Jan 5, 2015 | By Alec

For obvious reasons, we enjoy covering the news of brand-new or innovative 3D printers. After all, each and every one contributes to the progress of 3D printing technology. And while most of the community’s FDM 3D printers follow the same basic designs (modifications typically include quality, quantity, size or speed), we sometimes come across 3D printers that are simply inspiring and remarkable.

One such printer is the Cheetah 3D printer, made by South African engineer and chocolatier Hans Fouche. If that name sounds familiar, that’s because we’ve reported on his activities before. Exactly a year ago, we reported on his very impressive (and doubtlessly delicious) 3D chocolate printer, an eight-extruder setup capable of quickly printing intricate chocolate sculptures.

In recent months however, he has been working on his Cheetah 3D printer, a name that implies speed but neglects to emphasize size. For while this printer is remarkably fast, to which we’ll get to later, it is also absolutely gargantuan: their build volume is a garage-filling 1000 x 1000 x 1000 mm. Hans hopes to bring this giant 3D printer to the market in the coming months, and has been preparing for that event with a series of large scale printing projects. While these include very representable items like coat hangers, slippers and chests, his latest 3D printed creation is truly remarkable: a working lawn mower.

As he explained to 3ders.org, Hans came up with the idea when his old lawnmower started giving him some problems. ‘The lawnmower wheel of my Garden Guy broke, so I printed him a new wheel on my standard desktop Rapman 3D printer. That took seven hours and 100 Rand [just under $9] worth of filament.’

The next logical step was to see what his Cheetah 3D printer could do with a whole lawn mower, as it wouldn’t just be quicker, but also more efficient. For its efficiency is nothing to snub at either; while most 3D printers that simply come close to this size tend to guzzle filament rolls, the Cheetah works with the far cheaper alternative of ABS pellets.

So why then call it the Cheetah? That’s because its speed outclasses its size and efficiency with ease. Hans has estimated that its build speed is approximately twelve (!) times faster than a regular desktop FDM printer. ‘With the Cheetah printer it takes sixty minutes, and 10 Rands worth of Gradules (ABS pellets), for a total cost of 110 Rand [to complete a wheel], with the machine time at 100 Rand per hour’. That comes down to about $9 for a wheel alone, while a retail replacement would cost almost double that.

This means that the compete lawn mower was cheap and relatively easy to recreate. The only parts that weren’t 3D printed are the shafts for the wheels, the motor and the blade, and the handle and the on-off switch. If you’d like to recreate this lawn mower yourself, you can find the necessary STL files on YouMagine here. But obviously, you’ll need to have a pretty large print bed to complete it And, as can be seen in the video below, it works perfectly.

(Click to play)

What’s more, it was quick to complete! The total print time was just nine hours, separated over the follow components:

The four wheels: 45 min / wheel, for a total of 180 minutes.

The thin top fancover just 10 minutes.

The frame a total of 190 minutes.

The top cover in just 70 minutes.

And finally, the motor cover took only 90 minutes.

While that might seem like a lot of time for the non-initiated, these time-frames will be truly remarkably quick in the eyes of anyone who has ever worked on a project of his own.

 If you’d like to get your hands on one of these printers yourself, you will be able to soon. Hans (and his compatriot Kobus the silent partner). Are currently working on a marketable model, that will hopefully be released soon. The expected price tag will feature a sum of $10,000, excluding shipping.

As they explained, they will start assembling a Cheetah v3 soon. ‘We are thinking even bigger print bed with the capacity for multiple extruder's. But we are interested in knowing what the market want, need and demand, we know there will be clients that will just want prints (pots, chairs, hard travel cases etc.) and some clients might have so much work for the Cheetah that they might want their own. But we are very attached to the Cheetah's and are considering renting them out on a annual basis. And we also like the idea of distributed manufacturing and partnering.’

Hopefully, this means that the Cheetah will be coming to webstores near you soon, though I shudder to think of the shipping costs for a garage-filling monstrosity like this 3D printer.

The Cheetah Big 3D Printer

  • Build volume: 1000mm x 1000mm x 1000mm
  • Building material: ABS granules
  • Nozzle size: 3mm (default). 1mm, 2mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 7mm, and 8mm avaliable.
  • Software: Any CAD system that can procuce .stl files, or .dxf files.
  • Slicers: Slice3r, Kisslicer, CURA, etc
  • Firmware: Marlin with modifications
  • Flowrate: 500gram per hour with the 3mm nozzle.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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