Jan 10, 2017 | By Benedict

Japanese 3D printer manufacturer Bonsailab Inc. has unveiled the FabPod Silent, the latest in its line of FabPod 3D printers aimed at the STEM education sector. The new 3D printer has a lighter print head for faster printing speeds, and is compatible with different nozzle sizes.

Just over a year ago, Japanese company Bonsailab was showing off its classroom-friendly FabPod 3D printer at CES 2016. That machine, priced at under $500, boasted a number of features that made it suitable for school use: compact size, easy-to-use operation, and—believe it or not—it could talk. The company has now returned with an upgrade to the FabPod, but this time its selling point goes in completely the other direction: it’s silent.

Thanks to a collaboration with stepper motor provider Minebea, Bonsailab has been able to massively reduce the noise output of the new FabPod 3D printer. While not generally thought of as a key feature of consumer 3D printers, quiet operation is essential for classroom use, since teachers will not have their voices drowned out by the humming and whizzing of machinery.

In addition to being very very quiet, the FabPod Silent has been designed around two key product concepts. These are 1) finish 3D print jobs within the duration of a lesson, and 2) error-free 3D printing. To incorporate these concepts into the new FabPod 3D printer, Bonsailab had to make a few amendments to the older model. For starters, making a 3D printer that could print reasonably sized objects in less than the time of a lesson required a significantly faster printing speed.

The new FabPod Silent 3D printer

Upping the printing speed for classroom use was no mean feat, but with speeds of up to 60 mm/s, Bonsailab seems to have achieved its goal. How? By chopping a huge amount of material and weight of its print head, of course. With its new, lightweight, ultra-fast print head, the FabPod Silent is able to print a 3.5 cm model with 20% infill in as little as 39 minutes. Using 100% infill on the same model takes just one hour.

While it’s fairly simple to demonstrate how fast a 3D printer can print, proving its reliability is somewhat trickier. Despite this, Bonsailab believes its new FabPod is much less likely to encounter errors than other printers in its price category. It its efforts to ensure reliability and reduce errors, Bonsailab has included high-quality 3M build surface sheets, as well as assisted bed leveling technology to improve first-layer adhesion, which in turn reduces the chances of prints slipping and becoming deformed.

On paper, the FabPod seems to meet the criteria set for it by Bonsailab, but how does it perform in other respects? The printer’s build volume of 150 x 150 x 150 mm is small, but suitable for its classroom purpose; its 100 micron resolution is above average; and its material compatibility (PLA and variants) is limited but appropriate. The new 3D printer is also compatible with 0.6 mm and 0.8 mm nozzles, as well as the standard 0.4 mm.

3D printing the Happy Cat at CES 2017

To show off its 3D printing capabilities at CES 2017, Bonsailab invited users to print individual pieces of a massive sculpture called “Happy Cat.” The giant 3D printed feline, which stands at 80 cm tall and weighs 15 kg, consists of 200 3D printed pieces. According to Bonsailab, the cat is a symbol of good luck for the new year.

The $500 FabPod Silent will ship to North America, Asia, and Europe, and will be available in May 2017.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printer

 

 

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