Kickstarter: 3D print from your phone

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We’ve seen Kickstarter projects for 3D printers come and go. When MakerBot Industries made home 3D printing a reality there was a sudden rush of people who wanted to cash in on the success. Often, though, MakerBot competitors weren’t as affordable of as versatile.

Today’s Kickstarter project, The Buccaneer 3D printer, changes one of those things. Sponsoring the project just $397 (around R4 000) plus $100 (around R1 000) for international shipping, will score you one of the printers. At that price it undercuts almost every other consumer 3D printer available. But it’s not just an el cheapo – no sir. The Buccaneer – the project of aptly-named Pirate3D – is a stylish little number. Seriously, the plastic and metal enclosure is just 25 x 25 x 35cm in size. All the electronics are housed in the top metal housing, with a 3D print plate moving downwards as projects are completed.

More importantly, it makes 3D printing more accessible for regular home users. There’s a cloud printing app, which means you can send designs to the internet-connected printer from your tablet, phone, or laptop, from anywhere in the world. If print quality is your bag, fret not. It’s got the same resolution as the MakerBot Replicator 2. That’s 100 microns, from a 0.4mm print head, and a maximum build size of 10 x 10 x 12cm. Ok, so that’s down from the MakerBot’s 28 x 15 x 15cm build size, but it’s not like you’re going to print car parts, are you?

Print cute toys, not cars, mmkay?
Print cute toys, not cars, mmkay?

Its consumer-friendly appeal is detailed on the Kickstarter page, where the creators show how easy it is to set up. It’s as simple as connecting wirelessly to the printer and using its web interface to set up everything. No more fussing with printer drivers and downloading the latest software, here. It also notifies you when there is no more print filament left in the machine. In fact, the Buccaneer is a self-contained computer powered by a Raspberry Pi, which interfaces with a Sanguinololu 3D printing controller. This means no complicated software to create and upload models. In fact, everything is handled online through the cloud print service, where users can use a simple web app to create models, or import existing creative commons models from other 3D printers. Pirate3D has even set up a demo page to show off how easy it is to create models using its software.

Still not convinced? Well, consider this. At the time of writing The Buccaneer has already attained $600 000 in funding. In fact, the $100 000 goal was breached in the first ten minutes of the project’s existence on Kickstarter. And at that price, who can blame any of the backers for jumping on board?



Christo van Gemert

Christo van Gemert

Eleven years ago Christo started writing about technology for one of South Africa's (then) leading computer magazines. His first review? A Samsung LCD monitor. Hey, it was hot news, back then. Nowadays he gets more excited about photography, cars, game consoles, and faster internet connections. He's sort of an Apple fan, but will take any opportunity to remind you about his Windows-powered home theatre PC and desire to own a vanilla Android tablet.   Currently uses: Apple 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display, Apple iPhone 5, Microsoft Laser Mouse 6000, Audiofly AF78 Earphones, Xbox 360, Nikon D50.