Cheap, portable personal 3D printer: the UP!

The UP! personal 3D printer from China retails for $1500, with goop running at $50/kg. From this early adopter's review: It runs at 0.3mm resolution, and the finished models show striations from successive layers of goop, but light sanding produces a smooth finish. For objects with funny extrusions and sitcky-outie bits that aren't stable until they are fully printed, the printer calculates and adds support struts on the fly, and these have to be removed with a hobby knife after printing.

Personal Portable 3D Printer (via Futurismic)


  1. The “cost’ of a solid object printer needs to be evaluated for factors that may not be trivial over it’s lifetime. A term in common use for other production tools is “Total Cost Of Ownership/Production” = TCO/TCP. In plain english, you could also describe the concept as “Cost per Object” Which needs a total calculating of: your time as money+ the fab unit itself+ consumables.

    The cost effective breakpoints to “own a ‘bot” Vs outsource an object you want/need fabbed are still being established. Shapeways is an example of how an outsourcing bureau is using Rapid PRODUCTION gear in daily commerce.

    The true test of fab ‘bots will come when Cory’s depiction of them in “Makers” becomes a mundane reality. Which is going to happen a lot quicker that we may expect. That is,if the Open Source projects ever get accepted as worthy of some deep pockets investors. But the threat of interference patent trolls etc is still a grim shadow in out future.

    I hope this featured ‘bot is not intended as such an interference troll.

  2. Depending on the reliability and cost (I know it’s $50 per Kg, but if a community can jerry rig a substitute like… weedwacker line or soemthing) it might be a good alternative to a RepRap.

    A RepRap will run about half as much but has to be assembled and sourced (shipping costs) and this seems to have a slightly higher ‘resolution’.

    I’m interested, but not ready to pull the trigger on either.

    1. The cost of a kg of colorless ABS wire as used in the reprap project is around $25 if you shop around. So you can probably run your machine cheaper if you are willing to put it on the spool yourself. (their nozzle temp of 269C is too high for a reprap, it would burn up the PTFE in the extruder, so if it can be dialed down, most reprap plastics could work in the machine.)

  3. Hmm, I got the exact same test piece at a trade show from the manufacturer of a 100k rapid prototyping machine. It would make a perfect pill case if it weren’t for the two holes in the lid.

  4. $50/kg is better than the $800/gal we were paying 20 years ago.

    For those of you who want a few parts made fairly accurately out of a range of materials, there are 3rd party companies that will build you stuff overnight. Just google for rapid prototyping service. If you chose the right material, it can even be lost wax cast in stainless, gold, etc. Cobalt alloys will let you cast features as fine as 00-90 threads.

  5. This is in essence a rep-rap clone – more commercialised than a makerbot but basically based on the same underlying technologies (and probably software)

    1. Yes because Z-brush does not run on windows, and it does not have a plugin to export to 3D printer format…

      Neither does 3ds Max, or Pro Engineer. And of course there is no 64 bit windows, so you can’t go over 2 million polygons.

      And I forgot Nurbs… Rhino does not run on windows either.

      Those tools only run on shiny Macs, or do you feel superior because you use open office?

      Or you could just write a python script to export from blender and run the printer software with wine, but you already know that right?

      1. What a complicated reply.

        Firstly I would assume if you’re going with 3D modelling software then Maya would be the obvious choice for a Mac; as in many industries it’s the leading standard anyway (animation, game etc – not so much design though). But it doesn’t really matter anyway, 3D software is more about taste than features; whether you’re in the 3D S Max or Maya camp; they do the same job.

        Z-Brush? Really? Unless you’re planning on making vein-ridden cocks or un-realistically detailed faces on the 3D Printer I can’t imagine Z-Brush being much use.

        I’m not really sure of the angle of your comment; is it sarcasm or ignorance? Either way it doesn’t work and is just confusing.

        However I think what you might be trying to say in a ham-fisted way is that you don’t need bespoke software to 3D print? Which is of course good news all round. If it all it requires is a cross-compatible plug-in then that’s ace.

        Also … MS office has a native Mac version. OpenOffice is a free alternative, not a non-windows alternative.

      2. Sorry, Anonymous, I’ll leave the superiority to you.

        In this day and age, binary-only software from people whose only motivation appears to be getting me to pay through the nose again and again for buggy bloated software I can’t get to do what I want is not my primary choice.

        1. Actually i should have said; artist blaming the tool.

          “Windows Only = Toy”

          Because that comment is pure snobbery.

          If i were forced to work on linux, it would be trivial to export from blender/maya and interface with the 3d printer through whatever.

          But I guess that sarcasm is not my thing :-p

          You could say that the manufacturer is lazy for not developing solutions for non-windows systems. Or careless for not open sourcing the drivers, after all their bussines is to sell printers, not drivers.

      3. That is hilarious! I use most of the software you listed, however they still should make a mac version as well (just to keep them feeling high and mighty). Or they can print one! LOL

  6. My favorite part of their website is the educators photo. Class, this is NOT how you park a TIE Interceptor.
    *automatically flinches, expecting hordes of comments from many fanboys about how little I know about the landing structures of Imperial ships*

  7. Which needs a total calculating of: your time as money+ the fab unit itself+ consumables.

    You’re forgetting “- how cool you think it is to print your own stuff” no one would buy bread makers, yogurt makers or home brewing kits if it was actually about “total cost of ownership”.

