The Seattle-based company Iro3D is developing a desktop metal 3D printer that will cost just $5,000. The printer is reportedly capable of producing strong, high carbon steel objects. It was recently debuted on Joel Telling’s “3D Printing Nerd” YouTube channel.
Nowadays, it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to get your hands on a decent 3D printer. The consumer market for FDM 3D printing is full of options. But other additive manufacturing technologies have historically been reserved for industrial manufacturers with money to spend.
However, over the past few years, a number of companies have been pushing to make these advanced techniques, such as selective laser sintering and metal 3D printing, more affordable and compact. One man from Seattle, named Sergey, is working on a desktop metal 3D printer that would only cost $5,000.
The printer was recently unveiled on the popular 3D printing YouTube channel 3D Printing Nerd, hosted by fellow Northwestern native Joel Telling. According to the one-man company, called Iro3D, the machine is capable of creating objects out of strong, high carbon steel.
Still in the stages of prototyping, Iro3D is planning to sell the first round of beta printers to customers in the Seattle area and expand from there. Sergey also intends to implement user feedback into future stages of development.
Iro3D’s Desktop Metal 3D Printer Targets Middle of the Prosumer Pack
While a machine this compact and inexpensive is certainly a welcome addition to the metal 3D printing market, don’t expect this desktop printer to deliver prints of steel right off the bat.
With Iro3D’s unique process, the printer uses metal powder for parts and sand powder for support structures. The materials, which include different granularities of metal powder and sand, are held in four different containers. Then, the print heads pick up the selected material and deposit it onto the print bed. The printer uses finer metal powder for the exterior of the print, while the rougher powder is for the interior.
Once the print is complete, the object is placed into a kiln and baked at high temperatures for several hours. Finally, once the heating process is complete, the user will remove excess powder from the part using a wire brush.
As of now, the current iteration of the printer offers a humbling 32 x 30 x 10 cm build volume. Still, Sergey acknowledges that there’s a lot more work to be done under the hood. For starters, the prototype printer operates with a slow 8-bit micro controller. Additionally, the self-developed software still needs to be enhanced with additional printer mechanics and safety features.
Although the printer is currently limited to a select few residing in Washington, that reach will expand if the initial launch is successful. And there’s good reason to believe that the Iro3D will become an intriguing option for many makers and businesses.
Companies like Desktop Metal and Digital Metal are emerging at the forefront of metal additive manufacturing, but Iro3D could bring accessibility to the next level. At just $5,000, this desktop 3D printer’s low retail price is unprecedented in the modern metal 3D printing market.
If you want to learn more about this unique metal 3D printer, you can check out the 3D Printing Nerd episode below, or one of Iro3D’s very own demo videos.