3DPandoras Powder-Based 3D Printer Hits Kickstarter

An example phone case printed with a 3DPandoras printer. Credit: Global Trend Trading Technology

(Image credit: An example phone case printed with a 3DPandoras printer. Credit: Global Trend Trading Technology)

A new 3D printer has hit Kickstarter: the 3DPandoras is a new "prosumer" 3D printer that lets users print objects in multiple colors. That's because it prints, not in plastic, but in colored powders, then applies a sealant to keep the powders in place. 

the 3DPandoras isn't cheap; the first 30 on Kickstarter cost $2,999, then $3,499 for the next 50, then $3999 for the rest. Assuming the Kickstarter is successful, the 3DPandoras will retail after the campaign for $10,000. Still, all the prices are relatively good for a powder-based 3D printer, whose costs are often well above $10,000.

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3DPandoras' creator, El Monte, California-based startup Global Trend Trading Technology, hopes to raise $100,000 on Kickstarter by Oct. 10, in order to start production. If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, the 3DPandoras will ship next May.

The 3DPandoras isn't the first 3D printer to print using powders. The method, often called "powder bed and inkjet head 3D printing," or just "binder jetting," involves powder, dye and a sealing agent to harden the powder into the desired shapes. Like a regular 2D printer, the 3DPandoras comes with CMYK ink: cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black). Global Trend Trading Technology says it has spent 6 years developing its unique powder recipe and curing agent.

This method allows powder-based 3D printers to print in multiple colors. It also means printers don't need to create support structures alongside the objects themselves while they're printing (by comparison, most plastic-extruding 3D printers, or FDM printers, also need to print removable support structures, so the objects don't fall over or become deformed during the printing process.)

Powder 3D printers such as the consumer-grade Zcorp printers are known for offering much higher print resolutions than what consumer-level plastic-extruding 3D printers can achieve. According to 3DPandoras' Kickstarter, this printer has a resolution of 0.08 millimeters per layer. Most consumer-level 3D printers have a resolution of around 0.1 millimeters per layer.

According to the Kickstarter, the 3DPandoras will be about 3 x 3 x 5-feet large, (39.4 x 31.5 x 66.9 inches) and can create objects up to 11.8 x 11.5 x 5.5 inches in size. The device as a whole will weigh 154 pounds.

For most people, even 3D printing enthusiasts, the 3DPandoras is far too expensive. By comparison, most FDM 3D printers now cost less than $1,000, such as the $599 Solidoodle Press or the $999 Cube 3. But for prosumers and those interested in powder-based 3D printing, the 3DPandoras might be a great deal.

Jill Scharr is a staff writer for Tom's Guide, where she regularly covers security, 3D printing and video games. You can email Jill at jscharr@tomsguide.com, or follow her on Twitter @JillScharr and on Google+. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.