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Ewloe, United Kingdom
Writing, tweeting, debating and occasionally getting a little over-excited about 3D Printing. But always aiming to keep it real!

Monday, 2 August 2010

3 New 3DPs

So a few days away from it all, with the smart bit of my phone switched off, and I come back to three new additive manufacturing (AM) machines and an inbox groaning under the strain of undeleted messages!


/Aside/ The aim of the time away was quality time with the children before they took off for independent adventures at summer camp. Having a bolt hole in a beautiful location on the coast of the island of Anglesey, North Wales, courtesy of my parents' love of the place half a century ago, and hard work to acquire a place there, is something for which I am eternally grateful. The third generation of our family is now completely besotted with the place. A safe haven that allows for freedom and adventure. The quality time did not quite pan out as I had envisaged, however it was 100% quality nonetheless.  It turned out that all my two needed for "the best week ever" was the freedom to roam with their new BFF's, material for building dens, regular fuel stops, the odd plaster and an occasional snuggle (the power of which should never be underestimated). The only discord originated from the disparity in what was deemed to be an acceptable time to end the day and get ready for bed. We came back on top of the world.


So, the new AM machines — a new entry level 3D printer and two more from ZCorp (100% ZCorp) in the mid-range market.


The two new machines from ZCorp are the lowest priced offerings from the company. A fact that, coming quite closely after the uPrint, sees many of the predictions from the last decade — of how the competitive landscape will shape the industry and what it can offer in terms of improved performance — coming to fruition. The two machines in question are the ZPrinter 150 (monochrome, priced at £10,900) and the ZPrinter 250 (multicolour, priced somewhat higher, at £17,900). With this announcement, ZCorp is highlighting lower prices and higher specs, claiming that they 'print 5–10 times faster than other 3D printing technologies, with the unique ability to print multiple, stacked models simultaneously.' Obviously, the other big selling point — for the ZPrinter 250 — is its capability of simultaneously printing in multiple colours. What did make me smile was the swipe that ZCorp took at the entry level machines. Check this out: "Unlike low-end 3D printers, the new ZPrinter 150 and ZPrinter 250 are: easy to use out of the box; build 3D models with five times the resolution; and have the industry’s lowest operating cost (lowest cost per model)."


At this point, I would dispute the last claim in that list, but will try and get some actual facts and figures together before I wax lyrical, the stacking capability may just swing it in ZCorp's favour. 


And despite ZCorp's prickles at the increasing volumes of 'low' end systems, this competition is all good. Besides, there is another 'low' end contender coming into play, priced under £1,000 (sort of). 


The UP! system comes from a company that seems to be overly fond of alliteration and wants to remain shrouded in terms of its origins. UP! is a Personal, Portable 3D Printer and is being marketed as a 'micro-factory for Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime.' Okay, cynicism aside, the machine itself looks quite interesting (and different), plenty of pictures and standard spec info at the pp3dp site: http://www.pp3dp.com/. However, little to go on in terms of who, why and what is behind this development. And the $1500 price tag, it should be noted, is only for the first 100 system sales, after that, the RRP is $2990. 



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