Robox: How good could a sub-£1k 3D printer be?

Home-3D-printed parts are inherently weak, BUT...

Robox 3D printer

Review It seems like the Robox has been talked about for such a long time, with a subsequent build-up in hype and publicity. So, is it all justified?

Originally funded through a Kickstarter campaign and slated for release earlier in 2014, it has now finally appeared, and is drawing attention. Being placed in all the right sales channels helps, and manufacturer CEL obviously knows what it's doing, and thinks it has something big on its hands.

I’ve been looking at getting a 3D printer for quite some time now but I'm seemingly always waiting for the technology to be good enough to make it useful, rather than just a fancy toy. I’ve heard all sorts of rumours and seen the results of some of the more regular devices.

For a day job, I come into contact with some proper machines, costing hundreds of thousands, and used, flat out, seven days a week to keep up with demand. Unfortunately, a sub-£1k device is never going to be up to the standard of these. But you have to start somewhere, and it all depends on what you want, and how you use it.

Perhaps first of all, you need to set your expectations. I have an engineering background, I’ve used machine tools for years and I make stuff. I’m not an artist and I don’t want to make miniature figurines of my loved ones.

This whole thing of 3D printing being a complete disruptor to the supply chain, where if you need something you just download the part from some site and print it - well, it isn’t like that, yet. Home 3D printed parts are inherently weak with relatively poor surface finishes (OK, it is possible to print in metals, and things do change all the time).

Even out of a machine costing tens of thousands of pounds, the parts we print at work need sanding down and finishing, and they aren’t strong. If a knob breaks on your toaster, you are better just looking on the net tat bazaar and someone will put it in an envelope and send you one for a few pence.

Spending a grand on a home 3D printer will need a lot of knobs printing to pay for itself. It isn’t possible (yet) to simply pop a part into a scanner and out comes a copy.

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