Snapmaker: The World's First 3D Printer With an All-Metal Design

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.

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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 metal

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.

Snapmaker platform sticker

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.

Snapmaker levelling

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

Snapmaker engraving

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.

Snapmaker modules

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.

[More: 3-D Bioprinter is Printing Functional Human Skin ‘Suitable for Transplant’]

The best 3D printers, 3D Scanners, 3D Design and 3D printing materials

3D Printing Industry will be hosting the 1st Annual 3D Printing Awards later this year. We know that you, our readers, are some of the most well informed people in the world of 3D printing and associated technologies.

That is why we want to hear your thoughts on our industry.

The 3D Printing Awards are nominated and voted on by the 3D printing community. We’re eager to see which individuals, companies and projects our readers will put forward for the best 3D printers, 3D scanners, 3D designers and 3D printing materials in the 3D Printing Industry Awards.

Here are some of the people and enterprises that have already received nominations.

Best 3D printers

Well-known brands Polaroid and Canon have recently made their entry into the 3D printer market. There are also nominations for 3D printer manufacturers including Fusion 3, FlashForge, XYZPrinting, and Lulzbot.

300 hour Rocktopus print made with LulzBot MOARstruder tool on display at CES 2017.

300 hour LulzBot Rocktopus on display at CES 2017.

Multi-tool 3D printers could be another potential nominee for best 3D printer with contenders such as Dobot and ZMorph.

High resolution SLA 3D printers

Our readers have nominated the MoonRay range of DLP 3D printers from American company SprintRay and other desktop vat-polymersiation 3D printer companies including Formlabs and DWS.

High-resolution necklace prototypes by DWS Industrial 3D printers Photo via: DWS

High-resolution necklace prototypes by DWS 3D printers Photo via: DWS

If this high-resolution DWS 3D print catches your eye then you can make a nomination here.

Best 3D Scanners

Shining 3D, Artec, and FARO are contenders for best 3D scanners in 2017.

AIO Robotics incorporate scanning with 3D printing in the ZEUS model.

3D scanning can used for a variety of projects. Some may be better for reverse engineering prototype parts, others for capturing sculptures in museums.

3D scanning for cultural heritage using a Shining 3D Einscan Pro. Photo via: Scan_The_World on Twitter

3D scanning for cultural heritage using a Shining 3D Einscan Pro. Photo via: Scan_The_World on Twitter

Best 3D Design

We have seen nominations for companies including Autodesk, Sculpteo, and FATHOM.

Best 3D printer materials

A 3D printer would be nothing without its materials, so how about an award for sustainable filament makers ALGIX3D? Or something from ESUN’s range?

Our readers have also made nominations for Protopasta, Maker Geeks and Colorfab.

Low-Poly male figure and tiger Transformer 3D printed in ESUN filament. Photo via: Esunparadise on Facebook

Low-Poly male figure and tiger Transformer 3D printed in ESUN filament. Photo via: Esunparadise on Facebook

Airwolf 3D may also be a top contender for 3D printer materials following the launch of their HydroFill water soluble filament.

Is Airwolf 3D's HydroFill filament worthy of nomination in the 3D Printing Industry Awards? Photo via: Airwolf 3D

Is Airwolf 3D’s HydroFill filament worthy of nomination in the 3D Printing Industry Awards? Photo via: Airwolf 3D

And Nano Dimension are worth keeping in mind for the best 3D printer materials with their nanoparticle inks for the Dragonfly 2020 system. A 3D printer that can print electronics.

Nano Dimension 3D printed electronics. Photo by Michael Petch

Nano Dimension 3D printed electronics. Photo by Michael Petch

New nominations for the first annual 3D Printing Industry Awards arrive every day, so be sure your best 3D printers and technologies don’t miss out!

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Engineering students learn how to design bridges using 3D printing

3D Printing

Students in The University of New Mexico Department of Civil Engineering designed and built a railroad bridge this semester, which may not seem like an unusual feat for these students. But, this group of budding engineers did it a little differently – with the aid of 3D printing.

Students in Fernando Moreu’s Civil Engineering 410 (structural design for non-structural engineers) course were tasked with designing a bridge using the typical method of calculating load, stress, materials and other details, then putting them into blueprint form. But, instead of just putting them on paper or in a software program, they were assigned to take it a step further and actually put their designs into a 3D printer to build a miniature bridge to their specifications.

Moreu said the idea of using 3D printing in a classroom setting is very new. He got the idea to incorporate it into his class from a book he recently read called “Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World” by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler.

Student monitors fabrication

Student Michael McAninch supervises the fabrication of one of the floor beams at the Social Media Workgroup.
 

“Like sensors, 3D printing is one of those exponentially changing discoveries,” he said. “It’s a new idea now, but everybody will be using 3D printing in five years.”

Moreu, an assistant professor in civil engineering, said this gives students valuable experience in how engineers work in industry, translating plans into reality. The 3D printing component makes the numbers and blueprints more real, he said.

Students in the design course were tasked with completing design projects that expose them to real deadlines, engineering codes, deliverables, scheduling and a final presentation of their work to a hypothetical board of governors that selected the best group to do the project.

He said the students had to learn the 3D printing technology very quickly, and they had no problem being up to the task.

“The students didn’t know anything about 3D printing, so they had to learn,” Moreu said. “But it’s not a matter of being easy or hard. It was something they were interested in learning about, and because of that, they were able to learn fast.”

Students were able to use two 3D printers, in which they could print out different kinds of materials, through a partnership with the Social Media Workgroup at UNM and its director, Andrea Polli, a professor of art.

Moreu first offered the course in fall 2015, but added the 3D component this semester. Students in the course said the 3D experience was valuable to them.

“Normally we would use structural software for a project like this, but with this, I got a physical feel for what we were building,” said Aron Robbins, a senior in civil engineering.

Another student, Michael McAninch, a senior in civil engineering, said he thought what he learned in the project would be immediately transferrable to a career.

“It taught me about the process of a project, because with the 3D printers you can only print one piece of the project at a time, so you have to figure out which pieces to print in what order and how to put them together, just like in real life,” he said.

Students display model bridge

Students in Fernando Moreu’s class display a model of their bridge. 
 

Moreu said studying structures can be intimidating, especially for students not specializing in that area, but adding the 3D component in the course makes it easier to understand.

“There is a little fear of this area, but when they create something they can see and touch, it makes it seem less complicated and may even encourage some students to want to do further study in the area of structures,” he said. “It’s a great example of active learning and empowering students, and it allows them to see their work and catch mistakes early in the project.”

Moreu said he is planning to incorporate 3D printing into other courses in the future. He said in addition to the 3D component for this course, he incorporated guests from industry to speak to his class and included a segment at the beginning of the semester where students investigated the rail bridge on Central Avenue, becoming familiar with topics such as loading, impact, track design, cost-effective solutions and constructability.