Consumer 3D printer to hit market in Dec.: Kinpo

By Ted Chen,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Kinpo Group yesterday announced that its consumer-range 3D printer will hit shelves in December.

The printer, named the “da Vinci,” is priced at NT$15,000 or US$500 and is the first product launched by the business conglomerate’s newly founded brand XYZprinting, the result of eight months of planning.

The group expects to sell 1 million of the printers within three years, setting a global precedent.

Kinpo Group Chairman Rock Hsu (許勝雄) stated that the 3D printer will be distributed in December by Web-based outlets and at VIBO Telecom’s 98 retail and service locations throughout Taiwan. He said he hopes to spur the proliferation of 3D printer utilization among Taiwan’s consumers with competitive pricing.

The business group expects to ship the units to Japan, North America and Europe in the second phase of the product launches, slated for the second quarter of 2014.

Boasting accuracy of 0.11 mm to 0.4 mm, the da Vinci is based on fused filament fabrication technology and is able to print significantly larger and higher quality objects than other models currently on the market. The printer will also feature an accessible user interface, requires no assembly or complex settings, and is designed to cater to the needs of hobbyists, academia and the design industry.

The business group hopes to expand new horizons through creating ecosystems relating to the 3D printing industry, including software, materials, and cloud-based blue print databases. In addition, the business group intends to release additional models for the mid and high-tier users, in an effort to cover a wider spectrum of the market. However, the business group stated that numerous challenges remain in the pursuit of 3D printing, adding that they are working on rendering more colors and material types compatible with their printers.

The fused filament fabrication technology employed on the da Vinci works on an additive principle, where material is laid down in layers in the printing process. The material, in the form of plastic filament or metal wire, is unwound from a coil, and extruded by a heated nozzle to “print” the intended object. The nozzle is moved by stepper motors or servo motors controlled by a computer-aided manufacturing software package, moving in three axes to create the object. As with all forms of 3D printing, the fused filament fabrication process allows for rapid prototyping, as the object is completed instantly as materials cools and hardens immediately after extrusion from the nozzle.