The two biggest factors when it comes to choosing a printer are price and capacity. The bigger an item you want to print, the more expensive the printer will be. But if you’ve decided to just tip-toe into the world of 3D printing, and are just testing the waters, the $US299 iBox Nano looks like a great choice, as long as your printing plans aren’t overly ambitious.
Starting life on Kickstarter with a $US300,000 fundraising campaign that’s two-thirds the way to its goal, the iBox Nano takes the road less traveled when it comes to 3D printing technology to keep it small and affordable. Instead of the plastic microfilament that most consumer-level 3D printers melt and extrude to slowly build up a model, the iBox Nano uses a small pool of liquid resin that’s hardened, layer by layer, using ultra-violet LEDs. So the printer doesn’t need noisy cooling fans, doesn’t produce that awful melted plastic smell, and can actually run on battery power when needed.
On the flip side, the printed parts the iBox Nano is capable of producing aren’t exactly massive. You’ll mostly be limited to printing tiny trinkets and the such, but its creators promise a level of detail, 328 micron pixel size to be exact, that’s on-par with extrusion 3D printers. And you can of course either print 3D models downloaded from the internet, or upload your own creations. Besides size, there don’t seem to be any limitations to the iBox Nano’s capabilities.
Early supports of the tiny printer were able to pre-order a unit for just $US189, but the rest of us will have to settle for the iBox Nano’s standard $US300 price tag if you still want to buy one now, or wait until the hardware is officially available in April of next year. [Kickstarter – iBox Nano via Uncrate]