If you’re new to 3D printing, it’s hard to know what kind of printer to start with. It’s helpful, therefore, when a printer is as aptly named as the STARTT. The new kit being offered by iMakr is a starter 3D printer in every sense – not least because it’s priced at only $99.99. We took a quick look at the STARTT last week, but we’ve gotten a chance to talk to iMakr a little bit about the printer since then, and the company has offered more detail about their motivation behind the ultra-cheap machine.
While iMakr is well-known as a massive retailer of 3D printers, scanners and supplies, the company does a lot more than just sell things. They’ve made education and accessibility big priorities, and by offering 3D printing training at their London and New York stores, they’ve introduced the technology to thousands of people. While iMakr’s workshops and classes attract makers and enthusiasts of all levels of experience, most of the people the company interacts with share a common opinion: 3D printing still isn’t accessible enough to beginners.
According to iMakr, most people they’ve spoken with believe that there are too many barriers for people interested in entering the 3D printing field. While companies like iMakr have undoubtedly made it easier by offering free or low-cost training, the technology is still intimidating to many, and the cost of entry-level 3D printers is still generally too high for beginners to want to invest. iMakr decided to look for a printer that they could offer to beginners at a minimal cost, and, in true iMakr fashion, they found one that would begin educating users as soon as they remove it from the box.
“As a company, iMakr functions with two joint missions: to continuously introduce 3D innovation and to expand the 3D marketplace. With the STARTT I believe we’ve accomplished both,” Eric Savant, CEO of iMakr, told 3DPrint.com. “Like with all of our product introductions, we identified a need in the marketplace, in this case for a sub $£€ 100 printer, and then went on a search to fill it. When we found the right printer, we gave it a name that would help it fulfill its mission, namely to make 3D printing accessible to anyone interested in giving it a try.”
The STARTT is sold in the form of a kit that users then assemble themselves, learning about the mechanics of a 3D printer as they go along. iMakr has included comprehensive, step-by-step assembly guides and instructional videos to help users correctly and easily build the printer and begin printing. Assembly should take about five hours, according to iMakr, and once complete, users will have a sturdy little PLA printer with a build volume of 14 x 12 x 13 cm. The STARTT includes changeable nozzles of 0.3, 0.4 and 0.5 mm so that users can experiment with different resolutions, and it’s compatible with any open source slicing software.
While iMakr states that the STARTT offers excellent print quality for its price, they’re careful to emphasize: for the price. You won’t be able to create professional-quality pieces on a $99 printer, and iMakr is very clear that this is a starter printer, rather than a magical bargain machine.
“We’re not aiming to build a business around low cost printers; rather, we want to help people begin their 3D journeys,” Savant told us. “We strongly believe that once people understand the value of 3D printing, they’ll be willing to make a bigger investment into more sophisticated machines later on.”
So far, it appears that iMakr’s gamble is paying off for both the company and consumers.
“With regards to the projections for the machine, let me just say that we’ve been delighted with the results so far and have already increased our initial forecast twice!” Savant continued.
If you’re in the London area, you can learn how to build your STARTT in person by attending a workshop at iMakr’s Clerkenwell store. The company is offering the class from 10 AM to 4 PM every other Saturday for a fee of $299. If you’re interested, you can sign up here.
3DPrint.com will also be testing one of these printers in the near future; we’ll let you know what we think once we’ve tried it out! Discuss in the STARTT forum at 3DPB.com.
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