Bringing 3D fabrication tools directly to the consumer has been fraught with challenges; these at-home printers are either insanely expensive or limited in scope. A new concept called FLUX claims that it's solved all those conundrums with an all-in-one 3D printer that offers modular extruders for ultimate flexibility. Is this the game-changer we've been waiting for?
The FLUX not only has a basic 3D printer that uses the standard FFF (fused filament fabrication) printing system, it also has a built-in 3D scanner, which is pretty sweet. That's great for convenience, but not really groundbreaking; we've covered some other all-in-one 3D printers, like the Da Vinci 1.0 AiO by XYZ. So here's the real nifty feature: FLUX can be fitted with a handful of interchangeable modules that attach and detach using strong magnets. You've got plenty options for how to output your creations, from a laser engraver to a ceramics extruder to a pastry extruder (your own 3D-printed chocolate, finally!) and the modules can be updated over time as technology advances.
Sound too good to be true? It might be. With 39 days to go, the Kickstarter for FLUX is already funded with $US160,000 in financial backing, which might seem like a lot, but is not very much when it comes to developing and manufacturing hundreds of units. In fact, right there on the Kickstarter, the creators say the printers will be produced by injection moulding, which "requires large capital expenses." Maybe they have seed money coming in elsewhere and the Kickstarter is just for publicity? (For comparison, Makerbot has had over $US10 million in funding.)
There's also some competition: A recently-funded campaign for the MM1 Modular Printer looks extremely similar and has many of the same promises (they raised $US56,000, but the units have a much higher price point -- $US999 compared to $US499 for FLUX).
All-in-one 3D printing is not an easy field. It's going to take a few more years to get many of these features right. But one of these companies is going nail it eventually. Here's to hoping that FLUX can make it happen. [Kickstarter]