Sculptify has been hinting at something big for a while now, but they’ve now released some details on their new 3D printer that comes with a twist.
The”David” 3D printer, built by the Columbus, Ohio-based company, is a plastic extrusion 3D printer, but it doesn’t use filament. Instead it uses plastic pellets. The machine includes a hopper to accept a pour of pellets, which are then guided into position for melting prior to extrusion in the usual manner.
Why pellets? The intent is to overcome the sometimes ridiculous cost of plastic filament. The theory is that some 3D printer owners stop or slow their use because of excessive plastic expense, and we suspect this could be true. The two major personal 3D printer companies, MakerBot and 3D Systems, offer plastic filament at these typical costs for ABS material:
- MakerBot 1Kg for USD$48
- 3D Systems CubeX cartridge ~600g for USD$99 (or USD$165 per Kg)
But what do "raw" plastic pellets cost? We checked current rates at Alibaba, a large Asian industrial marketplace and found you can purchase ABS pellets for as low as USD$0.10 per Kg in volume quantities. At that rate, you could 3D print many hundreds of times worth of material for the same cost.
Yes, you actually could afford to buy 200kg’s of plastic pellets as seen in this image, but it may take quite a while to print. A very long while.
But back to the David 3D printer. Clearly the machine will be economical to operate due to its ability to use pellets, but there’s more to it. Pellets are available in a much wider variety of plastic materials than are commonly found in available plastic filament spools. This means you potentially could experiment with exotic materials more freely.
Aside form the image above and the pellet capability, we don’t know much more about the David. We’re hoping they release specifications and pricing.
Is the David available today? Not yet. They’re planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign “soon”.