Two Very Different 3D Printers

Recently two 3D printers went up on Kickstarter with two very different approaches to 3D printing, Rapcraft, and B9Creator.

First, Rapcraft:

Rapcraft is presumably based on the RepRap open-source 3D printer model, but it’s definitely got a lot more polish than most RepRap printers out there. They’ve definitely put some hard work into making Rapcraft a pretty machine to look at, and it’s manufactured from higher-end materials than most. It looks more like an actual product instead of a DIY project. The results don’t look any better to me than other RepRap projects, or even MakerBot. The resolution is pretty grainy on smaller objects, with lots of stairstepping. This is not Rapcraft’s fault necessarily, it’s just how these filament extruding printers work.

The project does have two extra things worth noting. First, they are working on a 3D scanning solution, which may or may not be included with a purchase, but will definitely integrate with the printer. This would change it from being just a printer to being a copier. Neat! The other aspect I noted was that one of the project developers is an e-Learning developer, and they mention that the printer might come (again, not exactly clear) with tutorials to guide you through the whole designing, modeling, and printing process.

At the moment, Rapcraft has only $36.01(!) towards a $50000 goal, but they’ve got until June 13 to make it. If this project catches any decent press, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Next, let’s look at B9Creator:

B9Creator, while being a much less “polished” product design and leaning more to the DIY side, is exciting for its much higher print resolution. This means that printed objects come out much more detailed and smooth, requiring less post-printing finish work.

B9Creator uses a method that projects images into a resin bath, which hardens the resin in the areas exposed to bright light. Then the object is pulled up from the resin a tiny amount, and a new image is projected. This builds layers one at a time, slowly building the object from “top” down. Once the object is finished, it is pulled from the printer, and extra resin is washed off using alcohol. Because not all of the resin is used during the process, extra can be saved for later, making material costs very low.

Unlike Rapcraft, B9Creator has already nearly doubled their funding goal, sitting currently at $97,000. They reached their goal in less than a day, which is always impressive.