There’s another large-format plastic extrusion 3D printer you may not have heard of: the Cheetah 2.
The Cheetah 2 is developed by South Africa-based Fouche 3D Printing and founder Hans Fouche. Fouche is well known for his previous 3D printing ventures, particularly in a chocolate 3D printer we detailed here.
The Cheetah 2 is an open-style machine, and is said to be able to 3D print PLA, ABS or EVA. This is definitely a no-frills machine.
However, don’t let its rudimentary appearance fool you: this machine has some very unique properties.
Fouche correctly realized the major problem with large-format 3D printers: the print times are extreme. I’ve seen similar machines take literally weeks to complete larger prints. However, the Cheetah 2 overcomes that limitation by changing two key aspects of the machine: the nozzle size and the material format.
The Cheetah 2’s default nozzle size is 3mm, not 0.4mm as many other desktop machines use. This nozzle is over 50x the volume as a standard nozzle. The Cheetah 2 also comes with swappable nozzles for other resolutions, including 1 and 2mm for finer work, but also 4, 5, 6, 7 and a huge 8mm nozzle for rapid bulk printing.
The material format is also very important: this machine does NOT use filament. Instead it uses very inexpensive bulk plastic granules, which are typically a fraction of the cost of filament.
The material format also resolves a key issue with large-format 3D printers: the large prints cost a great deal because you need a lot of filament. That’s not the case with the Cheetah 2’s granular feed system.
Fouche indicates the flow rate of the standard Cheetah 2 is approximately 500g per hour! That’s equivalent to 3D printing an entire 1kg spool on your device in 2 hours. Fast! But wait - they offer a high speed option that can 3D print up to 2,000g per hour - four times faster.
The machine has a standard build volume of 1,000 x 1,000 x 1,000mm, but you can also order 2,000 x 1,000 x 1,000mm or 3,000 x 1,000 x 1,500mm versions.
Does this machine actually work? Indeed it does; watch this video of the a functioning lawnmower 3D printed on the Cheetah2:
You’re probably wondering what the cost of this machine might be, given that alternative large-format machines cost USD$20-40-60K. Pleasantly, the pricing of the Cheetah 2 is quite a bit lower:
- Standard unit, 1 x 1 x 1m is USD$9,800
- Extended unit, 2 x 1 x 1m is USD$10,600
- Increased flow unit, 2 x 1 x 2m with 2000g per hour feed is USD$14,000
Big prints, but relatively small pricing.