Before I skip to the science, an update on timings for Little Printer.
For those of you who’ve asked for dates and details, we can now say that the beta product will launch in the first half of this year. We know email inboxes are busy places, and so if you’ve signed up to receive news via the mailing list, please don’t think our silence means you’ve been forgotten. We’ll mail you just as soon as we have news you can act on—like the dates of the launch itself and the chance to pre-order.
The latest news is that tooling for production is well underway. Below is an action shot of electrical discharge machining (EDM) also known as sparking.
EDM is used to make some of the more detailed or complicated shapes for injection moulds, where mechanical machining techniques would be ineffective. In this instance, the mould will be used to form some of the internal components for Little Printer.
The liquid you can see is dielectric, acting as an electrical insulator, which is polarised when an electric field is applied. The photo also shows a large workpiece – the steel block, which will become the mould itself – and the electrode, the copper coloured piece in the vice.
Both metal parts are submerged in the dielectric fluid and connected to a power supply. As the electrode approaches the workpiece a spark jumps between the two pieces, and the surface of the workpiece is eroded, ultimately carving an inverse shape of the piece to be created as the fluid flushes the removed metal away.
As detailed as it might be, this is just one section of the mould—you can see another piece below (you might be able to spot the shape of some legs in there too).
Aside from the physical manufacture, work is continuing in earnest on every part of Little Printer, both digital and physical. We’re just about to finalise the packaging design, and work is coming to a close on the second (and final) round of visuals for the mobile UI.
…So, we’d better get back to it!