Tag Archives: 3D printers

Sinterit unveils its game-changing SLS 3D printer


Can this startup’s $8,000 3D printer change the game? 


While FDM and SLA technologies seems to be the most popular choice for desktop 3D printers at the moment, that may soon all change. That’s because one startup, founded by a trio of former Google employes, has announced a low-cost SLS machine dubbed the Sinterit Lisa.

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Selective laser sintering is in a league of its own when it comes to yielding high-quality, high-definition results. These machines avoid the extrusion process entirely, and instead, construct objects by selectively solidifying very fine powder materials of nylon, layer by layer, using a laser. Unfortunately, as incredible as these devices may be, the cheapest SLS printer on the market today cost roughly $180,000 — that was up until now.

Sinterit’s impressive gadget resembles a PC tower decked out in vibrant colors like those iMac G3 computers from the late ‘90s. Leading up to its launch, the startup has kept themselves under the radar with a minimal website and have only shared a couple of detailed prints. Well, after several months of research and development, the team has finally debuted its affordable (in the scheme of SLS printers) device, which is targeted at small businesses and the Maker community.

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As seen in a number of their sampled items, nylon SLS prints tend to be far more durable and sturdy than conventional FFF prints, and feature far smoother surfaces with intricate detail. The Sinterit Lisa’s 5W laser diode head enables users to create objects with a layer thickness of 0.06mm to 0.15mm and at a speed of 15mm/h.

It should be pointed out that the project has come a long way since its conception, having initially began with a prototype that its creators describe as a “laser on a RepRap.” In time, this has morphed into a full, self-contained ecosystem with Wi-Fi connectivity, its own polyamide powder material and custom software called Sinterit Studio 2016.

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What’s more, once a 3D design has been sent to the Sinterit Lisa, the printer’s autonomous operating system handles it from there. Meanwhile, an internal camera module allows a user to observe the process. It is also capable of printing multiple file types, including STL, OBJ, 3DS and FBX.

Some of its key features include:

  • Build volume: 13cm x 17cm x 13cm (5.1” x 6.7” x 5.1”)
  • Print scan speed: Up to 500 mm/second
  • Print bed temperature: Up to 180°C (356°F)
  • Laser power: 5W
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi

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The printer is expected to ship sometime in January 2016 and will be equipped with a heated multi-zone print bed, a heated feed bed and a heated cylinder. For the time being, the Sinterit Lisa can only accommodate black polyamide 12 powder as its printing material; however, the team notes that more colors and filaments will be made available soon.

Sound like a piece of machinery that you’d love to have on your Makerspace workbench? Head over to its official site here.

Report: Desktop 3D printer shipments doubled in Q1 2015


Global shipments of sub-$5,000 personal 3D printers rose by 24% in Q1 2015, resulting in a 114% year-on-year increase.


The 3D printer market more than doubled in size in the first quarter of 2015, according to a new report from London-based firm Context. Unit shipments of personal/desktop 3D printers priced under $5,000 mushroomed 114% year-over-year in the first three months of 2015 as more brands entered the fray and global channels for the technology expanded. As for a quarter-on-quarter comparison, shipments jumped 24%.

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However, the industry remains heavily skewed towards the U.S. with 63% of global shipments going into North America during the quarter, Context’s data shows. Western Europe, the next largest region, was less than a third of the size with just 20% share.

Whereas the market’s three largest players, XYZPrinting, 3D Systems and Ultimaker, all experienced good YoY gains in Q1, Context reveals that another one of the market’s stalwarts, Stratasys, struggled. Nevertheless, the report shares that the industry was bolstered by the emergence of startup M3D, whose sub-$300 machine garnered more than $3.4 million on Kickstarter last year.

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“The nascent area of desktop 3D printing continues its upward momentum and continues to see entrants across a wide spectrum of industries, with offerings from legacy additive manufacturing stalwarts to industry start-ups, to mature IT, manufacturing and tool companies all entering the space,” explained Chris Connery, Context VP Global Analysis and Research. “As many of these companies begin to outgrow their startup efforts, expanding their distribution networks around the globe is a necessary next step towards expanding market presence.”

Interested? You can find more information around the report here.

Building a $60 SLA 3D printer with LEGO and K’NEX


Don’t want to spend big bucks on an SLA printer but tired of FDM? Make your own with LEGO, K’NEX and Arduino.


