3D printers continue to hit the mainstream as more accessible models are released at lower prices, some even landing in major retail chains. The MakiBox may currently hold the crown for cheapest 3D printer on the market, but Pirate3D's new desktop box could provide similar quality and affordability with much less hassle. The company's flagship printer, the Buccaneer, will come fully assembled out of the box with a price tag of only US$347.
Pirate3D is still working on getting its printer to mass production, but it has crafted a sleek-looking prototype built with stamped steel parts to keep manufacturing costs low. The designers have said that they took inspiration from Apple's aesthetic principles, which might explain why it resembles a Mac Pro.
The Buccaneer's printing components are secured inside a polished aluminum and acrylic case, with only a single indicator light and no buttons. On a desk, it takes up just a small space of 25 x 25cm (9.8 x 9.8 in), though its actual printing area covers 150 x 100 x 120 mm (5.8 x 3.9 x 4.7 in). It doesn't require any cables since it connects to network devices via Wi-Fi. It is fitted with a filter on the back to diminish any odors produced from the printing process.
The most striking feature of the Buccaneer though is its top-loading central cartridge, which has been designed especially to make loading and unloading the printing material as simple as possible. Users can stock the cartridge with their own PLA filament, which is much cheaper than purchasing individual cartridges (the developers are not using ABS right now to avoid any potential noxious fumes). The material just wraps around the interior and fits down a hole in the center, right into the print head.
From there, the Buccaneer uses a standard fused filament fabrication process to print at a resolution as low as 100 micron layers high at a top speed of 50 millimeters per second (approximately 2 in/s). The company is also including its Smart Objects software for creating designs, but says STL files created in other programs will also be printable.
With a low price and easy installation, Pirate3D believes its 3D printer could have enough mass market appeal to help turn consumers away from the perception of 3D printers as expensive novelty devices. We'll have to see if the Buccaneer lives up to its expectations, but it could give 3D Systems' Cube some competition in the coming months.
Pirate3D plans offer the Buccaneer for pre-order later this year and has applied to Kickstarter to launch a campaign.