On this page I used to keep track of developments, but now 3D-printing has become mainstream and others can do that more efficient. So I will point you to their info and focus myself more on developments like DLP-printers, small printers for education and aspects of 3D development software for education and small fablabs. Like the AVOC that will sell for $ 250. Like the Micro-Delta kit from RepRap-France for € 399. Or the TIKO Unibody printer for $ 179, also a Delta, a Kickstarter that raised almost $ 3 million. On Oct 21, 2016 the XYZ MiniMaker was released for $ 250. Even smaller: the crowdfunding Pocketmaker for $ 99 in May 2017. And iMakr's Startt for €/£/$ 99.
I built my first 3D-printer in 2007 with Frank Oxener, a Fab@Home.
Here at Picnic2007, with Hanne van Essen, cofounder of Fablab in the Netherlands
At that time there was only one other type: the RepRap Darwin. Built that too. Currently there are more than 400 different 3D-printers, most of them from RepRap hertitage.
I also built the earliest Ultimaker (with serial #0004) and recently a new one.
Plus an Utimaker2Go for the upcoming SLADDA Urban Makercart
Because tinkering with desktop 3D-printing is fun !
Here are the pointers.
– For an overview for the different technologies see the Definitive Guide to 3D Printing
– For tests and in depth info see the special editions of MAKE: magazine. Its MAKE: 2016 3D printing guide is on line now. [The previous ones are no longer on line. ‘The Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2015’, (November 1014), which was an update of ‘The Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014′ (November 2013), which was an update of ‘The Ultimate Guide to 3D-printing’ of November 2012.]
– For a list of all available printers see 3ders.org.
– For the latest news on 3D-printing visit the weblogs Fabbaloo and 3ders.org.
– Also the Edutechwiki from TECFA in Geneva keeps track of developments.
To business now.
Desktop 3D printing is hot and fun. And in my opinion little more than that. In the amateur field that is. Its ability to really fab things is limited, though afficionados will contest that. The situation is comparable with microcomputers in the 70’s. They only took off when IBM introduced the PC in 1981. Currently there are more than 400 different printers in the range to $ 4000. Most are FDM and come from the RepRap heritage, like the Ultimaker and the Makerbot. In the professional 3D-market a consolidation is happening with Stratasys, 3D-Systems and Voxeljet as the big players. HP partnered with Stratasys in 2010 and discontinued that in August 2012. Possibly because current systems are too slow and messy for consumer use. In dec 2013 HP’s CEO Meg Whitman announced a HP 3D-printer for mid 2014. In oct 2014 they followed up with a new Multijet Fusion process, but no date for releasing such a printer. That could be the start of a similar shake-out as happened with the PC.
17 May 2016 HP announced three printers with prices starting at $ 130.000 aimed at prorotyping and service bureaus. Fast printers. No desktop things.
But 3D-printers are en vogue now. And people want them. So people print what they can find on Thingiverse and Youmagine. But tools for designing and drawing are lacking. Prof Jan Borchers of RWTH stated at FabLabCon 2013 that digitial design is not keeping up with digital fabrication. I fully agree. But 3D-printing can become a fine catalyst to get people on the learning curve. Especially in STEM. We need tools!
Things go fast. MIT added a 3D printer to the standard fablab invertory: initially the BfB Touch, which has a second or third print nozzle for support material or different colors. $ 5000. Then the MIT toolset listed the Makerbot Replicator $ 2199. Then the Ultimaker2 became the preferred machine [the one we chose for the 10k fablab and that originated in the Protospace Fablab in Utrecht]. And now the Sindoh 3DWox is added to the MIT list. $ 1299
And, if I may be a bit chauvinistic, have a look at the beautiful portable ByFlow, that came out of FabLab Maastricht. € 2475
Most 3D printers are FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) where layers of molten plastic material are stacked. There is another method called DLP (Digital Light Processing) where thinner layers are hardened in a bath of polymer. DLP-machines are becoming affordable for a fablab, but resin is expensive.
Available is the Form1 from Formlab, which uses the same principle with laser-UV in a bath of resin. $ 2799. They wanted $100.000 and kickstarted almost $ 3 million in Oct2012.
The second generation is the Form2 $3299. Mature.
Also available is the B9Creator: its Kickstarter pledge for $50.000 ended on 12jun12 at $ 513.000. Assembled $4595 and $3490 as kit. Open.
Their site shows this comparison of different printers:
|B9Creator V1.2HD||3D Systems Projet 1200||Asiga Freeform Pico 2||Solidscape MAX2||Digital Wax 008J||FormLabs Form 2|
|Maximum Build Envelope||104x75x203 mm||43x27x150 mm||51x32x75 mm||152x152x101 mm||65x65x90 mm||145x145x175 mm|
|XY Resolution (finest)||30 micron||56 micron||39 micron||10 micron||50 micron||140 micron|
|Accepts 3rd Party Resins||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|1kg of Manufacturer's Castable Resin||$127||$1200||$350||$700||$650||$299|
|Time to Print 5 Castable Models||4 hours||6 hours||5 hours||15 hours||8 hours||8 hours|
There is an interesting Kickstarter for a professional UV led 3D DLP printer for precision work, like dental and jewelry. The M-Jewelry is a wifi controlled desktop DLP from Makex. Will start at $ 2000, retail 3599. Expect it in May 2017.
And the fast running Kickstarter Morpheus Delta by Owl. This desktop personal resin printer uses neither SLA or DLP, but a proprietary process called LIPS. Here you can find a comparison of the techniques. The printer is aimed for May 2017. For a price less than $ 1000. Revolutionary ?
