China-USA based Kodama is set to release a USD$49 desktop 3D printer, and I may be a bit skeptical of this project.
Kodama is known for their previous product, the Trinus desktop 3D printer, which they launched on Kickstarter in 2016. The company blew away their expectations when they raised USD$1.6M with over 3,000 orders. At the time, the price of the unit was, for early-birds, only USD$199, at the time a ridiculously low price.
Now the company is hinting at the release of a new device, the Obsidian, set for a price of only USD$49 for early birds. The “normal” price is said to be USD$99, which is still pretty inexpensive.
But for USD$49, this machine has some notable attributes:
- Heated print surface for printing ABS and PETG as well as PLA
- Fully assembled, plug and play mode
- 3.2” Touch screen interface with an Android display screen
- On board camera for time lapses and remote monitoring
- Fancy industrial design package
- 120 x 120 x 120mm build volume
- All aluminum chassis for robustness
- Network capability through WiFi
You can see a bit about the Obsidian machine in their cheesy Bond-like video:
All this for only USD$49? Can this be true?
Historically, ultra-low priced 3D printer offerings tend to fail miserably, as we’ve seen countless times in the past. But low pricing does attract customers, and I expect many units to be sold here - but not as much money being raised.
Why so? If they sell 3,000 units, as they did on their previous Kickstarter, they’d raise a few hundred thousand machines. That’s not a lot of money to build and ship thousands of machines. In fact, the shipping cost will be a significant portion of the price!
This is so low a price I have a hard time imagining how they will succeed. However, they seem to have done so, more or less, in their previous campaign. If you read some of the 6,000+ comments on the Trinus campaign, you will see that some people did not receive working machines, were missing parts or materials. But you will also read that others did receive working machines or were helped by the company to restore missing items.
I’d say this is an interesting and low cost bet if you were to take part. The price is SO incredibly low that if they completely fail to deliver anything to you, it really isn’t that great a loss.
It might just be worth it to say you have a USD$49 3D printer.