CubeSpawn is a system comprised of cubical enclosures, each providing a mechanical frame for a CNC, a Robot, or a step in an industrial process.
each Cube (or "Cell") serves 5 distinct purposes:
- It encloses a predetermined space with a relatively lightweight frame, (a modular system)
- It provides a data connection (Ethernet)
- It supplies electrical power, up to a specified rating.
- It mechanically, electrically and digitally connects to adjacent cells
- It provides and internal bay for discrete electrical and mechanical machinery.
In other words it provides a framework for a manufacturing machine, but leaves the specific function of the machine open to customization.
In the internal bays, two types of "module" can be installed: in the upper bay a smaller electrical/electronics module. in the larger lower bay, a larger Mechanical/Robotic/CNC module.
Each module has an identical interface to the overall system, while being entirely customizable for capability, this provides the basic building blocks to a universal manufacturing system.
The frames will be in four incremental sizes: 300mm, (close to 1 ft) 600mm, 1.2M, and 2.4M
The 600mm Cubes are the initial focus, as this will create useful, bench-top scale machines, while keeping prototyping affordable.
The prototypes thus far consist of a 3 axis mill, a 3D printer, a metal lathe and several parts of a work-handling system.
This Project, like many robotics systems, brings together many pieces from many sources. The System Architecture is not fully formed, and is expected to evolve considerably during the rest of its implementation
The general concept is to integrate elements from the rich opensource environment that has grown up around robotics i.e. ROS, the open CNC movement (EMC/EMC2/LinuxCNC/MachineKit), and 3D Printing via OctoPrint and the other open source tool chains to turn 3D models into objects. (the RepRap is the original inspiration for this project)
CubeSpawns' contribution is to combine this with an open framework for hardware development, the goal of which is to provide a standards based mechanical frame, an Ethernet connection, a power system, and an operating environment.
This simplifies the process for open source machine developers to create new products.
The CubeSpawn team is focused on streamlining the integration of many types of machines by developing standards to tie the functions of multiple machines together into a system.
This will include things like a modular work-holding system (automatable fixturing) A pallet transport system, toolchangers and other "external" elements of an integrated system that are rarely a part of a stand-alone machine design, yet are essential to a system intended for automatic operation.
To The degree possible, existing open source software will be used.