About a month ago, we took a look at a new Kickstarter campaign from NiXTEK, in which the company introduced the NIX… full-color 3D printer (whose ellipsis-ed name makes me hope that one day the company will release a printer called the …TEK). The campaign came out of the gate strong, reaching 50% of its funding in two days, and now, with only a couple days left, the NIX… has reached its £20,000 goal – and still has rewards left for additional backers.
As NiXTEK makes a final push in the campaign before it ends on February 14, let’s take another look at this multicolor printer, which uses a three-color blending nozzle to, according to the company, print just about any color you can think of. It’s also said to be able to print to a resolution of up to 5 microns, an impressive claim indeed – it’s not surprising that so many backers jumped on this one right away, particularly because the cost is so low. At this time, there are still several early bird rewards left, which will get you a printer kit for £749, and it appears that the final cost will remain below £1,000.
Understandably, many backers have expressed concerns that NiXTEK’s claims may be too good to be true, especially for the low cost. That’s always a concern with any crowdfunding campaign, and backers and would-be backers may be feeling extra spooked after the NexD1 meltdown of a few weeks ago. To their credit, NiXTEK has responded to questions with several videos demonstrating the printer’s capabilities, rather than doing any of the shifty dodging that ultimately sank the NexD1 campaign. NiXTEK seems to understand the concerns of backers, but reassures them that yes, they know what they’re doing, they have a patent, and have spent a lot of time perfecting their technology.
“Many people can’t believe a FDM printer can make 5 micron resolution…Frankly, it’s not easy to do it,” NiXTEK admits. “Since we can’t put hours of video to show you all how we print at 5 micron, I have tried to print something which is more understandable with most printing spec. The print is not perfect, but I hope you guys know how hard we tried to let you see our effort to make this a better printer.”
The video, which you can see below, shows a time-lapse print of a paper-thin lithophane, which, when finished, is measured with calipers to show a 0.43mm thickness.
In addition, NiXTEK added several time-lapse videos to show the full-color capabilities of the NIX… which has caught the attention of many for its claims to be able to print in any color with only three filaments rather than the more standard four. The first, a color wheel, reminds me of beginner-level art classes from years ago – what’s the first thing you do in a beginner art class? You make a color wheel, to illustrate how primary colors work together to create secondary (and tertiary, if you’re getting fancy) colors, and NiXTEK’s 3D printed version shows seven clearly defined shades in one layer.
A second video, of a 3D printed lion, shows the NIX…’s ability to print objects with subtle gradations from red to gold (and the ability of a blow dryer to tame an unruly 3D printed mane).
This is a printer I’d be intrigued to try for myself, and I’m looking forward to seeing what its capabilities are once it’s been released to the public. The end of the campaign is very close, and NiXTEK is hoping that the next few days will attract enough attention to indeed see a successful Kickstarter funding, enabling them to begin shipping their printer and letting backers see for themselves what it can really do. Estimated shipping is in June 2017, so we don’t have long to wait to hear feedback on this 3D printer.