from the makerspace dept
This week, we're looking at three crowdfunded tools for 3D printing and laser cutting/engraving, all three of which have blown past their Kickstarter goals many times over.
When I first heard this was a "smartphone 3D printer" I assumed it was yet another device needlessly tied to mobile apps and locked out from desktop control — but the OLO is something entirely different and much more interesting. It's a 3D printer that is actually powered by your smartphone: it uses photosensitive resin that responds to the light from a phone's screen, so you place your phone at the base of the compact printing enclosure, where it not only guides the print job but actually physically completes it itself. I had no idea this was possible, but it's a potential game-changer when it comes to the ubiquity and accessibility of basic 3D printing — especially when you consider the hard-to-believe price tag of only $100.
When it comes to more traditional 3D printing, there are countless consumer options these days, each with its own significant limitations. While I'm sure the same will be true of the TRINUS, it also looks like it could be a meaningful step forward in quality and capability for 3D printers relative to price. It clocks in at only $300, and stands out at that price point for a number of reasons: it's all metal and heavy duty, it can confidently handle higher print speeds, it can double as a laser engraver, and it's not a complex kit but a nearly-fully-assembled unit. This last fact stems from it's pleasingly modular design: of its mere 11 parts, the most important are the four tracks that move the print-head along the axes — and these four parts are identical one-piece units that slot together in any order to form the backbone of the device.
3D printing and laser cutting/engraving go hand-in-hand, and indeed many devices like the TRINUS can do both. But the Mr Beam is dedicated to the latter, and does it well. The original Mr Beam was a crowdfunded kit that was capable but complicated; the Mr Beam II is a fully assembled unit that's ready to use out of the box. It's versatile and very easy to use, with the most notable feature being its internal camera that helps with setup: after placing the object to be cut or engraved in the enclosure, the camera delivers a clear picture to the control software and enables you do position your designs by simply dragging and dropping and adjusting directly on top of the image. It is a fairly high-end piece of equipment though, so it doesn't hit the surprisingly low prices of the previous two entries here, clocking in at over $1,500 (or more to include an air filter unit).