Michigan Tech research scientist and alumnus Jerry Anzalone and Michigan Tech Materials Science and Engineering PhD candidate Bas Wijnen have teamed up with Calumet High School tech and trades instructor Mark Bonenfant to form Phidias, LLC. Athena is the face of the company, which develops and sells open-source hardware and software.
The latest Michigan Tech 3-D printing innovation to hit the free market is more versatile than its predecessors. (Photo courtesy phidiasllc.com)
Open Source Manufacturing
The design was developed through research on open-source manufacturing conducted at Michigan Tech, where researchers, educators and students led by Joshua Pearce, associate professor of materials science and engineering and electrical and computer engineering, continue to actively develop and distribute open-source projects across campus and into the free market.
Pearce was instrumental in pulling Bonenfant into the initiative.“As an educator I was more than interested when several years back Joshua and Jerry were looking for a volunteer teacher to explore the opportunity to put affordable open-source printers in the classroom,” Bonenfant explains. “At Calumet we are continually looking for ways our students can get involved in STEM curriculums.”
Athena Can Multi-Task
The more advanced robot commercialized by Phidias and recently featured in TechCentury and BusinessWire, has a multitude of manufacturing tasks in its repertoire in addition to printing 3-D plastics. It can mill print circuit boards and other soft materials. It can print with pastes, including sealants and food-based materials. It accurately cuts vinyl and other pliable materials. And it can pen-plot complex vector graphics.
One of Athena’s most innovative qualities is the ability to handle heavy as well as light tools, something beyond the capacity of typical 3-D printers. Kits begin at $600.
Watch this demo to see Athena in action and learn more about the fledging company, which is conducting crowdfunding on Indiegogo to spur more improvements in the robot’s capabilities.