How The Micro 3D Printer Is Changing The Game

The Micro - 3D Printer

The world of 3D printing has opened up a lot of new opportunities for designers and producers. For example, 3D printing makes it much easier to develop and test prototypes before committing to large production runs. In the past, most good 3D printers were very expensive. So people either had to spend a lot of money on their own printer or pay a company to get designs printed. This could be either expensive or inconvenient.

How are 3D Printers Used Today?

Typically, 3D printers are used to produce prototypes or models. Some people design small objects or components. Of course, 3D printers can also be fun, entertaining, and even educational.

A 3D Printer for Every Desktop

The Micro desktop 3D printer has changed all of the rules. Now anybody who can afford a regular printer can afford to own their own 3D printer. This cute little cube sits on a desktop, and it actually takes up less space than most regular printers. Imagine having the ability to make your designs come practically to life right on your desk and you can imagine the power of this new machine.

It could be used by families for fun and educational projects, and it can be used by designers to create 3D models and components. Some companies even use them to produce actual working parts that are typically out-of-stock or not ordered very often.

Kickstarter Campaign for the Micro 3D Printer

Most Kickstarter campaigns feel lucky if they meet their goals at all. This campaign raised over $2 million with a goal of only $30,000. The fact that larger donors actually get a working printer with filaments probably helped encourage people to invest more money. The largest donations not only came with a printer, they also came with an opportunity to tour the offices and meet the staff.

What’s Different About the Micro?

You already know that this machine is small and affordable, and those are two big advantages. Some other innovations that owners of this new machine can enjoy include:

  • Versatility – The machine uses special micro-filament spools from the company, and it also can use standard spools that can be purchased on the open market. That means you can print with different types of materials in many different colors. Additionally, both the nozzles and printer bed can be changed out for different projects.
  • Software – The software that comes included with this printer is intuitive and fun to use, and the producers say it is as enjoyable as playing a game.
  • Features – The printer is both quiet and energy-efficient. You won’t add to noise or air pollution when using this machine.
  • American Made – You can feel good about supporting the USA when you purchase this device because it has been designed, built, and assembled in the United States.

Why Look Twice at The Micro?

Obviously, this printer can only print fairly small objects or parts of objects. The maximum height is 4.6 inches. This means it is a great solution for small objects, components, or models. Even if you need a bigger printer for your final design, this is a great way to test it out before you invest more money and time.

However, most consumers should find that the convenience and savings of having a 3D desktop at their fingers outweighs the limitations. This is true even if you plan to outsource larger designs or buy a larger model for production use. The price is so affordable that most families can also afford to purchase one for fun and educational uses.

The 10 Top Crowdfunded 3D Printers On Kickstarter

top kickstarter 3d printer campaigns

In 2013 one of the most popular categories in the crowd funding realm was 3D printing. 3D printing can be found at the heart of many of the top funded boards across popular crowd sourcing websites. In the beginning, the biggest hurdle for 3D printing technology to overcome when it attempted to enter the commercial and at-home marketplace was cost. Even introductory 3D printers were prohibitively expensive for most hobbyists to truly enjoy. Over the past several years, crowd funding has proven to the ideal platform for the emergence of less expensive and more useful 3D printers.

Another initial problem was popularity. With so few consumers interested in 3D printing technology there wasn’t a lot of incentive for manufacturers to create low-cost, at-home solutions. In the past two years, the popularity of 3D printing has skyrocketed. It has proven to be a great solution for artist and hobbyists alike. If there is one thing crowd sourcing has proved is that popularity is no longer a problem for this technology. A quick look at the top performing 3D printer related crowd funding projects easily demonstrates this point.

1. Form 1

Form 1

The Form 1 high resolution printer has raised nearly $3 million on Kickstarter alone, even though they were initially only requesting $100,000. The goal of Form 1 was to create a true high-resolution 3D printer for professional creators at an affordable price. To meet very detail-oriented standards at a high level, a more expensive commercial option was the only choice. Form 1 spent nearly two years in development before turning to Kickstarter to garner production funds, but once it did, the project took off.

To achieve the high level of detail Form 1 is known for it’s bypassed the commonly used extruded plastic approach of most other lower-end 3D printers. Instead the creators opted for a stereolithography printer which is typically associated with the most expensive 3D printers. This approach not only offers greater accuracy but reduces the necessary layer thickness. In fact, the Form 1 3D printer can create layers as thin as 25 microns. Plus, the Form software gives users the ability to create thin, breakable support structures which are needed during the printing process but can then be easily removed when finishing the item.

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Stratasys Solidifies Control of 3D Printer Market with MakerBot Merger

MakerbotIn mid-June, Stratasys announced the details of a merger which allowed them to acquire upstart 3D printer company MakerBot.  MakerBot is known for primarily targeting the 3D printing hobbyist niche, although the charismatic CEO Bre Pettis has become well known thoughout the 3D printing industry.  Industry experts applauded the move by Stratasys as an essential step to solidifying their control of the 3D printing marketplace as MakerBot was starting become a real competitor with Stratasys and Z Corp.

The Details of the Deal

Stratasys purchased MakerBot entirely in Stratasys stock.  The initial acquisition price is more than 4.75 million shares.  In total, the shares are valued at more than $403 million.  There is also an opportunity for MakerBot to gain an additional 2.38 million shares.  In total, the value of the stocks could reach as high as $604 million.  Considering MakerBot’s revenue was only $11.5 million during the first quarter of 2013, the $604 million valuation is a larger than normal valuation.  At the same time, it was considered by industry experts to be a necessary expense for Stratasys as MakerBot 3D printers would starting to outperform Stratasys 3D printers and were sold at a fraction of the cost.

Why This Merger Was a Critical Strategic Move for Stratasys

Even with the higher than normal valuation, this was an excellent strategic move by Stratasys on several fronts.  The most obvious benefit is Stratasys now has one less competitor in the 3D printing marketplace.  While Stratasys primarily targets industrial and manufacturing clients and MakerBot focusses on hobbyists, there is no doubt a direct confrontation was in the marking.  The most recent side-by-side comparisons show the Replicator 2 (created by MakerBot) outperformed the Mojo (Stratasys’s cheapest 3D printer) on every front.  This is even more impressive considering the Replicator 2 carries a price tag of only $2,200 while the Mojo sold for $10,000.

Another benefit is Stratasys can leverage the technological advancements and user-friendly conveniences implemented by MakerBot to improve their own products.  This will make it easier for them to continue capturing a larger share of the industrial and manufacturing marketplace.  Plus, there is no doubt MakerBot would have eventually started competing for the same target audience as Stratasys as newer generations of 3D printers were designed to handle a larger workload.

How Does the Merger Impact the Emerging 3D Printing Marketing?

On hand, this merger does very little impact the current 3D printing landscape.  MakerBot will operate as a subsidiary which will allows them to maintain some sort of independence.  The risk of undermining the open-source community surrounding their 3D printers is minimal.  If anything, MakerBot will now have more resources to completely saturate the hobbyist 3D printing market.  As for the future of 3D printing, it is hard to argue that Stratasys hasn’t taken a necessary step to ensure their long-term control of the overall marketplace.  Not only can they compete on an industrial scale, but now have a way to leverage the quickly expanding hobbyist market.  Considering how good MakerBot is at quickly identifying, improving, and implementing new solutions at a low cost Stratasys may be able to streamline their own operations to decrease costs and improve margins while simultaneously improving their own products.