Would you buy a $300 3D printer? Apparently lots of people would, judging by the phenomenal success of the Micro 3D Printer on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. With hours still to go in its campaign, the Micro has raised more than 3.3 million dollars, leaving its $50,000 goal in the 3D-printed dust.
Advertised as "the first truly consumer 3D printer," the Micro appears to be popular not just for its humble price: it's also less than a foot in dimension, and claims to be one of the quietest 3D printers on the market. This puts the Micro at the forefront of a movement to make 3D printers as common a household appliance as toasters or regular printers.
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The Micro is far from the best 3D printer on the market in terms of quality. Its advertised print resolution is between 50 and 350 microns per layer, which is quite a wide range. Compare that to the upcoming Cube 3 3D printer by 3DSystems, a slightly larger printer that costs less than $1,000 and claims a print resolution of 75 microns (200 microns at high speeds).
But the Micro does come with all the basics required of a functional at-home 3D printer: it supports standard filament rolls (the spools of plastic used to make the printed objects) so it's easy to resupply. It can print objects up to 4.6 inches tall and 4.2 inches by 4.4 inches in width, which isn't huge but is enough for jewelry and nicknacks.
The Micro also comes with 3D printing software for Mac, Windows or Linux computers, and connects to them via a USB port. The creators, Bethesda, Maryland-based company M3D, say that Micro also comes fully assembled for a "plug and play" setup.
Micro 3D printers ordered via the Kickstarter campaign (which was still open at the time this article went live) will be shipped in February 2015 (though it's possible to pay more to get an earlier version).