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  • 3d Printers For Beginners…Or Not

    Posted on December 29th, 2016 admin No comments

    Just before Christmas, on Dec. 22, 2016, TechJoint (TJ) published a youtube video titled  "5 Amazing 3d Printers For Beginners".   It was nothing but a compendium of promo videos from Kickstarter campaigns  with no original content, review, or comment.

    Still,  I was a bit surprised by some of their choices.  Let's take a closer look.

    OLO 3D SLA Printer

    OLO campaign photo

    OLO campaign photo

    First up, OLO.  The OLO was intended to be a mini  SLA printer powered by your cell phone.  I had looked at it and decided to stay away.  The original Olo 3d Printer video and campaign have been criticized because

    1. it glosses over the fact that your phone will be tied up for hours by a print
    2. it shows alleged light-sensitive resins in clear plastic bottles, which is seen as deceptive
    3. it claims cost-equality with FDM printers, yet the resin is far more expensive than filament
    4. the fundraising goals have been seen as far too low for product development

    The printer has been panned by Maker's Muse, KickScammed, Quora,  and elsewhere (the Quora discussion in particular has considerable detail) but apparently is technically feasible and may eventually come to fruition.  But don't hold your breath -- in the KS comments section, backers have been reduced to chatting about Mexican food.

    101Hero 3D Delta Printer

    101Hero's campaigns on both Kickstarter and Indiegogo were well-fulfilled, with some 3700 backers.   The unit is simple and cheap, made of injection-molded plastic   The blue production model isn't nearly as pretty as the white prototype shown in their campaign video, but it has started shipping (I have one working on the desk beside me).

    101 Hero printing a benchy

    101 Hero printing a Benchy

    The early round of deliveries suffered from failed stepper motors and missing parts; the company is focused on shipping and has been ignoring customer complaints (perhaps not the best of strategies) until shipping is completed.  Lack of communication from the creator is also a constant complaint.  The official Facebook group is static and unhelpful, but there is an active unofficial FB group for users.

    Angus at Maker's Muse backed the 101Hero but has not yet received it at the time I write this.  I'd have thought that the company would take care to get a unit to an influential backer.   Since I backed mine late through Indiegogo yet was among the first to receive one, I suspect that they are pushing retail sales to generate cashflow -- not fair to backers, but not uncommon.

    Kodama Trinus All-Metal 3D Cartesian Printer/Laser Engraver

     Trinus set their standard as being a solid, all-metal, streamlined industrial design.  Their polished campaign video was humorous and catchy, attracting over 3,000 backers and $1.6 million.  The unit was well reviewed and backed by Maker's Muse, which apparently attracted backers.   The bare-bones printer was $299 with add-ons (heated bed, laser engraver, enclosure, LCD screen, filament pack) driving the price as high as $900 USD with shipping.

    Like many KS campaigns, development was behind schedule, and shipping fell several months late.  However, the company has started shipping with units to reach most backers in early 2017. Users and potential users have both an official forum and an active official FB group.

    Kodama Trinus prototype

    Kodama Trinus prototype

    Minitoy

    minitoy

    A MiniToy campaign shot

    Minitoy's approach was, like 101Hero, push-button simplicity.  However, the Minitoy is specifically aimed at children and schools, and stresses safety (in that it prints only PLA).   The video seems to focus on toy production.   Early criticisms cited

    • lack of a locking door,
    • lack of ventilation,
    • problems with filament loading
    • lack of USB connection

    The company has promised to find a solution to the door issue, but object that a lock would significantly increase costs.  They're considering sensors that would halt the print and retract the head if the door is opened during a print.

    The product has had the usual holdups but may ship to their 600-odd backers in early 2017. Comments on the KS site are of the "Please show some videos of real prints?" and "When are you going to ship?" variety. Their FB group, like that of the 101Hero, has little of value to users, and presently has few user/backer comments.

    iBox Nano

    As for the iBox Nano, apparently it quietly disappeared.

    Conclusions

    It seems odd that TJ should recommend for beginners at least three printers that have significant issues.  OLO and iBox seem to be non-starters.   Minitoy is working through their issues and plans to ship in 2017.   101Hero has yet to address their lack of customer service, but has begun shipping (mostly) working printers.   The most expensive of the lot, the Kodama Trinus,  is shipping now, with most users due to receive their units in early 2017.

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