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Monday, 23 December 2013 12:41

3D-printable Snap3D printer hits Kickstarter

Written by Peter Scott

RepRap with a twist 

The concept is not new – using a 3D printer to manufacture, or replicate components for the printer itself, or new printers to be assembled using 3D printed parts. Snap3D hopes to bring the RepRap idea to a whole new level, with a few interesting twists. 

Developed by Tjiko Labs, the Snap3D is a highly modular design that allows users to assemble and reconfigure their printers with ease, with next to no tools. Thanks to its modular design, everything falls in place like a set of Legos. It does not require fasteners, welding, gluing or specialized tools. Tjiko Labs says the whole printer can be assembled in less than two hours. Better yet, the assembly process does not involve soldering, or any electrical knowledge. The electronics and wires simply snap together, as if you were building your own PC. Tjiko Labs says the frame is extremely strong and therefore does not require the use of fasteners.

snap3d-tjiko-labs

 

The modular design will also allow users to customize their printers. For example, users can remove the extruder head and replace it with a different extruder for liquid printing, just in case they ever need to decorate a birthday cake. Furthermore, the print bed is also modular for this purpose. Users will be able to add a second Extruder for experimental dual printing. The integrated electronics will support this option too, says Tjiko Labs.

In terms of specifications, the Snap3D is rather good for a RepRap printer and in many aspects it even trounces the MakerBot Replicator 2. The printer uses ABS, PLA or Nylon 3mm filament, the layer resolution is 100 micron and the build volume is relatively big at 8x8x8 inches, or 20x20x20 centimetres. It also has standalone functionality thanks to an integrated microSD memory card slot and an LCD panel with control interface.

If all goes well the final tests on Snap3D printers will be carried out in January. Frame production commences in February and the first batch should ship in April. Fully assembled the Snap3D printer will set you back $999, but if it is really as easy to assemble as its designers claim, you might be better off with a $799 kit. In any case this is relatively affordable, although we expect the sub-$999 market segment to be flooded by affordable printers in the second half of 2014.

Peter Scott

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