An interesting Kickstarter appeared this week offering a multi-mode making machine at a pretty low price.
The Mooz series of “convertible” 3D printers, made by Mooz of Shenzhen China, is a dramatic entry into the 3D printing market. Unlike most startups, the company is launching not one, but three different models at once. The models are:
- The Mooz-1 is a basic 3D printer, but also offers CNC milling and laser engraving options.
- The Mooz-2 is a more powerful 3D printer that has a much more rigid frame, making 3D printing and CNC milling more accurate.
- The Mooz-3 is a delta-style 3D printer that offers higher print speed and color-mixing!
But the key feature of models 1 and 2 is their ability to transform into different modes. Yes, they are all filament-powered 3D printers, but they can use most of the hardware to also transform into a low-power laser engraver or a limited-range CNC mill. As they say, “The concept is pretty simple, all three devices need three-axis motors to work, so why not just put them all together?”
The ability to do so is largely driven by the frame of the Mooz machines, which are made from strong extruded aluminum. This rigidity is necessary, particularly for CNC milling, but is also very useful for 3D printing as it provides a very stable platform for the moving toolhead, particularly on the Mooz-2, which has a four-cornered frame. The Mooz-1 is more of a cantilevered design that would have somewhat less rigidity - but a lower cost.
The Mooz-3 3D printer is also very interesting in that it offers a couple of features not often found on low cost equipment. However, the print volume is small, particularly for a delta-style machine at only 100mm diameter by 100mm tall.
However, this machine offers a three-filament color mixing system in which the three input filaments can be mixed on the fly to create new colors. It also is a bit more speedy, boasting a top printing speed of 100mm/second, as opposed to the 80mm/second on the Mooz-1 and Mooz-2.
All machines offer a heated print plate that can hit 100C, and a maximum nozzle temperature of 250C. This means you can attempt to 3D print warpy materials like ABS, but as these machines are not enclosed you may have difficulty, particularly on larger pieces. However, printing PLA should be very successful.
The Mooz-1 and Mooz-2's build volume is relatively small at 130 x 130 x 130, but is in line with other competing "mini" models from other manufacturers.
All three machines offer a color touch screen, which is something infrequently found on lower cost devices.
The CNC mill features 4mm chuck, so that you can put in a number of different bits, which do not appear to be included in the package. That’s normal as you likely want to use specific bits for your own purposes, and there are an enormous number to choose from.
There is a limitation in that the CNC mill can cut to a depth of only 5mm. This certainly enables you to perform engraving-like work, but is not sufficient to produce arbitrary large 3D shapes.
Similarly, the laser is limited in power at only 0.250W. This is quite small as lasers go, and it means you’ll have to traverse toolpaths rather slowly. Don’t even think about cutting any material beyond thin paper with that power of laser.
Nevertheless, the Mooz-1 and Mooz-2 do provide additional making features you won’t find on other machines, at least at this price point. We’re also told it takes only a few minutes to swap from one mode to another, although you’ll have to use different slicing software for CNC and laser engraving, developed by Mooz. For 3D printing you can use typical open source software such as Cura.
For DIY makers on a budget that don’t have particularly ambitious CNC or laser goals, this could be the machine (or machines) for you.
And what is that cost? It’s a bit complicated due to the number of machines and options, plus there are discounts during the launch period. But here goes:
- Mooz-1: USD$239 for 3D printer only, a discount of USD$150 over MSRP
- Mooz-2: USD$289 for 3D printer only, discounted USD$150
- Mooz-3: USD$289 for 3D printer only, discounted USD$200
- add USD$79 each for laser and CNC options on each machine
These are quite good prices for machines of this type, particularly during the launch period. Competing multi-mode devices are priced significantly higher, although they do often offer more functionality.
Every startup’s future is risky, and that’s why you should take steps to consider whether you should invest in a Mooz device. I recommend you review our checklist before proceeding with a purchase in this case.
The typical failure scenario for such startups is that the low price attracts far too many orders, and the company is unable to scale up production to meet orders, resulting in a massive failure. Is that the case here?
We spoke with a representative from Mooz, who explained that they’ve been working on the project since February of 2016 and also that they’ve established a partnership with a professional manufacturer, also located in Shenzhen. This should alleviate some fears on whether they’ll be able to manufacture the device. That said, their Kickstarter specifies only 345 machines, a total not unreasonable for manufacturing.
And Mooz is not a two-person startup in someone’s basement. They apparently have around 20 staff at this time, so it is a substantial venture. It seems this company is a lot more substantial than some other crowdfunded launches I’ve seen recently.
So far the launch has gathered a significant number of orders, and there are many days to go. Check them out - there are lots more features we didn’t mention.