You probably already read all about Norge’s announced desktop SLS 3D printers (the Ice 9 and the Ice 1) when Mike first broke the news last August 14th. Just a few days later you now have your chance to be among the first to get your hands on it and all that it will ensue by grabbing your Kickstarter Early Bird special Ice 1 for £5,000 (comma indicates 000’s), if you are willing to put your money on the future widespread availability of this advanced industrial 3D printing technology. In the first few hours of the campaign the has surpassed 10% of its $250,000 target.
At retail the Norge Ice 9 – the larger system – and its smaller brother, the Ice 1, will respectively come in at £19,900 and £9,000. On Kickstarter you will not be able to reserve an Ice 9 (as the maximum allowed price for pledges is £5,000) but on the bright side Norge has made its Ice 1 available with a £4,000 discount compared to the final retail price. If, instead, you absolutely want the larger scale system, you can still pre-order it on Norge Systems officiale website.
According to Norge’s founders, development of both systems – which are expected to hit the market in the third quarter of 2015 – is about 80% of the way and they are now looking for funding to complete the final steps of construction and go into production. Support for their project has been exceptional.
“We have been literally overwhelmed by the incredible number of contacts and support offers we have received”, Luca Veneri, one of Norge Systems’ co-founder told me, somehow finding the time to answer my email. “At the present state of the project, Ice 1 will come equipped with a solid state, highly compact IR laser, the lenses are high quality ZnSe for an 800 nm to 16 µm laser and the scanner mirrors are gold plated”.
The machine will be highly versatile, dubbing as a laser engraver/cutter, and extremely user-friendly. “Our choice was from the very beginning to make it as user friendly as possible, thus both machines are compatible with MakerBot’s G-code standard and can be used with most freely available slicing software”, Luca added, specifying that the decision to base it on an Arduino Duo board was not just due to cost containment policies but because the platform is now mature and can handle complex projects such as an SLS 3D printer.
However Norge Systems’ SLS cost reduction strategy is limited to the system’s final price. PA22 (nylon) SLS powders for the Ice systems (and any other SLS system) can be purchased at lower than ever costs through Arzauno, a UK based SLS powered materials company also founded by the same team behind Norge Systems. On Arzauno’s website one Kg of PA22 powered goes for €82.25, 20 kg will run you €1,175.00.
The Ice 1 system (and the Ice 9 as well) will also work with other sintering materials such as glass or carbon fiber enriched polyammide for stronger objects or polyurethane for flexible products. While selective laser sintering remains a complex technology it is the one most likely to drive the next phase of 3D printing evolution, from prototyping to full manufacturing. Of course, as Luca pointed out, being able to buy 10 systems for the price of a single one elsewhere will certainly contribute to speed up this process.