Roboteurs launches Print-A-Bot 3D printable robot arm for teaching design & programming

Posted by Justin Policarpio on

Apr. 13, 2015 | By Alec via

While we come across a lot of cool 3D printable robots that we just love to share with everyone, most of them are unfortunately not easy to reproduce. After all, even if you know your way around a 3D printer most online tutorials and projects expect a fairly detailed understanding of engineering, programming and electronics basics. While most of that can obviously be learned over time, those of us who’ve just bought a 3D printer because we enjoy making little plastic objects for ourselves are easily scared off.

That’s exactly why we were happy to learn about the interesting projects currently being developed by Canadian start-up Roboteurs. We all have to learn the basics of robots somewhere, and founders Justin Policarpio and Reiner Schmidt specialize in exactly that educational aspect of 3D printed robotics. Their flagship product can be seen above; it’s the Print-A-Bot ARM 3D printed robotic arm, that has been designed to be assembled, programmed and used by high school students, engineering departments of universities and ambitious makers who need a refreshment course of robots (and a cool robotic arm).

As the duo explains on their website, Roboteurs is an Ontario-based start-up that aims to cater to all the educational needs robotics brings to students at all levels of learning. ‘Currently the company has in its pipeline products for high school level students, as well as advanced robotics for University and College level students, one of which specifically allows for schools to save large costs when purchasing industry robots for teaching,’ they write.

Both men have that beta background that so many of us hobbyists are missing. Policarpio was an undergraduate at McMaster University in Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and holds a master’s in Engineering, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. His partner-in-crime, meanwhile is somewhat of a robotics mastermind who is constantly building robots of all shapes and sizes, while studying Technology at McMaster University. Together, they began Roboteurs as a blog on robotics before noticing that the web was lacking the means to properly introduce all those curious makers to that field. With Reiner as the chief roboticist and Policarpio as the general manager, they set out on a start-up adventure to begin teaching robotics to students and everyone who will listen.

And their 3D printed flagship product does exactly that. They have recently released their Print-A-Bot ARM, which has been designed to be 3D printed on any entry-level. ‘We've designed a booster pack that works with any TI Launchpad that is compatible with the G2 format (ie. MSP430). The first model we've made is a 4 axis ARM with a gripper. We have some other designs but will release those later,’ they write.

And its remarkably easy to make, program and play with. If you happen to have a 3D printer at home, you can simply download all necessary files from the Roboteurs website here. All you will need to purchase are a couple of programming and electronics essentials – a Servo Control Card, an MSP430 Launchpad, a 5v power supply and a Mini Metal gear servo –  all of which have been conveniently listed alongside the files. It means you can have all you need to build a robot for just about $75. Alternatively, you can buy a complete kit, featuring all 3D printed parts, for $150.

All three educational videos have been edited together into this clip.

Now everything about this robot arm has an educational purpose, and through a set of three YouTube clips, all necessary steps in assembling and building a Print-A-Bot ARM are explained in detail. These cover assembly, installing the electronics and even how to write a code. It’s perfect project for introducing high school students to the basics of robotics, or even for adults who haven’t touched soldering equipment in 25 years or so.

While already an excellent product, we can expect to see a lot more from Roboteurs in the coming months. For starters, they are already working on an upgrade for the Print-A-Bot arm to enable complete customization. ‘We're almost done our website for our Print-A-Bot collection. You'll be able to customize your robots, pick different parts, colours, etc. - plus you can decide whether you want us to print the parts, or if you'd like to just print the parts yourself at home,’ the duo says.

The forthcoming ORCA.

The ORCA robot is also forthcoming (short for Off Road robot ith Central Articulation) which has been based on the original moon rover design and will cover the basics of driving. And then a bit more far off are the LearnBots: ‘These were a part of our Table Top Robot collection. These robots mimic industry standard robots. Less cost for the educational institution, and more learning time for the students,’ Policarpio and Reiner write. It definitely means we haven’t seen the last of the 3D printed robots by Roboteurs.