In the $ 5000 region there is also the XFAB laser stl printer
Fair bet for me would be the Ruby Titan1 Kickstarter $2999 (They aimed for $50k, rounded up $ 687k). With 1 micrometer z-layer !
Or the **Full Spectrum Pegasus **DLP, (aimed for $100k, rounded up 819k), $ 2999
There are/were some other low cost intiatives.
A kit to build your own is the FunPlay DIY for USD 1299.
Laser, not DLP.
The Taiwanese NOVA DLP desktop printer for $ 999 9 x 8 x 15 cms has disappeared
And it is quiet around the small DLP printer Miicraft with a build envelope of 43 mm (X) x 27 mm (Y) x 180 mm (Z) for $ 2299.
A chinese initiative on Indigogo, to raise $ 3000 (three thousand) for the development of the Nautilus, a low cost DLP-printer. $ 387 for a kit or $ 1099 for an assembled machine. Plus cheap resin. I’m a bit sceptic. They raised $ 4428.
The above mentioned ‘The Ultimate Guide to 3D-printing’ has a section on DLP developments.
We should mention the Polish Sinterit Lisa, a powder SLS printer, which enables you to fill its working space with printable objects. Like a Z-Corp. With € 9000 beyond our scope.
Aurora in Australia plans to offer affordable metal printers for AUD 8k
A general note on 3D printer software.
I should update this section.
A .stl-file of a model has to be sliced in order to be printed. These are the main slicers. (update req’d ?) The open source slicer ReplicatorG is quite powerful, but slow. It can be tuned very fine, but for the average user there are too many parameters to play with. Just keep to standard parameter settings. CURA slices a lot faster. Just download it from Github or Ultimaker. Open source. Its manual is here. It is at the moment the best you can get and – I’m told. And there is also the commercial NetFabb (€ 178), a limited free version is available. The Kickstarter project file2part, which is open source can be downloaded here.
What will a 3D-printing boom mean for design software ?
to update with the 4 levels of 3d design software
- Block - Sketchup, TinkerCad, Minecraft
- Sculpting - 123D Sculpt, ZBrush
- CAD - SolidWorks, Rhino
- Generative - OpenSCAD, Grasshopper
[add OnShape CAD and Doodle3D Transform]
Prof Jan Borchers of RWTH stated at FabLabCon 2013 that digitial design is not keeping up with digital fabrication. I agree. Learning Rhino or Solidworks is pretty steep. Even Sketchup is not as trivial as many believe. Autodesk’s 123D is easier, and it is free. Have a look at 3D Catch, which let you make a 3D object from photos, even works on a smartphone. And browser-driven systems like Tinkercad and 3Dtin, which lets you design as if building with Lego-blocks.
A bit of history
It all started in 2007 with Adrian Bowyer and his RepRap Darwin, then the Thingomatic Cupcake (2009) and the Ultimaker (2010)
The Darwin was a horrible thing to build: it was not easy to get it square. As we at Protospace were the first we had to mold and cast the parts a finished RepRap could duplicate.
The original Makerbot Cupcake’s volume was 105 x 120 x 130 mm (1640 cm3) and the kit price was $ 1100. It had a moving Y-table. At CES 2012 Makerbot announced the REPLICATOR, for $ 1749. A ready built dual extruder printer with an envelope of 225 x145 x150 = 4900 cm3. So no kit, but a consumer product.
In september 2012 it was superseded bij a steel Replicator 2, for $ 2199. Makerbot has moved away from open source.
The open source ULTIMAKER is kind of special as its extruder motor is mounted outside the box. The XY-printhead is therefore lightweight which allows for amazing printing speed and fast build times for its big volume of 210 x 210 x 220 mm (9700 cm3). A kit costs € 995.
At the 2013 Makerfaire Ultimaker announced the Ultimaker2, a plug-and-play for € 1895. A similar type of upgrade like the Makerbot did, but ULTIMAKER pledges: ‘Just like the Original the Ultimaker 2 will remain open source. We dare to share our knowledge because we believe we can achieve even more when working together.’ They kept their word and released its open source files on 28mar2014.
The Ultimaker and Replicator will work straight away. Learning the finer things of tuning the settings will take time.
For curiosity: the miniFablab posesses one of the first Ultimakers. It was started on Sep 20, 2010 and has serial number 0004 Its three inventors have # 1,2 and 3. Still in daily use, but we preserve #4 in its original state. It is nice to see the evolution if you place a current Ultimaker next to it. Kind of Apple-II feeling. #4 will go to Ultimaking Ltd’s museum.
The CUBE from 3DSystems, launched in April 2012, is positioned as a consumer machine. Following the classic pattern: proprietary filament cartridges and consumables plus a paid app-store. 125x125x125mm=1953 cm3. $ 1299 It connects via WiFi to a PC.
Interesting is the PRNTRBOT project Its designer hoped to round up $ 25.000 with Kickstarter for the feasilility of such a machine. When the project closed on 17 dec 2011 he was backed for a total of over $ 830.000. The kit was announced for $ 549 mid 2012. Now Printrbot has a series of printers, starting from $ 349
Another Kickstarter, the Buccaneer from Pirate3D, rounded up $ 1.4 milllion while looking for $ 100k in June 2013. Price under $ 500. Build 15 x 10 x 12 cms. Resembles a bit my old Mac Cube.
_How about the Ormerod ? _
The FOCUS byFlow is a portable 3D printer aiming at the education market. Smaller that airline handluggage . Available dec 2015