Dremel made a big splash in 2014 when they introduced their desktop 3D printer. But now, they’re taking a slightly different approach.
The well-regarded original Dremel machine was, like many 3D printers of that time and earlier, focused on the idea of “makers”, where the public could produce 3D objects at will. This concept fit in very well with Dremel’s other products and indeed their entire distribution, sales and marketing operations, who provide products for that precise type of person.
However, last week Dremel announced they announced the Dremel Idea Builder 3D40 desktop 3D printer specifically to address the STEM market, signifying a big change in direction.
But first, what exactly is the Idea Builder 3D40?
Dremel sells the Idea Builder 3D40 itself, but also the “Idea Builder 3D40 For Education”, but they’re pretty much the same machine. Features beyond their original 3D20 model include:
- Assisted bed leveling procedure, which should make setup much easier
- Network-enabled with both WiFi and Ethernet connectivity
- Filament monitoring feature on the extruder to detect out-of-filament situations
- See-thru top cover to permit easy observation of print operations - and to let in more light
- Somewhat larger build plate for larger prints (255 x 155 x 170mm vs the 3D20’s 230 x 150 x 140 mm)
- A fancy exterior case redesign
But what makes the Idea Builder 3D40 suitable for Education and STEM in particular? Here’s what they say:
Model 3D40-EDU for Education includes an additional USB flash drive pre-loaded with 10 print-ready curriculum based model files.
Accompanied by additional printing materials and accessories, the Dremel Idea Builder 3D40 is designed for immediate, out-of-the-box classroom implementation. The retail version (3D40-01) includes one Flash Drive with Print Studio software, build tape and environmentally friendly PLA filament. The EDU version (3D40-EDU) includes an added kit with 3D-specific curriculum loaded on a USB, two build plates, extra build tape and four filament spools in a variety of colors.
Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same as the standard Idea Builder 3D40, which, by the way, seems to be a decent machine.
However, I’ve seen desktop 3D printers with far deeper integration into the education market, such as AIO Robotic’s device that includes entire course material, updated on the fly, stored on the machine from the factory.
What’s bugging me is why is Dremel doing this? Education is not their prime market, at least at their corporate level.
Could it be that Dremel is feeling the pinch of decreased public interest in 3D printing, much as other companies have done? Is Dremel trying to stimulate interest in their desktop 3D printer by focusing on a specific application market, education?
And if the answers to those questions are yes, is the Idea Builder 3D40-EDU enough to do it?
While Dremel certainly has a far more vast distribution network than a small company like AIO Robotics, it is not one focused on the education market, which would require a very different set of resellers and distribution partners.
It should be interesting to see Dremel’s next move.