Sep 6, 2016 | By Alec

The market for desktop 3D printing is getting a bit crazy, and it can be very hard to find exactly what you want. In response to growing competition, many desktop 3D printer developers tend to incorporate many cool features and gadgets, while others focus entirely on plug-and-play abilities or software. As a result, destop 3D printers are increasingly starting to look alike, aside from a few little extras. But what do you really need?

That question has just been highlighted by a brand-new desktop 3D printer called the Cetus3D, by the Chinese 3D printer manufacturer Tiertime Technology (makers of the Up! series of 3D printers) from Beijing. Best described as minimalist, this 3D printer doesn’t feature any unnecessary extras and simply focuses on the essentials – providing an open, high quality 3D printing experience. This also pushes down costs, with the Cetus3D printer starting as low as $199 on Kickstarter.

And when we say minimalist, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Cetus3D features an aluminum body that has been brought down to just six separate modules: three axis modules, one electronic module, one print bed module, and one extruder module. This also makes it one of the lightest metal-bodied 3D printers out there, weighing just 3.2 kg (or 7lb) – light enough to be very portable.

But despite that low weight, the Cetus3D still has an respectable build volume of 180 x 180 x 180mm (7 x7 x 7 inches), out of a total machine dimension of 260 x 260 x 280 mm (10.2 x 10.2 x 11inches). As far as desktop 3D printers go, the Cetus3D printer thus offers an excellent print volume to machine volume ratio. “It occupies a small space but provide a rather big build volume,” its manufacturer Tiertime rightly say.

Of course, you need some other components to ensure a good 3D printing quality. A strong fan is therefore included for optimal cooling and to improve the level of detail. The Cetus3D’s build plate is made from aluminum too, and is affixed directly to the linear guide. “[This means that] there is no moving part between the slider and the build plate, which ensures that the build surface is flat and parallel along the X axis. The Y axis is carefully calibrated in factory, so under normal usage, there is no need to for users to calibrate the 3D printer upon arrival,” the Chinese engineers add. What’s more, the Cetus3D build plate is coated with a special surface coating that optimizes PLA adherence without complicating the print removal process.

At the same time, this minimalism allows for plenty of customization options. The print head is easily maintained and allows for quick nozzle changes. In fact, three nozzle sizes are possible: a 0.2mm HD nozzle for an uncharacteristically high resolution for an FDM 3D printer, a normal 0.4mm nozzle and a 0.6mm nozzle for high speed 3D printing. “The nozzle modules use a peek cap to prevent plastic residue sticking on the nozzle surface. This reduces the amount of fume emissions and increase the longevity of the nozzles,” its developers add.

But there’s plenty of room for other upgrades as well. Among others, an extension package is available (additional $130 USD) that increases the build platform’s height to 300mm, while Tiertime says that the Cetus3D is also open to DIY upgrades that depend on your own expertise. The Cetus3D body accepts standard T nuts, and users can freely add other components, drill holes and so on. “The extra 5V output on print head allows user to add extra electronics. You can even make it into a different machine, the possibility is unlimited,” the developers say. Though we would check warranty conditions first.

It doesn’t even end there. Officially supporting PLA, other filaments should also yield good results on the Cetus3D. And thanks to a Wi-Fi connection and supporting Cetus3D software, it should also be quite easy to set up print jobs. Compatible with Windows and iOS, the dedicated software features an accessible interface with plenty of options for unconventional projects, such as lithophane creation. “The software is also able to automatically generate support structures to print models with overhang structures. The support can be fine-tuned according to user preference,” the developers add.

What’s more, the Cetus3D platform is aiming to become so much more than a 3D printer. The platform is also being transformed into a design sharing and selling system that protects intellectual property, all with the goal of setting up a supportive 3D printing community that enables designers to profit from their work. To demonstrate those intentions, Tiertime is already collaborating with three 3D printing initiatives, that have all contributed 3D printable designs to the Cetus3D Kickstarter campaign.

The collaborating partners in question are Mybuild, Cheddar Moon and Flexbot, who have all been developing interesting 3D printable projects. Veteran 3D printers might remember Mybuild for its Lego-compatible 3D printable MECH toys, which first appeared way back in 2014. In a nutshell, these are skeletal frames for MECH toys that are 3D printed in PLA and can be customized with your own Lego collection. For an additional $9 added to your pledge, you can get your hands on these cool 3D printable toys.

The other two collections are a bit more complex, with a $45 addition giving you access to ‘The BlueJay - A Puppet on Your Shoulder’ by Cheddar Moon. You might have seen this cool addition at various maker faires, and essentially consists of a 3D printed parrot puppet that sits on your shoulder and can be controlled to rotate its head, blink and even dance a bit. A $70 addition, finally, will give you access to everything you need for the Flexbot 3D Printed Educational Drone Kit, that teaches kids all about drones and 3D printing while assembling their very own drone.

While we’ll have to wait and see if this new 3D printing marketplace concept can compete with Thingiverse and similar services, the Cetus3D platform itself is already very appealing. Now available on Kickstarter, this excellent minimalist approach to 3D printing starts as low as $199. For more information, check out their Kickstarter page here.



Posted in 3D Printer



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Alex wrote at 9/8/2016 6:31:48 PM:

I have to agree with I.AM.Magic on this. You see new "low cost" 3D printers every day on Kickstarter. How many of them are actually on the market today, with their 100-200$ price tags? And honestly, I fail to see how it can be reliable and accurate with such a low budget..."You get what you pay for" is especially true with machines, where tolerances and quality come at the cost of a higher price. As a side note, this design is pretty much identical to Printrbot's Simple Metal....

I.AM.Magic wrote at 9/8/2016 12:09:57 PM:

Same resolution as other printers. You should read "Low-cost 3D printers and crowdfunding suicide", a great article floating on the internet. That is the scary part, not raising enough cash. Lowcost 3D printers need a ton of cash to survive.

RobinLeech wrote at 9/8/2016 12:44:50 AM:

The low cost and high resolution makes it better, Mr. Magic. Being able to make things without an expensive printer, and having it be high-resolution makes it a very competitive product. If products like this can bring the cost down across the industry that will be a major step toward empowering the average citizen with home manufacturing capabilities.

I.AM.Magic wrote at 9/7/2016 9:21:31 AM:

Another lowcost 3D printer... I don't see their added value. What makes them better? is it the portability? The small foot print? I wish them the best, but I've seen so many fail because they are just another 3D printer.

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