Kickstarter backers were in for a treat recently when the Zortrax M200 3D printer finally arrived on their doorstep. This peripheral, a $1,899 3D printer that was created and developed in Poland, was conceived in June, 2013 and received its financial backing from various angel investors shortly thereafter. In December, 2013 it was announced that the printers were shipped to all 80 investors who backed the project and the initial impressions throughout early 2014 have been overwhelmingly positive.
What is Kickstarter?
Angel investments aren’t the newest concept in the financial world. In exchange for silence and anonymity, investors provide financial support to projects that have been deemed too high of a risk for conventional lenders. While 3D printers don’t fit the bill of “high risk” in North America, some European nations haven’t adopted the same thought processes and Polish banks might have felt that this project was simply too much of a risk for them to back. This is where Kickstarter comes into play.
Kickstarter provides a platform where inventors can connect with potential investors in a sort of social media outlet. This particular company, Gadgets3D, brought their 3D printer concept to the attention of investors and were quickly swarmed with various offers from 80 financial backers: who were each provided with a 3D printer for their contributions.
The Printer Itself
According to the design team behind the printer, the Zortrax M200 3D printer was also shipped with plenty of extra features that weren’t openly advertised with the original design specification available to Kickstarter investors. These included a special extruder that has three heating points to accommodate different plastic thicknesses and an auto-calibrating build platform. The printer is also shipped with a software suite, the Z-Suite, which has a newly designed script that’s optimized to support the structure of the materials being used.
In addition to this, there are various new modifications that included more accurate layer precision calculations. This means printed objects come out more accurate and in tune with the original design that’s being fed into the printer. Commenting on this particular issue, the team stated that models with a resolution rating of 200 can appear like a 50 on the majority of 3D printers. This isn’t the case. Speed is also important here, where the Zortrax prints much, much faster than conventional 3D printers on the market today.
It was also announced recently that all Zortrax printers are eligible for a one year warranty. Preliminary beta testing of the printer showed some design hiccups, but these were corrected before shipping. However, should investors find that there’s anything wrong with their printer at a later point, then they’ll be eligible for a free pair less the cost of shipping and handling for up to one year since they’ve received their printer. This should mean that there’s about eight months remaining on this particular warranty. Does it seem like there are other design issues? Not necessarily. Certainly none that have been reportedly publicly, anyway.