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Another Desktop Factory Promises To Print And Mill Its Way Into Your Heart

With a fourth spindle-like axis, the FABtotum desktop factory does it all: 3-D prints, cuts, mills, and bevels–and it’s already got a fully funded Indiegogo campaign.

Another Desktop Factory Promises To Print And Mill Its Way Into Your Heart

Earlier this week we covered MEbotics, a company that’s well on its way to launching a Kickstarter for the Microfactory, its work-safe 3-D printing/milling/crafting desktop machine. But it looks like someone else beat them to the punch: The FABtotum, which launched on Indiegogo over a week ago, has already beat its funding goal by $20,000 and will be entering production soon.

Like the Microfactory, the FABtotum prints in 3-D with PLA and ABS materials (at an impressive minimum 47 micron depth, too). But it’s the subtractive milling that really lights our fire: Unlike the Microfactory, the FABtotum includes a removable baseplate that exposes a rotating spindle–allowing objects to spin as a drill cuts away unwanted material, lathe-style.

The engraving/milling spindle motor works with “common materials” like wood, light aluminum, and brass alloys, and like the Microfactory, the FABtotum can mill PCB, enabling DIY circuit boards. The beast also has a built-in laser scanner for digital acquisition (of medium quality, they admit) and a one-dimension touch probe digitizer that allows you to convert objects into print files at high resolution (but with long scan times).

The Indiegogo campaign markets FABtotum as a platform, not a one-off printer. The head is detachable, allowing for third-party add-ons like potentially stronger drill motors and laser cutters, and the platform is open-source: FABtotum uses Arduino-based controllers for I/O, and its designs are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The FABtotum’s Indiegogo price point for a DIY FABtotum kit is $999 ($100 for a fully assembled model), making it one of the most affordable high-res printers around. For $699, you can even try the FABtotum Mechanical DIY kit, which is a small collection of parts that will let you add FABtotum features to an existing 3-D printer in as little as 5-10 hours. The FABtotum doesn’t look quite as workplace-robust (much less be able to hold up a 350-lb man) as the Microfactory, but it will be hard to make a fair price-per-feature comparison until MEbotics Kickstarts its machine in the coming weeks. Regardless, all signs point to a coming second 3-D-printing revolution with machine shops in a box leading the way.

[Image: FABtotum]

About the author

David Lumb is a tech writer who dabbled in the startup world and once did an investigative article on pizza.