Solidoodle, A $500 3d Printer

3D printers are very popular right now. We’ve seen them go from an interesting project to multiple commercial entities. Makerbot seems to be the poster child for the commercial side of things, at least they were. Their former COO [Samuel Cervantes] is now in charge of a new company called Solidoodle. Their main product is a complete 3d printing kit for $499. You supply power and a computer.

The Solidoodle is capable of building things 6″x6″x6″. The quality seems to be comparable to most of the others we’ve seen. They tout a .1mm layer thickness in HD mode (makerbot shows .2-.3mm). Not bad considering it is less than 1/3 the price of the makerbot replicator with a single extruder. The video after the shows it in action, as well as both with the optional case and door and without.

69 thoughts on “Solidoodle, A $500 3d Printer

  1. Pretty cool, but looking at their pictures in the gallery I am wondering if it has as good of quality as claimed.

    Do all 3D printers leave little lines as seen in their gallery?
    I am genuinely interested in this device and I am guessing some sanding and coatings and paint would make it perfectly smooth. Are the pictures you see from other 3D printers taken post sanding?

    Also I see they have multiple color threads, is there some form of system for switching threads to color a print, or would one probably stick to white and paint it afterward?

    1. Yup they will all have some degree of “grain” to them. Even liquid resin printers will, tho to much less a degree than fused filament printers.

      There are probably dozens of methods for cleaning up a 3D print depending on personal tastes, intended use, etc.

      Haven’t really dabbled in 3D printing yet so I can’t really say anything one way or the other about the print quality in their gallery.

    2. The 3D printer I have at my office doesn’t leave ridges. It is 3D Systems ProJet HD 3000. Layer thickness is 0.016 mm (16 microns) and since it uses wax as the support material, the surfaces are very smooth. Melt the wax and the acrylic plastic model is all that remains. Of course, the cost of the unit is a bit higher than these FDM machines – typically in the $65k to $80K range depending on which version you get and how much material you initially buy. Then again, a lot of guys buy sports cars and cabin cruisers that are in this price range (or higher) so it all depends on how much you want to spend for your hobby/toy. For under $15K, someone could get a ProJet 1000 setup, and the layers are barely visable, so that would be a good pick for the moderate budget crowd. Not as smooth as the ProJet HD 3000, but still considerably better than any FDM machine I have seen.

  2. I’ve seen loads of lines in Makerbot and Reprap outputs, and since that IS visible to me I can’t say I have seen anything that looks like sanding.

    Lighting and photography could put something in a better light, so to speak.

    It’s using the new 1.75mm filaments, which sounds great on paper. Price is good. Makerbot gets better, but prices go up also. This might be a good entry level system for people intimidated by reprap kits.

    1. The diameter of the filament has nothing to do with the quality of the print. Quality is determined by layer thickness, size of nozzle and how accurately the head can be positioned. Just wanted to put that out there.

    2. Without some sort of touching up, every 3D printer I have used has what amount to ‘ridges’ along the sides where the layers meet, due to inexact positioning of the print head, extruded material thickness, and material overflow from gravity, residual heat, etc.

      I have never gotten a perfect part that didn’t need some sort of sanding/XActo knifing/heat gunning to make it ‘smooth’.

  3. >…complete 3d printing kit for $499. You supply power and a computer.

    You keep using that word “complete”…

    Does that mean the customer adds an ATX and an Arduino? Or just plug it into the wall and add your laptop?

    The innovation I see is using relatively inexpensive angle iron, spotwelded together to make a cube. There are probably some fixtures somewhere that can help drill the proper holes and hold the cube together for welding, and that could be far cheaper than lasoring out some birch plywood. Downside is that volume required to ship the thing assembled.

    I can see the angle iron being far cheaper than many who build theirs from extruded 80/20 and waterjetted sheet steel too.

    It’s been ages since it first showed up, so I can’t recall who innovated the cantilevered build bed, but it’s been around for a while. Likewise with lining the build surface with kapton tape and using a heated bed have all been around the block a few times.

    Nice build.

      1. Also, finding angle with good tolerances on the inside walls is hard and expensive. Finding angle with a straightness tolerance defined at all is next to impossible…. 80/20 is precise off the shelf always.

  4. Even if I rebuild the frame later out of extruded aluminum, it’s still a good deal for $500US. Bought mine several days ago(with heated bed, but without cover), and I can hardly wait to get it!

  5. sounds like the power supply and Arduino clone are included. It’s funny that they don’t seem to want to show them, but I assume they’re behind the one solid wall on the stripped-down version or something. They do show the filament spool.

    1. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a spotwelded cube frame made of angle iron (except maybe the inability to disassemble it easily). It should be plenty strong and long lasting.

      Exactly my reasons for buying it, and my possible reason for modifying it. This spotwelded assembly is probably stronger than most inexpensive 3D extrusion printers you can find, but maintenance could be an issue in the future, as the chassis cannot be easily disassembled. Plus, extruded aluminum would look cooler… :)

  6. Almost everyone who got into making these always said their “goal” was to make a 3D printer available to the masses for “under $500”.

