Wyoming-based Avante Technology announced a new type of 3D printer controller board.
The new board, called the “Fabricatus High Performance Electronic Controller Board v2.0”, is designed specifically for industrial grade 3D printers, as it includes a variety of features for that market.
Many of the controller boards used in common desktop 3D printers are in fact Arduinos or derivatives, and in some cases even Raspberry Pi’s. These are good, reliable boards, but they don’t often offer the performance required by high speed operations.
Avante Technology’s new board includes a powerful ARM Coretex M3 CPU that is designed for real time operations. In fact, the company has developed a proprietary real time operating system (RTOS), StreakOS, to run the system.
The key to this board and system is that it is “real time”; the operating system takes full advantage of the multiple cores to enable full multitasking operations. In other words, non-critical operations, such as managing the LCD panel display, or activating fans will not interrupt the core motion activities that print quality utterly depends upon.
The new Fabricatus board is able to accommodate six drive motors, with an option to add another two. This means the device can support a dual extruder machine directly, and more if required.
There’s another interesting feature: fail safe circuitry, used to protect board integrity. This feature automatically triggers if temperature controls fail. They explain:
A watchdog circuit manages the power supply for the heaters and motors, preventing them from being powered unless the FabricatusTM firmware is operating properly.
I’m not sure how exactly they do that, but it certainly will save some 3D printers from being bricked, as does happen from time to time.
They also ground all components to “prevent board burnout in case of component failure”, and “High current heater circuits are fused to prevent ribbon cables from being damaged in case of component failure”.
Now you must remember that this is only a controller board, and is not a 3D printer. Their intent is to sell this board to manufacturers who wish to incorporate an industrial-grade controller into their own products.
This might be an interesting option for some manufacturers of professional-level desktop 3D printers as a way to provide additional reliability and performance. I’m not sure which manufacturers might be interested in pursuing a deal with Avante Technology, but I am sure several may do so.
In the future, we may see high-level desktop 3D printers operating with this controller board hidden inside.
But for now, we must wait the arrival of the board, which is set to ship in November. While the list price is to be USD$350, you can pre-order one for only USD$299, quantity one. And yes, they’ll no doubt offer volume discounts to 3D printer manufacturers.