When people talk about home hack projects that can be put together in a workshop, a lot depends on just what kind of workshop you’re talking about. It’s one thing if your dream is to put together a basic 3D-printed object that could be created with limited space and resources; it’s another entirely if you’re planning to design and print your own 3D-printed gadgets from the ground up.
That’s where Berlin-based startup Next Dynamics’ new NexD1 3D printer — currently on Kickstarter — comes into play. Promising to act as a multi-material and electronics 3D printer in one, it’s an intriguing technology that hopes to be your one-stop shop for all your home tech prototyping needs. Best of all? It’s small (and, dare we say, stylish) enough to sit on your desk.
“Originally we were going to build a PCB (printed circuit board) printer, but somewhere along the way we realized we could do so much more than that,” Ben Hartkopp, a member of the Next Dynamics team, told Digital Trends. “That’s how we arrived at the idea of building a multi-material printer that is also capable of printing circuit boards and electronics.”
The NexD1 can print six materials at once and combine these for limitless characteristics — including conductivity, transparency, flexibility, strength, temperature resistance, color, and more. It isn’t a filament-based printer, but rather employs a polyjet-style printing system with a resin-laying print head reminiscent of an inkjet printer.
On top of that, it can also print fully-functional low-resistance circuits, which can then be incorporated into your electronic designs at a precision of 10 microns.
The project is currently raising funds on Kickstarter, where it launched earlier today, and it has already racked up more than half its 200,000-euro ($213,000) target.
Of course, any crowdfunded 3D printer carries a degree of risk — not least because users are being asked to part with a decent amount of money. However, this looks very impressive and if it works as advertised, we’re in for a treat when it starts shipping in September 2017.
You can pre-order your unit from the Kickstarter campaign link above, with prices starting from around $3,000.
“The idea with this technology is to make it affordable and accessible to everyone,” Hartkopp continued. “If you look at the nearest comparable models in terms of functionality, they’re in the $100,000-plus price range. We thought that it should be possible to develop a printer in such a way that it would be much more affordable, while retaining the high quality of industrial printers. This is really for anyone who’s got a dream about some gadget they’d love to make. If you want to build these devices and iterate really fast, all of that’s possible with our machine.”
As The X-Files‘ Fox Mulder once said, “I want to believe…”