If you want a versatile robot arm, today’s market really only offers two options: expensive industrial robots, or glorified toys. Low-end models may look similar to “real” robot arms, but they don’t usually have the accuracy or repeatability to do actual work. The new Hexbot, however, is designed to give you the best of both worlds.
Hexbot just launched on Kickstarter, but has already reached more than three times the $50,000 funding goal. It’s easy to see why; Hexbot is a small, but capable, modular robot arm that costs just $299 through the Kickstarter Special. That price puts it near the bottom of the market, but it has the kinds of features and specs you’d normally only find on mid-level robot arms.
The most impressive of those specs is the claimed 0.05mm repeatability, which has been achieved with a patented anti-backlash gear design. Hexbot has a maximum reach of 380mm (about 15 inches) over an arc of 220°, which gives you a decently sized working area. And, it can carry a maximum payload of 500g (a little over one pound).
Of course, those specs wouldn’t be very useful without the right tools. That’s why Hexbot features a modular end effector system that lets you quickly switch between tools. At launch, there are five available end effectors: a pen holder for drawing, a 250mW 450nm laser module for engraving and cutting, a hot end and extruder for 3D printing, a suction cup for pick-and-place operations, and a soft gripper.
Hexbot comes with free software for controlling the robot arm, and an API allows for programming through Processing, Python, or G-code. Blockly is even integrated in the software for those of you who prefer visual block-based programming. When you want to control Hexbot manually, there is an available touchscreen controller.
The Kickstarter campaign will be running until March 9th, and prices vary depending on which special you get and what accessories you need. Rewards are expected to ship in October, 2019.