We Are Learning 3D Printing Through Our Personal Experience…
The Micro 3D Printer had a very successful Kickstarter campaign last year generating more than 3 million USD, making it one of the largest crowdfunding campaigns for a 3D printer. And now the device will start shipping to people that have missed the Kickstarter campaign and still want to get their hands on this compact and very affordable 3D printer as their first 3D printer. The Micro 3D Printer has been shipping to Kickstarter backers for a while already and in April and May the company should start shipping to people that have pre-ordered the 3D printer after the Kickstarter campaign ended.
One of the most interesting things about the Micro 3D Printer is that it is very affordable at just $349 USD it is one of the most attractive price oriented FDM/FFF-based consumer 3D printers. Furthermore the filament for the device, both PLA and ABS is priced at just $13 USD per spool, but the spools are pretty small at just half pound or about 230 grams – the right size to be used with this compact 3D printer (it is compatible with larger rolls as long as they are 1.75mm). The Micro 3D Printer comes as a great gift for anyone that is interested in 3D printing, but does not want to jump on a large and significantly more expensive 3D printer right from the start. The only limit that the device has is the maximum print size you have, but then again based on our experience most of the time you will be printing small stuff and that should not come as a drawback anyway.
Micro 3D Printer Technical Specifications:
– Supports many different materials: ABS, PLA, nylon, professional, chameleon
– 50-350 micron layer resolution
– 15 micron X and Y positioning accuracy
– Filament: standard 1.75mm. 1/2lb rolls fit within print bed and allow you to try a – variety of materials and colors for less! Standard filament rolls also supported.
– Print height: 116mm (4.6″)
– Base Print Area: 109mm x 113mm
– Print Area Above 74mm: 91mm x 84mm
– Removable Print Bed Size: 128x128mm
– Printer Dimensions: It’s a cube, 7.3 in (185 mm) per side.
– Printer weight: 1kg (2.2 lbs)
– Package weight: 2kg – 2.7kg (4.4 lbs – 6 lbs)
– USB Compatible
– Glass-Filled ABS Body
– M3D software for an effortless, plug-and-play experience. Compatible with Mac and PC. Linux will also likely be supported. File Types Supported: .stl, .obj
When talking about affordable 3D printers we often mean device that use the most common FDM/FFF technology for extruding thermoplastic materials, a good start for a first 3D printer. Sooner or later you start thinking about upgrading to a better quality and then the next step is SLA or Stereolitography 3D printer, but when you reach to that point you will notice that there are actually not that many devices targeted at consumers that are affordable priced. This is however about to change with SLA technology getting more attention and available products and one such upcoming product is the Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D printer from XYZPrinting that should be available for $1499 USD. We have already mentioned the company with their affordable da Vinci 3D printers.
The XYZPrinting Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D printer uses liquid resin material that is being solidified by a laser resulting in the 3D printed model that you want to make. The Stereolitogaphy technology allows for achieving higher detail levels and the printed parts do have different mechanical properties than what the commonly used ABS and PLA thermoplastics used by FFF/FDM 3D printers. The Nobel 1.0 as well as with many other more affordable SLA 3D printers is that they have a more limited build volume, here it is 128x128x200 mm. So do not expect to be able to print very large objects with this device, though the build volume is not that small and you can also split larger models in smaller parts that will be joined after the printing. One interesting thing about the Nobel 1.0 3D printer is that it comes with an auto refill system that will automatically keep the liquid resin level in the printer’s tank by adding more when needed, so no need to monitor the level and manually pour additional resin.
XYZPrinting Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D Printer Specifications
– Print Technique: SL (Stereolithography Apparatus)
– Dimension: 11″ x 13.2″ x 23.2″ (280 x 337 x 590 mm)
– Weight: 21.2 lbs (9.6 KG)
– Maximum creation size (WxDxH): 5″ x 5″ x 7.9″ (128 x 128 x 200 mm)
– Layer Thickness: X/Y Axis Resolution: 0.3mm (300 Microns), Z Axis: 0.025mm (25 Microns), 0.05mm (50 Microns), 0.1mm(100 Microns)
– Display: 2.6″ FSTN LCM
– Connectivity: USB wire, USB Stick
– Material Properties: Photopolymer Resin
– Software: File Type .stl, XYZ format (.3w)
– Operating System: Windows 7+ (for PC), Mac OX 10.8, 10.9 (for Mac)
The Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D printer is already listed on the XYZPrinting website, but is not yet available to order. Another thing that is important regarding the device is the availability and price of the liquid resin (photopolymer) that the printer uses for building the 3D printed parts from. This material is also more expensive than thermoplastic filaments, so it is important for an affordable SLA-based 3D printer to also come with a good price and wide availability of liquid resin materials to use along with it. These are however still not officially announced and there is also no pricing information about the resin used by the Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D printer yet, though the device will most likely be also compatible with resins for other similar devices as well.