While the market for 3D printers has surely grown throughout the years, up until now a majority of Makers have turned to Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) machines. These work by heating a material, extruding it out of a moving nozzle and giving it time to cool. On the contrary, Stereolithography revolves around UV lighting to harden the liquid resin, which enables Makers to create projects in one piece and with smoother surfaces. However, this convenience comes at a cost. Those seeking a higher resolution print have no choice to dig deep into their wallets for an SLA device. Unless, you are Instructables users “mastsermind,” who has created one for less than $60 using some LEGO bricks, K’NEX pieces and a few other electronic components.

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Inspired by the mythological creature comprised of three different animals, the Chimera 3D printer is made up of recycled parts from three different categories: projectors, toys and old computers. What’s impressive is that the unit doesn’t entail a whole lot of parts: just a projector, a computer disc drive laser deck with stepper motor, any ATmega328 based Arduino, an EasyDriver v.4.4, some tools and wires, along with the option to etch a circuit board and construct a wooden frame. That’s it.

“Top down DLP printers in their simplest form have only one axis of motion, a video projector, and minimal electronics. They do not require a heated or perfectly level bed, there is never a clogged or wrong temperature in the extruder as it does not use an extruder. And the resin used has a comparable price to FDM printers,” the Maker explains.

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The Chimera was built around two frames, one of LEGO to hold the Z axis, platform and resin tank, the other of K’NEX to hold and move the projector. Beyond that, the resin tank can basically be any container that’s waterproof and strong enough to hold the solvent.

Obviously, the most important component of the system is the projector, which matsermind employed an inexpensive Mitsubishi XD221u. He does recommend staying above a 1024 x 768 resolution for optimal results. In order to make this suitable for printing, a few modifications are required such as getting the focus distances closer and removing the UV filter to allow for more light through.

“Making it cure the resin faster is easy, just remove the filter (glass square) on the front of the bulb.  Making the projector focus at ≈7 inches was a bit more difficult. The service manual has been attached for assistance in disassembly if you are using an XD221u projector, but the modification should be similar for most projectors,” the Maker reveals.

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Meanwhile, the Z axis consists of a laser deck assembly from an old computer disc drive. An Arduino is tasked with driving the stepper motor salvaged from the drive and ensuring it moves at the right rate.

“The one I used is one that I have had around for a while, waiting for a good use for it. I do not know what model drive it came out of, but any assembly will work as long as it uses a stepper motor with four wires and not a DC motor with two wires,” he adds.

What’s nice about a top down system is the simplicity of its electronics. Whereas a vast majority of complex printers today are embedded with the combination of an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) and a RAMPS 1.4 shield, this machine only requires an inexpensive Arduino Uno seeing as though there is only one axis to control.

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“If you want to put a little more work into it, you can program an ATmega328 chip with the firmware and etch an all-in-one board whose design is included in the files attached,” matstermind notes.

In terms of firmware, the Maker selected GRBL 0.9i and runs the open source Creation Workshop software on it. While as fully-functional as it may be, mastermind has a few more plans for Chimera in the weeks to come. These include increasing the size of the resin tan, designing a wooden frame out of MDF or particle-board shelving, enhancing its stability, as well as adding a shutter attachment to prevent the resin from being exposed to accidental light.

Intrigued? Head over to the project’s elaborate Instructables page here.

3&Dbot is the world’s first autonomous 3D printing robot


This robot can 3D print anything anywhere. 


Generally speaking, 3D printers can be quite bulky. And, the objects they are capable of printing are often limited to their own build volume. That is unless you’re a group of Rio de Janeiro researchers who have set out to put the wheels in motion, literally.

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A collaboration between two labs from PUC-Rio’s design program, the team developed a solution that may very well pave the way for future printers. 3&Dbot is billed as being the world’s first autonomous 3D printing robot. Tethered to a base with four omni wheels, the entire printer can move to and fro in any direction, depending upon the print data it is fed. The device is driven by an Atmel based Arduino board and can be wirelessly controlled.

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The robot still requires a flat surface to work on, however the size of a part or object it can create is nearly limitless. TUIO fiducial markers are used to ensure pinpoint accuracy of its mechanism and position within a field of motion. Though the machine’s extruder is not heated, it can easily be modified to include one. It is capable of printing in a variety of materials including ceramics, modeling clay and other paste-like substances.

