Kickstarting a $100 open-source hardware 3D printer


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Is it just me, or are they trying to fix a problem NO ONE has ever had? What the hell is wrong with USB?

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Once upon a time I bought a printrbot, and the dodgy USB serial interface (in windows) is one I’d gladly never touch again. Plus using the sound card is a really convenient way to wiggle mirrors. And just think - you don’t even have to check which side of the plug goes up.

Also - the interface is an afterthought compared to a $100 photo/liquid printer.

I wonder if you could use the drip sensor as a midi click track and just save objects as really long midi files.

If I didn’t already own a 3d printing doorstop I would totally order one of these. (also I swear one day I’ll finish updating and tweaking that thing so that I can fix that coffee grinder)


I expect adding a USB decoder would greatly increase the price and complexity of the system. It looks like everything outside of the computer is completely analog and very simple. There’s no digital circuitry at all there. It’s pretty genius, in my opinion.


Brilliant! I’ll take three.

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I am curious about the usage and cost of the photosensitive plastic. $100 printer does very little good if each print is $50.

A liter of resin is $60 on the kickstarter, so it’s pretty cheap. The unused portion can apparently be strained and poured back into the container for later use.

I was wondering when you’d post this. I backed it a few days ago. One thing I find interesting is the difference in mindset of the makers and the people buying it: the makers feel like they’re creating a great hackable project, but the backers, it seem, want a finished product.

Specifically, the basic $100 kit does not buy you a container for the water/resin. You provide that yourself. The maker’s argument is “look! You get to pick anything! Make a project as large or small as you want!” The unhappy buyers on the forums are saying “But we have to find our own jar???”

I find the difference between hacker mentality and those who want to just buy something like they’re on Amazon interesting.


I like the way they’re trying to put all of the intelligence of the printer into the software, making the printer itself incredibly simple.


Interestingly they’ve posted it both on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The latter still has Early Bird kids that will save you ten percent. Of course, now I’m going to need that ten bucks to buy some tupperware and a tube.

This just turned into work. Ugh. Thanks Obama.

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Ok, I guess I just assumed that the USB interface would be a very tiny part of the project - I mean, you can’t find a gadget these days that doesn’t have it.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the elimination of a digital interface in this device is actually better in addition to being cheaper.

The mirrors are actuated by electromagnetic coils - just like a speaker cone. To make it work, you need to feed an analog waveform to those coils. You could stick a microcontroller in the printer, feed it a digital file over USB, let it extract the data, send it along to a DAC, amplify it, and then pass the waveform to the coils. Or you could cut out several middlemen and just use the DAC and amplifier in your PC’s sound card and send the waveform directly over an audio cable. Even a cheap built-in soundcard DAC is going to be better than what you’d get from a low-end microcontroller, so this really is the best method.

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As @chipandre points out - USB is great for things that remain digital thoughout their lifecycle. Granted, you can get USB sound cards (of perhaps dubious quality) for a few bucks - but why bother when every PC has a sound card already?

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Even if you don’t need a $100 3D printer, you need the song in this video. Anyone know it?

Most computers have AC-coupled sound cards, while this project requires a DC-coupled card to drive it; luckily, they are including a DC-coupled USB sound card to use if your computer isn’t compatible.

That part I hadn’t thought of - of course you’d need to maintain an offset to only one side of center, and why would a standard sound card need to do that?

At that point, a bad USB sound card might actually be better than a good sound card, whether internal or USB - if it has no digital high pass filter, relying purely on a capacitor, you could just short the output capacitor with a bit of wire.

The price is nice, quality not so much. Still though this is an awesome way to make in home 3d printing mainstream. By the way the creators of the printer are posting at this forum:

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