3D Printing on Kickstarter Today: 3D Printers, Enclosures, Materials, Gadgets, Smart Mirrors and Castles


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One of my favorite movies is the 1985 classic The Goonies, about a group of misfit kids, led by adorable, asthmatic Mikey, who go on an adventure to find a buried treasure and save their neighborhood. One of my favorite characters is young inventor Data, who has a knack for making potentially useful inventions that mostly end up backfiring. Have you ever had a Data moment, where an idea pops into your head that makes you think, “Wow, this might actually work!” But even if you have a viable idea for a product, you still need funds to get it up and running. That’s where crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter come in handy – you can make your pitch, add photos and video, set up a project timeline, outline the potential risks, and try to entice people to back your idea by offering donation rewards.

There are other crowdfunding sites, like Indiegogo and GoFundMe, but Kickstarter is the largest funding platform in the world for creative projects. We cover a lot of Kickstarter campaigns on 3DPrint.com, for all sorts of customized products that utilize 3D printing technology, as well as 3D printer upgrade kits, a 3D printing filament dryer, 3D design software, and new 3D printers, though this last category has been seeing some major Kickstarter failures this year. Potential backers would do well to remember that it’s always buyer beware when it comes to crowdfunding campaigns; a pledge of support means that you’re supporting a project idea, not that you will absolutely, without fail, receive a market-ready product at the end of it.

And right now, as ever, Kickstarter is full of projects being brought to life (and hopefully with crowdfunding to back them) thanks to 3D printing.

One Kickstarter 3D printer campaign that recently posted a promising delivery update is the ONO (originally OLO), the world’s first smartphone 3D printer, which we first heard about in late 2015. The $99, portable device won the World Maker Faire Editor’s Choice Award in 2015, and attaches to your smartphone, using the light from the device’s screen to print out 3D objects. It weighs less than 2 lbs, with a 76 x 128 x 52 mm print volume, and works with most flat screen smartphones, including 5.5″ displays like the iPhone 6S+.

It purports to be very easy to use – just pick a 3D model from the ONO App (compatible with Apple iOS, Windows Phone, and Android OS), pour your chosen resin into ONO, and close the cover. The design blocks ambient light from the build chamber, so that the white light from the display of your smartphone can work to harden the photosensitive resin inside and print out a 3D model.

According to a recent Kickstarter campaign update, the long-awaited LED logos have finally been engraved on the ordered ONO printers, and tomorrow, the team will start delivering the printers to the first Kickstarter backers. The ONO team admitted that they have been behind schedule, but now that facility inspections have been completed, they are in full production mode. If you ordered an ONO smartphone 3D printer, you will soon be notified of the status of your package, and given a tracking number.

Zimpure on Ultimaker Original

Speaking of 3D printers, another Kickstarter campaign was recently launched by Paris-based Zimple to help make the machines safer. Zimpure is said to be the first completely compatible, and affordable, plug-and-play 3D printer filtering solution. 3D printers do release fumes with they’re busily printing away your creations, and studies are ongoing to see just how harmful these fumes are to users. According to the Zimpure Kickstarter campaign, FDM 3D printing technology “releases two main potential toxins: Nanoparticles (NP) and Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) gases.”

“All the professional processes based on material fusion have big and efficient exhausting and filtering solutions,” they note. “We tend to forget it but personal 3D printers are real manufacturing boxes inside our homes, schools or offices.”

The campaign says that even nontoxic PLA particles can build up and cause harm, and that VOCs can include a number of different chemicals. Regardless of whether or not you think that 3D printers, and their fumes, can actually kill you, it is always a very good idea to have an appropriate ventilation system in place – you are still dealing with chemicals, after all. These particles and VOCs have a low weight, so they stay in the air and can be spread in any direction an air stream may take them. So the Zimpure helps combat this potential issue of chemicals spreading by “filtering them at the emission source, directly near the nozzle of your printer.”

The folks at Zimple are self-described 3D printing lovers, and wanted to develop a small filtering system, compatible with all 3D printers, so other 3D printing lovers could help stop the emission of fumes. There’s no need to build an enclosure, because the Zimpure, while an efficient filtering solution, is also a powerful “hoovering system” that’s capable of aspirating gases and particles at the extrusion nozzle. Zimpure suction heads were designed for the most popular 3D printers, including Ultimaker, Prusa, and FlashForge, and it is officially certified to filter 99% of ultrafine particles and over 90% of the gases your 3D printer puts out. You can learn more about the results, and the testing procedure, in the Zimpure certified study report.

Just like Zimple, filament provider 3D Printlife wants to reduce the environmental impact of 3D printing, and manufactures only eco-friendly, American-made, premium filament. The company recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for the first ever eco-friendly PETG 3D filament. BioPETG combines standard PETG, which is the most commonly used plastic but not recyclable, with a proprietary, biologically-based additive. The additive was formulated to bond with PETG, and give bacteria a food source, so BioPETG will actually degrade in an active landfill or a commercial compost.

PETG itself is a good choice for 3D printing, as the strong, FDA-compliant material offers a smooth finish, low shrinkage (so low print warping), fantastic layer adhesion, and great pliability, as well as high impact resistance and durability. 3D printing with BioPETG offers all of these benefits, along with being good for the environment.

3D Printlife offers some setting guidelines for BioPETG on the Kickstarter campaign page:

  1. Set nozzle temperature between 235°C and 250°C
  2. Print with cooling fan at 100%
  3. If heated bed is available (not necessary), start between 70°C and 80°C
  4. Set the print speed no higher than 55 mm per second
  5. To avoid skimming, start with an additional .2mm gap in the Z axis

Free shipping will be provided for all domestic backers of 3D Printlife’s BioPETG material.

