been getting at least as many enquiries from companies wishing to engage with 3D printing for the first time, at a price they can afford, as well as those who are already active in this field, but wish to have the opportunity to produce low cost early stage prototypes.”
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