Oct 27, 2017 | By Benedict

Spanish 3D printing company Natural Robotics has launched a Kickstarter campaign for its VIT laser sintering 3D printer. Backers can secure the SLS 3D printer for €5,999 ($7K), saving 45 per cent on the retail price.

Nylon 3D printing is one of the unsung heroes of additive manufacturing. With plastic FDM 3D printing the chosen tool of consumer users, metal SLM 3D printing at the center of most serious industrial applications, and SLA the fancy-looking playboy of the bunch, it’s easy to forget about SLS 3D printers—machines well capable of producing strong, hard parts for a number of applications.

Excitingly, however, SLS 3D printers are becoming more and more of a consumer product, with new machines like Natural Robotics’ VIT 3D printer costing only two or three times more than a high-end FDM printer. Expensive, sure, but not prohibitively so for those who are serious about 3D printing for personal or business use.

The new VIT 3D printer is the brainchild of Natural Robotics, a Barcelona-based 3D printer startup formed in 2016, with a delta FDM 3D printer already under its belt. Aiming to “to revolutionize the 3D printing sector for small and medium-sized companies as well as for individuals,” Natural Robotics also offers a 3D printing service and 3D printer rental service.

We first got a look at the VIT 3D printer at IN(3D)USTRY 2017, where our reporter on the ground, David, managed to get a look at the soon-to-be-released SLS printer. Fortunately for VIT, the event was held in Barcelona, giving the startup a very short journey to get there.

Natural Robotics' new VIT machine is described as “a laser sintering 3D printer capable of creating high quality pieces,” with a printing quality comparable to injection molding. It works with polyamide PA12 nylon, which purportedly allows users to create either thick, tough parts, or thin and flexible ones. No support structures are needed, and users can fill the entire build area, even along the Z axis.

The VIT 3D printer works with open materials, giving users freedom of choice when it comes to nylon powders, while a web-based software platform doesn’t require any hard drive storage space. (The printer can be controlled using either the browser software, which reads .STL and .OBJ 3D files, or the built-in touchscreen.)

An integral part of any SLS machine is its laser, and the VIT is equipped with a 40W CO2 device capable of processing a range of powders. The printer’s build volume is 250 x 250 x 250 mm, and its printing speed is 20 mm/h.

The board of the VIT 3D printer features an ATSAM4S2B ARM microcontroller with 112MHz and 64KB RAM, and is controlled with Natural Robotics’ custom firmware. A webcam is included on the printer to monitor 3D printing and help with technical support.

This all sounds like good stuff for a printer at a moderate price point, and according to Natural Robotics, the development of the VIT 3D printer was a direct response to user demand.

“In the IN(3D)USTRY fair in June 2016, we clearly confirmed there is a need for a low-cost Laser Sintering 3D printer, so we put a lot of effort into reducing all cost components,” the company says. “This was possible because the main technology is based on an expired patent which reduced the cost of engineering.”

The Barcelona startup adds that it used “standard components” and operates with a “small structure,” helping it keep costs low.

But what exactly do those costs add up to? For those looking to get on board with the Natural Robotics Kickstarter campaign, the VIT 3D printer can be secured for €5,999 ($7K), saving 45 per cent on the retail price. (An even cheaper early bird deal was available, but those have all been snapped up.)

The campaign has already far surpassed its €28,000 goal, vindicating the company’s belief that there was an opportunity to be exploited in the SLS 3D printing market. Interestingly, one the most well-known consumer SLS printers out there, the Sinterit Lisa, recently halved its RRP to around $6K, roughly in line with the VIT. Formlabs’ recently released Fuse 1 SLS 3D printer sits in a slightly higher price bracket, at $10K.

Backers getting their orders in now for the VIT can expect delivery of their 3D printer around April 2018.

Check out the campaign here.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printer

 

 

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Markus wrote at 11/2/2017 7:25:35 PM:

So it was Not sls printed, I guess they used binder jetting Cheers

Dave wrote at 10/29/2017 1:37:47 PM:

is this similar to the "strong white" material shapeways uses? I had them print a part for me, and it was very weak and extremely brittle - A part with a bigger diameter than a pencil, and half as long broke easily in my fingers where in PLA or ABS on my FFF printer was MUCH stronger. I'd like to get a SLS machine, but are functional parts out of the question as I found with shapeways?



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