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Once a model is too tall for the robot to add layers to, unlike other printers, 3&Dbot can easily 3D print a temporary raised structure around it to drive up onto and continue working.

ShapingBits launches a pair of multi-material, high-resolution 3D printers


Recently launched on Kickstarter, the 3FXtrud Uno and 3FXtrud Duo are next-gen, multi-capable machines.


While it seems like just about every week a new 3D printer debuts on Kickstarter, some more than others are geared toward the DIY crowd. With that in mind, Bogdan Diaconescu and Difei Zhang — who are the co-founders of Albuquerque-based ShapingBits — have unveiled a pair of multi-material 3D printers that enable Makers and budget-conscious startups to create functional objects in an easy-to-use, cost-effective manner.

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The 3FXtrud 20 Uno is a single extruder printer built with features that make it Maker-friendly with expedited setup and reliable printing in a multitude of filaments. This device primarily caters to those seeking to devise objects in hard, flexible and soft thermoplastics, which can all be 3D-printed using its universal extruder system. Meanwhile, the 3FXtrud 25 Duo throws on an additional extruder to give users a true free-form fabrication printer with advanced capabilities that allow for a greater variety of engineering (and FDA approved) materials — from compressible to maximum strength, and from low to high melting temperatures.

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“True free-form fabrication (3F) can be achieved when any shape can be printed,” Diaconescu explains. “3FXtrud Duo uses a multi-material dual extruder, thus can print a large number of thermoplastics along with any two combinations of such materials. With 3FXtrud Duo you can print any 3D geometry with overhangs, bridges, internal spaces with internal objects, all possible by using dissolvable support materials.”

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Based on an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) and RAMPS 1.4 board, the machines also pack an advanced multi-material, all-metal head that excels at printing a broad range of thermoplastics. At the moment, supported filaments include ABS, nylon, TPU, TPE, PC, PC-ABS blends, HIPS, PVA, PLA, PETT poly, metal/ceramics blends, wood, carbon fiber, and conductive materials. This unique extruder was designed to provide Makers with minimum maintenance and prolonged utilization, by reducing stripping, skipping and jamming, and employing a tool-free, constant-force feeding system.

What’s more, a notable feature of both 3FXtrud devices is its superior temperature control. Both printers are equipped with a high-temp heated bed that can sustain up to 130°C continuously along with an extremely flat and removable glass surface for improved adhesion and to prevent warping. And to offer even more control over a broader range of filaments, the Duo boasts a fully-enclosed build volume that eliminates air drafts and gives a stable air temperature profile by trapping the heat. This minimizes interlayer stress in the printed objects, and ultimately improves its overall quality and robustness.

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“A particle and activated carbon air filter with air temperature homogenizer for odor free operation can be installed, which provides a uniform temperature profile for the enclosure,” Diaconescu adds. “For the mavericks wanting even more control and desire to work with experimental materials, a closed loop air temperature conditioner can be installed for an extended enclosure air temperature range.”

  • Build volume: 20cm x 20cm x 20cm (Uno) / 25cm x 25cm x 25cm (Duo)
  • Layer solution: 40 to 300µm (Uno) / 20 to 300µm (Duo)
  • Printing speed: 20mm/sec to 150 mm/sec (Uno) / 20mm/sec to 200 mm/sec (Duo)
  • Nozzle diameter: 0.35mm (replaceable nozzles include: 0.2mm, 0.4mm, 0.5mm)
  • Filament size: 1.75mm
  • Software: Software: Repetier, Printrun, Slic3r
  • Connectivity: SD card, USB (Wi-Fi in development)

Interested? Head over to its official Kickstarter campaign, where the ShapingBits team is currently seeking $15,370. Shipment is expected to begin in June 2015.

Mattel and Autodesk will let kids design and 3D print their own toys


Want a new toy? You may soon be able to 3D print it — without heading off to the nearest Toys”R”Us.


Let’s face it, as a kid there were always those toys that you wished you could design yourself. For some, that may’ve been a Hot Wheels car. For others, a Barbie doll. In any case, today’s generation may finally get that opportunity. That’s because toy makers are leveraging the powers of the Maker Movement to give children the keys to the door of endless imagination. Mattel and Autodesk have announced a partnership that will enable kids to customize their own 3D-printed playthings through a dedicated online hub starting in the second half of this year.

