3D Printer’s have come a long way in recent times, not only that but they are becoming more accessible. Now there are many company’s producing 3D printer’s, many more selling them, but you had to go looking for them, there were not too many in stores where you might frequent. Being a gamer and modeler, big box hardware stores see a lot of visits, so how long is it going to be until a company that hardware stores know, product a 3D Printer.
Recently I was in an Australian big box hardware store, and saw this in the Tool shop. Welcome to the market Dremel.
3D Printer’s are handy tools, great for working on concepts getting and idea if a model will be ready to produce for the market, the problem likes in quality and speed, many commentators have commented on this in the past so nothing is new here. However the idea that every body can now see and purchase these units from your local hardware store, like Home Depot in the US or Bunnings in Aus, does put out there in front of the consumer the a tool to do this at home.
I had just this discussion last week, about availability of 3D Printer’s. One would normally have to do research and find a cost effective unit. When 3D Printer’s really started to gain traction as home unit’s Kudo did a kick starter, one of Monday Knights got in on that, and it is a good machine, then there are the machines that you print your self, and now we are starting to see an amazing range of printers out in the market place.
The printer technology for the most part is not new, a number of the printer technology’s have been around for close to 30 years.
Types of printer technology
In simple terms these are types of technology out there
Stereolithography (SLA): Prints layers of UV curable liquid plastic, and cures it with a UV laser. Invented 1986.
Fused deposition modeling (FDM): Heats up a wire of solid material and lays down each layer, you can use materials such as Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene ABS, Polylactic acid PLA, Polycarbonate PC, Polyamide PA, Polystyrene PS, lignin, rubber, among many others. Invented late 1980’s
Layer Plastic Deposition (LPD): Zortrax owns this technology, Layer Plastic Deposition is a technology in which printer is melting thermoplastic material (filament) in the extruder and apply it precisely on heated platform layer after layer. It is possible using this process to make 3D models that have integrated moving parts.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS):Uses a laser to cure powdered plastics together to form a model. Invented early 1980’s
Selective laser melting (SLM): A sub category of SLS, but fuses metallic powders together. 1995
Electronic Beam Melting (EBM): Similar idea to SLS but uses a electron beam instead of laser to fuse the powder together. Early 2000’s
Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM): uses coated materials like paper etc. to glue and cut each layer with a laser.
The technologies for the most part have been around for a long time, but it is only now becoming cheap enough for people to afford. Most printers we get are either SLA or FDM printers.
What printers do I like?
Dremel 3D Printer
The Dremel 3D printer looks very good for the price, it is $1399 and you can get it from hardware stores along with all the filaments. You can get some 3D printers from office works in Aus, but I have not seen any in the stores I have been too. Having this unit in the hardware stores makes it good for getting hold of everything the end user needs. It uses a PLA filoment and looks very nice.
Kudo 3D: Titan 1
The titan 1 is a nice printer, Unlike the Dremel it is an SLA printer where the Dremel is a FDM printer. As such the price is alot more, at $3200, both the dremel and the Titan 1 are 100 micron printers. The biggest difference is the process.
The Zortrax M200 was a kick starter in 2011, they use their own technology, for the printing. It is possible to produce some fantastic 3D models that have moving parts. It is a 400 micron printer for a printer that is 4 years old that is not bad. But it is just under $2000. Having models created for me in this unit you would not think that is a 400 micron unit. It has many different materials that you can get as well. The next generation from Zortrax coming soon is looking very good as well, I hope they get the resolution up as well.
The winner is
Well us. The gamer’s and modelers, or even just the consumer. we not have access to tools and materials to make everything we could dream of. I know people are going to say but they are too slow to produce models, what does it matter if the printer runs all night while you sleep. If you are like most people I know and my self included, we have too much in the stockpile of unpainted mini’s any way so producing them at a slower rate should be a problem, yes you may want them on the table now, but that doesn’t always happen.
The Dremel unit is looking very good, it is in the public space you don’t have to go looking for them on the web, you can walk in and purchase what you need when you need it. I know you can get cheaper unit’s but availability is one thing we never really had before. Being Dremel most gamers and modelers have dremel product’s already, the quality is going to be there with the product.
Both the Zortrax and the Titan 1 can do much finer than 100 micron, we as consumers are really going to be able to get what we want very shortly.
If you are up for a 3D printer want no fuss and get what ever you want when ever you want it Dremel is the tool of choice, if you want super fine Kudo Titan 1 is the tool, if you want something in between that can do it all and is widely used in industry the Zortrax is the unit for you.
Happy Fathers day to all the Aussie Fathers out there may your family spoil you with one of these.