Oct 22, 2016 | By Benedict

3D printing startup Zesty Technology has launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Zesty Nimble, a light, strong, and easy-to-use extruder for Delta and Cartesian 3D printers. The flexible extruder comes with adapters to suit a variety of 3D printers and applications.

Direct drive and Bowden extruders each have their own advantages and disadvantages. Direct drive extruders can often provide better retraction and print quality, since filament only travels a short distance between the hot end and cold end, but Bowden extruders can generally cope with faster printing speeds, because there is no heavy motor weighing down the hot end. Since an ultra-lightweight direct drive unit would sidestep some of the major issues associated with that family of extruders, 3D printing startup Zesty Technology has attempted to create one of the lightest direct drive extruders on the market. The Zesty Nimble is a versatile and super-lightweight direct drive extruder for Delta and Cartesian 3D printers, currently available for €77.

Direct drive extruders offer several benefits over Bowden extruders, including the ability to print flexible materials, to make higher quality prints, and to more easily switch between filaments. Unfortunately, direct drive often comes at a cost: NEMA 17 stepper motors, which are often used to power extruders, each weigh around 200 grams, greatly increasing inertia and compromising print quality. The Zesty Nimble, however, weighs less than 33 grams, almost six times lighter than a NEMA 17. This lightness enables users of Cartesian or Delta 3D printers to print faster and more accurately, while putting less strain on the printer.

To make the Zesty Nimble as light as it is, Zesty Technology founders Lykle Schepers and Brian Gilbert separated the power source—the heaviest part of the device—from the extruder itself. The result is an extruder with added torque and greater filament pushing power, while the stepper motor can be mounted anywhere on the frame. The motor is connected to the Nimble via a drive cable that transmits power to the direct drive unit mounted on the printer hot end. Additionally, the Zesty Nimble provides an unobstructed view and full access to the filament path from top of the drive unit to entry of the hot end.

For 3D printer uses who wish to upgrade to a Cyclops/Chimera dual-extrusion hot end, the Zesty Nimble also works in pairs, removing the need to invest in a double extruder. Zesty Technology has also developed a number of adapters to make the unit fit on Delta, CoreXY, and other printers; the company has even offered to design custom adapters for systems not presently covered. These will be added to the company’s Thingiverse page.

Zesty Nimble features:

  • Weight: < 33 g
  • Dimensions: 31 x 30 x 33 mm
  • Drive cable length: 95 cm (adjustable)
  • Filament size: 1.75 mm standard, 3 mm possible
  • Will fit any NEMA 17 stepper
  • Lower retraction distance (reduced from 7 mm to 1.2 mm on Delta)
  • Easily changeable filament, clear view of hot end and whole filament path 
  • Will fit any printer 
  • Mountable with 2 M3 screws. 
  • Ambidextrous (left or right, regular or upside down)
  • Fits any type of hot end
  • Allows for expansion with secondary Nimble
  • Injection molded plastic parts 
  • Increased torque

Zesty Technology is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for the Zesty Nimble, setting a target of €38,000 ($41,300) to cover the costs of molds and jigs, materials, and other items. 10 super-early bird Nimbles have already been claimed, but backers can still secure one of the lightweight extruders for a discounted price of €77 ($84). Estimated delivery for the €77 units is February 2017.



Posted in 3D Printer Accessories



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Brian Gilbert, Co-founder of Zesty Technology wrote at 5/31/2017 11:19:34 AM:

In case anyone ends up here just thought I'd post to let you know that the Nimble is shipping and can be ordered from: https://zesty.tech The first Nimble review was also posted today and can be found at: http://www.sublimelayers.com/2017/05/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about.html I think this proves as we've said since the kickstarter campaign.. that the Nimble really works! Cheers Brian

Ben Roberts wrote at 10/26/2016 3:28:04 AM:

It sounds like you did the right thing with paying a license fee Lykle. I don't think you have ripped anyone off. Incorporating a flex drive into a 3D printer extruder would be patentable so if Mutley has a patent, it's their IP. If they haven't taken out a patent (personally I wouldn't bother in the current climate) then you have done the honorable thing of paying a fee for the use of their idea. After the Makerbot/Stratasys ripoffs, I think everyone in the 3D printing community has their radar on for people ripping off others IP. Nothing to see here though :-)

John Pickens wrote at 10/26/2016 12:03:31 AM:

Lykle, Schepers, If you paid a fee to Mutley, I agree that it was the right thing to do. I have the files for the unit I purchased, which were open source at the time I bought it. They are still available: https://www.youmagine.com/designs/housing-parts-for-um2-flex3drive-kit So, what say you, Lykle?

