3D print, mill and scan with the FABtotum hybrid fabrication machine
By Heidi Hoopes
August 28, 2013
If you’re in the market for a personal fabrication machine, you probably already know that your budget might allow for a 3D printer or a CNC machine, but not both, and an additional 3D scanner would just be icing. However, all three are now available together on Indiegogo in the form of the FABtotum, one of the first hybrid fabrication machines in a quickly developing market.
I'll explain the name right off: in Latin, a factotum is a human servant responsible for many different things, literally doing and making everything.
This FABtotum, however, is a shiny and neat 36-cm (14-inch) cube available in many color options. The maximum printing size is 210 x 240 x 240 mm (8.3 x 9.5 x 9.5 in), which is large proportionate to its overall footprint. Tools can be easily swapped out and the company will allow third-party tools and parts to be sold on its website – no proprietary spools of printing material to buy, or expensive upgrades.
Additive printing with FABtotum allows for both quick prints and more polished prints with a Z-axis precision of 0.47 microns. Material options with the included CNC head only allow for lightweight materials up to thin aluminum and brass alloys, but users can swap in heads with stronger motors for other materials. The range of applications include milling, including circuit boards, 4-axis engraving, 2.5-D profiling, CNC pre-drilling, and 4-axis machining. The so-called 4th axis is a rotational axis, useful for lathing items or even creating fully 3D objects.
FABtotum’s scanning feature incorporates its 4th axis for touch probe digitization, useful for high accuracy scans, but it also has a laser for quicker scans. Between these two components, the company says that the machine can acquire objects that are smaller and more complex than many other 3D scanners.
Switching from printing to milling can be done easily, but even better is the dual head option allowing for alternate milling and printing without user intervention, adjusting the project, or having to swap parts. Marco Rizzuto explained the system in more detail over email, pointing out that while the system doesn’t allow for both heads to work simultaneously, this was done as a cost-balancing feature due to the expense of the extra parts, and will still be explored later.
Because FABtotum is being released open source, the schematics will be available online. But in addition to expressing interest in a hearty open-source community, the FABtotum also comes off as a valid option for those who don’t have the skills or interest to build their own machine. Buyers are promised replacement heads and two years of repairs. The company is open about design choices, constraints, the full list of specs (available on the Indiegogo page), and expected differences between the prototype machine and the shipped version.
The FABtotum is available for backing on Indiegogo until October 7, with delivery anticipated for May – if the funding goal is met. Pledge options include a fully-finished version for $1,099, a couple of flavors of DIY kits, and discount coupons for those who are interested but can’t commit to the full price now.
In the video below you can see the alpha prototype in action, set to dubstep.