Macro 3D Printer
While Personalize was in Belgium and the Netherlands we received an email about another printer set to launch on Kickstarter asking for $50,000 was M3D’s Micro. It has been said that 3D Printers on Kickstarter may have reached saturation point now and in the post Bucanneer world it is increasingly difficult to reach out to that audience.
What happened next chucked that theory right out of the window, right out the window of the Burj Khalifa.
Within ten minutes of The Micro launching on Kickstarter it had smashed through that $50,000, by 24 hours it had broke the $1m barrier and is currently at the time of writing sitting pretty on $2m. With a whole 26 days remaining it looks on course to top the biggest 3D Printing success story on Kickstarter that was Formlabs $2.9m – the 13th most funded product in Kickstarter’s history.
So what’s all the fuss about? Well, for starters there’s the price, early backers were able to snap the machine up for $199 (£118, €144) about a fifth of the reported price of the next 3D Systems’ Cube and close to an eighth of the price of the MakerBot Mini.
But price is nothing without innovation, and M3D say that they’ve redesigned everything from the ground up with 15 key innovations:
1.Most space-efficient 3D printer ever made.
2. Lightweight, portable design fits nicely on your desk.
3. Micro motion chip provides completely automatic levelling and calibration.
4. Most quiet 3D printer ever made.
5. Lowest power consumption 3D printer ever made.
6. Carbon fiber rods: light, sturdy, self-lubricating and long-lasting
7. Ceramic heater for rapid heat-up, power efficiency, reliability and safety.
8. Bold colours. Choose from Silver, Black, Blue, RedOrange, and Green.
9. New filament materials like Chameleon PLA.
10. Inspirational Micro filament spools.
11. Modernised touch-capable software.
12. Replaceable print beds for alternative materials.
13. Replaceable nozzles for experimenters.
14. Designed for fast assembly in the US for quality control.
15. An ABS-based print bed allows you to print larger ABS parts.
One of the key innovations is the reduction of power consumption by ten, this allowed the machine to be a lot lighter at rough 1kg, and the components to be therefore a lot less expensive to manufacture and assemble. This allowed M3D to keep the price to the consumer down and concentrate on making it super easy to use.
“The mainstream consumer is eager to try 3D printing, patiently waiting for a truly affordable printer that comes with intuitive software,” said M3D’s Founder Michael Armani. “We’ve designed The Micro to be easily accessible with a compact, portable size that can rest on any table-top. For the first time, consumers, designers, and engineers alike can experiment with new ideas. They can customize and fix things around the house, print artistic models shared by others, and make technical prototypes”
Unless you were incredibly quick off the mark you won’t have got close to the $199 pledge, all 250 went within ten minutes. However the standard price for the machine of $299, cheaper than an iPad mini, is not to be sniffed at either but if you want one before 2014 is out you’ll have to splash out with $599.
Interistingly, it isn’t just the hardware and software M3D are making great leaps in, the consumables are quite astounding too, take a look at this video of their Thermochromic Color-Change PLA Filament, which reacts to temperature. Though it may seem gimmicky there are real world uses for a visual representation of temperature change.
Gartner reported that in 2014 consumer 3D Printing would reach $133 million, the Micro has already taken a considerable slice of that in just three days. With close to a month still to go it will be interesting to see how much of that pie they do take and whether Gartner may need to adjust those figures.
The Micro has proved that 3D Printer fatigue has not hit Kickstarter and that the public are crying out for a machine they can afford and is easy to use. What will be interesting to see is how the company reacts to such success; whether it keeps to schedules laid out; and to see how competitors react.