There are already multiple 3D printer filaments that contain carbon fibers infused with thermoplastics such as the Proto-pasta Carbon PLA filament. These filaments for 3D printers however all rely on chopped carbon fibers and the end result is not as good as what we are used to seeing both visually and in terms of mechanical properties from woven carbon fibers infused with epoxy. A company called MarkForged, founded by an aerospace engineer, however is trying to change all that with their device called Mark One Composite 3D Printer that is designed to print using continuous strands of fibers embedded in a thermoplastic matrix, a process that they call CFF (Composite Filament Fabrication). The Mark One 3D printer is capable of printing carbon fiber, glass fiber and Kevlar composite materials, but these need to be designed especially for the device filaments.
According to tests made by MarkForged of their special filaments parts printed on the Mark One can be designed to be stronger than 6061-T6 aluminum by weight and up to 1/3 the strength of the best carbon fiber composites made today. This strength is achieved thanks to the use of continuous fibers as a reinforcement in the printing material as opposed to the use of chopped fibers that Carbon PLA and ABS filaments designed for normal FFF/FDM 3D printers rely upon. Composites made with continuous reinforcing fibers exhibit substantial increases in strength and stiffness compared to similar materials using discontinuous (chopped) fibers. The CFF technology used utilizes a thermoplastic matrix that solidifies immediately after extrusion, so the printed parts are ready for use as soon as they have finished printing. But the Mark One 3D printer apparently can also print using Nylon and PLA thermoplastic materials aside from the composite fiber materials, so you should be able to use the device for more things that do not require strong fiber composites. The Mark One composite 3D printer uses a dual printhead design: one head is capable of printing composite filaments (CFF) and the other, traditional thermoplastic filaments (FFF) and parts may be printed either by a single head or a combination of the two.
MarkForged Mark One Specifications:
– Printing Technology: Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) and Composite Filament Fabrication (CFF)
– Build Size: 320mm x 132mm x 160mm (12.6″ x 5.2″ x 6.3″, 412ci)
– Material Compatibility: Carbon Fiber, Fiberglass, Kevlar, Nylon, PLA
– Highest Layer Resolution: FFF Printing: 100 Microns, CFF Printing: 200 Microns
– Extruders: Dual Quick Change
– Filament Sizes: FFF: 1.75mm, CFF: MF4
– Chassis: Anodized Aluminum Unibody
– Build Platform: Kinematically Coupled
– Software: Eiger Cloud Enabled
– Supported OS: Mac OS 10.7 Lion +, Windows 7+, Linux
– Supported Browser: Chrome 30+
– Supported Files: .STL
– Connectivity: WiFi, Ethernet, USB, USB flash
The MarkForged Mark One 3D printer does not come cheap, but it is also a device that is not designed for the average home users – it is apparently targeted at professionals that need to be able to work with stronger fiber reinforced parts that they design and print. You can currently order the Mark One Composite 3D Printer for $5499 USD (dev kit is available at $8799 USD with more materials), but there is approximately 10-12 week lead time. With the device being shipped worldwide, so as long as you need it and are ready to wait a bit for it you should be able to get your hands on this interesting 3D printer.
MarkForged Mark One filament price:
Carbon Fiber CFF Filament – $1.55/cm3 or $25.34/in3
Kevlar CFF Filament – $1.15/cm3 or $18.83/in3
Fiberglass CFF Filament – $0.67/cm3 or $10.96/in3
Nylon FFF Filament – $0.22/cm3 or $3.65/in3
Apart from Nylon you should be able to use cheap PLA filament as well, and as you can see the fiber reinforced special filaments do come pricier with Fiberglass probably the best choice if you need high strength at the best price with Kevlar and Carbon filaments used only when they are specifically required. Unfortunately there is still no option to order filaments on the official website, so you should probably contact the manufacturer to request additional filaments to be shipped with your order of the printer or get the development version instead of the standard one that comes with more materials bundled.