Ten 3D printers for this year's modellers
The shape of things to come
Product Round-up You may not know why but you probably want a 3D printer. These are intrinsically cool devices: A mix of engineering, electrical engineering, material science, chemistry, electronics and software.
As an emerging technology you need to understand a bit of all of these to get the most from a hobbyist device, just as early computer users needed to be competent with a soldering iron and writing assembly code. Here we look at ten of the most interesting 3D printers around. There is a mix of technologies, and some are not yet shipping, but it goes to show just how diverse this nascent industry is.
3D Touch 3D printer
This is an extruder-type printer that does Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) using ABS or PLA thermoplastic from a spool. It’s unusual in that it is quite good looking and has up to three heads, meaning it can print in three colours of plastic at a time. The extruders use a screw mechanism and the heat comes from the platform. Colours are “spot” colours and they cannot be mixed. Files are printed from a USB stick and there is a touchscreen user interface. It is beautifully finished in stainless steel and aluminium, and is particularly targeted at education. The device has an exceptionally large print area of 27.5x 27.5x 21cm.
More info 3D Touch at Bits from Bytes
Steampunk styling and aluminium construction give this Polish printer a special feel, with the exposed parts adding to the design rather than making it look unfinished. The handle on the top makes it transportable rather than portable. Individual parts seem particularly well finished, and an innovation is the self-tensioning belts. As an FDM printer it uses ABS or PLA thermoplastic from a spool. It will print models of up to 20 x 26 x 18cm albeit slowly at 100mm/minute. Two nozzles are available in 0.3mm and 0.5mm. These machines have been shipping since summer 2012.
More info CB Printer