I’ve wanted a 3D-printer for a long time, but I haven’t really had confidence in the technology, and especially not for the price you typically would have to pay for it. But Tiko seems to be on to something great.
My initial choices
Earlier this year I checked out Kickstarter and Indiegogo, to see if I could find a 3D printer for cheap, the most interesting printers I could find was “M3D, The Micro” and “New Matter MOD-t”, but both campaigns were over.
The M3D can still be preordered, but then there’s still a lot of people in line waiting to receive theirs, which makes it impossible to determine how long I have to wait to get it.
The MOD-t will be able for preorder soon, and is definitely something I considered buying, especially with the big 100x150mm print bed size, well big compared to M3D 😉
The funny thing is that I found M3D through MOD-t’s campaign, where they compared the different models:
The updated minimum layer hight on MOD-t is 100 micron, not 200. But still the M3D is down to 50! And M3D supports ABS and nylon as well. This changed my mind on the MOD-t, even though the MOD-t has larger print dimensions and a more stylish design.
The print dimensions for the M3D are not correctly displayed on this overview, as they’re actually 109mm x 113mm. But printing anything taller than 74mm is limited to 91mm x 84mm. The maximum height is 116mm.
For the MOD-t it’s 150mm x 100mm and 125mm maximum height. This is a respectable size for a printer that small.
Other than that the main difference is that the MOD-t has a moving bed, while on the M3D the head is moving. I will not go more into details on these two printers, but these were the options I was looking at, which was available at the moment. M3D was attractive because of the better filament support, but MOD-t because of price, print size and design.
Along came Tiko
I stopped looking at 3D printers for a while, the MOD-t can’t be preordered yet, and while M3D is taking preorders, I think I would have to wait too long to get it.
But at the end of March, I had a random search on Kickstarter, “3D Printer”, and Tiko showed up. It’s a Delta printer, which I favor because of the small size. And the price was amazing – $179! It’s too good to be true! The campaign was only a few hours in, but all 100pcs $99 earliest bird and 400pcs $139 early birds were gone. The first 100 were gone in a matter of minutes, and I quickly understood why.
At a price like that, I just had to go for it. They promise 50 microns, similar to the M3D in addition to support for multiple filament types. $179 later, and I was backer 900-something.
Being a delta printer, it has a more limited print area, as it is typically circular. The Tiko is capable of a 125mm diameter print, but is also able to utilize the corners better, allowing up to 169mm width at most. If you’re creative, you can manage to fit a fairly big print in that triangle. The height is the same as the diameter, 125mm. Because of their liquefier design, it doesn’t need as much space, and is fan-less, no space is wasted.
Tiko is WiFi only, that’s new in the world of 3D-printers as far as I know. And I think it’s a good thing. Why bother with USB cables and SD-cards when you have WiFi? It’s a bold move to exclude the options, but I think it’s the right move for this type of printer. Tiko has it’s own software for printing so the user doesn’t have to wonder about G-code etc. This might be a disadvantage for some users, but Tiko targets the consumers who wants to work with a print, not the printer. They’re also thinking of a cloud based system to operate it, but Tiko will create its own server if needed, so you can communicate directly. The full details aren’t clear yet, but I think it’s exciting to see what they’ll come up with.
The best part – Tiko is unibody! This means more stable and accurate prints, and less or no calibration. I’m looking forward to see more of the details on this. At the moment, Tiko 3D are keeping the cards close to their chest. Take a look at their Kickstarter campaign for more info if you’re interested. They’re hoping for delivery already in November!
In the latest update on Kickstarter we get to see the printer in action. A full 2 hour video showing a print of a transaxle. It looks very promising!
They’ve also posted a picture showing us the details on a 50 micron layer print, no visible lines in the print. Amazing for a $179 printer!
I’ll post updates as soon as I know more about the printer.
3D printing technology
To be honest, I’m not to impressed with todays typical 3D printers. It’s simply a glue-gun which extrudes glue/plastic in a pattern, building it up to a 3D model, it’s a crude way to build a plastic model. What I’m more interested in is a resin type printer, which solidifies liquid resin, and builds it up in thin layers. What I want to see in the future is a printer which can utilize this technology, and print a complex 3D model in a matter of minutes, using a projected image to solidify the resin seamlessly. I think a cheap way of achieving this is years into the future, which is why a traditional extruder printer is the way to go at the moment.
These printers exist as we speak, but are very expensive, and not detailed enough to defend the price in my opinion. I want a layer-less model, with little support material, something I don’t think is achievable yet for a small price.
It’s going to be an exciting development these next few years, but until then, I hope Tiko can be the temporary answer for my 3D-printing needs.