Toolmaker Dremel surprised everyone by announcing a personal 3D printer, the Dremel 3D Idea Builder.
Dremel is, of course, famous for their incredibly versatile handheld tool, capable of accommodating multiple types of add-ons. There’s likely one (or more) Dremel tools in every maker’s toolbox. Now, perhaps, you can add another Dremel device to your collection.
Let’s take a look at the 3D Idea Builder’s specifications. It is a plastic filament-based device, capable of printing PLA plastic at 0.1mm layer size with its single extruder, like many others currently on the market. It has a build volume of 230 x 150 x 140mm, similar to current MakerBot models.
While the 3DIB doesn’t have a heated build surface, it does have a fully enclosed build chamber, which should not only be safer for nearby children and pets, but also encourage consistent heating conditions during printing. A fan can blow out hot air when desired temperatures are exceeded.
The machine is of course fully assembled, UL certified and includes a friendly touchscreen for easy use.
Dremel’s documentation says you must use “Dremel PLA filament”, which “has been specifically engineered for optimal printing with your Idea Builder.” We do not know the price of their filament, but if it is hefty, it appears that you might be able to use generic filament in this machine easily enough. The spools mount inside the machine at the bottom, so as long as your spool fits and the filament is of the correct diameter, it’s probably worth a try.
In other words, it’s a pretty decent, but basic filament-based personal 3D printer, particularly at their price point: USD$999.
So what’s the big deal? We think the big deal is that Dremel is behind this venture. Consider these:
- Dremel has an existing massive market of consumers who by definition like to make things. The 3DIB could match very well with their interests, leading to an awesome amount of sales.
- Dremel’s existing relationships with retailers can be leveraged to instantly provide multiple sales channels. Indeed, they’ve announced upcoming availability at Home Depot, Amazon and Canadian Tire (in Canada, obviously).
- Dremel’s relationships with their manufacturers could enable them to physically produce many 3DIB’s quickly, just in time to fill the stores above for the holiday season.
- Dremel’s size and reputation enabled them to partner with Autodesk to provide tools and content for the 3DIB.
- Dremel’s corporate investment in this venture has enabled them to build a top-class unit, software, content ecosystem, massive marketing rollout and materials supply in one swoop.
If you happen to be a smaller 3D printing venture, there is simply no way you could manage to do all these things. Even the larger 3D printing companies, such as MakerBot, took years to accomplish even some of them. When a big company decides to go into this market, look out.
Smaller 3D printing ventures simply cannot compete against this, as the volume of product sold by Dremel will likely overrun most of their competitors in the first week of sales. It is not a good time to launch your personal 3D printer startup company; that time has long past. In fact, we think even MakerBot, Ultimaker and 3D Systems should be concerned about this announcement, as Dremel’s market reach is well beyond those companies.
Now then, when is HP announcing their 3D printer?