On this page I used to keep track of developments, but now 3D-printing has become mainstream and others can do that more efficient.
But I can 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, but became the DaVinci Junior $ 349. Even smaller: the crowdfunding Pocketmaker for $ 99 in May 2017. And iMakr's Startt for €/£/$ 99. Want class? Try the MIGO $249.
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 an Original+. Also have an Ultimaker2+ plus a few Utimaker2Go's to go in the Library 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: 3D printing guide is on line now.
– 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 600 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 and industrial 3D-market things go very fast, as could be seen at the recent RapidPro, but that is beyond my scope. To keep track: read 3D Printing Industry.
But 3D-printers are en vogue 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 like Doodle3D.
Things go fast. MIT added a 3D printer to the standard fablab inventory: 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 Focus, that came out of FabLab Maastricht. Prints food. € 3300.
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. Also their M-One. Expect them 'coming soon'.
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 ?
There was a Kickstarter running for the Sparkmaker. A tiny SLA printer for $ 249. Bed 10.2 x 5.6 cm and a build height of 12.5 cm. 2018
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.A .stl-file of a model has to be sliced in order to be printed. These are many slicers, but I stick to CURA as it is open souce and keeps expanding in functionality. Just download it from Ultimaker. Open source. Its manual is here. 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 ?
There are 4 categories of 3D design software
- Block - Sketchup, TinkerCad, Minecraft
- Sculpting - 123D Sculpt, ZBrush, Doodle3D Transform
- CAD - SolidWorks, Rhino, OnShape, Fusion360
- Generative - OpenSCAD, Grasshopper
For a beginner TinkerCad is a powerful start with a low learning curve. Doodle3D Transform has no learning curve at all 🙂
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 functional, 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 Ultimaker 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 was 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. But Printrbot stopped business in August 2018
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.
The FOCUS byFlow is a portable 3D printer aiming at food printing. Smaller that airline handluggage .