3D printers are no longer gigantic DIY monstrosities that you have to assemble yourself, but they are far from being a consumer-ready solution — until now, perhaps. One of the biggest names in power tools is trying its hand at the future of manufacturing with a new 3D printer. The Dremel Idea Builder is intended to be the first truly mass-market 3D printer with a competitive price, compact design, and a name people know. The price is quite attractive as well — the Idea Builder will be on sale soon for $1000.
The Idea Builder is a single-extruder printer, meaning you can only load a single color of plastic filament at a time. The printing platform is non-heated, so this printer is intended for use with PLA plastics only. PLA is by far the most popular material for 3D printing, but ABS is gaining ground quickly. However, it has a tendency to warp badly while cooling unless the printer has a heated bed to help lower the temperature more gradually.
Read: What is 3D printing?
One of the features that affects 3D printer pricing most is the size of the build area. This limits how large your designs can be, and in this case the build area is 230mm x 150mm x 140mm (9 inches x 5.9 inches x 5.5 inches). That compares favorably to more expensive machines like the $2800 MakerBot Replicator 2, which has a build volume of 11.2 inches x 6.0 inches x 6.1 inches. Printing resolution goes as low as 0.1mm, the same as the MakerBot.
Despite the reasonably large build area, the machine itself is rather compact and professional looking. Dremel worked specifically to minimize the footprint by placing the plastic filament holder inside the machine. After all, Dremel is going after more than the serious maker and DIY community — people who don’t have a whole room just for tinkering with 3D printers.
The Idea Builder is a polished piece of equipment, but Dremel didn’t conceive of and build it from scratch. The device was developed in partnership with Chinese manufacturer Flashforge and is based on that company’s Dreamer 3D printer. The Flashforge Dreamer is a solid entry-level alternative to the more pricey MakerBot at about $1300, so Dremel has managed to knock the price down considerably. Internally, the Idea Builder is based on the same ARM Cortex-M4, a low-power chip ideal for signal processing.
Good hardware is only half of the equation when building a 3D printer for regular people — the software is at least as important. Dremel’s 3D software was developed with AutoDesk. It works on both Mac and Windows allowing you to see a 3D rendering of the build file before it’s printed. You can move, rotate, and scale parts as well. Dremel says it intentionally left out some more advanced features like manual temperature control, rafts, and infill percentages. This makes the printer less intimidating to use, but Dremel may add some of these features for advanced users later.
Having a recognizable name like Dremel get into 3D printing is a big deal. At-home manufacturing is becoming a real technology, even if it’s still pricey. The sales channels are also notable: The Dremel Idea Builder will be available in Home Depot stores and on Amazon starting November 3.
|Evernote helps you remember everything and get organized effortlessly. Download Evernote.|