Available models

Here is a list of possible sources for my (or your?) 3D printer. I have not seen any of these in actual, only via the web, so all comments are based on 2nd hand information.

Mostly DIY

These “suppliers” are not really manufactures, they promote Open Source designs. That means all drawings are available and free to download. Getting the actual parts is … a challenge. They have suggestions on their web pages, but the idea is you should have fun getting it together. Of course, despite the free design, buying parts requires cash, but as you have the full documentation you can buy, beg or borrow them from anywhere or anything that is similar enough.

RepRap

Their main idea is that many parts of a RepRap are made by a RepRap, ie the machine is partly self replicating. They are on their second design (I’ll ignore the old versions). The site also shows “extreme” models where members have enhanced the machine in some way, f.ex. one made out of wood. Lots of “in progress” stuff.

Makerbot / CupCake CNC.

I am not sure if Makerbot is the organization and the machine is called CupCake CNC or the other way round. Their roots are common with the RepRap group. They estimate about £400 and a lot of handiwork will get you a 3D printer. The frame is a box of (lasercut ?!) plywood(?) it seems it is very solid and room for adaptions (like putting a router/mill on the head and doing the opposite of a 3D printer, ie removing layers of material)

fab@home

A project at  and in association with Cornell University. Parts are estimated to $1300 but it should be “easy to assemble”.  The design enable use of multiple materials (via syringes), but the traditional plastic extruder is described, too. Here the idea seems more targeted at the use of the machine, and not so much in construction of it. The design looks good, but it is unclear how to get parts and being a university there are some (commercial) aspects they are hesitant about.

Kit or Assembled

These are real purchaseble machines, with all the bits and pieces. They come in kit form or fully assembled.

BFB 3000 and RepMan

BitsFromBytes sell a commercialized version of the RepRap; RepMan is a simple £800 build-your-self model. BFB 3000 is a £2000 delux model with cabinet and stuff. The manuals are very detailed, the parts good quality (and manufactured, not printed), so “a child could build it”. (It is perfectly OK to make money out of  an opensource project – but you’ve got to add some extra something so others want to pay you – in this case all the parts in one box and good instructions and some support) In particular I think the printhead is probably “better” than the opensource suggestions. 

Ultimaker

Looks similar to the Makerbot, but a better XY mechanism. I have seen one in operation. The output is very nice, the price is in proportion to  he accuracy, around €1200. This is a “recent arrival”, they have only started shipping since middle 2011.

Up! Portable Printer

This has a very open look, and only comes assembled at around €2000. I think it is made in Korea but they do not tell the country of origin.

Other

Watch this YouTube – reusing much of the componets of a printer (which has a fine X-Y mechanism) and the Sandcastle technique.

Commercial/industrial models

These have no actual interest for me, as they are too expensive, obviously. It might be usefull to compare specs to the home versions. I list some web-links here.

Dimension Elite is the one I have actually seen in real life (see  this entry in Timeline). This was the size of a large fridge, hums quietly as it works. It used the squirting plastic technique, with two threads of plastic. The 2nd thread adds the soluble support plastic. The company also makes large and smaller models.

Solido – desktop sized.  It uses sheets of plastic.

Objet – Large cabinet. It uses the sprayed thin layers with UV hardening. Probably the “best” thing, but I wonder about the chemicals (price, enviroment)

Zcorporation uses the “sandbox” technique.


One Response to “Available models”

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