Whether it is paint, clay or pixels, artists strive to use the best tools and materials possible to ensure success. This race to perfection can be seen in every artistic era throughout history. For example, during the Renaissance artists ranging from Jan Van Eyck to Leonardo Da Vinci struggled to perfect the quality, pigmentation and consistency of the one essential element that made their masterpieces (and the art of perspective) possible – the oil paint itself.

Now that 3D printing has become a significant artistic medium, there is increasing interest in perfecting the 3D printing process as artists strive to create works of higher complexity, in a greater range of materials, at ever faster rates.

One artist undaunted by the current limitations of 3D printing is Joshua Harker, who is recognized worldwide for creating intricate works of mesmerizing beauty. But innovation costs money, and since Harker is no stranger to crowdfunding, he has initiated a Kickstarter campaign to develop a new 3D printer with a dream list of features: best-in-class resolution, full tonal color, multi-material, and ultimate ease of use – for less than $1,000. Harker's goal is to ensure that all artists will be able afford a 3D printer that will push the limits of perfection and create 3D prints of the highest caliber.

The campaign, called "Mazzo di Fiori" or bunch of flowers in Italian, is focused on funding Harker's initial research (i.e. "Phase 1") for the new 3D printer. Backers of this phase will receive 3D-printed flowers from Harker's intricately designed Mazzo di Fiori 3D-printed sculpture bouquet. The flowers themselves are amazing to behold and designed with delicate precision from SLS nylon.

While owning one of these visually stunning creations is an attractive incentive, the idea of backing a proven innovator with multiple successful Kickstarter campaigns to develop a huge advance in desktop 3D printing should have wide appeal among Harker fans as well as 3D printing enthusiasts, especially considering the projected specs and features:

  • Multi-material building to include many standard injection molding plastics (ABS, PP, PE, PS, PVC, acrylic, nylon), elastomers, wax, graphene & other conductive materials (to support in-model printed circuitry)
  • Precision full tonal color
  • Non-structural & reusable support system allowing for interconnected parts & floating assemblies (chain links, gearing, captured geometries, etc.)
  • On par with current industry high-resolution standard (X&Y: 600x600 dpi, Z: <15-25 microns/<.001") @ 12-14mm per hour build speed
  • Potential high-resolution twice that of current industry best (X&Y: 1200x1200 dpi, Z: 5-6 microns/.0002") @ 12-14mm per hour build speed
  • Hi-Speed option at approx. 25mm per hour build (X&Y: 600x600 dpi, Z: <15-25 microns/<.001")
  • Plug & play... no special part orientation, machine setup, or post processing required
  • Target pricing at less than $1,000 for consumer level machine

The current prototype printer works well but is significantly limited as to what he can further test on it, according to Harker, who adds that much of the R&D will be focused on building the final stage prototype & preparing the technology for market.

Harker resists sharing additional details until certain IP issues are resolved, but says his printer isn't like any FDM or DLP products on the market. Given recent patent expirations, his omission of SLS, the technology used to create the flower rewards in this campaign, might be telling though.