What’s New in 3D Printing at CES 2017
Yes, the world of consumer 3D printers is rapidly expanding, but we’re starting to see some tapering off in the market as the winning companies simply modify successful machines instead of starting with new designs every year. These companies all unveiled either new models or add-ons to old models at CES this year, and we’ve sifted through what’s sincerely new and what’s only slightly different.
Every year, XYZprinting has an all-new lineup of fast, inexpensive and colorful 3D printers. This year, the manufacturer expanded its da Vinci printers to include the Nano, Mini, miniMaker, Jr. 3-in-1, Jr. 1.0 A, Jr. 1.0 Pro and our favorite of the bunch, the Jr. 2.0 Mix. All of these printers are extremely affordable without sacrificing the functionality of professional printers, as most of them have onboard screens, decent print capacities and safe enclosed designs. Most of models in XYZprinting’s lineup are made to teach children modeling, engineering and manufacturing skills, both at home and in the classroom.
The da Vinci Jr. 2.0 Mix was the real star of the show, as it’s a truly multicolor 3D printer. The multicolor mode blends two colors together, creating a graduated color scale on 3D prints. The mixing mode lets you assign colors to certain segments of the print such as blue for water and green for land on a globe.
Filament options are rather slim for both old and new printers from XYZprinting. The Jr. 3D printers only work with PLA, and the larger da Vinci printers only accept ABS and PLA, with a few exceptions. It would be great to see XYZprinting expand its printers’ filament options since the machines are such an affordable way for new and young users to enter the world of 3D printing.
Makerbot released a few new printers in Q4 of 2016, including the Replicator+ and the Mini+. We already have the Replicator+ sitting in Purch Labs for testing after CES – this new Replicator has a flexible build plate and new gantry, and it is 30 percent bigger than its predecessor. The Mini+ follows in its elder sibling’s footsteps by adding a camera and Wi-Fi. The big pull of the Mini+ is it’s much quieter than it used to be, which is great considering it’s primarily a consumer-level 3D printer designed for home use, not a noisy manufacturing environment.
Pretty much everything else is old news. Makerbot is a leader in the world of 3D printing, but each printer is just a slightly better version of the previous model. The overall design looks exactly the same to the untrained eye. However, each new feature is a step forward, so if the design stays mostly the same, that’s ok.
A handful of new extruders coming to LulzBot machines in Q1 2017 allow for different materials and outputs. Each new extruder is an upgrade option for current printers, and they are all incredibly easy to install, just like the standard extruder.
The flagship extruder, the MOARstruder, prints much faster than a standard one, with a high output of up to 100 grams per hour. If you’re in to high-volume prototyping, this is an excellent choice. There is also a Flexystruder for the Mini that lets your print with flexible filaments like NinjaFlex. In addition, LulzBot is working on a newer version of Cura and partnering with resin printing companies, schools and innovators using LulzBot 3D printers to bring inventions to life.
We’ve already tested and reviewed the LulzBot Taz 6, so there aren’t any real surprises there. However, the Taz 6 and the LulzBot Mini are well-crafted machines that don’t need constant revamping to keep users happy. The LulzBot design is completely open-source, putting the ingenuity in the hands of creators instead.
Both of Robo3D’s available printers are brand spanking new. The C2 is the smaller, more consumer-ready model, while the R2 is the beefier high-end model just announced for Q1 of 2017. The C2 is a sub-$1,000 3D printer with Wi-Fi capability, an onboard touchscreen and built-in slicer. The R2 has all of that plus a larger print capacity, dual print heads and an onboard camera. Both models work with an app you can use to control your printer from anywhere.
We found the design of the previous model, the R1, unique but with some interesting design flaws such as exposed cords. The company’s new innovations build onto the previous printer’s basic premise but greatly improve the functionality, making a more successful printer at a more accessible price point.
Robo3D has always prided itself on making machines that are simple enough for first-time users but open source enough for serious makers. These new printers are designed to be adaptable and to grow with you. This isn’t really an old benefit; in fact, its genuinely forward thinking and a smart strategy that best serves users, and it’s a shining advantage of Robo3D products.