Unless someone makes a surprise announcement within the next two months, Northern Italy-based Sharebot is going to be the first company to hit the market with a low-cost SLS system. Arturo Donghi, Sharebot’s CEO, announced today that the SnowWhite is now in pre-order, at a special price of €17,500, for their beta tester program, with delivery time scheduled for September.
Arturo has since updated me to tell me that, only three hours after announcement, four beta testers were confirmed and five more have applied, but were not accepted because they were based too far away to conduct the testing program efficiently.
The SnowWhite has been a long time coming – as Sharebot has described in details on its blog – but not so long, since the original SLS patent only expired in February 2014. “So the snow,” Arturo joked, “is coming.” Not a moment too soon: these days the Brianza area, where Sharebot’s main office is based, is boiling hot, with temperatures nearing 40°C.
The first low-cost SLS will have a final price of €35,000, which places it at about one-sixth the cost of a Formiga P110, which is probably the lowest-priced SLS 3D printer on the market. Of course, these are two very different classes of machines, and not just for the different sizes. SnowWhite weighs 60 Kg and has the size of a cube measuring almost a half meter on each side. It has a build volume of 100x100x100 mm in a non modified atmosphere and a chamber temperature of up to 200°C.
Nevertheless, anyone who would like to manufacture products with nylon powder, with no geometrical limitations and no supports required, and spend less than €100,000 to do so, will soon have a valid and working option. I have seen the quality of Sharebot’s 3D printed parts evolve over time from a powdery mess to solid and precise nylon components, with a 50 to 150 micron layer resolution. If the SnowWhite R&D team, made up of Gabriele Carloni and Christian Giussani, feels the machine is ready to hit beta testing, it means that parts of it can still be improved but the product is ready and operational.
SnowWhite’s 14 Watt Co2 laser can achieve a printing speed of 10 seconds per layer and users can already regulate several parameters including: temperature, layer height, scanning rate speed, laser power, pre-heating settings, powder loading offset settings, and more. It seems almost impossible that a young and small startup was able to build a working SLS 3D printer in such a short time. Almost like snow in July.