Kickstarter has been the graveyard of several high-profile 3D printers. In addition to some really outstanding ones, the crowdfunding platform has also presented numerous inferior 3D printers. Through Kickstarter, Formlabs reached remarkable heights. The platform also brought us the 3D printing pen. There was a time when a new 3D printing project would pop up on Kickstarter every week, but both Kickstarter and additive manufacturing (AM) have become significantly less active recently. In 2014, things were simpler with significantly fewer 3D printers available. Now, with the advent of Bambu Labs and sophisticated open source 3D printers like Prusas, it has become much harder to make a significant impact. NAW 3D is currently trying to launch a pellet 3D printer on Kickstarter.
The N300 Pellet 3D printer
NAW3D’s N300 desktop pellet 3D printer features an automatic pellet feeding system, a consumable box with a capacity of 100g and a material storage space of 2000cc for continuous printing. In addition, all axes are equipped with linear guides. In addition, each stage of the printer has double guides. The printer’s nozzles can reach temperatures of up to 300 °C. The print head is designed to apply large amounts of material with print marks of 0.2 to 2 mm. This capability suggests that the printer can handle both fine detail and quick, large-scale printing tasks.
Users can choose between multiple extrusion heads to suit both beginners and advanced users. The starter head is compatible with a variety of materials including ABS, TPU, TPV, PLA/CF and ABS/GF. The advanced head, on the other hand, expands this range to include PETG, PC and PP, providing more options for experienced users. Users can mix color powder with a light base material directly in the printer, allowing for more creative and flexible coloring options during the printing process.
The printer also features a touchscreen for user-friendly operation, a glass bed for improved print adhesion and quality, and a generous build volume of 300 x 300 x 300 mm.
Past pellet pressure
The N300 reminds me of when legendary RepRap community member Richard Horne introduced his universal pellet extruder in 2014. At the time, many people expected that pellet printing would become much more widespread. More than a decade later, one might have expected it to be more common. Pellet printing offers a cost advantage over filament 3D printing. Pellets are typically available for a third to a tenth of the price of filament. Additionally, pellet printers make it easier to recycle materials at home, enabling the production of 3D prints that are both more environmentally friendly and more cost-effective.
While companies like Gigabot, Juggerbot, Weber, Arburg and Titan Robotics have made pellet 3D printing accessible to industrial users, mainstream adoption has been limited. Even in the industrial sector, the cheaper and potentially faster pellet printers have not found widespread acceptance. This is partly because the parts produced often lack aesthetic appeal and these printers are unable to create highly detailed and complex objects. However, for producing a million less complicated “B-side” parts in an industrial setting, pellet material extrusion would be my first choice. Especially in view of consumers’ growing environmental awareness, this method appears to be the most economical and environmentally friendly option.
Success with desktop-level pellet printers has been even lower. However, the potential for much more sustainable printing at minimal cost is a key advantage of pellet printers, which also tend to use less energy overall. That brings us to the question: could the N300 change this scenario? Currently, the team has successfully raised over $42,000, surpassing its $4,000 goal, with only 36 backers left in the campaign and 32 days remaining. Therefore, it is very likely that the NAW printer will come into play.
The estimated cost of the printer is around $3,000, but it is currently available for a pre-order price of $2,000. Separately, feeders cost around $200, while extruders cost around $600. This price is relatively high in a market with numerous quality printers. However, for those who print a lot, investing in an N300 could be worth it over time. For individual consumers, the payout requires a significant amount of printing. On the other hand, this printer could provide a good return on investment for businesses and printing companies.
The prospect of NAW successfully developing its pellet printer is indeed exciting. The idea of having such a printer at home, paired with a grinder to turn plastic bottles into usable items, is particularly appealing. Additionally, for those considering a material extrusion printing farm, a 3D printer like NAW’s could have a big impact on improving profitability. Recent advances in sensors and software have already led to significant advances in the 3D printing industry in recent months. However, the development of reliable and user-friendly pellet printing technology could revolutionize the sector even further – and in a much more sustainable way. For more information or to support your project, you can visit the Naw3D website and the project’s Kickstarter page.