Last year, we spoke with a creative and innovative individual named Benjamin Engel, who told us about the invention he and his father had created: a self-replicating 3D printer that out-RepRaps the RepRap Project. The Dollo 3D printer is composed almost entirely of 3D printed parts, excepting electronics, and it can print a replica of itself in about 18 hours, with just 1kg of filament. It’s about as close as you can get to an entirely 3D printable 3D printer, and now, as promised by Engel last year, the Dollo is on Kickstarter.
In the year since we talked to Engel, the Dollo has gotten a few additional features and upgrades that make it even more appealing; it now includes interchangeable tool heads that allow the printer to be transformed into a CNC machine or laser cutter, for instance. Its greatest selling point, however, is the philosophy in which it was designed. The Dollo is a true celebration of open source technology; not only can it print a new printer, but it can also print its own repair parts and upgrades. In theory, once you have a Dollo, you never need to purchase another 3D printer again (other than, of course, the electronics – we haven’t reached the point of being able to 3D print those yet).
Since the Dollo is completely open source, the Engels are encouraging community members to contribute their own alterations and upgrades to the printer’s official files, so that it will continue to evolve based on the ideas of the community.
“Self replication puts the power of manufacturing in everyone’s hands,” the Dollo team states. “If you have a Dollo printer, it will change the conventional limitations of manufacturing at home.”
Beyond the open source, self-replicating appeal of the printer, it’s also incredibly easy to build and operate. “If you can build with Lego, you can build the Dollo,” the team says, and it’s true – assembling the Dollo involves little more than snapping plastic parts together. The printer consists of a mere 15 3D printed parts and 24 screws, and can be assembled in less than an hour.
To get large-scale manufacturing and shipping off the ground, the Dollo team is attempting to raise $50,000 by July 18. Supporters who pledge $250 or more will receive all of the electronics needed for the Dollo, as well as the printable files and a spool of filament – all you’ll need to print the rest of the printer (unless, of course, you decide you want to scale it up to BigRep size). Pledge $350, and you’ll get a full kit including the printed parts, ready to assemble.
Backers who pledge $500 or more will receive a fully printed and assembled Dollo; an early bird reward level offering the same for $350 has already been snapped up. Contributions of $600 and $650 earn larger assembled printers, and a pledge of $750 will be rewarded with a Raspberry Pi with OctoPrint and a camera mounted on your printer for time-lapse video and WiFi capabilities. Finally, if you’re feeling particularly generous, you can contribute $1,000 and receive a full lost casting in aluminum, individually numbered and with your name on each part. (Backers who pledge amounts from $10 to below $250 will be rewarded with T-shirts and stickers.)
The Dollo’s default print volume is 140 x 99 mm, though that’s easily scalable, and its hardware includes a heated bed and all-metal hot end. Are you backing this campaign? Discuss further over in the Dollo 3D Printer forum over at 3DPB.com.
You can check out the Kickstarter video below: