Mar 21, 2016 | By Kira

Whenever a new 3D printer enters the market, it’s usually surrounded by lofty claims and marketing buzzwords declaring why this 3D printer is the 3D printer that will change the industry for good. Some 3D printer models or even individual features do manage to live up to their claims, at least for a while, but they are few and far between.

The latest 3D printer to boldly announce its industry-changing potential is the Aether 1, a soon-to-be-released 3D bioprinter that promises to “completely revolutionize bioprinting, food printing, art, and prototyping” thanks to the most advanced and most affordable 3D printing technologies available anywhere on the market. While it’s definitely too early to say whether those claims hold any merit, the Aether 1’s features and technologies surely deserve a closer look.

The Aether 1 3D printer was developed by Ryan Ranks and Eric Bennett of San Francisco-based technology company Aether. Though seemingly new to the 3D printing scene, the company’s core belief is that human potential is defined by the tools we use, and thus more versatile, powerful tools, when put into the hands of innovative individuals, can lead to limitless possibilities. “With so much at stake, Aether was founded not just as a business, but as a mission,” explains the company. “Our goal was to build the most capable and easiest to use bioprinter ever created, and instead of treating this incredible technology as ‘business as usual,’ selling it for the highest possible price…we would sell it for the lowest possible price.”

The result is a sub-$9,000 3D bioprinter that claims to dramatically outperform top-of-the-line $250,000+ 3D bioprinters on the market. To explain how this is possible, the company explains that it has combined “twelve of the most cutting edge machines on Earth” into a single desktop device.

The Aether 1 is a 8-syringe 3D bioprinter with a dual-Bowden FFF extruder, a laser-assisted bioprinter, laser engraver, CNC milling machine, UV-curing 3D printer, 400F degree chocolate/food printer, 3D electronics printer, 4,000 Hz droplet-jetting printer, universal modular fabrication device. On top of all of that, it is capable of full-color robotic drawing, painting and calligraphy, and can recreate photo-realistic images thanks to a high-res camera.

That’s a lot to pack into one machine, to be sure, but as the company goes on to explain, it’s possible thanks to advances in 3D printing technology as well as new patent-pending innovations.

Some of the Aether 1 3D bioprinter’s features include a Machine Vision powered Automatic Air Pressure Calibration System that eliminates manual calibration; the ability to automatically retract inactive syringes and tools, Automatic Stage Levelling with optical sensor, and Dual Automatic Nozzle Cleaning and Unclogging stations; Optional high-resolution motors capable of reaching 0.4 nm Z axis resolution, and much more.

In terms of 3D printing alone, its main feature is perhaps the multitude of extruders available: 8 pneumatic syringe extruders (with retraction system), 2 FFF hot end filament extruders, and a heated glass syringe extruder. For 3D bioprinting as well as 3D food printing and 3D printed art, this multi-material capability is paramount. According to the developers, it is also the only 3D bioprinter to offer syringe extrusion, LAB, and droplet jetting in a single machine.

Looking at its specs, the Aether 1 3D printer’s dimensions are 610 x 432 x 381 mm, with a max build size of 315 x 228 x 132 mm. It offers 0.4 nanometer resolution on the Z axis, 10 manometer resolution on the XY axis, and layer heights of 50 microns. It comes in an anodized aluminium and glass sealed exterior with a full-color LED lighting system and wifi-enabled 7-inch 480p touchscreen display.

All of these features and more have the developers quite confident in the Aether 1’s ability to “absolutely redefine what users can do with a 3D printer.”

"Aether 1 is the most versatile tool ever created. There's never been anything like this before,” said Franks, CEO of Aehtier. “Aether 1 is over 10 years ahead of what other companies are developing, but we're selling it at an extremely low price to get it into the hands of as many innovators as possible. We think what the early innovators are going to make with Aether 1 is going to be absolutely incredible. Imagine a single machine that can make beautiful art in entirely new ways, turn photos into paintings and sculptures, even turn food into a work of art, that can also be used to save lives, conduct critical research, and pursue the integration of biology and electronics. People will use this to do big things.”

Though no official price or release date has been revealed, Aether has said that the Aether 1 3D printer will cost below $9,000, making it one of the most affordable 3D bioprinters on the market. The company will be launching a file-sharing website designed for multi-material and multi-fabrication type files in April 2016, and has plans to donate several beta units to selected schools, researchers, universities, chefs, artists and more in May 2016. Actual retail units will be available by the second half of 2016.

As with every new 3D printer announcement, we’re excited by the potential this machine could represent for 3D bioprinting and 3D printing more generally. That being said, potential doesn't always equal results, and we'd love to see the Aether 1 in action. We’ll be keeping a close eye on Aeither's 3D bioprinter to find out more about its capabilities and performance once its actually in makers' hands.



Posted in 3D Printer



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Craig wrote at 5/4/2016 12:18:43 AM:

This seems to be a fake company announced specifically to drive down the price of Organovo. Their lackeys are spamming the Organovo stock boards. Their website was pay-for-clicking on the ONVO stock symbol. They list no principal contacts bios, no actual address or phone number. They posted an anti-Organovo article on their website for a while. Their website domain name registration is totally masked so even their names or locations can't be discovered. This is a non-product. Their contact is an email address that nobody responds to, their website was created with WordPress.

Zak wrote at 3/22/2016 4:55:10 PM:

Oh dear, some joe shlubs have attached two pneumatic extruders to a cheap makerbot repliator. They have evesn stuck a picture of the great pyramids of Giza over the LCD panel. Good for a Sunday afternoon project.

onna wrote at 3/22/2016 3:10:13 PM:

1. no prints demonstrated? 2. 8 heads on a cartesian drive belt? weight issues? accuracy? 3. how do each of these heads lift, ah motors right, that makes the weight too much for such a system. 4. 8 heads together mean smaller actual build area. 5. Air driven system not accurate or very controllable. 6. blacked out makerbot frame? ultimaker mainboard? 7. can it actually address 8 materials together? 8. Motor accuracy is limited by extruder accuracy. So nano? doubt it. I'd really like to see this working. putting the hardware together is the easy part, even the software, getting it to run right... As an engineer I seriously doubt this machine works. Good april fool's tho...

Frank wrote at 3/21/2016 10:59:43 PM:

But April fools isn't for another 11 days! As a reference point, 0.4nm is about the size of a single atom.

Paulo wrote at 3/21/2016 10:13:17 PM:

With some modifications this can make cpu's. 10nm... that is amazing

shintashi wrote at 3/21/2016 7:19:58 PM:

it sounds like we have another link in the evolution toward replicators. Could it be too good to be true?

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