You wait years for an easily portable, resin-based 3D printer and then two come along at once. Just this morning we were musing about whether or not the newly Kickstarter-launched Peachy Printer would be the device that finally democratised the technology. Certainly, if successful, its combination of affordability, simplicity and slim dimensions would put it amongst the most accessible 3D printing machines to hit the market.
Meanwhile, over on Indiegogo, another slimmed down device was being launched stressing portability and convenience. The LumiFold is a photographic 3D printer capable of creating precise small objects. What makes it most remarkable, however, is that it can be folded up into dimensions of just 9.84 x 4.72 x 1.18 inches, meaning you can easily carry it in a briefcase or backpack. Operation is simple enough: you place a cup of light sensitive resin on the platform and press print.
Sounds good? Well, yes, though you need a projector to make it work. The LumiFold’s platform moves only along the Z axis of the design, while the projector transmits the X and Y axes. That means you will need space in your briefcase for a compact projector if you want a truly portable 3D printing experience. Though that may add a pinch of inconvenience to the mixture, the object resolution is kept incredibly precise, as the Z platform moves in increments of just 0.01 mm.
Another interesting element is LumiFold’s companion machine the HoloDock, which allows users to view a simulated holographic image of their object while it is being printed. A mobile device or PC monitor needs to be placed beneath the Holodock in order to make this work. Practically, its real usefulness is likely to be the visualization of 3D models before print. Using it in conjunction with the LumiFold, however, might just mean more kit to carry around.
The LumiFold Vs the Peachy Printer
So, if the choice is between the LumiFold or the Peachy Printer, which do you go for? Well, since neither is widely available at this time, all we have to go on its their crowd funding pages. The Peachy set itself a $50,000 goal and has already attracted an investment of $356,323 from 2,672 backers in just four days. The LumiFold, on the other hand, set itself the much more modest goal of $1,500 and has collected $2,340 in two days. So, both broke their target amount with little delay though, then again, which crowd-funded 3D print project hasn’t?
The Peachy Printer does, however, win the price competition pretty convincingly. While backers on Kickstarter can get themselves fixed up with a Peachy kit for any investment of $100 or more, an early bird LumiFold kit takes an investment of $390. The size of the Peachy’s goal and the tone of its campaign gives the impression that it is not quite as ready-to-go as the Lumishare, with specific work needed on the software that makes it run.
You can take a look at both products campaign pages here – LumiFold | Peachy Printer – and judge for yourself. While few would argue that 3D printing is not central to the future of prototyping, design and manufacturing, the jury is still out on whether or not it has a future as a home-based, personal technology. 2014 may well be the year the public makes up its mind and the success or failure of ultra-compact devices like the LumiFold may be key to that decision.