Last month I had the opportunity to get introduced to a fascinating new 3D printer extruder by a company named Structur3D Printing. The idea completely blew my mind, and made me realize that we are getting to a point where we are able to expand our horizons when it comes to 3D printing everyday items, that are both useful and affordable.
3D printing has been around for years, but just recently has the consumer market really begun to take off. Like all new technologies, there are many limitations. One of the biggest limiting factors of consumer level 3D printing today, would probably be the restrictions we face in terms of printable materials. Those of us who own FDM based 3D printers have very few choices to make when it comes to printing materials. Basically our choices include PLA plastic, ABS plastic, or some sort of other modified plastic. So, our choices are basically plastic, plastic and more plastic. What happens if we simply don’t want to print in plastic? Unfortunately there aren’t too many products out there that allow us another option.
Another problem with being limited to only printing with traditional 3D printing materials, is that we have become bound to huge pricing markups. 3D printer filament is quite expensive, at $20-$50 per 1KG spools. To print out a small toy could cost as much as $15. This just isn’t feasible for individuals that wish to experiment with designs, or print on a consistent basis.
This is where Structur3d Printing comes into play. They have created the Discov3ry extruder which opens up the realm of material options for 3D printing, and they have launched their official Kickstarter campaign today. The Discov3ry extruder allows just about any desktop FDM 3D printer to print in an almost infinite amount of material choices. If the material can be made into a paste-like substance, then you can probably print 3D objects with it. Some of these materials include silicone caulk, dry wall spackle, wood filler, sugar icing, peanut butter, Nutella, polyurethane, clay, ceramics, conductive paint, latex, Play-doh, and the list goes on. The possibilities are quite endless.
What is one thing that most of these materials have in common? You guessed it! They are all extremely affordable. Instead of paying $20-$50 for a role of PLA or ABS filament, the Discov3ry extruder will allow you to run out to Home Depot, and pick up a tube of silicone or latex caulk for under $3.00.
Something else this new product allows for, is the 3D printing of food on your desktop 3D printer. That’s right, you can print out different food items on your RepRap, your MakerBot, your Ultimaker, or just about any other FDM based 3D printer on the market.
“The Discov3ry Paste Extruder will work with any stepper motor based, fused deposition modeling (FDM) desktop 3D printer system,” explains the Kickstarter campaign. “If your printer uses plastic filament, it is almost certainly compatible with the Discov3ry.”
The extruder can be purchased via the Kickstarter campaign starting at $249, and it will come with a ‘3 cartridge starter kit’, which includes the following items:
- 3 x 60cc reloadable food-grade syringes;
- 3 x 30cm reusable foodsafe plastic tubing;
- 3 x male luer lock / tubing connectors;
- 3 x female luer lock / tubing connectors;
- and an assortment of Luer lock tips.
The company plans to begin shipping the Discov3ry extruder to their Beta backers starting in September of this year, with deliveries of Kickstarter batch #1 commencing in October, batch #2 in November, batch #3 in December, and retail orders will begin shipping in January 2015. Check out the list of backer options below:
“We’ve already created multiple working prototypes of the Discov3ry, and we’ve set conservative dates for delivery, so we’re very confident that we can reliablydeliver the Discov3ry to backers within the timelines we’ve promised,” explained the campaign page.
For $249, the Discov3ry Extruder seems almost too good to be true, considering how much money it can save customers on materials within the first couple weeks of using it. It should be interesting to see if other companies try and come up with similar products, after seeing the possibilities presented by this new extruder.
Structur3D has set a goal of raising $30,000 CAD, but there is no doubt in my mind that they easily reach this goal. Discuss this new extruder in the Discov3ry extruder thread on 3DPB.com.