Rapid Prototyping Breakthrough: 3D Printer Prints Itself!
Here’s some news that’s rocking the 3D Printing world and we have to admit that we are scratching our heads to understand it. Ready? A company is boasting that you can print a 3D printer with a 3D printer. Hard to believe right?
Well apparently you now can, thanks to an Indiegogo campaign that went live on August 9th for the Ulio 3D. You could use a 3D printer to make another one before, in truth. In fairness the RepRap movement actually started this cloning concept, but the open source concepts restricted the 3D printed aspect to just a few parts. The rest of the printer had to be built with off-the-shelf components. Now the Ulio 3D promises a much more immersive experience and the founders say it is the “most 3D printer 3D printer ever offered to consumers.”
Still scratching your head a bit? We are. Please note that this 3D printer is certainly no Statrasys Fortus 900mc or other high end printer. If you want to print automotive or aerospace grade parts then this machine is definitely not for you. This machine is actually not targeted at the big manufacturers though; it’s for school. The idea is to introduce students to Computer Aided Design (CAD), robotics, engineering, problem solving and 3D printing (rapid prototyping concepts).
Rapid Prototyping & 3D Printing Boosts Engagement in Schools
This is really no secret but cost is the one thing that is really holding the spread of this technology back. After all, we all know that most public school budgets are being sliced, so this technology has mostly landed in the richer private schools unless a machine has been donated by a local generous company. But there’s no denying that additive manufacturing has already been shown to boost engagement in traditional STEM subjects in schools and this is an ideal teaching aid that helps students not only visualize projects and concepts but and work on and fix specific problems.
How Does it Work?
It works in stages of course. That means taking the kit of parts that simply cannot be printed and then getting to work with the supplied designs to print the ones that can. The parts in the kit come from the US and the UK and Ulio 3D is sure that the printer will be an invaluable addition to every classroom.
Its Surprisingly Inexpensive for 3D Printers
If you took the early bird offer at just $299, that will give you a complete printer minus some minor assembly and the rest of the parts you have to make at home. Not bad eh? Of course, you can buy a number of lower end 3D printers for approximately $299 and once the early bird price is gone then you’ll be looking at much more. So grab that early bird price! Once it’s built, the competitive advantage is gone and you’re left with a printer with a limited print bay that might not look like such a good deal.
The likes of the TwoUp 3D will give you a DIY 3D printer kit for even less money, so you lose the 3D printing aspect but you get a full kit of parts to build your printer and get going.
A lot of Amazon reviewers seem to have encountered problems though. But let’s face it, that risk is on the table with building your own printer and you really should make sure you want to learn the mechanics of making the printer if you want to go down this road. It can be a tough way to save some coin on a finished printer. Hence, be sure to contemplate this. Perhaps this avenue is really best for technical minded types.
That being said, anything that engages and encourages students to get involved with 3D printing/rapid prototyping and STEM subjects is simply awesome in our book. We highly applaud the intention behind the Ulios 3D and give big props to their team. We look forward to seeing one in the flesh and seeing exactly how it feels like to build your own 3D printer with another 3D printer. We definitely want to see this one in person for sure! Hats off to 3D Wise for sure for bringing some serious creativity and innovation to the additive manufacturing world as well as the education system.
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