Besides 3D printing, I can’t think of any other sector in the tech industry where it’s almost impossible to keep track of all the interesting new concepts that keep popping up! Granted, most of them are still in their early pre-production phases. Tech-wise, single extruder FDM 3D printers might not be the ones populating the high-end category in the future of the industry, but they could very well be considered as feature phones of the 3D printing market and have a similar road ahead – products that will stay afloat and gather mass adoption, but more so in the developing markets as well as with entry-level users. However, as of now the playing field is wide open, the ultimate 3D printer tech is still to be found, the market structure is immature at the entry level, and the winners are yet undeterminable. Today’s applicant, however, looking to gain traction in that particular market, is Phoenix. And based on its initial Kickstarter success it is a concept in which many believe enough to give it some sought-after crowdfunding – with pledges already double the first set goal of $20k.
But Phoenix is not just about the cost — $399 assembled — it’s about accessibility and innovative features in the budget level category as well. In their pitch the creators of the machine define the target segment as being families and kids who would likely find the concept useful, but as of now have not been able to get their hands on a personal 3D printer due to cost issues. For the very reasonable price, Phoenix also includes, for example, a heated printing platform, a belt-drive instead of threaded rods for moving the Z-axis and according to the creators, most importantly new, in-house written software, designed especially for users with limited tinkering experience with 3D printer hardware. For other basic specs, the build area is a reasonable at 240 x 215 x 200 mm, uses 1.75 mm filament with a max layer thickness of 0.1 mm.
One specific feature the team is underlining with the (currently Windows-only) SW is the recovery mode. It basically means an advanced pause of sorts, where in the unfortunately very familiar case of a failed print, the process can be stopped like usual, the problems – e.g. twisted filament strings etc. – fixed but instead of enjoying an all-nighter with a second try, the original process can then interestingly be rewound to the initial point of failure. For simple parts/phases at least this sounds like something that should be included in every 3D printer’s software – as does the one year warranty given for the machine, which also communicates trust towards the Phoenix. Last, for the impatient/time-conscious crowd, there’s also an iOS app for checking the remaining print time and status (with an Android version to be added later on).
Sample 3D prints, as illustrated in the gallery below, do not necessarily give a perfect picture of the capabilities and actual performance of the machine, but they are interesting in any case.[nggallery id=107]
The Kickstarter campaign ends on October 11th and as mentioned earlier, is already far beyond the initial funding goal. For those having pitched in, the first 3D printers will be shipped out in December and January for the early bird options and the rest have an estimated delivery date of March 2014. For some visual information, watch the pitch video on this promising 3D printer concept for novice/budget-users (but not necessarily the purist/experienced maker crowd).