Today, if you wanted to invest in B2C full color 3D printing your best options are mcor Technology’s IRIS and 3D Systems’s Projet 660/4500. However all these will run you upwards of $40,000. Rumors say that 3D Systems has waited to launch a low cost full color 3D printing system not to risk cannibalizing its current market leadership, since there were no serious contenders.
That may just have changed, as Taiwanese company Addwii launched the X1, a 3D printer based on a very similar binder jetting technology (in fact it seems almost identical from the diagrams), that is available for purchase at a price below $20,000.
Apart from the similarities with 3D Systems (it would not be the first time and binder jetting technology, in particular, has been implemented by several industrial 3D printer manufacturers) the project looks pretty serious, especially considering that Addwii’s partner (both companies are part of the Dbtel Group) is a company called Microjet, which produces inkjet cartridges very similar to those produced by HP for 3D Systems’ binder jetting 3D printers.
MicroJet Technology designs inkjet printheads, inkjet printers and piezo-electric devices with R&D teams in IC design, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering. It has researched and developed the X1’s binder jetting technology for several years and owns more than 600 exclusive patents for privately developed specifications.
According to Addwii the new X1 3D printer can do powder based 3D printing with up to 1200 dpi and CMYK full color printing. It has a 200 x 160 x 150 mm build volume and 42 mm/hr build speed on the Z axis which – if confirmed – would actually make it faster than 3D Systems’ Projets. Layer thickness stands at between 80 and 120 micron.
The company wants to make this first ever “MIT” (as in “Made In Taiwan”) color 3D printer the center of a new global Maker Space community of users, exchanging ideas and sharing designs. There currently are 300 models available as free downloads through Addwii. The video below shows some of them, and judging by their look, 3D Systems should definitely launch their Colorjet machine this fall or risk facing some fierce competition, at least in the Asian markets.