I can’t help but wonder if large 3D printer manufacturers feel just a tinge of worry about the small startups, the open-source hackers, and the crowdsourcing campaigns that have been responsible for some of the least expensive and most ingenious printers out there. While there doesn’t seem to be any immediate danger of large-scale consumer abandonment for giants like 3D Systems and Stratasys – despite some recent bumps in the road – many people are put off by the high cost of 3D printers. And these days, those people don’t have to look far to find much less expensive alternatives – alternatives that are, depending on the customers’ needs, just as good as or better than the high-end printers that cost several thousand dollars more.
Despite recent trends showing that overall printer prices are beginning to drop, many individuals have turned away from the larger market and have developed their own low-cost, high-quality machines that, when offered up on crowdsourcing sites, have proved to be very enticing to 3D printer enthusiasts. Just last week we wrote about E-Mergin Innovations, whose sub-$500 TRIUM 3D printer has now surpassed its Kickstarter funding goal. Now we’ve received word of a similarly named but very different type of printer that will be launching on Kickstarter tomorrow. Meet the Trinus – an all-metal, professional-grade 3D printer/laser engraver hybrid.
The Trinus was born from the frustration of Bojan Smiljanic, an industrial designer who didn’t want to invest thousands of dollars in a 3D printer that would need maintenance, upgrades, and may not meet all of his design needs. For a while he ordered his prototypes through third party printing bureaus like Shapeways, but ran into difficulties with long wait times and materials that didn’t work with his designs. Then he joined San Francisco-based startup Kodama, Inc., and the idea for the Trinus was developed.
“We looked at many printers under $500, and were really dissatisfied with what we saw,” Smiljanic tells 3DPrint.com. “Some of them came in hundreds of pieces, some were made of flimsy plastic or had cheap internal parts, and others broke down in weeks. We wanted to build a solid, robust 3D printer that just works. No strings attached…In terms of precision and durability, Trinus easily competes with some printers that cost $1000 or more.”
You won’t find any flimsy plastic or cheap internal parts in the Trinus – it’s made completely from high-end aluminum and steel, inside and out.
“It’s all metal,” Smiljanic confirms for us. “And we don’t mean just the frame — all of the internal components, like the extruder parts and slider system, are completely metal too.”
Trinus was designed by scaling down the mechanics of an industrial printer to a desktop size. The sturdy metal construction and single-axis slider keep the printer steady and eliminate the need for constant recalibration, and it’s designed simply, with only 11 components for easy assembly in half an hour or so. As we’ve seen with other inexpensive printers, the secret to low cost – and to customer sanity – seems to be “simplify, simplify, simplify.” With a printer like this one or the TRIUM, you’re often getting the same quality and versatility that you’d be getting with a much more expensive printer, but by eliminating a lot of bells and whistles, you’re saving yourself both money and a headache.
Trinus will be able to print with a wide variety of filament, from standard PLA to exotics like polycarbonate, wood, and aluminum. Thanks to a partnership with Polymaker, the Kickstarter will be providing discounted filament from the popular filament manufacturer. Flextronics and Panowin are also lending their support to the campaign.
Here are a few more specifications:
- Print volume: 120 x 125 x 125 mm
- Print speed: up to 70 mm/sec | Moving speed: up to 150 mm/sec
- Minimum layer height: 0.05mm (50 microns)
- Print material: 1.75mm PLA, ABS, PC, flex, wood, aluminum
- OS supported: Windows, Mac
- Connectivity: USB, SD Card (autoprint)
- Power consumption: 60W • Weight: 9.8kg
Other options, such as an enclosure case and a heated bed platform, are also available. Trinus will include its own proprietary Pango software, but the printer will work with any other software or gcode. And, lest we forget, Trinus is more than just a 3D printer. It only takes 60 seconds to convert it from a printer to a laser engraver, and a third head will be added by the end of the year – hence the name (Trinus is the Latin word for “triple”). According to Smiljanic, however, they’re nowhere near finished.
“We built Trinus so that we can continue to improve it,” he tells us. “The head is interchangeable, so you can add on different heads, like the laser engraver. Currently we’re also testing dual extruder, paste extruder, and CNC router heads.”
Watch out, ZMorph. The Trinus Kickstarter campaign will officially launch on March 30; you can sign up at Kodama 3D’s website or like them on Facebook to get notified the second the campaign goes live if you want to get a chance at being one of the first 100 backers, who will receive a special early bird price of $199. The regular price will be $299, which, according to Kodama 3D, is more than worth it.
“I wanted to make a machine that I would use as a product designer,” says Smiljanic. “With its speed, precision, and versatility, Trinus fits the bill. The prototype printer in my office has been running 24/7 since November, with no technical failures yet.”
Are you going to back this campaign? Discuss in the Trinus 3D Printer forum over at 3DPB.com.