The cost of plastic-based 3D printers have gone down tremendously over the years thanks in part to innovations in construction and the expiration of key patents. That will continue to be the case as desktop 3D printers continue to become more affordable, but what about other 3D printing machines? Will we ever see an affordable 3D metal printer?
If you find yourself in the market for a 3D metal printer, you may just want to consider the Mini Metal Maker. It's just like many of the other 3D printers currently seeking your attention on crowdfunding sites, but this one prints in metal instead of plastic. While it's certainly no SLM machine, it's the first real stab at making metal 3D printing affordable.
So, how is this 3D printer complete with extruder able to print in metal? Well, it's not technically metal when it's being extruded onto the bed. Instead, the Mini Metal Maker uses a material often used by the jewelry industry that's composed of metal and clay. After printing an object, you fire it in a kiln and are left with a high quality 3D printed metal object. It's not exactly the most convenient method of 3D printing metal objects, but it's by far the most affordable.
Here's a video of it in action:
The project lead, David Hartkop, is seeking $10,000 on Indiegogo to finish production of the Mini Metal Maker. For only $25, you will receive a data CD containing all the build files necessary to create your own Mini Metal Maker. If you pledge $750, you'll get a full kit of parts needed to build the Mini Metal Maker.
If you don't want the the build files or the printer, you can also pledge $40 to receive a pound of Mini Metal Maker Blend coffee. Yeah, I have no idea either.[Image: Vimeo/David Hartkop] [h/t: 3ders]