One startup that’s definitely enjoyed Kickstarter success is Slant Concepts; its 3D printed ShopArm Robot campaign launched at the end of November. There are only 8 days left for its latest Kickstarter campaign, for the LittleArm Big Arduino Robot Arm; the campaign has already raised over three times its initial goal! This third generation LittleArm robotic STEM kit is intended for kids, makers, hobbyists, and educators alike.

The team at Slant has spent over a year working on educational robot arms, and the new LittleArm Big has the potential for more practical, larger applications, which makes it the perfect robot choice for high school and university students interested in robotics. The large, open code Arduino robot arm has less than 50 parts, and is trainable through both Android and Windows. It weighs just 1 lb, and takes less than two hours to fully assemble. The LittleArm Big’s payload capacity is 0.25 lbs, and the reach of its interchangeable gripper is just shy of a full foot, at 11.5 inches.

All of the servos are metal-geared, and because the LittleArm Big is 3D printed, the components are both strong and lightweight. What’s even more exciting is that the LittleArm Big has speech capabilities – there are several dedicated files for the robotic arm that correspond to simple commands, like “Up” or “Down.” But, there are some files that hold user-generated sequences, which can be edited and triggered by chosen keywords, like “Task One.” In addition, every LittleArm Big comes with a Bluetooth module, which can be used instead of the typical USB communication.

Robots are pretty cool, and so are technologically advanced superheroes, like Iron Man! The team at Orbit Lights has a little less than two weeks left for its trippy Arc Reactor Orbit Kickstarter campaign. Orbiting is, according to the Kickstarter campaign page, a “rising flow art” where users spin a disc, complete with LED lights, in circular patterns around their bodies. Two strings are used to twist up, and then release, the spinning housing, which causes the LED lights to put on a pretty cool show.

“My friends and I have been using 3D printing to prototype our ideas,” Jonathan Yeo from the team tells 3DPrint.com. “As big Marvel fans, especially Iron Man, we designed an orbit after the Arc Reactor to be used for light shows raves.”

The Orbit Lights team of Marvel universe fans designed the Arc Reactor Orbit so it can be worn around the neck, so you can walk around looking as cool and high-tech as Iron Man himself. It has placement for up to eight lights, and the team recommends that users add at least four. It can apply a “combination of focused and defused lights to truly give people a stunning light show.”

Orbit Lights says that if the Kickstarter goal is reached, handles for the Arc Reactor Orbit will be designed and added. If you pledge just $9, the team will write your name in lights with the Arc Reactor Orbit, and email you a corresponding photo, while a $49 pledge gets you the complete Arc Reactor Orbit casing, complete with eight LED lights and a black satin string.

I think Tony Stark himself would be pretty impressed with this next Kickstarter campaign for the Firefly, the first tablet-powered smart mirror. It has Amazon Alexa and IFTTT built right in, and can keep you up to date while you’re brushing your teeth or your hair. The Firefly Smart Mirror team built a 3D printed backing, which can fit an Android or iOS tablet right behind its two-way smart mirror glass. The glass features a special finish, so the display will always be “crystal clear.”

“It’s a fully 3D printed smart mirror powered by your old tablet,” Noah Martin from the Firefly Smart Mirror team tells 3DPrint.com. “You control the mirror with voice, and it has support for smart home integrations like Amazon Alexa and IFTTT. With 3D printing we were able to quickly iterate on designs and keep costs low, and we look forward to shipping the first 3D printed smart mirror to our customers soon!”

The Firefly is AI-powered by a Smart Interaction Model. You won’t have to worry about smudging the mirror up with your fingerprints either, because the Firefly uses the breakthrough voice recognition technology that’s powered by Amazon Alexa. The wake word for the smart mirror is “Firefly,” and once you have its attention, you can ask it to complete any number of tasks, from calling you an Uber or checking the stock market, to setting a timer, taking a selfie, or telling you what the weather’s like outside. In addition to the voice recognition, Firefly has enabled facial recognition, so you can do things like silencing your alarm clock just by standing in front of the Firefly mirror…no more searching for the snooze button!

The Firefly team built all of the 3D printers themselves that were used to make the first prototypes of the smart mirror, so they could quickly change the design themselves without having to worry about manufacturing or shipping times from an outside 3D printing company.

The last 3D printing Kickstarter campaign in today’s busy roundup is a house fit for a king – literally. 3D printing with concrete is not a new concept, but Minnesota-based Chelan Castle wants to take it a step further, and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to built a 3D printed castle out of concrete. But it’s not just any old castle: the team wants to build a replica of Dracula’s castle.

It looks like Andrey Rudenko, who built the world’s first 3D printed castle back in 2014, is on the Chelan Castle team. The Chelan Castle Kickstarter page put out a request to add engineers, inventors, investors, carpenters, and builders to the team, to donate their time to join this construction endeavor. If you’re not one for construction, you can also donate to the Kickstarter campaign.

The location that the team is hoping to build the castle on is a 40-acre plot of land, located at Vampire Hills (how fitting) and overlooking Lake Chelan in Washington state. Discussions still need to be held with the county’s Building and Land Use Department, in order to plan out and engineer the building site and obtain any necessary licenses and permits. But, years of development and testing are finally complete, and the first commercially-available 3D concrete printers are going into production. And, if you happen to have $7,500 burning a hole in your pocket, you can back this Kickstarter campaign and stay in the castle, for free, for 20 nights! Your name will also be engraved on the castle wall – king of the castle, indeed. Discuss in the Kickstarter forum at 3DPB.com.



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