Pasadena, Calif.-based New Matter and its partner Frog Ventures are enjoying early success with the MOD-t, an FFF 3D printer and software package with plenty of features for a very low price. The most recent in a group of 3D printer offerings that prove how important affordability can be, the MOD-t has managed to rack up $485,000 in backing during the first few days of its Indiegogo campaign. That's an awful lot of money, considering the first 1500 backers got the device for just $199 or less. With all variations of the early bird specials gone, the least expensive available option is now $249, but the campaign continues to perform well.
Most Cartesian printers employ a system where either the build plate or print head operates on one horizontal plane and the vertical plane, with the remaining horizontal axis handled by whichever component was not already in use (either the bed or the head). The MOD-t utilizes a new, different approach. Its build plate moves on both the X and Y axis via long pinion rods interfacing with teeth on the underside of the bed, while the print head only moves on the Z axis. New Matter says this makes the printer less expensive to produce by requiring fewer components.
Since the build plate is only held down by gravity, this design allows the bed to be lifted off the printer for easy cleaning and object removal. Automatic feedback-based centering and homing is performed prior to each print to reposition the build plate and no further bed leveling is required. This would be a major convenience advantage over the majority of existing FFF 3D printers.
"We'll likely end up selling spare beds so you can just put another bed down to print something else while you're removing the previous print job from its bed," said Steve Schell, President and CTO of New Matter.
The MOD-t uses 1.75 mm PLA filament. It has a build envelope of 150 x 100 x 125 mm (6" x 4" x 5") and its layer thickness is software selectable from 200 to 400 microns, although the company hopes to have optimal parameter settings for 100 microns by the time the printer ships.
The unit will support standard G-code so external slicing software should be compatible. However, New Matter intends to release their own desktop and mobile software suite.
The printer comes with both USB and Wi-Fi connectivity.
An online store is planned, featuring customizable models and unique parts that can be printed and used in everyday life. The store will also function as a marketplace, allowing artists and designers to upload and sell their own digital products.
The video below is of an early prototype. It shows the way the MOD-t's build plate is manipulated by the underlying pinion rods.