It's another week and obviously time for another new 3D printer launch on Kickstarter. This week the Zim 3D printer launched, hoping to raise funds for its first production run.
With new 3D printers launch almost daily, it is very difficult for new entrants to distinguish themselves above the other offerings. What does Zim offer?
First, we must say their 3D printing mechanism is quite comparable to alternatives. It uses similar filament, extruders and motion gear to produce objects on its (optional) heated bed with resolution similar or slightly better than the competition.
This is not sufficient to distinguish Zim from other 3D printers.
But we see they have explored two areas not previously addressed by other manufacturers.
First, their filament management seems superior to the traditional spools dangling nearby the machine. The Zim includes a unique filament cartridge that not only sits invisibly under the machine, but it can also accept any filament you'd like to use, too. The cartridge is also water-tight, meaning you can safely store water-soluble support material like PVA.
The second area of interest is connectivity. The Zim includes WiFi and Ethernet connections, more than some other machines offer. That's interesting and useful, but even more so is their app. The app connects to the Zim and can show you a live view of your print's progress via a tiny camera and light installed inside the machine. You can stop the print if necessary or even send an image of the print to your buddies.
We think the camera and app combination is terribly important. Any 3D printer owner will tell you that it is mandatory to watch your print, particularly lengthy prints, simply because there is a non-zero failure rate. There's nothing more frustrating than arriving tomorrow to see your 26 hour print as a jumble of extruded spaghetti. The Zim won't fix bad prints, but it will let you stop them before you waste your valuable plastic filament. What a great idea!
The Zim 3D project now seeks funds for their first production run. You can pre-order a unit for as low as USD$599 (USD$799 for dual head) right now, which is a very good price for an assembled personal 3D printer.
Is the Zim 3D different? We think so.