OpenBeam is a scaled down, desktop sized version of extruded aluminum framing systems commonly used in industry for rapidly prototyping and building machinery. We optimized for cost by using standard hardware instead of proprietary and expensive fasteners and using injection molding for our common brackets to bring the cost down.
Each of the 4 slots are designed to capture a regular DIN934 M3 nut. Brackets can then be attached to these nuts. With a quick turn of a 2mm hex key, the brackets can be repositioned anywhere along the beam. Adjusting and tuning an OpenBeam frame is therefore very easy.
The hole that runs down the extrusion is sized for an M3 sized tap as well. This allows button head screws to be used for blind mounting of OpenBeam components at 90 degrees to each other, as well as the use of feet to cap the ends of the extrusion.
The slots are also the correct width to fit a sheet of 1/8" wood or acrylic. This, coupled with a laser cutter, means that OpenBeam can be used for building box structures quickly. Simply add 2mm to each side of the frame for a piece to slot into and be captured by OpenBeam.
The most common brackets are the L and T shaped brackets. Although geometrically simple, they allow OpenBeam users to build impressive structures. The L bracket also doubles as a 45 degree gusset plate, for added rigidity.
Shaft clamps, feet, NEMA17 stepper motor brackets, hobby servo brackets, and a 608 to NEMA17 ball bearing adapter completes the OpenBeam bracket collection. Our shaft clamp pieces interlock to clamp onto cylindrical shapes between 6-16mm in diameter. Reprap linear bearing shafts, 15mm rods for camera rigs, are all fair game for this clamp. NEMA17 motor bracket and servo motor brackets allow builders to add automation capability, while the 608 ball bearing adapter makes adding shafts easy.
OpenBeam is proud to be a member of the Open Source Hardware Association. We sponsor our local Maker Faire and our local hacker scouts and robotics teams. All our designs - including our engineering prints and specification call outs to our suppliers - are published under a creative commons license. In a pinch, our users have been known to download the files from Thingiverse and print additional brackets on their 3D printers to cross the finish line.
The nature of aluminum extrusion process requires very high volumes to make cost effective. Towards that goal, we have centralized the production of OpenBeam in Asia and offer our lead importer on each continent direct access to the OpenBeam extrusion die. OpenBeam importers around the world will place orders together in order to meet the factory's MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity). If you are in a country where there is already a head importer (see "Where to Buy" page) we request that you work with them instead of cloning the die, in order to keep the volume up and the supply chain smooth.
In South Africa, due to the high import taxes, an OpenBeam variant is produced locally, without the precision center hole and without anodizing (since electricity is expensive in South Africa). Since spinning up the clone, the South Africans have been doing some good work on 3D Printers. We look forward to their designs trickling back into the OpenBeam ecosystem!