February 22, 2016
The additive manufacturing (AM) market seems puzzling at times. On one hand, you have big names like 3D Systems abandoning the home 3D printer market, while on the other you have a number of companies with no history with AM seeking to add to that same market. Even MakerBot, once the darling of the home 3D printer market, has been reducing staff.
Perhaps what is needed is a different approach to home 3D printer sales, and one that can be supported with an existing pipeline to the consumer already in place. Polaroid has announced its intention to enter the home 3D printer fray as part of a partnership with UK inkjet cartridge manufacturer Environmental Business Products (EBP). The new AM system has been named the Polaroid ModelSmart 250S 3D printer, and was unveiled at this year’s CES.
“We are passionate about 3D print technology. Partnering with a trusted, household name like Polaroid will help 3D printing become part of everyone’s everyday life,” said Aleem Hosein, managing director of EBP. “EBP believes in offering the most creative and innovative experiences, so it is great to partner with a brand which embodies the same values as us.”
The Polaroid ModelSmart 250S will feature Wi-Fi capability, an internal camera to monitor builds, and auto-calibration. It offers a build envelope of 250 x 150 x 150 mm (9.84 x 5.91 x 5.91 in.), with a vertical resolution (AKA layer height) of 50 – 350 micron. The printing process is similar to the Fused Deposition Modeling process common to many filament-based 3D printers.
Filament spools come fitted with a chip that notifies users if they are low on material. It seems likely the same chip will double as a means of ensuring the system only runs with Polaroid filament. At launch, users will be able to choose from nine different PLA colors (pink, blue, green, yellow, orange, lime, black, white and silver), along with a wood filament option.
The missing point of interest, at this point, is the price. For what Polaroid is offering, it has to be affordable. A middling build envelope, combined with limited material choices, and a so-so resolution means the ModelSmart 250S will be competing with an array of home printers that go for a song on Kickstarter or that are offered by small companies.
Below you’ll find a short video about Polaroid’s forthcoming 3D printer.