    Instead I think what people are waiting for is something that’ll produce almost finished items, which this is getting DAMN close to. Reprap left striated lines across items where as this much smoother with finer detail, but I’m not sure quite how close to finished the items really are.

    I’m pretty sure model makers are dying for something like that which can produce models for them. War gamers (Games Workshop, D&D with miniatures, etc) pay a fortune for their miniatures so are already blowing lots of cash on this hobby…

  8. Having built 3 RepRaps now, I’m fairly impressed with this printer. It uses the same basic idea, just a finer resolution extrusion nozzle. The slice and dice software seems to work well, judging from the photos of the printed objects I’ve seen. It doesn’t have near the build volume or speed of a Mendel, but I still like it.

    Nice to see the manufacturer is getting a bit involved with the open source community, even if the printer itself is not open source – they’ve put up a few tidbits on Even if they’re just putting them up for advertisement’s sake, they’re probably still going to be useful to someone – I particularly like their little automated filament feeder mechanism.

    Think I’ll have to get working on building some finer nozzles; this machine is an inspiration.

  9. “…and Windows-only software. Relegate to the toy department.”

    I’m looking at this and thinking… yeah, and what’s the bets the little beasty itself is running Linux under the hood… that’s what really annoys me with quite a lot of windows only hardware devices…

  10. The videographer needs to use it to make a tripod.

    I find myself really wanting one of these, or a Makerbot, or something similar. I hesitate, though, because I don’t have any specific ideas in mind, and I don’t currently have the Blender skills to start making use of such a device immediately.

    I know I could develop the skills given enough time and practice, and I suspect that I would come up with plenty of ideas once I manage to transition from the mindset of “Wouldn’t it be nice if X existed?” to “X? I can make X!”

    Still, I’m not quite ready to make the leap. I’m getting closer, though.

  11. I’m looking for sustainable printing material rather than plastic. Plant based perhaps – for instance bamboo poles mashed into something extrudable.

    1. @Don Park, I’m not sure if this printer will extrude PLA or not, but reprap will and I don’t see why the UP! couldn’t either.

  12. As a modeler and 3d artist I’m dying to get one of this and finally mixing the two.

    ” For a GodIT Maker, it only needs a trash-recycling unit and a holo-projection interface of Don Corleone. The neutral-matter block needs refinement, too… but at least there is no danger of it printing it’s own psiquedelic drugs and messing production-times. ”

    (*if you’re staring akwardly, you need to read some Transmetropolitan.)

  13. Hi, for those researching this printer: I was very interested in buying one of the UP! printers for “experimentation”. $1500 I thought was reasonable. I saw the post that indicated they would hold the $1500 price until the end of Sept so contacted them to try and buy one and received the following ” Sorry, all of our “first 100 units” have been ordered, and we don’t accept new orders until October around. Please keep paying attention to our website.” Presumably they are no longer honoring the end of Sept offer and now charging the full $2999 price which to me crosses the threshold and makes this a bit different level of purchase. Twice the price of a MakerBot type unit would be easily justified all put together as a package but 4-5x is different. I guess i will wait until much more details come in on performance etc.

  14. I’m curious as to how sensitive the slice and build-preparation algorithms are to STL quality. For example, Objet machines require very “healthy” STL files, while Zcorp machines are much more forgiving.

    Does anyone know where this one falls on the spectrum?

    If it’s sensitive to STL quality, you may not be able to build your designs from Maya, 3DS, Rhino, Sketchup, Blender, ProE, UG… without going through another STL-healing program (e.g. Magics by Materialise).

  15. All The reprap parts I’ve seen look horrid, this thing looks like it can at least make useful prints. My upp will arrive in a few weeks so we will see.


  16. Hey guys,

    I am from brazil and and I consider purchase a low cost 3D printer and provude outsource services for students, minor designers and architecture offices, etc. In Brazil we currently only find high cost printing in Stratasys printers so I look forward to start providing a cheaper alternative for that.
    SInce I cannot test see the machines nor the samples for myself down here, i am relying on comments on the internet. SO I ask you guys: do you believe that the resolution of the latest Makerbot (thing-o-matic) is good enough for clients to want their models printed: Or does it still come out too rough, and I should purchase a more expensive printer like this UP or a BFB 3000? Thank you very much!


    A fully assembled and tested Mendel will cost you $1599.00+Shipping US currency.
    A full un-assembled kit with plastic. $1099+Shipping US currency.
    A full un-assembled kit without plastic. $899+Shipping US currency.
    Complete set of ABS\PLA reprap mendel parts $250.00 (Choose your color)

  18. Do I understand correctly that if you choose the right printer you can do 3d printing out of software other than CAD software? Reason I ask is that I have patented a small device and haven’t yet got it prototyped, apparently it’s a CAD nightmare because the relationship of the nearest points is of little relevance, it’s the relationship to the farthest point that matters. If I could print out of MS Word I could create the job myself, it’s only 1mm thick, 50 pages or so I guess. ‘Fraid I won’t understand the detail of your reply: if you say it can be done I’ll just print it out and take it along to a specialist printer and hand it over. And if yes, can you suggest (not recommend, of course not, probably against the rules) anyone to do the job? Zills of thanks, fingers crossed.

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