With all the questionable 3D printer launches recently, it’s nice to see one that makes sense.
The Proforge is the product of Adeel Ali, an undergraduate Engineering student from the University of Bristol. He’s created a desktop 3D printer option that’s designed for hobbyists and hackers specifically.
The machine is of rudimentary industrial design (meaning it’s not particularly pretty), but it does pack some very useful features for 3D printing in its generous 200 x 200 x 240mm build volume.
Using 1.75mm plastic filament, the Bowden-style extruder will feed an E3D V6 “clone” all metal hot end. Combined with the 120C heated bed and optional enclosure, this machine should be able to 3D print most common materials including ABS.
The Proforge appears to have a well-designed robust frame and mechanicals that should lead to reliable 3D printing.
One feature that’s quite interesting is the automated bed leveling. Rather than simply assuming the perfectly flat bed is tilted, the Proforge uses a sensor to map the bed’s topography and develop a curved 3D model of it.
Then printing operations account for this by slightly raising and lowering the nozzle as it passes over portions of the print bed. Of course, this motion makes the bottom of your objects not quite flat, but they will certainly stick to the bed a lot better.
However, this is the interesting part: the vertical wobble used to adjust for a curvy print plate is gradually diminished as layers of the print occur. Thus, after a few layers the printer will resume perfectly flat 3D printing.
The Proforge provides a basic LCD display with the usual statistics on it. This is different than many current machines that go to great lengths to include large color touchscreens. However, the Proforge is set up to work with Octoprint, a set-top box that enables full graphical displays on your computer or mobile device. So the LCD screen isn’t that much of a detraction.
The pricing of the Proforge is reasonable: inexpensive, but not TOO inexpensive for a kit you can assemble yourself. The current price on their Kickstarter is £299 (USD$383), which will soon go to £319 (USD$408). You can add £60 (USD$77) for Octoprint and/or £75 (USD$96) for a full acrylic enclosure. In other words, for £434 (USD$555) you can get a kit for a 3D printer with a great build volume, enclosed chamber, ability to 3D print all reasonable materials and self leveling for not a lot of money.
But here’s the most interesting thing: there will be at most 150 units produced. Unlike other Kickstarter projects where the creators are thrilled to find they have a million orders, and then shocked to learn they don’t know how to do that, this project won’t have that problem. By limiting the number of units produced, Makertech3D, the company behind the Proforge, will not get into as much trouble.
Additionally, this project is ALREADY fully funded. Other options need to hit particular funding levels to proceed, but the Proforge is already there, so one barrier is already overcome.
Looking for a fun and powerful 3D printer kit? The Proforge might be what you need.