3D Printing

BotObjects announces first full-color desktop 3D printer

BotObjects announces first ful...
botObjects' ProDesk3D looks set to be the first full-color desktop 3D printer
botObjects' ProDesk3D looks set to be the first full-color desktop 3D printer
View 3 Images
botObjects' ProDesk3D looks set to be the first full-color desktop 3D printer
botObjects' ProDesk3D looks set to be the first full-color desktop 3D printer
Side view of the ProDesk3D
Side view of the ProDesk3D
Rear view of the ProDesk3D
Rear view of the ProDesk3D

In the ProDesk3D, 3D printing outfit botObjects has come up with not only the first full color desktop 3D printer, but thanks to its anodized aluminum body, unquestionably one of the prettiest.

The company's goal was to think about how 3D printers might look in 5 years, aiming to put clear water between the ProDesk3D and its "kit-like contemporaries." To print in color, it uses a cartridge system capable of mixing five base colors of PLA.

Because botObjects also describes itself as a software company, it claims the ProDesk3D takes the pain out of software configuration, working straight out of the box and "understanding the composition" (which presumably means the file format of) your 3D computer models.

The ProDesk3D is capable of printing 3D objects down to 25-micometer detail.

Pricing and launch dates are yet to be announced, though Nanowerk reports that the price is likely to be in the same ballpark as other desktop 3D printers, and that botObjects will begin taking orders in June. The ProDesk3D can only really lay claim to being first full-color 3D printer if it's first to market, but it looks as if that will be the case.

One other question remains. Who is Bot, and to what does she or he object?

Sources: botObjects, Nanowerk

The Skud
Artists will love this! Scale it up for life-size sculpture? Even more useful for those making prototypes that need to show a multi-coloured object without painting the surface in the lab. I would guess that shading would be possible with the mentioned 5 colours - CMYK and white for the 5th?
The few things that might dampen the success of this printer is, one: the whole proprietary mindset, especially with respect to the media cartridges. The current set of makers who are interested in designing parts and printing them out are typically big fans of the open source community. The second being the size of the printouts. This thing looks like it produces awfully puny parts. Compared to the RigidBot - their BIG (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1650950769/rigidbot-3d-printer) could probably printout a model of the ProDesk3D at full scale. A third limiting factor would be total initial cost. For $1000 one could get the RigidBot's BIG with several upgrades and added media. I'm guessing that this little guy will coast every bit as much and quite likely a good bit more. That just isn't going to bring very many noobs into the mix of makers, designers, and artists. Unless it is very smooth, very easy, and a complete package with slick software and interface, it might survive, but I don't see it as being the killer product - yet. It does have the advantage of bleeding edge and easy mulit-color part creation - and that is a very significant improvement. If they can hang in there for the next five years and increase the print size and bring their total cost of ownership down they just might be a significant player in bringing this technology to the mainstream. But touting propriety media and technology signals big expense in the future upkeep of the printer.
Expanded Viewpoint
You can increase the size of a 3D printer by a factor of ten without making it cost ten times as much. There are stepper motors as well as various types of DC motors with encoders on them that are available on the market right now. Precision machined threaded rods as well as helical rack and pinion gear sets and cog belts can be used to drive the hot end of the printer. Once you have the controller circuit board made, all that you need to do is add on the right size of power transistors or even relays to drive the motors and heat the plastic feed stock. For a couple of thousand, you could easily have a 3D printer that is the size of a typical refrigerator!! Randy