This morning as we were discussing parts for a bot I decided to see how much I could come up with from what I had on my workbench. Could I make a robot only using what I have on hand? Well, no, but that’s doesn’t mean I need to order parts. To the left of me was my 5 year old Solidoodle 2 and that felt like fair game since it hadn’t been used to make parts in years.
But would it work?
Would the parts be pretty?
Would it be compatible with the newest software?
Let’s plug it in and see!
So I did. I grabbed a laptop, loaded Repetier software on it and fired up the 3d printer. After a few tweaks and some time spent in calibration I was making functional parts. It is actually cranking out Nema17 stepper motor mounts as we speak (or, rather, as I type). Sure, they aren’t the most gorgeous things in the world, but they work and they are nigh indestructible.
So why do we have this notion in our mind that everything has to be new to be great. Lately we have seen a number of robotics companies come and go (with significant funding behind them) while RoboGnosis is still around. Rethink Robotics, Mayfield, and others have shut their doors recently despite being flush with millions of dollars from investors.
If you ask me (go ahead, ask) I’ll tell you that it’s more than about what is new … it’s about implementation. The robotics industry needs to stop funding research firms for tens of millions of dollars that have no actual customers and instead turn their eyes towards the little companies that are doing it for real.
Just like my Solidoodle. It may be old, and it may not be the newest technology but it does what I need it to. Just like we do for our customers. If that keeps big time investors away from us then so be it, but we’re still standing and we still will be in another ten.