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This Week in 3D Printing on Kickstarter: A New SLA 3D Printer, 3D Pen Drawing Aid and 3D Printed Sunglasses

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It’s hard to keep up with all the Kickstarter campaigns out there, and more and more crowdfunding campaigns are showing up featuring 3D printers or 3D printing-related projects. We like to try to help you stay on top of the many products being launched on Kickstarter these days. Last week, we took a look at a new, quickly-funded 3D printer as well as some 3D printed jewelry and décor; this week, we’re highlighting another popular 3D printer as well as 3D printed sunglasses and a new tool that makes drawing with a 3D pen much easier.

Gadget Labs has become something of a Kickstarter expert; over the past year, the Chinese company has completed an incredible 30 successful Kickstarter campaigns. As of this week, they can chalk up another one, because their new SparkMaker SLA desktop 3D printer surpassed its $20,000 Kickstarter goal in only 20 minutes. Within two hours, the campaign had reached nearly three times its goal, and as of now, the total stands at more than $156,000. The campaign runs until September 10th, so there’s no telling how much more money it will rake in over the next month and a half.

So what’s so special about the SparkMaker? It doesn’t hurt that Gadget Labs has run so many successful Kickstarter campaigns already; it’s easy to assume that they probably know what they’re doing by this point. The SparkMaker is highly affordable, too, at a retail cost of only $249; Kickstarter backers can get it for as low as $159. (Early bird rewards, at $99 and $129, are already gone.) An LCD-based SLA 3D printer, the SparkMaker is a compact, cylindrical machine that weighs only 6.6 pounds and should fit on any desktop. Despite its small size, though, it has a decent build volume of 10.2 x 5.6 x 12.5 cm.

The SparkMaker is easy to use, too. It’s pretty much plug and play, with a single button and an offline printing mode that allows you to print without a computer connection, just an SD card. An LED status light changes color to indicate printing status. The 3D printer has a resolution of 100 micrometers and a layer thickness of 20 micrometers, and is available to print with five different types of resins – water washable, tough, elastic, nylon-like, and casting.

Kickstarter has offered plenty of 3D printing pens, but what advertisements for any 3D pen don’t tend to show is just how hard it can be to draw with one of them. Check out the website for any 3D pen and you’ll probably be impressed by the intricate, perfect models that customers seem to be drawing out of thin air. In reality, it’s not quite that easy. It is indeed possible to create incredible art using 3D pens, but when you’re first starting out, you’re likely to end up with more tangled messes than actual works of art.

Engineer and product designer Kaz Bigus decided to create a product that would help the average person get started on their 3D pen designs. He came up with the 3Dmate, a silicone mat with grooves in geometric shapes. Users can simply follow the grooves with their 3D pens to create a solid foundation for a design. The grooves keep the filament in place and prevent it from warping, and when it’s cool, the shape simply lifts out and can be fused to other pieces.

The 12″ x 8″ 3Dmate mat comes with a variety of geometric shapes in multiple sizes, and also features a “Fuse and Join” area to assist in the creation of cubes, pyramids, etc. Users also have the ability to create their own stencils. The 3Dmate has raised more than half of its Kickstarter goal, with a week left in the campaign; you can check it out here. It’s already being introduced into schools as a STEM tool, and Bigus hopes to have it on the market by October of this year. You can get a design mat for a Kickstarter pledge of $35, or a mat and filament combo for as little as $45. An early bird pledge of $65 will get you a mat, a filament bundle, and a 3Dmate ONE 3D printing pen.

3D printing has allowed for the emergence of some new and fabulous sunglass designs, but have you ever looked at any of those designs and thought, “I could do better?” Now you have your chance. Spanish company Binokers designs and 3D prints sunglasses, and they want you to work with them as a design collaborator. If you have an idea for a new sunglass design, just send the company a sketch, and if they approve your design, they’ll 3D print it and add it to their collection for an investment of $570. The company will sell your sunglasses from their website for $120 to $220, and you’ll receive a commission from every sale.

“We’re allowing designers the freedom of their creativity without having to worry about all the entry barriers to the market,” said Binokers Co-Founder Albert Gibert. “Thanks our 3D technology, we are managing to drastically reduce the investment required to create a line of sunglasses; opening a range of design possibilities.”

So far, Binokers has added 10 sunglass designs to their collection, and is offering them through a Kickstarter campaign that runs until August 23rd. The sunglasses are 3D printed through Sculpteo, and rewards start at €79 (about $92), which will get you the MOOD sunglasses model. Higher pledge amounts open up additional model options. So far, the Binokers campaign has raised just over €8,000 of its €30,000 goal.

Discuss in the Kickstarter forum at 3DPB.com.

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