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Deltaprintr: uni student couldn't afford a 3D printer, so he built one

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Samantha Murphy Kelly

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Deltaprintr uses a fishing line so you can expand it to make it taller.

Deltaprintr uses a fishing line so you can expand it to make it taller.

This post was originally published on Mashable.

When university student Shai Schechter didn't have access to an affordable 3D printer on his SUNY Purchase campus in New York, he set out to build his own model – one that would still crank out 3D-printed objects, but at a much lower cost.

"We have a laser- and powder-based 3D printer at school, but it costs about $US500 for a bucket of powder and that only lasts for about one or two prints," Schechter said. "It's never used because it is so expensive and classes weren't offered that much in the curriculum." 

Deltaprintr uses three stepper motors located under the acrylic build platform.

Deltaprintr uses three stepper motors located under the acrylic build platform.

He approached his sculpture professor about building a new 3D printer that uses plastic instead, and sought the help of three good friends.

Schecter and his business partners launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring their low-cost design to the masses; the project nearly sold out of pre-orders in the first week alone.

While a new MakerBot 3D printer costs $US2000, the Deltaprintr is significantly less: $US475 unassembled or $US685 assembled. It's available in two sizes, either 2 feet high (large) or 2.5 feet (extra large).

Student: Shai Schechter.

Student: Shai Schechter.

"We are targeting educational institutions first, so people can learn how to assemble them," Schecter said. "When you buy a MakerBot, and you read a manual about how to use it, you don't learn a lot about how the printer and technology works. This is why we are offering the assembly manual on Kickstarter, too – we want people to really get their hands on it."

The Deltaprintr uses three stepper motors, located under the acrylic platform where the objects are printed. Motors control the carriages that move the hot end and ultimately create the 3D-printed objects. Since a Deltaprintr design doesn't require as many parts as other 3D printers, the savings are passed on to consumers.

"MakerBot uses belts to move the print head, but ours uses a fishing line," Schechter said. "With the fishing line, you can expand it to make it taller if you want by changing the aluminium rods. It allows it to go faster than the MakerBot and is more accurate."

Although the Deltaprintr team is focusing on getting the product off the ground as an educational tool, it's eying the mass market, too.

"We want it to have a place in education, but it's still for the everyday user," Schechter said. "We have a lot of ideas that we plan to execute in the next year to make the Deltaprintr even better and lower the cost even more."

Mashable is the largest independent news source covering digital culture, social media and technology.

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