Desktop Factory: What’s out there and what’s coming

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3D Printers

Machine: Form1+
Supplier: FormLabs
Price: $3,299

Funded through Kickstarter, but heavily VC backed, FormLabs reignited the interest in stereolithography. When we looked at the Form 1+, we came away impressed by the build results, the reliability and the affordability. Expect this company to do very interesting things in the coming years — killer machine and killer usability with a decent sized build platform. Exactly what a design office needs.

Machine: ProJet 1200
Supplier: 3D Systems
Price: $4,900

Considering it invented the stereolithography process, 3D Systems has been slow to release a lower cost unit. The ProJet 1200 is a compact unit, built initially for the jewellery and small intricate component markets, where investment casting is common. New materials options have also opened up its use potential. Let’s hope we see more from 3D Systems in this vein.


Machine: XFAB
Supplier: DWS Systems
Price: Around $5,000

DWS or Digital Wax Systems has made a name for itself by building ultra high resolution machines for specialised industries, from jewellery to medical, wherever resolution is key. Its master of materials also shows in the forthcoming XFAB machine, aimed at the desktop market. Working area will be
180×180mm and the results look impeccable.

Machine: Ember
Supplier: Autodesk
Price: $5,995

Based on a DLP projection build process, Autodesk’s Ember printer is at the beta test stage as units roll out to users that have paid up in advance. Featuring 25 micron build layers and a fast build process, it’s looking good for Autodesk’s first foray into 3D printing hardware. DEVELOP3D has an early build unit and will be reporting in the coming months on how things are progressing.


Machine: OtherMill
Supplier: OtherMachine Co.
Price: $2,199

Funded through Kickstarter, Other Machine Co’s OtherMill is a small scale CNC machine (140 x 114 x 31mm). It’s controlled using cloud-based programming (powered by Autodesk’s HSMworks code) and will handle a variety of materials including some non-ferrous metals (they’re aiming it at prototyping PCB boards). Priced at $2,199, it’s a small, portable machine that might just fit your workflow.

Machine: Carvey
Supplier: Inventables
Price: $1,999

With the experience Inventables has gained from its ShapeOko machines, the company has launched the Carvey on Kickstarter. It gained a lot of exposure — like that typically associated with a 3D printer. With a larger build volume (300 x 200 x 70mm), its styling was done by Minimal, though how it’ll look covered in model board dust is another matter. Pricing again around the $1,999 mark.

Machine: ShopBot Desktop
Supplier: Shopbot
Price: $5,799

Favourites of the larger MakerSpace or hackerSpace, Shopbot has built a name for itself as a provider of larger format CNC routers over the last few years. The smallest product in its range is the ShopBot Desktop. Offering a 610 x 460 x 89mm build volume, it’s a smaller form factor machine that could be useful in the prototyping process.

Machine: Muncaster S6
Supplier: Muncaster Technologies
Price: To be confirmed

While the other machines are definitely at the desktop, Muncaster technology is a new entrant into the market aiming between the desktop machines and entry level, full scale, CNC machines. Its products can be placed in the office or workshop environment with some serious machining capability, including automatic tool changers, 5 axis options. It’s launching at DEVELOP3D Live 2015 too!

Machine: Roland Arm10 3D printer and the SRM20 CNC mill
Supplier: Roland DGA
Price: 3D printer €4,999 + VAT – CNC mill £2,799 + VAT

Available as a pair for a smudge under £8,000, check out our full review of the Roland MonoFab ARM-10 3D Printer and SRM-20 CNC Mill click here.

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