Surprise, surprise! KODAK is to launch a desktop 3D printer!
KODAK unexpectedly announced the release of their upcoming “KODAK 3D Printing Ecosystem”, which includes, as far as we can tell, a 3D printer, the “Portrait”, and a set of filaments. The press release states:
The agreement with Smart International expands Kodak’s brand licensing program to the dynamic 3D printing space.
Although the press release does not explicitly state so, it appears that the machine and filaments will be manufactured or otherwise supplied by Smart International, but will carry the KODAK branding.
This type of arrangement is not uncommon. We previously saw something similar in early 2016 when Polaroid announced a new machine that was supplied by a EBP Group, a UK-based manufacturer of 3D printers.
The nature of the Portrait 3D Printer is still a bit mysterious as they have not yet announced specifications. However, there are a few images to check out, and a price of USD$2,799. This machine also does not ship until March 2018, quite a ways off.
Let’s examine the images and see what we can identify.
The unit has a sealed enclosure, suggesting that it is heated and can print more exotic materials. Whether high temperature materials are feasible, we cannot say yet.
A fan at the rear could keep the interior at a consistent temperature if it is controlled by thermostat.
There seems to be a arther nice touch screen to control the machine, right under the KODAK logo.
Two spool holders appear on the rear, suggesting that this machine is capable of dual extrusion, and very likely supporting water soluble support materials.
There are also two filament input ports, again suggesting dual extrusion. But these ports are not just holes and could be filament-out detection sensors.
The dimensions are unspecified, but it seems this is not a small machine and should have a build volume much larger than 125mm on a side.
The motion system is also unclear, but appears to be more sophisticated than your run-of-the-mill desktop 3D printer. It’s possible this machine uses linear rails.
The hot end and extruder appear only in a poor part of one image, and they seem to be enclosed in a case. Again, this suggests something more sophisticated than your average machine.
A cylindrical projection could be part of an automated leveling system.
The material used to construct the frame has a strange patterned surface. Could this be plastic? Or metal? We’re hoping it’s metal to provide some rigidity.
As for the materials, they’re supplying a reasonable selection that includes ABS, PLA, Nylon, HIPS, Flexible and “tough” options. This confirms the ability of the Portrait 3D printer to include a heated build chamber, as some of these materials would require it.
It is not at all clear whether the Portrait 3D printer requires use of these KODAK materials (a proprietary approach), or whether the machine is “open materials”. We’re hoping for the latter. Since the materials are said to be available in December, well before the machine’s release date, it’s possible they are “open”.
All in all, the signs suggest this is clearly going to be a professional desktop 3D printer with plenty of features attractive to engineers and prototype makers. The price is also in the correct range for such equipment.
That’s about all we know on this machine for now, but we’re enquiring for more details. Stay tuned.
Finally, this is not quite the first encounter with 3D printer that KODAK has made. Previously they signed a deal with Carbon to assist them in developing new materials for the Carbon system. This new deal with Smart International is in an entirely different market, so it seems that KODAK may have wider plans in the 3D printing industry.