There are so many new 3D printer startups these days that it’s almost cute when new printers are released using the same old marketing buzzwords. Almost. For a while it seemed that a day didn’t go by without a new printer being dropped on the market that would promise to be the fastest, smartest and easiest-to-use 3D printer ever. The marketing for new 3D printers is, at this point, so predictable that I’m thinking of designing a 3D Printer PR Lingo Bingo card. And just as predictably, the promises rarely lead to any significant process improvements, but bless their hearts for trying I guess.
While the flow of new printers has seemed to slow down this year, there are still plenty of companies looking to jump into 3D printer manufacturing. Some of these new companies seem to be making decent and reliable printers, while others seem to be simply repackaging old technology with a pretty bow on top. I wish I could tell you which Madrid, Spain-based Zeus Creative Technologies and their new Crystal 3D printer was, but so far they’ve provided only a scant bit of information on their printer other than a pretty case and the same promises that we’ve all heard before. Although the word “disruptive” is pleasingly absent from their website, so that’s a start.
Their newly launched website is frustratingly sparse on details about their new 3D printer’s technical specs and has no detailed look at the printing process or printing samples. But they have made some interesting promises that could make the machine pretty useful if it works the way that they say that it will. Zeus is selling the Crystal as a worry-free, easy-to-use printer ideal for places where simplicity and speed are important features like schools, retail spaces and public spaces. Take a look at this promotional video:
Zeus promises that the Crystal won’t need the user to worry about rafting or supports as it will decide for the user what it needs to successfully print the selected model. They say that Crystal will also automatically slice the model and set the layer height, so new users won’t ever have to worry about performing any of these functions on a separate computer. Just plug in a USB stick loaded with the model and hit print.
At $1,620 the Crystal is competitively priced and Zeus says that it can print up to four times faster than their direct competitors at 270 mm/s. While that is pretty fast, it’s not so fast that it seems especially revolutionary. When you consider the aluminium frame, and the shifted axes resulting in the printing head needing to move less, it actually seems a little slow. Frustratingly, Zeus has also provided no specifics on resolution or print detail. And then there is the fact that they list the inability to print with any materials other than PLA or a lack of a heated bed as features, which I must admit is at the very least novel.
It does have a proximity security sensor which will stop the printing if the machine is bumped or disturbed in any way, and a very nice enclosed space which can protect it from cooled air which can cause deformations in the print. It has a respectable 150 x 150 x 250 mm (5.9″ x 5.9″ x 9.8″) printing envelope, and it also has a hot end that can surpass 230º C (446º F). Although why you need a hot end at that temperature for PLA is beyond me. The printing bed moving on the Z-axis is also a nice feature honestly, anything that prevents the printing head from needing to move any more than it needs to can result in more accurate prints.
The Crystal sounds like a decent entry into the market, and it is certainly an attractive design. But it would be nice if there was more information about it available. Zeus is also planning on releasing a 3D scanner app for smartphones and a 3D model search engine to complete an entire 3D printing ecosystem, which sounds like a great feature. But again, details on these features are almost non-existent. I’m not ruling out Crystal as a contender, but I am putting it in the wait and see category. Let us know what answers you would include on a 3D Printer PR Lingo Bingo Card as well as your thoughts on this new printer over in our Crystal 3D Printer from Zeus Eye forum thread at 3DPB.com.
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