|Defunct||July 18, 2018|
Printrbot was a 3D printer company created by Brook Drumm and originally funded through Kickstarter. It was aimed at beginner home users through its small size factor, lower cost and ease of assembly (claimed to take 45 minutes). Printrbot printers used fused deposition modelling to produce plastic models of 3D objects. As of April 2012, Printrbot was the most funded technology project on Kickstarter after receiving US$830,827 in December 2011. Printrbot closed shop on July 18, 2018, with a note on the website citing the cause as "low sales."
Design and operation
Models are printed by depositing molten ABS or PLA plastic filament onto a hotbed from a print head which moves about the X and Z axes (the Y axis is controlled by the movement of the hotbed itself) using electric motors, guided by metal threaded rods. The models to be printed are sent to the printer via a USB interface using specialized software such as Pronterface (recommended by the manufacturer at the time of Printrbot's initial launch) or Repetier-Host (recommended by the manufacturer for use with newer printers).
Printrbot printers were sold in both fully assembled form and as kits. According to Printrbot's return policy, returns were only accepted if the device "has never been assembled, powered up, programmed or changed in any manner". If repair is needed, many of the components for the printer are available to be purchased separately.
Printrbot had an exclusive arrangement with Carl Ubis to use his Ubis Hot Ends in the Printrbot printers. A hot end is the part of the 3D printer that melts the filament and extrude it out of the nozzle to make your 3D print.
Printrbot models can print in ABS or PLA plastic filament which can be purchased from the official store or other sources. Printrbot models can be outfitted to accept 1.75 mm or 3.0 mm diameter filament. The filament is available in many colours; the colour of the filament will determine the eventual colour of the model printed from it. Although the Printrbot hotend and extruder system is advertised to work with PLA and ABS, it is also capable of extruding many other filaments. Printrbot sells "exotic" filaments such as Nylon, Ninjaflex, and Carbon fiber-reinforced PLA.
All Printrbots are controlled by nearly similar open source circuit boards called Printrboards. The Printrboard has experienced several revisions and is identified by revision letters printed on them. For example, the most recent official revision of the Printrboard is Rev F, which can be purchased separately. The Printrboard can have many types of firmware loaded on it, but they are sold with an open-source firmware from the RepRap Project called Marlin. The printer is controlled through a USB interface.
The Printrbot interprets G-code produced by a computer program called a slicer, turning commands into outputs for four stepper motors, heated bed and extruder outputs, and a cooling fan port. Printrbot does not come with any software and the official getting started guide recommends using the freeware program Cura 1.5 with Pronterface to interface with the printer. A freeware program with 3D visualization called Repetier-Host is also used.
Cura is the program, developed by David Braam, used to import 3D models (oftentimes STL files from Thingiverse or user created in apps like Autodesk Fusion 360). The user can rotate and scale the 3D model to fit the virtual print bed. They can then convert the 3D model into G-Code that the printrbot can understand. The user can then print directly to their printrbot via USB or use a SD or miniSD card to transfer the print file.
To control the Printrbot most owners will use Kilment Yanev's Pronterface to control Printrbot's X,Y and Z motors, the Ubis Hot End temperature and the amount of plastic filament extruded or retracted.
Printrbot in education
At the beginning of 2015, Printrbot announced two new initiatives to help schools gain access to 3D printers. The first program, named Printrbot Ambassadors, let registered schools borrow an assembled Printrbot Simple Metal with an Alu handle, spool holder and 1 kg of filament for a month for cost of shipping. After the month, the school had the option to buy the 3D printer at a reduced price or to send it back to Printrbot. The second program allowed schools to buy a Printrbot Simple Metal at a discount. Users needed to buy through a school and agree to be featured on a public listing. As of August 2, 2015, approximately 126 schools and universities were using Printrbot 3D printers.
|Model||Image||Years available||Build volume (inch)||Filament|
|Printrbot Metal Plus||2014–2018||10×10×10||ABS+PLA|
|Printrbot CNC Beta 01||2014–2018||14 x 18 x 4||N/A|
|Printrbot Crawlbot||2015–2018||48 x 96 x 2||N/A|
On May 14, 2015, Brook Drumm introduced the Printrbot Pro, a large-scale 3D printer. According to Drumm, the Printrbot Pro has a build volume of about 2 cubic feet, a heated bed, a dual-extruder setup with the ability to print multiple materials. The printer also offers an optional enclosed build chamber, an LCD panel, a SD card slot as well as LED lighting.
Printrbot Play and Play v2
|Model||Image||Color offered||Year available||Build volume (mm)||Build volume (inch)||Min. Layer Height (micron)||Filament||Connectivity||Comments|
|Play||Red, Black, White, Gray|
|Play V2||||White||2018||150 x 200 x 150||50.||USB-tether||Limited offers (<10? sold)|
|Model||Image||Years available||Build volume(inch)||Filament||Comments|
|Printrbot Simple Metal||2014–present||6×6×6||1.75 mm PLA (Heated build platform for ABS use available)|
|Printrbot Simple 2014||4×4×4||1.75 mm PLA only||Largest model available|
|Printrbot Jr.||6×6×6||PLA only||Can be folded for storage.|
|Printrbot GO||2013||8×7×6||PLA+ABS||Suitcase form factor, designed in collaboration with Ben Heck|
Documentation and Support Resources
- "Printrbot: Your First 3D Printer", Kickstarter, Nov 17, 2011
- Matthew Humphries,"Printrbot: an all-in-one 3D printer kit for $499",Geek.com, Nov 21, 2011
- Strange, Adario (Sep 21, 2012). "Printrbot: The cheap and simple 3D printer for the rest of us". Dvice.com. SyFy. Retrieved Nov 18, 2012.
- Dobby, Christine (April 18, 2012). "A case for crowdfunding; New U.S. rules for raising growth capital spark Canadian funding worries". FinancialPost.com. National Post. Retrieved Nov 18, 2012.
- "https://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/news/2018/08/08/printrbot-lincoln-based-maker-of-inexpensive-3d.html". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved 2018-08-13. External link in
- "A Farewell to Printrbot". Hackaday. 2018-07-19. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
- Stephen Cass,"A desktop 3-D printer builds plastic objects layer by layer", MIT Technology Review, April 25, 2012
- "Printrbot shop"
- "Printrbot Return Policy"
- "Printrbot Play (4x4x5)". Printrbot.com. Printrbot. Retrieved 8 June 2015.