Monday, August 26th, 2013 Posted by Jim Thacker

Meet FABtotum: 3D scanner, CNC mill and printer in one

Affordable desktop 3D scanners? Bah. Already passé. Affordable desktop 3D printers? So 2012.

Instead, Italian start-up FABtotum has what you need to stay on trend, with its Personal Fabricator: an affordable 3D scanner, printer and CNC milling machine, all in one box.

Details of the printing and CNC capabilities; scanning specs less clear
The device, which has already reached $38,000 of its $50,000 crowd funding target on Indiegogo, is still early in development – the developers don’t aim to ship units until May 2014 – so the specs are somewhat vague.

However, the Indiegogo page lists it as having a print volume of 210 x 240 x 240mm – roughly twice that of MakerBot’s popular Replicator 2 – and a CNC machining area of 210 x 240mm.

Printing accuracy looks broadly comparable to the Replicator 2 and its 0.4mm nozzle, too. (Confusingly, FABtotum’s Indiegogo page describes its own print nozzle as “0.35 or 0.45 or 0.5mm”.)

The scanning functionality is less clear: the scan volume is said to be the same as the print volume – which, again, would be slightly larger than MakerBot’s equivalent model – but scan accuracy isn’t specified.

And rather than a standard STL or OBJ file, scan output is said to be “a point cloud you can easily convert and correct in freeware software” – which leaves something to be desired in terms of ease of workflow.

An open-source approach to 3D printing
However, use of freeware is in keeping with FABtotum’s open-source ethos: the design and documentation for the Personal Fabricator is available under a Creative Commons licence.

Backers also get the option to buy readymade or assemble their own device from a kit – which will set you back $1,099 or $999 respectively (less if you have parts from an existing printer that you can cannibalise).

Again, that’s less than MakerBot’s products – though more than other upcoming 3D printers and 3D scanners.

One of the most disruptive machines on the market?
FABtotum is still definitely a project in development: the core team consists of two people, and the beta prototype isn’t due until November.

However, as 3D printing specialists Shapeways point out, if FABtotum can deliver on the promise of “initial prototype, this might be one of the most disruptive standalone machines to hit the market”.

Even if you don’t fancy backing the Indiegogo campaign just yet, it looks like a technology to keep an eye on.

Read more about FABtotum on Indiegogo

Visit FABtotum’s website