Thus far, 2014 has been the year of the sub-$1000 3D printer. Now Brooklyn-based 3D printer manufacturer Solidoodle is adding another one to the mix. The Solidoodle Press, out this fall but available for preorder now, is a $599 device aimed at beginning and intermediate 3D printing enthusiasts.
With dimensions of 14.8 x 14.6 x 18 inches, the Solidoodle Press is small enough to fit on a counter or desktop, but it boasts specs that put it right in line with other affordable consumer 3D printers such as the Cubify Cube 3 ($1000) or XYZ Printing's Da Vinci ($500). The Solidoodle Press prints in ABS and PLA plastic, the two most common 3D printing materials. It has a print resolution as fine as 100 microns (referring to the thickness of each printed layer), and a build volume up to 8 x 8 x 8 inches. USB ports on the printer's body allow users to connect their computers to the Solidoodle Press and send it print jobs.
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The device also has a build platform that is both heated and auto-leveling, which minimizes the possibility of printing errors. Because the printer extrudes hot melted plastic to build objects, keeping the platform slightly warm helps prevent objects from becoming warped as they cool. And auto-leveling saves users from having to manually fiddle with the platform to make sure it's level.
For its relatively small size and price, the Solidoodle Press's appearance has character; the solid black plastic and curved corners make it look like Darth Vader's 3D printer of choice (not to be confused with the Vader, a metal-printing 3D printer). It's quite a departure from the boxy, made-in-a-garage look of the current Solidoodle 3 model, which also sells for $599. (The $699 Solidoodle 4 has more pizazz.)
Available now for preorder from Solidoodle's website, the Solidoodle Press looks like yet another strong contender in the ever-expanding consumer 3D printing market. We'll know more when we test out the Solidoodle 5 later this month.
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