3D printers are an incredible gadget: beloved by hobbyists, creatives and professional designers across the world. Unfortunately, they are also massive, surprisingly fragile and expensive — it’s not uncommon to come across printers that retail for $2000 or more. This makes them a risky investment for the typical small hobbyist.
Snapmaker has released a 3D printer on Kickstarter that looks set to change all that. The printing community loves it: as of the time of writing, it’s raised over $475,000! In this article, we’ll examine what the fuss is all about.
Durable metal design
Snapmaker’s main selling point over its competitors is its all-metal design. The body of the linear module is made from aluminum alloys, which are extremely rigid and durable. These alloys have a dual advantage: they are 10x more stress-tolerant than the plastic that most 3D printers are made of, and they have a higher performance rate than sheet metal.
Additionally, Snapmaker has built the motion system using lead screws, which are more accurate and durable than the belts and pulleys used by competitors. In an industry in which customers care about reliability above anything else, this alone is a game-changer.
User-friendly for beginners and professionals alike
Have you ever tried to assemble a 3D printer from scratch? Unless you’re a seasoned pro, it’s normally a matter of hours, if not days! Snapmaker consists of 10 parts that can be assembled with no prior knowledge in 10 minutes.
Newbies can also be reassured that the software experience is very intuitive. Simply drag and drop a print file onto the software, or add other print files to create multiple items at a time. The touchscreen is also easy to use, allowing hobbyists to go home and reload filament just by using their hand.
Users with more experience will notice that some familiar problems with previous 3D printers have been solved. Prying your print from the printing bed used to be a challenge, and the temperatures used to pose a health risk to kids. Snapmaker has avoided this issue by including a reusable platform sticker with the product, which performs better than the traditional blue painter’s tape and glue sticks.
Unlike with other printers, you also won’t need to constantly check on the Snapmaker to ensure that the print bed is level. Simply offset the Z-axis with a piece of paper before you get started, and then you can focus on the printing itself.
Versatile and affordable
But the Snapmaker is not just a 3D printer: it comes with a laser engraver and a CNC machine as well! The engraver means that you can engrave images and logos onto wallets, coasters, iPad cases, jeans and anything else that you want to customize.
This is an incredibly powerful tool — both for the professional logo designer and for the teenage daughter who wants a unique-looking wallet. The CNC machine allows makers to carve on wood, PCB or acrylic at 2,000 – 7,000 RPM simply by changing the printer head.
The creative power that the Snapmaker gives its users used to require the purchase of three separate machines, each costing $500 or more. Instead, you can get 3D printing, engraving and CNC functionality in one machine — for a Kickstarter pledge that starts at only $199.
According to their Kickstarter page, Snapmaker has made their product so affordable through an innovation to the mold design process. The most expensive part of the above machines is the linear module (pictured above), and each one would have historically required its own module. Snapmaker has designed all three modules to be identical for each machine, cutting manufacturing costs and allowing them to produce modules at a higher volume.
Who is behind Snapmaker?
Snapmaker is being built by a tech startup of the same name based in Shenzhen & Walnut, CA. Most of their team of eight are engineers, with a background in aviation, robotics and, of course, 3D printing. Their mission as a company is to build products that allow normal people to enjoy innovative technologies at an affordable price. This is the first printer that they have released, but I’m sure it won’t be the last.
To find out more about the Snapmaker 3D printer, head over to its Kickstarter page. If you want to back the product and become one of the first owners of this incredible printer, you have another 41 days before their campaign closes. $199 seems like an incredible investment for any creatives that are interested in 3D printing or tech gadgets.
What do you think of the Snapmaker? Let me know in the comments below.