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The joint initiative will provide a new immersive experience by combining the physical toys of today with the digital adventures of tomorrow. An upcoming series of apps will empower consumers — both young and old — to imagine, design and build their own toys, while 3D printing will bring them to life.

“Autodesk is dedicated to providing powerful, yet easy-to-use 3D design and 3D printing apps to unlock the creativity in everyone,” explained Samir Hanna, VP and GM, Consumer and 3D Printing at Autodesk. “Partnering with an iconic brand like Mattel provides us with an opportunity to demonstrate how Spark, our open 3D printing platform, can help create amazing experiences that bridge the digital and physical worlds and push the boundaries of creative play.”

Tapping directly into the burgeoning DIY trend, this exclusive collaboration aspires to bring hands-on design experiences to support an interactive learning environment through fun apps so that kids (and grown-ups who are still kids at heart) can also learn while they play.

“We’re constantly inspired by the passion and creativity we see among kids around the world,” said Doug Wadleigh, SVP and GM Toy Box, Mattel. “Technology is changing daily and by harnessing Mattel’s expertise in play and Autodesk’s expertise with creative apps and 3D printing, we’re able to offer a new kind of 3D design experience, continuing the Mattel legacy of inspiring imagination and creativity.”

While there is no indication as to which toy lines Mattel is targeting to get a 3D printing makeover, this is certainly just the tip of the iceberg and the start of a revolutionary trend. Just the other day, Disney Research unveiled a fabric 3D printer that was capable of creating plush, embeddable toys.

Report: Global 3D printing market to reach $20.2 billion in 2019


Nearly 133,000 3D printers were shipped globally in 2014, accounting for $3.3 billion in revenue. 


If you thought 3D printing was merely a fad, you thought wrong. According to Canalys, the market will continue to build upon its momentum from last year which saw 133,000 printers shipped — a 68% jump from 2013. This resulted in $3.3 billion in revenue generated by printer sales and their associated materials. That figure is expected to continue its growth, projecting upward to $5.2 billion by 2015 and $20.2 billion by 2019 — an expected compound annual CAGR of 44% from 2014 to 2019.

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“As we expected, the 3D printing market has grown substantially over the past few years,” said Canalys Research analyst Joe Kempton. “There has also been a substantial increase in the number of vendors entering this space, with many coming from Asia, challenging the previous dominance of 3D printing hotspots such as Germany and the USA.”

The growth is being contributed to a combination of lower prices, new forms of manufacturing methods and improved printing speeds. Beyond that, the ability to accelerate product creation via crowdfunding platforms has also spurred more demand for 3D printers.

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In a study released just the other week, the research firm estimated that 75% of 3D printers shipped in Q4 2014 were priced below $10,000. In that three-month span alone, the total market revenue exceeded over $1 billion for the first time in a single quarter, with some 41,000 machines shipped worldwide. This represented a 24% rise quarter-over-quarter. Regionally, the Americas accounted for nearly four in 10 (42%) of overall purchases, followed by EMEA and Asia-Pacific at at 31% and 27%, respectively.

“Whereas these consumer printers used to be almost exclusively material extrusion devices, we’ve seen large growth rates in the vat polymerization segment as prices have fallen, which means more options for consumers. There were large, positive growth rates for the dominant consumer players, such as MakerBot and Ultimaker. But also substantial increases in shipment numbers from Chinese vendors, such as XYZPrinting, which have benefited from creating consumer-friendly 3D printers at impressively low price points.”

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Undoubtedly, the 3D printing revolution will revolutionize traditional manufacturing as Makers will be able to print real-life products and part replacements right from the comforts of their own home or office. In the coming months, a vast majority of these printers will be plug-and-play, turnkey devices that will begin to enter the sweet spot of $500 — a price point at which many consumers will likely shell out the cash.

It’s bound to have a major impact on industries like aerospace, automotive and healthcare over the next five years as well. Companies such as General Electric, Boeing, and BMW have already invested millions of dollars into the next-gen technology.

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As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the Maker Movement has not only been using Atmel powered 3D printers like MakerBotRepRap and CEL for quite some time now, but a slew of new devices popping up on crowdfunding sites are packed with AVR MCUs, most notably the ATmega2560.

Ready to delve deeper into the future of 3D printing? You can find the latest Canalys report here.