Bigger is better is generally the mantra when it comes to consumer 3D printers. This is despite the majority of users likely to be only printing smaller objects anyway. Targeting such users, iBox is introducing the smaller-scaled iBox Nano, a portable resin-based 3D printer designed specifically to print cheaply, easily, and quietly at a price far below larger UV-based resin machines, while still maintaining a good print quality.
UV-based resin printing offers a couple of advantages over the more well-known deposition printing, including the potential for better resolution and the ability to easily print structures like overhangs. Most budget machines available for purchase are under a thousand US dollars, but iBox argues that they try to do everything for everyone in a mediocre fashion, rather than solve one problem just right.
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,500 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
The light and compact Nano has print dimensions of only 40 x 20 x 90 mm (1.57 x 0.79 x 3.54 in), but an X-Y resolution of 328 microns and a Z resolution (the height of each layer) of 0.39 microns. For context, the Form 1 resin printer offers 300 micron resolution (and other features) at a price of US$3,299.
The Nano has a few innovations up its sleeve to increase its appeal, including using UV-LEDs rather than projector bulbs or lasers, which not only consume more power but require cooling fans. Thus, the Nano is a quieter machine to operate and the LEDs don't need to be replaced as often as bulbs.
It’s also Wi-Fi-enabled rather than relying on lots of cords (although an Ethernet port is onboard if preferred), and doesn't require installing software, instead relying on a browser-based interface. Hence, printing can be initiated via a smartphone. The whole machine weighs only 1.1 kg (2.4 lb), fits in the hand, and can run off mains power via the included wall outlet, off a computer via USB, or be taken on the go with optional 10 or 20 hour battery packs available.
The Nano is slated to cost $299 when it hits Amazon, but is cheaper as an early bird pledge reward during its Kickstarter campaign designed to bring the product to market. At this time, the lowest priced early bird pledges have been claimed, leaving $229 as the lowest pledge level to include a printer. Dependent upon the company successfully completing development on the Nano, iBox anticipates that it will be able to start shipping by early 2015.
The team's pitch video below shows the iBox in action.