3D printing sure is definitely a rapidly evolving field. While fast moving technologies that emerge in this way can lead to huge amounts of obsolete devices, 3D printer company MakerMex is seeking to produce something with a little more staying power in the form of a multi-material 3D printer called the MM1. The device features a modular design that enables the owner to swap components in and out as required.
MakerMex may be Mexico's first 3D printer manufacturing company, but it's not the first to look into modular printers. The Snap 3D Printer made steps in this area last year, though a failed crowdfunding campaign meant that it never made it to market. The R-360, also launched last year, is a modular, easily transportable 3D printer with upgradeable parts. But what sets the MM1 apart, at least in the eyes of MakerMex, is its big emphasis on customization, along with interchangeable extrusion heads that allow for easy transition between printing materials.
"We’re modeling this printer after the automotive industry, or even like IKEA, in the sense that we’re providing a unique, customizable experience for those interested in 3D printing," says Sam Weatherly, owner of MakerMex. "Because it prints with multiple extrusion options in many different materials, the MM1 really is the perfect printer for just about anyone. You can print with chocolate one minute and PLA plastic the next."
With a print area of 20 x 20 x 20 cm (7.9 x 7.9 x 7.9 in), the MM1 itself measures 49 x 37.5 x 49 cm (20 x 15 x 20 in) and is capable of printing in materials including ceramic, Play-Doh, batter, rubber, plastics and conductive materials. MakerMex gives a 300 mm/s print speed and 30 micron layer resolution for the unit, which can be further customized with add-ons, such as Wi-Fi modules, auto-leveling beds, heating beds, acrylic enclosed walls and extra extruders.
The thinking behind this versatility is two-fold: that owners of the MM1 won't need to replace it any time soon; and that the range of compatible materials will see it used in a variety of 3D printing applications, thus widening its appeal.
MakerMex is looking to raise US$50,000 on Kickstarter to enter production. The campaign will launch on October 2, with pledges for the MM1 to be set at $999.
Update 2 Oct 2014: The MMI Kickstarter campaign is now live, the pitch video is below.