Monday, November 12, 2012
A little healthy competition
Let me lay this down right now. I think the perfect 3D printer will go straight from STL to print, no slicing on a laptop, and be as cheap as possible. Ideally $300 but preferably <$1000. Makerbot quality or higher and I absolutely won't stand for any draconian DRM or overpriced custom filament (you know how I feel about that). I'm just too used to having control over those things. So clearly we're not where I foresee we need to be and won't be there for a while, but any step in that direction is a good thing in my mind.
So, Lulzbot is pretty much just a Mendle Max. But it's a fully assembled, calibrated, easy to use, well supported high quality Mendle Max for $2500. I'd give that a "not bad". And it remains very open. Not bad at all.
Series 1 by Type A is a Makerbot look-alike, but looks is where the the comparison ends. For $1400 you get a fully assembled printer with a HUGE print area. Purportedly reliable and high definition and excellent customer support with a cutting edge sexy new extruder and new features on the horizion, Type A is showing some serious promise.
I would not mind testing out all of these machines, tho I hardly have the resources for that. When I need to buy a second printer to increase my output (because business will be going so well) will I choose one of these? I don't know. We'll see what's hot then. As far as 3D printing goes it's still the wild west, much like the early days of personal computing. In the end not everyone will survive, but in the meanwhile it's going to be a wild ride. Neither of these companies seem to yet have the marketing muscle of Makerbot or others, but don't rule them out. After all, everyone thought IBM was entering the game too late to be a contender. It's too early to rule anyone out yet.
What are your favorite 3D printer projects? Discuss and feel free to post links in the comments below.