The Micro aims to bring 3D printing to the rest of us
After quickly meeting and surpassing its Kickstarter goal, the cheap and highly user-friendly 3D printer "The Micro" is expected to reach the market early next year. At only US$300 and with a highly intuitive user interface, this printer could make the attractive but foreign world of 3D printing much more attractive to consumers around the globe.
For all the tremendous amount of excitement around it, 3D printing today is mostly a complicated affair that requires knowledge of specialized software, and is still out of the financial reach of most people.
The Micro, a Kickstarter project by Maryland-based company M3D, tries to break the mold and promises a 3D printer that's not only cheap, but also compact, quiet, power-conscious, and highly user-friendly.
It sounds like a tall order, but Kickstarter users seem to have wasted no time doubting, and have come in flocks to support the project. The funding opened three days ago and, according to the company, broke its original target of $50,000 in just 11 minutes. At the time of writing, funding is well past the two million dollar mark, with 26 days still to go.
M3D says the printer will come with intuitive, touchscreen-capable software. A simple-to-use interface will allow you to search and browse different objects online, pick a model, and simply hit "print" to see it starting to take shape. On the other hand, advanced users can still fiddle with the settings and use third-party software, such as open-source slicers, to explore the full potential of the device.
A sensor built into the print head will provide auto-leveling and auto-calibration, which will make it easier to maintain. The company also said that because of its small size, it will be able to run on about one tenth the power of a standard 3D printer.
The Micro will support PLA and ABS filaments, both in the standard 1.75 mm spools and in the company's own format, the "micro filaments," for $12 a spool. These weigh about half a pound (225 g) each. They are smaller and cheaper than your typical spool, with the idea that you'll want pick a few different ones and experiment with color.
- Size: 7.3 x 7.3 x 7.3 in (185 x 185 x 185 mm)
- Weight: roughly 2.2 lb (1 kg)
- Windows, Mac and Linux compatible
- USB connection
- Filaments supported: ABS, PLA, Nylon
- Removable print bed
- 50-350 micron layer resolution
- 15 micron X and Y positioning accuracy
- Print height: 4.6" (116 mm). Base print area: 4.3" x 4.5" (109mm x 113mm). Print area above 2.9" (74 mm): 3.6" x 3.3" (91 mm x 84 mm)
- Included in the price: Micro 3D Printer, M3D software, instructions manual, USB cable, country-specific power adapter, one Micro filament spool
The video below shows The Micro in action.
Source: The Micro
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I think the idea of being able design and create a small toy with a child or custom make a doll house and the stuff in it would be cool to do.
I actually did end up finding a more practical use the other day though, a small piece of plastic broke on my bird feeder that it needed. I could have potentially printed a small replacement part for it but ended up having to replace the whole bird feeder instead. I suppose a bird feeder itself could probably be designed on a computer and 3D printed without much difficulty aside from maybe needing clear plexi panels.
You could probably print off the plastic parts needed for some home made robots too. I am sure some more uses will come along as people experiment.