3D printing encompasses a variety specific technologies, like DLP, SLA, and inkjet, but the vast majority of consumer 3D printers directed towards hobbyists and makers are the FFF (fused filament fabrication) type. A FFF 3D printer takes a spool of plastic filament and feeds it into a hot end, where its melted and then extruded onto the print bed to form a part. The process works well, but the filament spools themselves are quite a bit more expensive than the same material in pellet form.
re:3D wants to change that with their new Gigabot X 3D printer, which has launched on Kickstarter. They’re best known for making large FFF 3D printers, which until now have used filament spools like most other 3D printers. Their new offering uses plastic pellets instead, and is available as a complete 3D printer, or as a conversion kit for the older Gigabot 3+, and both have a number of advantages.
Foremost is the cost of material. As re:3D points out, spools of filament can cost up to ten times as much as an equivalent amount of plastic pellets (which are commonly used for injection molding). Pellets are also available in greater varieties, including recycled materials. Finally, there is potential to print more quickly, and re:3D claims they’ve seen print times up to 17x faster.
A new beta model Gigabot X will cost $9,500, and there are only a couple left. But, if you have a Gigabot 3+, you can purchase a conversion kit for $3,500. The campaign is running until April 23rd, and rewards are expected to ship in December.