Let’s takes a look at a selection of
home-friendly 3D printers
3D printing has once again made its way
into mainstream headlines. This time, though, not through an astronaut making a
spanner for themselves on the International Space Station or some clever
engineer creating an artificial limb. This time it's the questionably immoral
creation of the world's first printed gun.
We won't go into too much detail here
regarding the implications of making weapons via a 3D printer or the
controversy involved and the fact that blueprints for such a creation will be
available online. However, it has made many people realize that 3D printing
could very well be the future of manufacturing.
printing has once again made its way into mainstream headlines.
Until the gun debate, 3D printing has been
left safety in the hands of those who could afford it or those whose business
it is to produce plastic parts for other items. There the 3D market boomed and
as a result of being in the medium to heavy manufacturing sector, the cost of
the hardware involved was kept well beyond the reach of the average punter.
As with most technology that's originally
out of reach, though, the price has dropped by quite a bit and it's not impossible
for the average consumer to get their hands on what is effectively Star Trek's
Granted, you still won't be able to nip
down to Currys and peruse the 3D printers alongside the likes of HP, Canon and
Epson - at least not yet anyway. But as we've seen before, there's no reason
why you won't be able to in a few years' time.
What we'll look at here is a selection of
3D printers that are currently available to buy and cost within the realms of
reality By that we mean something within the region of $2,571 or less. Okay, it
may sound a heck of a lot to most of us, but most of the big TVs in Currys cost
as much as that, as do some of the impressive gaming PCs that are available to
buy, and let's not forget that Apple Macs start from between $1,600 to $2,268.
When you put it like that, it's not totally unreasonable to assume that the
average consumer could potentially afford one of these marvelous devices.
The first 3D printer we'll look at is the
RapidBot. Sold from a number of online outlets, this device comes in a kit
form, which requires a recommended six-hour construction time.
This is the version 3.0 model, the newest,
and it features Kapton tapes, a high-temperature film that remain flexible; a
heated bed; 450W PSU; a USB cable; several meters of PLA (polylactic acid),
which is the renewable bioplastic material used to create the 3D printed
objects and, of course, a full set of instructions.
RapidBot Kit version 3.0 3D Printer. Looks my nan's sewing machine
The RapidBot Kit is actually considered as
being very good in its operation and rarely fails mechanically or to produce
the desired object. It's compatible with Windows vista and 7, can print at
speeds up to 60mm per second, looks for all the world like an old Singer sewing
machine and weighs only 12kg.
Everything you need to get and running is
included in the kit. There's no mention of compatible software, but the likes
of Blender, an open-source 3D content creation suite, can be used with the
RapidBot as it outputs the final design in STL (stereolithography) format.
The RapidBot is a great start to your 3D
printing adventure. It's relatively cheap, costing $819 with VAT from
eCrater.co.uk (note though you have to include a $245 shipping charge on top of
the overall price). And the RapidBot is an easy to maintain and easy to get to
grips with printer. Obviously you'll have to be dedicated enough to get through
the assembly instructions, but if you hunt around, there are instances where
you can purchase the printer pre-assembled, although you'll be charged
considerably more for the fact that it's already been built.
RapidBot is a great start to your 3D printing adventure
The RapidBot version 2.0 is also up for
sale on eCrater and is slightly cheaper at $760 including VAT (add $216 for the
shipping). Version 2.0 isn't widely regarded as being as stable as version 3.0
of the RapidBot, but it's still worth a look if your budget is totally maxed
out with the RapidBot 3.0.
Overall, the RapidBot 3D printer kit 3.0 is
an accurate and very good-quality 3D printer. It has improved significantly in
the last few months, with a revised instruction manual and improved quality of
parts. The proof, though, is in the pudding and what works for some may not
work for others. Thankfully, there's quite a following of enthusiasts for the
RapidBot, so any questions you have are most likely already answered. There are
a few examples whereby the RapidBot curled the first few parts, but
experimentation with the heat appeared to have solved that issue.
With version 4.0 in the works, apparently,
the RapidBot is certainly a 3D printer worth keeping an eye on.