The 10 3D printers that make 3D printing cool
Now that the hype around 3D printing has died down somewhat, the technology has quietly come on leaps and bounds. 3D printers today are faster, quieter and more cost-effective than their forebears, and watching them print structures and sculptures is just as mesmerising as before.
To celebrate the 3D-printing industry coming into maturity, we headed along to iMakr’s Desktop 3D Printing Show to see what’s happening in the world of 3D printing. Spoiler: They all have absolutely ridiculous names.
First up was the DeltaWASP 40 70:
Max speed: 300mm/sec
Object size: 40 diameter x 70cm
It’s a big box, with a big printing area, but don’t let its size fool you: WASP says it’s accurate to 50 microns (in case you don’t know, a micron is one-thousandth of a millimetre). As you can probably guess, this isn’t a 3D printer intended for home use.
If speed’s more your thing, then there’s the DeltaWASP 20 40 Turbo:
Max speed: 600mm/sec
Object size: 20 diameter x 40 cm
Like its big sibling, the DeltaWASP 20 40 Turbo’s name betrays its secret: it’s a superfast 3D printer. Amazingly, even with its high speed, the 20 40 Turbo is just as accurate as the larger – and slower – 40 70.
Don’t worry if that didn’t make any sense to you, just look at them both printing!
If neither of these looks all that impressive, perhaps the Kickstarter-funded Raise3D N2 will be more to your liking.
Max speed: 150mm/sec
Object size: 30.5cm2
I could tell you about the Raise 3D N2’s fancy touchscreen that displays print progress, but instead here are some images of it doing what it does best.
If the N2 seems a bit big for you, the Zortrax M200 might be more palatable:
Max speed: 100mm/sec
Object size: 20 x 20 x 18.5cm
Designed to be as simple as possible, the snappily named Zortrax M200 is a compact printer that’s also reasonably efficient. Zortrax makes the M200 for educational purposes too.
JUST LOOK AT THIS BEAST, the Up Box:
Max speed: Variable
Object size: 25.5 x 20.5 x 20.5cm
Things to note with the Up Box: it’s big, it comes with a snazzy LED logo on the print tray, and it makes some impressive models.
Now just look at it go (and ignore my reflection in the printer window):
The Mass Portal Pharaoh ED was definitely the most impressive 3D printer I saw:
Max speed: 300mm/sec
Object size: 15 x 15 x 18.6cm
As with the DeltaWASP printers, Mass Portal’s Pharaoh suspends the printing arm from above and builds upwards. Thanks to the light emanating from inside the structure, it’s really quite mesmerising to watch.
If that’s too expensive, the FlashForge Finder could be the printer for you:
Max speed: 200mm/sec
Object size: 14cm2
This Chinese-made 3D printer may be bulky, and curiously build objects under the soft glow of a blue light, but the FlashForge Finder is likely one of the best low-cost 3D printers around. Designed for families and schools, a 3D printer this cheap must have made some compromises.
This printer may look like a jury-rigged science project, but it’s actually the future of 3D printing:
The Gizmo GiziPro Super Speed isn’t available just yet – it’s still looking for funding on Indiegogo – but it’s touted as the world’s first continuous-printing, super-speed, high-quality, top-down DLP 3D printer.
Max speed: 3mm/min
Object size: 20 x 11.3 x 39cm
Don’t worry if that went over your head – basically, it’s great at printing high-quality objects at speed. Unlike the other 3D printers on show, the GiziPro projects the outline of each layer from above onto a pool of resin, which then hardens. It prints entirely underneath the resin’s surface, pulling out the object once it’s finished.
If you’re curious to see how it all looks in practice, there’s footage over on the Indiegogo page.
If you’re not impressed so far, perhaps Polaroid’s 3D printer will wow you – it can even print in wood:
Max speed: 100mm/sec
Object size: 25 x 15 x 15cm
With the mighty Polaroid brand behind it, it makes sense that the ModelSmart 250S felt like the most polished printer at the show. While the others looked industrial or hobbyist, Polaroid’s seemed like a viable option for families or schools looking to get into 3D printing.
Plus, it can print in wood. Really, in wood.
Just look at the octopus model Polaroid had on display, printed in wood.
Speaking of small-scale operations, the MiiCraft+ is the tiniest 3D printer around:
Max speed: 3cm/hour
Object size: 4.3 x 2.7 x 18cm
This is the world’s smallest professional SLA-based DLP 3D printer. Specialising in printing tiny things may sound niche, but it’s great if you need to print out small and delicate parts for a bigger project.
There was also some nightmare fuel at the event, such as this 3D-printed human face:
Or this cat one:
Perhaps this 3D-printed Prince Charles can calm the nerves:
But in reality, it’s Choc Edge’s Choco Creator that stole the show, because it’s a 3D printer that prints chocolate… need I say more?