    So far I think this is the first that’s really nailed it. Yes the Rep-Rap clocks in well under $500 depending on what bells and whistles and what have you. Assembling it isn’t even that daunting, what I find daunting is needing to order the pieces from a dozen or so separate places. And when you can order from one vender they tend to be above the $500 mark.

    Hopefully this gives the whole hobby 3d printer market a competitive kick in the pants :)

    1. Actually, the Makibox comes in at $350 including shipping, but not import costs. Granted, no one’s seen it print yet, and it IS about six weeks late to ship. But there has been regular progress in the updates and the prototype should be finished any day now.

    1. Yes! This will be one of the first modifications I will try on this unit. I have Pro version Dremel with a pretty good flexible extension that has fairly good thrust and torsion bearings, so I am going to give that a try after I print several test objects with ABS…

  7. Is anyone else worried that all these 3D printer companies are stealing each others potential customers, to the point where no individual company will be able to sell enough to stay in business?

    1. This may happen when they are all equally good.

      Another possibility is that one company will take most of the potential clients and others have to go out of business or find their niche.

      There is also a third option – market will grow fast and there still would be business for everyone.

    2. I hate loaded language like stealing, being used inappropriately.

      How could a company steal a customer?

      Assume I were a customer of one company. Then assume another company comes along with a better product, which I also purchase.

      In this case, the first company still has my sale. Nothing has been taken from them.

      It would be the first company’s fault that I made the free will choice to buy someone else’s product instead of their version 2 model. Maybe I switch back to company 1 when they have something more compelling. Customers should never be loyal. That’s how competition works.

      1. That last bit was very well put! Consumer loyalty….that phrase alone is enough to make me want to puke. Its one thing if you say to a friend “hey, this thing is pretty cool and rock solid, you should get one too”, but its another thing to argue and fight with other people over your brand vs their brand (ie – android vs iOS).

      2. That last bit was very well put! Consumer loyalty….that phrase alone is enough to make me want to puke. Its one thing if you say to a friend “hey, this thing is pretty cool and rock solid, you should get one too”, but its another thing to argue and fight with other people over your brand vs their brand (ie – android vs iOS). All that means

      1. A_do_Z, someone already did, it’s called the cubify. disposable cartridges that run 50 bucks a pop and judging by their size have FAR less than the 3-5kg of filament to be expected at that price.

        maybe they come with a lexmark inkjet printer too, in case you have any money left after that

  8. I’m surprised nobody is saying anything about the elephant in the room:

    Makerbot FORMER COO Samuel Cervantes

    I bet if they didn’t make their employees sign non-compete agreements, they will now.

    1. Non-compete? It’s open source hardware. Makerbot is based on the RepRap, and so is the Solidoodle.

      Incidentally, I’ve ordered a Solidoodle for my hackerspace. Can’t wait to try it out. (There’s a 6-8 week lead time on shipping.)

    1. I you might be in the right track when you want quality, fast made components from various materials. Plus with molds you can copy one component over and over without waiting.

    2. @abc123

      I bought a Taig CNC mill. With the controller, stepper motors and some basic tools, the total came to around $2500.

      You can get a manual CNC ready version of the mill for $1000. The mill is a good starter mill, and I’ve cut aluminum, steel and ABS on it.

      The Maker Bot and Rep Raps are neat, but I’d rather just throw a print head on my existing mill. It’s precise and uses quality ball screws.

    1. Cheap, no.

      But the dual head Replicator can print with two filaments in the same job. So far I have only really seen that used for multi-color jobs, I’m not sure how difficult that is to set up. It is conceivable that you could use some sort of soluble filament in the second head and have it print the support structures.

  9. Is there any way to buy samples made from specific printer models? Pictures don’t always do a item justice.. But owning some output sets your expectations.

  10. Looks like they are taking a note from a real printer manufacturer that can sell a printer for cheap – and not just rely on the ink for profits. I’ve never seen a printer with a laser cut plywood chasis in mass production…spot welded cut/stamped steel yes. Now all they have to do is get rid of the expensive servos and find a good way to do linear encoders and cheap motors for the axis. Then these things will become truly affordable.

    1. I don’t know, every cheapo commercial printer I pull apart has steppers in it. The price would go way down under mass production. I could totally see someone like Canon or Brother buying out one of these companies and selling 3d printers at Staples, or at craft stores alongside the Cricut. Exciting stuff.

        1. Go optical linear encoders like the old Puma Robot, brushless, and ball bearings, the product would last for 60 years and would never lose sync, of course, I’m 67 years old so I’m not so sure about the practicality of that 60 years, but I have granddoodlers, granddaughters.

  11. The low pricing of these new kits is not sustainable! Parts should account for ~25% of retail price, or ~50% if selling direct, but the parts cost of most of these new kits seem to be 75-90% of the price. In other words: get one while everybody’s trying tog et their kit out! I’ll start building my Printrbot next weekend :)

  12. Argggggg. Where is my printrbot already??? If I hadn’t spent money on that already, I’d have bought this in an instant. I just wanna dip my damn toes in the water!

  13. how about recycling existing house owned plastics to make spools for printers. are there any that can be made into reusable… and how about making them into spools. Has anyone tried it…

  14. You really make it seem really esy along with your presentation however I find thiis topic
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