Craig wrote at 10/25/2016 1:50:04 PM:

Lykle. Why would pay a license fee if you didn't have to and if the design was different? I'm confused.

Eric wrote at 10/25/2016 11:57:24 AM:

There is no patent for the Flex3Drive because there are lots of prior art using flexible shafts for other products. If the design can be patented, the designer would have done that a long time ago. Flex3Drive may have been one of the first to bring the concept to a commercial product, but the concept has been around at least since 2011. As for open source, the product is not currently an open source project. They claim the design would eventually be open sourced, but in reality, the part files and drawings are not available to the public at this moment.

Brian Gilbert wrote at 10/25/2016 12:50:54 AM:

I'm the other co-founder of Zesty Technology @John You may not be aware that Mutley was by no means the first person to have this idea. Circa. 2011 http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:6653 The actual catalyst that led us down this path was a video by Werner Berry Circa. 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWKe1mUl8bw Pretty sure both of these predate mutley's first public post. Many people I've told about the Nimble have said they've had the same idea, at the end of the day implementation is what matters and we believe our implementation significantly innovates on the existing options. Cheers Brian

Anonymous Joe wrote at 10/24/2016 7:41:26 PM:

Has anyone compared extrusion control on one of these to a standard direct drive? I would imagine the flex shaft acts as a spring, so under higher load it will wind up, then relax when load decreases. Same thing with retraction. You could compensate for it if you know the forces involved but I don't think anyone is really that dialed knowing required extrusion force. So I'm guessing you'll have a lot less control of extrusion rate.

craig wrote at 10/24/2016 2:18:18 PM:

You can only rip off what is not patented. If it is open source it is fair game. Is the flex3drive patented?

Lykle Schepers, Co-Founder of Zesty Technology wrote at 10/24/2016 1:50:12 PM:

First of all, that system is not open source. Second of all, we have a license with Mutley3D and paid a hefty license fee. Even though we did not have to, but it was the right thing to do, exactly for the reasons given. NOT to steal a design. Third, it is not his design at all, it is our own design. The basic concept is the same, yes. But we added a lot of innovations and made the whole system a lot better, lighter and easier to use. Also, designing to have something injection molded instead of printed asks for a whole different design approach and methodology. We did all that hard work. Forth, thank you for confirming that the basic concept is sound. We knew that the concept works great. We have tested our design to destruction (not easy to do) and know how strong it is. So thank you for pointing out these details, gives us the opportunity to put any misconceptions about the Nimble to rest. The innovations we added? It is ambidextrous, it is light, it has a easy breech system, so you can see the whole filament path and to top it all off, it is the most flexible of system, because of the adapter system we implemented.

John Nov wrote at 10/24/2016 1:46:55 PM:

Stop spreading a load of crap and FUD John. Mutley has not opened source any of the files in two years and their web site is clear about it. If you can find me the files, I will eat my words. This design uses a similar concept and is in no way a ripoff. "We have deliberated over this most important of questions. Our plan is to to release downloadable stl files of our extruders in the near future. Unfortunately for reasons we can not elaborate upon, we will not be releasing files just at this time as it would damage the hard work and effort we have put into creating our products for you." https://flex3drive.com/flex3drive/f3d-faqs/

John Pickens wrote at 10/24/2016 6:04:54 AM:

This is a ripoff of the Mutley3D Fl3xdrive. I've had mine for two years mounted on my delta printer, it works great. It's open source, I guess people just steal your designs when you post them up for everyone to see. https://flex3drive.com/product/flex3drive-standard-3rd-generation/

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