Afinia announced a new 3D printer, the H400+.
The Minneapolis-based company has specialized in providing 3D printers for the educational market, although they also sell equipment to hobbyists and some engineers.
The new H400+ differs from the previous H400 model in that it includes several new and very interesting features.
One that should prove quite useful for educational environments is the integrated HEPA / Activated Carbon filter. This should remove odors emitted from the machine as it heats up thermoplastics. The HEPA filter will capture some of the emitted nanoparticles, but not the smallest ones.
The 4.3 inch color touchscreen has been tidied up and adds a few minor features. But one very useful one will be the ability to upgrade the machine’s firmware right from the control panel. This should simplify matters for those unsure of using traditional methods of firmware upgrading that could be a bit scary to non-technical folks. Thus, this machine should be more up-to-date than otherwise.
While the previous H400 model included WiFi networking, the H400+ includes a physical Ethernet receptacle, enabling the device to be plugged into physical wired networks. This should be of great interest to educational institutions that rely on wired networks for security and control reasons.
Finally, the most interesting new feature is a print queue. The machine, when on the network, provides a virtual print queue where 3D print jobs may be submitted over the network and are stacked up in the printer to await start.
This feature should be very useful in a classroom setting, where students may simultaneously complete their designs and all rush the 3D printer. Now they merely need to queue up their job and it will be printed in sequence.
Of course, the print queue feature does not eliminate the need for a human operator, who must still clear the print bed of prior prints before starting a fresh job. They’ll also have to ensure there is sufficient filament to complete the job.
What the print queue does do is simply that work. Instead of sorting through files manually and transferring them tediously to the machine by USB stick or by WiFi, the operator need only click on the next job to start it, once the machine is prepared. It’s also possible to print them in an order differently than the submission order, should there be a priority.
The H400+ still includes a number of great features from the prior model, the H400, including automated calibration of both bed leveling and Z-gap setting; and power fail protection, where a print can be successfully resumed after an outage.
The unit includes a build volume of 120 x 120 x 120mm, and has a hot end that can reach a scorching 299C.
Afinia is offering the machine at the relatively low price of US$749.
Astute readers may recognize this machine, as it is in fact a re-badged version of the popular Tiertime Up Mini ES, and you might wonder why you wouldn’t simply buy one of them instead. The answer is that Afinia provides a number of services to accompany the product that can make life a great deal easier in certain situations. For example, in the past they’ve offered a variety of lesson plans for educators to make immediate practical use of the machine, as well as regional support.