Swiss army knife

Meet the Swiss Army Knife of Robotic Arms

From 3D printing to engraving, this amazing machine’s capabilities are seemingly unlimited.

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It wouldn’t be appropriate to call Andrew Wingate’s Evezor an all-in-one robotic arm. Rather, the phrase “everything-in-one” fits the manufacturing platform to a tee, and for good reason. The list of this machine’s capabilities is astounding and near endless: 3D printing, carving, welding, cutting assembling, pouring, milling, drawing, pick and placement, engraving, and more can all be done using the Evezor.

It’s like having a machine shop on your desktop, only this one can serve drinks as well—which you’ll no doubt need with all that extra time you’ll have on hand. Touted as taking you “from prototype to production,” Wingate designed the Evezor to allow its users to see their projects go from idea to packaging seamlessly without the need for multiple production platforms.

Evezor

The Evezor robotic arm.

Evezor

The Evezor robotic arm

“When I started this project over two years ago, my goal wasn’t to make a robotic arm,” he explained. “I had just finished making an automated machine that picked up and drilled 26 holes in tubes, before dropping them off.

“The machine performed wonderfully, but I was unhappy that it would only ever drill holes in tubes,” Wingate continued. “So I searched for a platform that could not only complete that job but be retooled to do whatever job I wanted next.”

Pasimi, via Wikipedia

This still capture comes from a GIF animation showing the SCARA design in motion.

In its infancy, the Evezor was modeled after the SCARA (Selective Compliance Articulated Robotic Arm) assembly robotic design, which features a parallel-axis joint layout with a rigid arm in the Z-axis and an articulated joint on the X/Y axis—much like a human arm with reduced DOF (degrees of freedom).

This layout gives the robotic arm both an extended range of articulation (in the case of Evezor, almost a 3-ft. radius) and the ability to retract up into a folded position, allowing for a small footprint and making it ideal for the job functions mentioned earlier.

The Evezor robotic arm boasts an all-metal steel skeleton outfitted with several Nema 23 motors for articulation while riding a fast-moving 1605 ball screw. The sturdy frame can accommodate the modular-like interchangeable tool heads, some of which can weigh more than 6 lb. These attach to the metal-slotted end of the arm, which features an array of mounting holes for easy tool connection. Since the platform is open-source, users can design and create their own tool heads to go beyond what the Evezor already offers to benefit future endeavors.

Under the hood, the machine packs a Raspberry Pi to control the show with a 7-in. touchscreen (800 × 480) display for the user interface. A pair of cameras (RPi and wide-angle) provide vision processing, while motion control is handled by a SmootieBoard for accurate positioning. As far as software goes, it’s unknown what the Evezor employs. Wingate noted, however, that the platform is derived from the 3D printing community and has RepRap DNA. Considering that it’s open-source, you can use whatever software platform you desire and tailor it to your own needs. Wingate does offer the CAD files hosted on Onshape for those who want to build their own robotic arm, as well as the source files on GitHub.

Evezor

This figure shows Evezor schematic data with a build area of 800 mm.

Evezor

This figure shows Evezor schematic data with a build area of 800 mm.

With all the options available on the Evezor regarding functionality, it will be interesting to see if the robotic arm holds up and where it might evolve to in the future. For Wingate, his vision for the Evezor is easy to see, considering where he began: “I tried my best to make what I call a “low information state” machine. That is, a machine that has the fewest pieces possible.”

That notion is prevalent in Evezor’s simplistic design. “For the motion, there’s two pulleys and a belt—the simplest possible configuration that would have zero backlash,” he explained. “Additionally, there are no extra pieces. You’d call me a utilitarian, but no piece gets a place on board unless it provides at least two functions.”

 As for his vision on the future, “I don’t design for functionality—I design for fertility,” he said. “My designs are about providing you an easy path to create your thing. My designs are perfected when you no longer see them. You only see your thing.”

For those who would like to build their future using Wingate’s Evezor, the machine is currently being crowdfunded on Kickstarter with a starting pledge of $3,162. This gets you the arm and a pair of heads, including Macro Camera and Hardwood Pen Holder.

 

Evezor

Evezor wrote me personally, so I might be a little biased here.

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