September 4, 2013

3D Printing is not enough! This appears to be the consensus, as several 3D printers that have launched recently are not just printing, they scan they mill, they engrave and they even fax!

MakerBot have realised that the consumer will not just want a printer they’ll want to be able to scan and print instantaneously hence the Digitizer. But realistically in the future - mirroring the 2D printer world - people would prefer to have their tech converged into one neat and tidy box.

Here we take a look, in no particular order, at five 3D printers that are more than just printers:


This is the least ambitious of the bunch, essentially just a RepRap printer, which can be assembled into a CNC device as seen in this video. The Sumpod has been through four successful rounds of funding on Indiegogo the first starting way back in June 2011. Although it probably isn’t the greatest example of a machine that isn’t just a 3D printer it shows the ambition from a few years back. Prices are upwards from £800. ($1250, €950)

Mebotics' Microfactory:

Coming out of the same Boston hackerspace as the 3Doodler, Artisan’s Asylum, the Mebotics gang launched this all-in-one machine on Kickstarter last week with an ambitious goal of $1,000,000. With 23 days remaining they still have to raise $980,000, it would be a shame if this one didn’t get off the ground.

The big white box built on “love and caffeine” has a lot to offer; not only can it print two materials at once in four colours it can also mill and etch without removing the print head.

Coming in an enclosed space with a filtration system means in can sit on your desktop without you having to worry about the noise levels or that pesky ultrafine particle malarkey. It is also tough as demonstrated by 350lb co-founder Calvin standing on top of, not something we fancy doing with our UP!

The problem here is not just the $1m funding goal but the look of the machine itself, it looks fantastic but not like a consumer product (we know it is not intended to be) unlike the next device…


Without doubt the snappiest product video of the bunch (which is why we’ve included it up top),  the personal fabrication device coming out of Milan, Italy appears to have it all; scanning, milling, etching and printing in one shiny box.

The FABtotum reached its $50,000 goal on Indiegogo in a mere ten days, with 35 days to go the product that promises much is already up to $110,000 dollars.

Other than the sleek design, one of the most interesting aspects of the FABtotum is the complete scan-to-print eco-system. Print heads are interchangeable and open to third party applications as the machine is open-source this might be one that is improved by the maker community.

We wait to see the quality of parts but at $1099 for a fully assembled printer, scanner, miller and etcher this seems like the real deal.

Radiant Fabrication’s Lionhead:

This startup are also heading down the crowdfunding route, Radiant Fabrication plan to launch their printer/scanner, ‘Lionhead’, in the coming weeks.

Radiant are very proud not just of their hardware but their software too, Radiant Li functions like Minecraft and allows users to build blocks to create 3D models.  Your scanned models will appear in the software ready to hit print but if you want to make any adjustments to the model - perhaps you’d like to add a birthday hat to a Yoda bust?  - the process appears relatively simple.

There are no specs available as of yet but we can see from the picture that it will include two print heads. We expect more specs when the machine is launched on Kickstarter.

The most important spec though is the price, coming in at a very reasonable $1,649. In their press release Radiant Fabrication state that the first models, the Lionhead Bunny will be shipped as early as next month. Ambitious!

AIO Robotics’ Zeus:

The final printer on the list is from AIO Robotics, who have launched their first machine the Zeus on Kickstarter this morning, hoping for $100,000 they have achieved 50% of that on day one!

The Zeus is an all-in-one (all-in-one = AIO, get it?) 3D Print, Copy and Fax machine. Although paper faxing is quite an antiquated technology the ability to be able to fax an object across the globe is pure Star Trek.

For instance, in the pitch video it shows a young boy modelling a snowman with Plasticine he puts that into the Zeus and faxes it to his not at home father so he can wonder at his child’s creation.

This opens the doors to prototyping companies across the world who could send their clients a model in a matter of minutes without shipping costs and times. This is without doubt the most exciting advancement.

The printer is going to be available for around $2500 and the specs are decent their scanner has a resolution | accuracy of 0.125mm | ± 1. The ZEUS 3D printer ships fully assembled, giving its customers the easiest setup experience on the market. The printer has a resolution of .1 mm (100 microns) and a build/scan volume of 26cm x 18cm x 15cm.

The future?

This all-in-one type printer seems to be very much the trend at the moment, it seems reasonable to predict printing and scanning will get better and smaller. Convergence seems to be the way forward for their technology, whether that be true factories on our desktops with the ability to use subtractive and additive manufacturing or just 3D printers with scanners, we're sure somebody in this list will be a name to remember. 

Check out the gallery to the left of the page to see all the models...


September 4, 2013

Comments (2)

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without shipping costs and time? it will take maybe 12 hours to print on the other side... and the corresponding cost. A Fedex might not take more than 1 day... Still, exciting machines, good luck to them.

Paucus 218 days ago

Re: Faxing

Depending on what the model is really and location, if you're on the other side of the globe then it could take days to ship whereas you could theoretically have a print in your hand in hours. But in terms of local shipping yes I agree.

Personalize | 3D Printing News, 3D Printer reviews & Additive Manufacturing Interviews 217 days ago

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