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An Expandable 3D Printer? Does This Make Sense?

An expandable 3D printer? 

An expandable 3D printer? 

A project just underway seems to offer the ability to “expand” your 3D printer. 

The Xtreme 3D machine is designed to be modifiable to offer three different print volumes through the use of telescopic X and Y rails. 

If both X and Y axes are collapsed, the machine is in a standard print area of 280 x 280. By adjusting the X or Y axis, you can achieve 280 x 560, 560 x 280 or 560 x 560. Hm, that’s actually FOUR possible print volumes, isn’t it? On the other hand, it’s possible the machine cannot do the 560 x 560 configuration. 

The three (or should it be four?) sizes of the Xtreme 3D printer

The three (or should it be four?) sizes of the Xtreme 3D printer

In all cases the Z-axis remains fixed in size, but their documentation does not seem to indicate what that size is. Judging from the images, it would seem to be around 200-225mm. 

The machine will include a number of other features that are becoming standard on desktop 3D printing equipment lately, including: networking, power failure recovery, heated glass print surface, and is fully assembled and ready to print. 

Curiously it is also “compatible with industry standard 1.75mm and 3.00mm filaments, including particle filled and high-temp materials”. While this suggests the machine has a high-temp hot end likely made from stainless steel (it’s an E3D V6), the filament size is interesting. Which is it? Few machines can use both sizes; it’s either one or the other. Is this a feature where the extruder can literally handle both? Or is a hardware switch of some kind required? It’s not clear. The website says something about “multi materials”, so we can expect more than one extruder, too. 

But the big, unique feature of this is the telescoping X and Y axis, which I have not heard of on any 3D printer. Is this a feature people would actually use? Would you, for example, suddenly “stretch” your machine in order to handle a big print? 

If it’s a hassle to perform the “Stretch” or “Compress”, then likely it won’t be used much. People would tend to set it up once in a particular configuration and leave it like that. On the other hand, if it is truly easy to do within a minute or so, then it may be more frequently used. 

I suspect the prototypical customer for this machine would be someone with a space-constrained workshop, but who also wants to occasionally 3D print larger items. I’m wondering how many people are in that situation? Are you? Would you use something like this? 

How much is this machine worth? When is it available? I haven’t a clue, as it just appeared. They seem to suggest they’re launching a Kickstarter campaign in the future, however, so look for that. 

Via Expandable 3D Print

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