It is no surprise that the 3D printing market is about to explode and it is likely to become mainstream in the near future but in order for that to happen, the product itself needs to be more approachable by the average consumer. One example of this is the current Kickstarter project, The Zeus all-in-one copy machine. Both a 3D printer and a traditional printer. The new Zim may not be as elaborate as the Zeus (it is not a scanner and copy shop all-in-one) But taking off all the bells and whistles may be exactly what entices a consumer.
Zim’s Stamford-based makers, Zeepro, on their Kickstarter page, argue,
“The use and maintenance of many 3D personal printers available on the market today requires extensive technical knowledge, as well as hours of assembly, before you can start to print your first 3D object. We wanted to create a 3D personal printer which was ready to use, straight out of the box.”
Here is what makes the Zim incredibly enticing for the average consumer and above. The Zim’s aim is a “fully plug & play” operation. With the system, 3D printing is at its easiest. The printing process consists of merely connecting the printer to the Internet, download a model, open the Zim app, and print. It has a sleek-looking aluminium frame; the ability to control and view progress on the current print via a smartphone app thanks to the printer’s onboard camera (so rather than having to stand by the printer waiting to see if it’s finished making your replica plastic sphinx yet, you can check in on how it’s looking via an app); a cartridge system for easily loading different filament colours into the printer (and also refillable cartridges if you want to add your own filament). It can print multiple colors at once with it’s dual extruders.
The 3D printer also includes both Ethernet and Wi-Fi capabilities so that it can be remotely controlled by a computer web browser, as well as via the Zim app.
Unfortunately making a mainstream 3D printer does not mean it comes cheap. Zim is being offered to early Kickstarter backers for a ‘special price’ of $599, and a ship date of March 2014. Expect the retail price to be higher — likely around the $899 mark. Zeepro’s Kickstarter campaign has raised around two-thirds of the $300,000 target so far, with 20 days left to run.
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