While writing up a post about the Dutch 3D printer shop RIDIX, I came across a Chinese 3D printer manufacturer, Wanhao. There are probably folks in the desktop 3D printing community that have already made themselves familiar with Wanhao, but, in case you are not one of them, I thought I’d pick it up.
Wanhao manufactures a line of Replicator clones called Duplicators. From the original Replicator all the way up to the Replicator 2X, Wanhao has made a Duplicator to correspond. Therefore, a lot of the specs are pretty much identical to the Makerbot machines. For instance, both the Replicator 2X and the Duplicator 4X have dual extruders, a sealed build chamber, layer resolution of 100 microns, and LED screen with SD card reader. The build volumes are similar, with the Replicator’s measuring at 25 L x 16 W x 15 H cm versus the Duplicator’s 22.5 x 14.5 x 15 cm. The biggest difference is that you can find a Duplicator at a third of the price. In addition to their Replicator clones, Wanhao offers its own FFF pen, which may be thought of as a 3Doodler clone. Our friend Nils informed me, though, that Makibox may have first come up with the FFF pen concept, so who knows who’s cloning who these days.
The Chinese manufacturer’s line is an important one. After finding out about them, I’ve already seen quite a few retailers selling their machines. And, from what I can tell, some people who have purchased the clones are just as happy as they might have been with an actual Replicator. They may run into issues, but they seem to be similar to the sorts of issues you might find with any manufacturer.
When Makerbot’s latest line of 3D printers has been on the market for a sufficient amount of time, we may see Wanhao follow suit. As a global market leader, Makerbot, with its recognizable brand and, according to some, over-pricing, are going to be susceptible to this sort of Chinese ‘competition’. It seems as though some of MakerBot’s designs are open source, whether they like it or not!
 My friend and one-time writer for 3DPI, Colin, hypothesized once that somewhere some billionaire had to have cloned a human being. The technology’s there, the money’s right…