Our team had a close look at Leapfrog’s new Bolt 3D printer and discovered it has features beyond its large size.
And it is large sized: the build volume on this new 3D printer is 320 x 330 x 205mm, sufficiently large for most prints.
Within that build volume, the Bolt can print highly detailed objects with a 0.05mm layer size, or quickly blast out larger objects with a more coarse layer size of 0.35mm.
The machine is equipped with all the latest advanced features you’d expect to find in a modern professional 3D printer, including WiFi, remote control via apps, large, informative touch screen and even a HEPA filter to absorb nasty odors and particle emissions.
But the key feature of this machine is its very unusual extruder arrangement. Yes, it has two extruders, but they’re not like any dual configuration you’ve likely seen before.
They’re “independent”. Each extruder can move independently without regard to the other. This enables a number of unique operating modes.
You could certainly use the machine in a standard dual extrusion configuration, where the two extruders are close together and move simultaneously, but the independent capability allows them to be separate from each other, limiting the possibility of inadvertent crashes.
Another new mode from Leapfrog is “Replicator”, in which the two extruders move in the same manner, but are separate. This enables the machine to print two identical items at the same time. If your object fits within half the build volume, you can produce them at twice the speed in Replicator Mode.
If the extruders are moving independently, you can also 3D print two different objects at the same time. It’s like having two printers work on one build plate of objects at the same time – twice as fast.
Another new technique is “Mirror Mode”. In this mode the object is cut in two by software and each half is 3D printed simultaneously by each extruder. Once complete, the two halves can be glued together. Again, this makes the print twice as fast. In fact, Mirror Mode may be even faster as cutting the object in half and reorienting the parts may reduce or even eliminate the need for support material.
As of today, the Bolt is available for order at a cost of €5,000 (USD$5,600).