Mar 14, 2017 | By Benedict
Madrid-based technology company BQ has unveiled the Witbox Go!, the world’s first Android-powered 3D printer. The printer is designed for consumer use, packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip under the hood, and will be released later this year.
The consumer 3D printing community, founded as it is on the principles of open source technology, hasn’t exactly been crying out for the involvement of giant corporations. We have Stratasys; we have 3D Systems; we’re fine. Nonetheless, it was surely only a matter of time before the Google-developed Android OS found its way into a 3D printer. But despite Google’s dominion over Android, the new Witbox Go! from Spanish technology company BQ remains an interesting addition to the huge catalogue of entry-level 3D printers already available to the general public. Why? Well, BQ does open source. And while the company hasn’t said whether the Witbox Go! will be opened up to the public, it is a promising sign that its non-Android RepRap predecessors were.
According to BQ, and as far as we can tell, the Witbox Go! is the world’s first Android 3D printer. At present, that’s not a particularly useful trait for a 3D printer, since 3D printer users aren’t yet familiar with how to navigate Android for 3D printing purposes. However, using Android does promise exciting long-term possibilities with regard to cross-device interaction. Although there are lots of mobile apps for 3D printing, chances are your smartphone doesn’t run the same OS as your 3D printer. Running everything on Android could potentially make remote operation and monitoring of a 3D printer a great deal smoother. Since BQ also manufactures a number of Android smartphones and tablets, we’re sure they’ve got this in mind.
The Witbox Go! itself is squarely marketed at the general public. It’s a simple and small (140 x 140 x 140 mm build volume) 3D printer designed for simple use. NFC and WiFi connectivity lay the groundwork for that seamless connectivity we just mentioned, while “one-click” terminal printing presumably allows users to operate the printer without any separate device at all. This simplicity doesn’t mean BQ is skimping on the technology, however. The Go! comes with a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, 4GB or 8GB of internal memory, and Android Marshmallow, making the printer capable of handling demanding tasks.
The Witbox Go! has impressive-sounding guts, and BQ says the printer is at least as effective as its hardware suggests it should be. Two-hour prints are (supposedly) reduced to just 15 minutes, and quietly too: a Trinamic chip manages the printer’s motors, keeping noise at a minimum and making the printer suitable for home or office use. Other helpful features include an automatic stop if the nozzle becomes clogged or filament runs out, automatic NFC-powered filament recognition, and an enclosed, heated print area.
We’re still awaiting many details about the Witbox Go!, including whether it will in fact be open source. We do know, however, that the 3D printer will be priced at €599.90, and will go on sale during the third quarter of this year.
Posted in 3D Printer
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