M3D Stays Low-Cost, Goes Industrial with Open-Source, Feature-Packed Promega 3D Printer
M3D will always be known for the M3D Micro, the 3D printer that catapulted them to success with a multimillion-dollar Kickstarter campaign in 2014. The Micro was followed up with the Pro and the Micro+, released just recently, which continued the company’s mission of delivering affordable, low-cost, compact consumer 3D printers. Now M3D is introducing another 3D printer – but it’s quite different than anything they’ve produced so far as they step away from consumer orientation for the first time.
The Promega is a commercial, open-source 3D printer that, following M3D’s trend of compactness, is small enough for the desktop, measuring just 20″ cubed and weighing only 25 pounds. Despite its size, though, it still offers a large build volume of 15.3″ cubed. Enclosed in a rigid, all-metal frame with optional filtration, the Promega is built from all-metal parts and features a patent-pending heated bed with a dual-zone heating design that allows for the central and outer areas of the bed to be heated independently. When running both zones, the 3D printer uses 1/3 of the energy of a standard printer, and only 1/6 when running one zone, reducing electrical costs and labor.
Additional features include a CoreXY motion system and a dual extruder mixing nozzle that allows for multiple printing options: color gradients, color mixing, multi-material, etc. The Promega comes with a nozzle pack that includes sizes ranging from 0.2 to 0.8 mm. An auto-leveling bed makes setup a breeze, and speaking of breeze, there’s plenty of it provided with multiple, independently controllable cooling fans. The extruder heats to 300°C, or 420°C with a thermocouple add-on.
“We made this printer because we see people always modifying the printers they bought – and because there are a lot of 3D printer companies crowding this space,” M3D CEO and co-founder Michael Armani told 3DPrint.com. “That tells us that there’s no clear winner when it comes to satisfying what users needs & wants are. So M3D has commissioned the dream printer – the one everyone ends up hacking together themselves because there is nothing perfectly suitable or expandable on the open market. There are many open source printer designs but they’re not readily adaptable to a much later size than 8-12″ build volumes using stock parts and common designs. This is the limitation we’ve overcome by achieving a cube build volume of 15.3″. Also, in a 180 degree move, as compared to our consumer 3D printing division, which made printers with fewer features in order to keep costs down, we’ve gone all-out and over-engineered every aspect of this new 3D printer to fulfill the commercial and industrial users’ needs.”
The Promega can print with any 1.75 mm filament, allowing users plenty of room for experimentation. The electronics, software, and firmware are all open, it runs off Gcode, and it’s compatible with standard E3D hotends and M6 nozzles. It can be connected via Ethernet with built-in Webhost, and Wi-Fi is an optional add-on, as is a 7″ LCD screen.
The Promega will retail for $3,500, but if you’re quick you can get it for only $1,000 via FitForLaunch. Armani, having responded to the recent spate of failed product launches through crowdfunding campaigns, launched FitForLaunch to fit his vision for success in crowdfunded products and will be the platform’s CEO as he focuses more attention on this business. It’s a bit of an unusual crowdfunding campaign in that production will be taking place during, rather than after, the campaign, and rewards will be sent out much more quickly. Five printers will be shipped within a month, followed by two dozen the next month, and 100 in the third month. Those first 3D printers will be review units; after that, bulk shipments will start. Pricing, and add-ons, will increase gradually.
“Even we are in disbelief about all the features we’ve been able to pack into the Promega,” said Armani. “Considering its size and all the features included in this dream of an industrial 3D printer, the Promega would have sold for $50,000 just a couple years ago; now we intend to sell it at $3,500. Our team of engineers were able to innovate the printer’s space and power efficiency in order to help owners fit the most build volume and the most printers in a given space, while significantly lowering their energy expenses.”
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