$299 3D Printer Is Set To Make Crowdfunding History

A Kickstarter project to build a budget-friendly 3D printer required $50,000 in funding, but already got more than $2,000,000

A 3D printing project on Kickstarter is set to make crowdfunding history, after surpassing its funding goal by a factor of 40.

The team at M3D needed $50,000 (£29,800) to start producing a cheap 3D printer called ‘Micro’ in the US. They got this amount in just 11 minutes, but the pledges didn’t stop there. At the time of publication, the project attracted more than $2,045,000 (£1,193,000), with another 26 days of fundraising to go.

Micro is expected to start shipping by August at a price of $299 (£178), and M3D hopes it will introduce 3D printing technology to the mass market.

“We want a 3D printer in every single house”

Micro has been designed to offer the ability to create real objects from digital blueprints, at the lowest possible price. “We knew it was coming, somebody was going to do it, the question was who and how,” said M3D co-founder David Jones.

e37436cb577b185eac0ca9f778ff77b6_largeThe device looks like a 7.3- inch plastic cube with a single printing head that features auto-levelling and auto-calibration for ease of maintenance. It can feed on PLA, ABS or Nylon plastics, as well as the specifically designed multi-coloured Micro filaments that fit right inside the printer. According to M3D, Micro consumes less power than any other 3D printer ever made.

The device can be used right out of the box – owners just need to plug it into a USB port, download a model from one of the countless blueprint repositories, hit ‘print’, and watch an object come into existence.

The printer is accompanied by simple, touchscreen-compatible software for Windows, Mac and Linux that its creators claim will enable non-professionals to search, download and customise 3D models. It is also compatible with a variety of open source software.

On the technical side, Micro is capable of printing layers that are just 50 microns thick, with 15 micron positioning accuracy.  It features replaceable print beds and nozzles for customers who want to experiment with alternative materials.

Early backers can get the device for just $199 if they pledge before 7 May.

HP recently confirmed that it is working on 3D printers, although these will be sold to businesses that want to offer professional 3D printing services, and are likely to be a lot more expensive than Micro. The company is due to announce a comprehensive 3D printing strategy in Autumn.

What do you know about 3D printing? Take our quiz!