The Form 1 3D printer is the Double Fine Adventure of 3D printers. It was the product that proved Kickstarter was a viable platform to raise funds for its respective industry. Kickstarter has already become a haven for game projects, but it may be turning into a 3D printer haven as well.
The latest 3D printer to stake its future on Kickstarter is the PandaBot. It bils itself as a "friendly, affordable 3D printer." The creator, Panda Robotics, is only asking for $50,000, half of what Formlabs was asking for the Form 1. The reduced asking price means that the actual printer is much cheaper as well.
The Form 1 3D printer prided itself as being a cheap, yet professional 3D printer. As far as professional 3D printers go, the $2,500 asking price was very cheap. That's still a bit too much for some people, and that's where the PandaBot comes in. A very affordable $800 will net you the basic PandaBot.
So, what will $800 get you? Surprisingly, quite a bit. The PandaBot features a print envelope of 11"x11"x11" and a layer thickness of 0.1mm. It uses 1.75mm ABS plastic. It's not going to be as precise as the Form 1, but it's not bad for $800. It also comes with its own custom-software that Panda Robotics promises to take the "complexity out of turning designs into objects."
As previously mentioned, the base model will only run you $800. This reward tier will provide backers with a white PandaBot, a Panda Robotics t-shirt and sticker. Backers who pledge $1,000 will get all of the above plus the PandaBot in their choice of color. Higher reward tiers include all of the previous goodies plus meet and greets with the team behind the printer.
The Form 1 has already raised over $1.5 million. I don't see the PandaBot getting anywhere near that, but it doesn't have to. The PandaBot is all about giving another low-cost choice to those who just want to get into 3D printing, but don't have the money to afford something like the Form 1 or the MarkerBot Replicator 2.
If $800 if still too much for you, you can grab the Eventorbot. It's Kickstarter campaign only asks for $230 for the base materials. Everything else must be built on your end. The PandaBot promises to just work right out of the box. The $800 might be worth it just for the convenience.
As of this writing, Panda Robotics has raised $6,395 towards its goal of $50,000. It still has 29 days to go, and will probably be funded in that time. Most 3D printer projects make it on Kickstarter, but the Form 1 helped improve visibility for all the other cheaper projects vying for attention.