Singaporean developer Pirate3D has made its Buccaneer 3D printer available for pre-order. Priced at just $347, the company describes the Buccaneer as “the most affordable, easiest-to-use, best-looking” 3D printer available.
Slick, sleek and slender
There’s no argument on the first of those points: as far as we’re aware, the Buccaneer’s aggressive pricing places it at less than half the cost of its nearest rival.
And few people would disagree with the second. While most 3D printers take the MakerBot approach of looking like mad scientists’ toys, the Buccaneer’s sleek aluminium casing looks like something Apple might design.
Ease of use looks pretty good, too: the Buccaneer features a slick top-loading cartridge and simple UI.
(Unusually, the Kickstarter page goes into quite a lot of detail about the thinking behind Pirate3D’s design decisions, and is well worth reading.)
Pirate3D is also making the system fully cloud-based, meaning that printing can be controlled remotely from a tablet or mobile device, as well as standard desktop PCs running Windows, Mac OS X or Linux.
The company says that its Smart Object design system currently works on WebGL browsers and Android, with an iOS version in development. It is also considering a version for Unity.
Limited print volume, no OBJ support
On the down side, at 1,800 cubic centimetres, the Buccaneer’s print volume is around a quarter of MakerBot’s Replicator 2 – and unlike the Replicator, it only supports STL files, not OBJs.
But given that, at $2,199, the Replicator 2 costs over five times more than the Buccaneer, those are probably drawbacks many people will be prepared to live with.
Supports PLA printing, ABS looks likely
At time of posting, the Buccaneer only prints using biodegradable PLA (polylactic acid) polymer.
However, given that the company is now just shy of its $1 million stretch funding goal to add support for the more durable acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), that looks likely to change.
And, at 100 micron precision, printing accuracy is perfectly standard too.
Pre-order now, get one next February
All in all, the Buccaneer looks the real deal – although until the printer begins shipping in volume, the usual caveats apply. If you pre-order now, you can get a Batch 2 model, due to ship in February 2014.
Shipping costs $50 for North America and Singapore, included in the $397 Kickstarter pledge, and a further $100 for the rest of the world.
The birth of home 3D printing?
In its campaign video, Pirate3D says that “most industrial leaders believe 3D printing is not ready for the home”. That may have been true, even when the video was created – but the market is changing fast.
The Buccaneer may become the first truly affordable desktop 3D printer, but we doubt it will be the last.