The Smoothie board is a controller board for 3D printers/robots/CNC machines. It’s been touted as the best one around for a while now, but has been difficult to get hold of as it’s been limited to prototype or DIY models. This looks set to change with a launch on Kickstarter to sell the Smoothie as a real commercial offering and with 11 days to go they are already funded to 150%.
The smoothie comes in 3 variants on kickstarter:
- 3 axis CNC – CNC routers (shape OKO or zen toolworks), laser cutters, and potentialy lathes. There isnt a mention of lathes, so you’d need to look into software support before you commited to that.
- 4 axis CNC – Four axis mills or printers with a single extruder.
- 5 axis CNC – Five axis mills or printers with dual extruders.
If you need to drive a motor at over 2 amps, you can hook larger drivers onto the board using pre-mounted access points. So if you have a big mill and a little one you can run them off the same hardware.
The ability to change paramaters over USB, without reflashing the firmware or working with eprom sounds like it will make intital setup and configuration much less painful.
Based on a 32-bit ARM microcontroller ( LPC1768 Cortex-M3 ), the smoothie board has more than enough hardware to allow for future software upgrades and enhancements. One of the things I’ve never liked about my makerbot is the curves made up of a collection of lines. It sounds like this will not be a problem with the smoothie board, but I’m not sure if this is due to the faster processer supporting many more lines or if it is handling true curves. Either way, I’m keen to find out.
There is also a front end panel in development that looks like it’ll be a nice add-on.