It may be that the big money in additive manufacturing (AM) is in the industrial systems, but don’t discount the effect home 3D printers can have on the industry. 3D Systems reports the Cube is selling nicely, and I wouldn’t expect MakerBot to go out of business anytime soon. Smaller companies are making their own contributions to the home industry, and Kickstarter is full of 3D printer start-ups.
Solidoodle is one of these smaller companies that seems to be doing quite well. We first covered the company here, with a look at the first generation of Solidoodles. The company is now up to version three, and we thought we might take a look at the latest offering to see what’s new.
The Solidoodle 3 is larger than its older brethren, with a build area of 8 x 8 x 8 in. (20.32 x 20.32 x 20.32 cm). It still uses 1.75 mm ABS plastic filament, but Solidoodle claims the system can also use PLA. According to the company, the spool feed has been redesigned to reduce tangles, allowing users to let the 3D printer run unattended for longer periods of time. Print layers remain at .3 mm.
The third generation Solidoodle still suffers from the same lack of resolution as the company’s other AM systems, but I’m still not sure how much home users will really care about that sort of thing. The company is pretty straightforward about the resolution. From the Solidoodle website:
“Clarification: the precision of the printhead in the horizontal plane (X-Y direction) is about .011mm (about 2300dpi). However, this number is a little superflous [sic] because we are extruding ABS plastic through a relatively larger .35mm nozzle, and all ABS plastic oozes a bit. So a more realistic & practical estimate of resolution in the horizontal plane is about .1mm. And to be crystal clear — this creates great prints. Trying to define the resolution more accurately than this is similar to trying to define the position of a garden hose nozzle to within millimeters — it’s essentially meaningless since the water is going to expand anyway.”
Another change for the Solidoodle 3 is the price. The first set of printers ran $499, which is pretty much what I feel is the sweet spot for home systems. The newest iteration has been bumped up to $799. Is two more inches of build envelope worth $300? I’m not sure if customers will agree.
Below you’ll find an interview with Sam Cervantes, CEO of Solidoodle.