It might not offer the same durability as your trusty ol' Husqvarna, but a 3D-printed lawnmower has shown it is up to the task of keeping your lawn in shape. South Africa's Hans Fouche designed and produced his new machine with a custom-made 3D printer dubbed Cheetah, which he has hopes of eventually bringing to market.
Fouche's Cheetah is said to be around the size of a garage and able to print large objects at impressive speeds. He tells Gizmag it prints objects at 12 times the speed and at one tenth of the cost of a common desktop 3D printer, with a build volume of 1,000 mm x 1,000 mm x 1,000 mm (39.4 x 39.4 x 39.4 in).
Fouche says that the Cheetah's quicker print speed is a result of the 3 mm (0.12 in) nozzle, much larger than the 0.5 mm (0.02 in) nozzles found on typical printers. The downside to this is that it leaves the finished product with a noticeably layered aesthetic, but hey, whoever described even the sleekest of lawn mowers as being easy on the eyes? Further to these quicker production times, the Cheetah prints with ABS granules, a material that is cheaper than the spools of filament often used in 3D printing.
When it comes to spitting out a lawn mower, this means the Cheetah was able to print out the required parts in 9 hours. The printer took care of the wheels, frame and covers for the wheels, top and motor, while the motor itself, the blades, handle, switch and wheel shafts were transplanted from an old mower.
With the pieces assembled, Fouche took his new mower to an overgrown lawn to demonstrate its grass-cutting prowess. While it's not the prettiest piece of machinery we have come across, building a lawn mower largely using 3D printing is certainly an impressive feat.
It follows a line of other items Fouche has been able to produce using his 3D printer, including a series of salad bowls, flower vases, an ornamental tree and even the platforms for high heels. But whether the capacity to print your own mower and other large objects is enough to warrant the Cheetah's slated US$10,000 price tag is perhaps a question for when (or if) it does eventually make it to market.