Could be that I’m late to the game and everybody’s already seen this thing but there seems to be another home 3D printer on the market. Or maybe it’s coming-soon.
Check it out: Personal Portable 3D Printer for, 1/2 off intro price, $1500.
Their web site seems to be a work in progress. I dug around and didn’t really get a clear idea of who these folks are (whois says the domain’s owned by XINNET.COM – been there, can’t read Chinese) how you might buy one of their machines or what the build quality’s like. I’m sure they’ll at least fix the “how to buy” part of that pretty quickly.
Some things I did notice, in no particular order…
The build platform moves on Y and Z and the print head moves on X. The platform starts at the top and works its way down.
White ABS is the only material listed. $20 per pound (!!!) too. I encourage people who buy this machine to shop around when they get low on plastic.
It’s a much more finished and open look than MakerBots – it looks like just an open, painted metal frame. Except for the extruder (and maybe the X stepper.. hard to tell) there’s really no electronic or mechanical bits visible. I guess I can see the appeal of this for some people but I’m not convinced this is a good thing, to be honest. I like being able to see what’s going on and, better, being able to see what’s gone wrong, when that happens.
They say “0.2mm accuracy.” Also not sure on this one. Is that layer height? If so, we know the MakerBot can do better. If it’s nozzle diameter, that’s pretty darn tiny. I suspect it’s not nozzle diameter, though. Maybe it’s X/Y resolution?
The pictures of builds they have are pretty obviously objects from Thingiverse and, while not trying to sound like a MakerBot snob, some are a little suspicious looking. Some look similar to the quality MakerBots tend to do. Some look like they’ve come out of one of the ubermachines that places like www.shapeways.com has. Check out the Gothic Cathedral Playset (thingiverse link) picture on their site – I’ve tried printing a few bits of that thing and it is NOT an easy print. If the picture is really from one of these new machines, the MakerBot Industries folks need to get nervous. But, again, I’ve done better (quite a lot better sometimes) than some of their other pictures. (update: the creator of the G. C. Play Set has said that their version is 2x size, which takes that particular print from “zomg!!” to just “pretty nice”)
They’ve got their own software. Sadly, there aren’t really any details on this. Looks like it’s a one-shot deal, slice to print, and does at least some basic tasks like scale, rotate, move and auto-center.
The software seems to be able to handle support structures, which sounds quite nice. They say it’s the same as the object material (ie: ABS) but printed at a lower density so it’s easy to remove. I may give the support stuff in Skeinforge a shot (update: I did give it a try and it works!) to see if it’s more useful than not. I saw that it (Skeinfoge) does let you adjust the flow rate (PWM) of the support areas so it might indeed be good.
It’s seems a lot happier with tall & thin structures than a MakerBot does. I’m guessing they have a stepper extruder and extruder temperature control that’s more accurate than a MakerBot has. I do see some signs of blobs on some pictures but, overall, it looks better in this department. I really wish MakerBot would get those two things out – I think it’d do serious good stuff for print quality. MakerBot’s new plastruder should be coming soon – maybe it’ll have these goodies.
The price is more than I want to spend but it’s still definitely in the consumer/prosumer range. I’ll have to keep an eye on ’em…
Update: I see they’ve added a download link for their software. That or I just missed it last time. I downloaded it and gave it a try but it just crashes right away, which is disappointing. 😦 Maybe it expects their hardware to be present?
I also see some pictures I missed (or that weren’t there) last time. Looks like they’ve got endstops, which are nice. I also now see how to order one – you download a doc file, fill it in and email it back to them. After that, they’ll contact you and let you know what to do with the money.