Dremel releases a 3D printer for the masses

The user-friendly printer can make objects using 10 different colors

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Dremel has announced the first 3D printer to come from a major tool manufacturer, the $999 Dremel 3D Idea Builder. Dremel called it a desktop machine for the masses.

The 3D Idea Builder is a fused deposition modeling (FDM) machine that uses a printer head that melts and extrudes a plastic filament layer upon layer to build an object; the thinner the layers, the better the "resolution" or smoothness of an 3D object's surface.

dremel 3d idea builder spool purple Dremel

The filament spool and a printed vase. Notice the lines in the vase, which represent the 3D printer's resolution.

Dremel's machine extrudes the melted filament in layers 100 microns thick - about the same thickness as a standard sheet of paper. The 3D thermoplastic filament, which looks like weed whacker string, comes on 1.1-pound reels that retail for $30. There are 10 colors from which to choose.

Unlike some other 3D printers, Dremel's build platform is not heated. Heated platforms help objects that are being printed maintain their shape by holding the edges down.

The printer has a USB port for connecting computers that run either Mac OS X 10.8 or later or Windows Vista or later software. It also has a full colar touch screen display for controlling various functions.

The thermo polymer filament used with Dremel's machine is limited to one type -- a common polylactide (PLA). PLA is a biodegradable material made from renewables such as corn starch. Other machines allow users to select more than one print material, such as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic, which is more durable than PLA but has an unpleasant smell.

For example, XYZprinting recently announced several sub-$1,000 3D printers that will use both PLA and ABS.

dremel 3d idea builder extruder Dremel

The 3D printer's extruder or printhead is controlled by special CAD software, moving back and forth across a build platform to create an object layer by layer.

Like all 3D printers, the Idea Builder's robotic printer head is controlled by special modeling software that controls the placement of the melted polymer on the build platform. Dremel, which announced the printer at MakerCon in New York City, said it comes with Autodesk 123D, a suite of hobbyist CAD and 3D modelling software.

Dremel said it will provide free print-ready 3D CAD models (software) and simple design tools, while continuing to release new design tools on Dremel3D.com to coach users through the building process.

Dremel's 3D printer has a 9-in. x 5.9-in. x 5.5-in. build area housed in a self-contained box with a detachable lid and side panels. The printer weighs 19 lbs. and is 15.7-in x 19.1-in x 13.2-in in size. It comes with 4GB of internal NAND flash capacity for storing model designs downloaded to the machine.

dremel 3d idea builder hero Dremel

Dremel's 3D printer has a 9-in x 5.9-in x 5.5-in build area.

According to Makezine, Dremel's Idea Builder is based on the same form factor as the Flashforge Dreamer, a consumer 3D printer released earlier this year. The Flashforge Dreamer uses an ARM Contex-M4 CPU processor.

"Today, makers are using Dremel tools to fine-tune and fix their 3D printed creations and have been asking us to introduce a 3D printer. We're proud to offer them the Idea Builder and we can't wait to watch them build what's next," John Kavanagh, president of Dremel, said in a statement.

Pre-sales of the 3D Idea Builder began today on Homedepot.com and Amazon.com. In-store availability at select The Home Depot stores will begin in early November.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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