The message that I’ve been picking up on, as consumer 3D printing develops, is that, in order to compete in the marketplace, you’ve got to offer something different. There are some ways to achieve this, including the adaptation of printheads to varying materials, dropping the price tag on home 3D printers, introducing quirky gimmicks, or, if you prefer subtlety, going for improved design efficiency. Or, you could just make your printer bigger than the rest. This seems to be the approach of inDimension3’s Glacier Summit 3D Printer. Actually, not only is it really big, but it’s got a lot of compelling features.
The Glacier Summit is a really big printer. With a build area of 16” x 16” x 18”, the inDimension3 team of Berwyn, Pennsylvania has created a machine much smaller than the Australian printer we covered last month, which was about 40″ x 40″ x 16″ in size. The features it offers, however, might help it compete in the 3D printer sumo wrestling competition. According to the company’s COO and founder, Jeff Christiana, the Glacier Summit offers the following capabilities:
- .35mm and .5mm nozzle sizes, which are easy to swap (other sizes are available on request)
- 500c all metal dual print heads
- Garolite print bed (reusable)
- Semi enclosed design
- Dual spool holder mount (adjustable)
- 50micron – 500micron layer heights
- Control box that houses all the electronics. This allows the customer to send the box back for repair, without sending the entire machine.
- Windows 8.1 tablet
- Print from an SD card or from the tablet
- Uninterruptible power supply to keep the printer running during power outages.
- 300lbs casters to roll the machine around
- 80/20 2″ black anodized frame
- Wireless printing ready
- Remote control tech support into the unit
- On site training
- All software included – ready to run
- Dissolvable support material
- Heated build platform up to 130c
All of these features come at a reasonable price tag, considering what they’re offering and especially compared with the aforementioned Australian machine, starting at $5999. The complete package, as pictured in the photos, runs at $6,999.00, and includes, according to Jeff, “dual spool mounts, UPS, A sturdy 80/20 aluminum stand, 300lbs locking casters, control box shelf and a tablet with windows 8.1.” What’s distinctive about the Glacier Summit, in addition to the size, is the remote control tech support integrated into the Windows 8.1 tablet, which allows their team to troubleshoot issues or train users. This remote feature, with accompanying webcam, makes it possible to monitor prints from off-site, as well. I should also mention that the printers are tested for a full 8 hours in their manufacturing centre in Montana before shipping and there are tutorials on YouTube to help you get going with the machine.
The Glacier Summit is actually the fourth in their line of 3D printers, which they’ve been making since 2009. inDimension3 started by selling printed plastic mendels, but, like many RepRap manufacturers, moved onto more mass-producible materials, producing the Glaceir Steel with a steal frame and the Glacier Peak out of welded steel. The company also retails its own line of plastics, including: ABS, PLA, PC-ABS and HIPS as well as the Taulman brand of Nylon. They use HIPS as the support structure, which can be dissolved using d-Limonene, a non-toxic cleaning solvent made from oranges.
The large print area gives the Glacier Summit the ability to create objects so large that children can safely sit on them, an increasingly standard requirement among 3D printers. And, with dual heads, the printer is able to create multicolored objects or, if you want to enter the big leagues, objects with dissolvable support structures. The company is working on incorporating a third print head in the near future for greater versatility. Their website is currently under maintenance, most likely preparing for the release of their new mega machine, but you can follow them on Facebook or Twitter.
Now, you’re thinking, “Okay, so when are the 3D Printer Sumo Wrestling Olympics going to happen already?” That’s for you to decide, young grasshopper. As Ghandi put it, “Be the change you wish to see in the world” or, as Kevin Costner put it, “If you build it, they will come.”