Kickstarting a $400 "appliance" 3D printer

John sez, "Pirate3D have a Kickstarter project for The Buccaneer. It's a 3D printer, designed to be used as an appliance. Print from an open library of objects on Pirate3D's servers, submit your own designs, or print .stl files from your computer. There is a smartphone app for manipulating and printing the objects from the cloud librabry. The Kickstarter closes in 4 days."

The founders have a mixed set of biographical info, but a couple sound like they have real manufacturing experience. Still, crowdfunding caveats apply: they may never make anything. You may never get anything. They use proprietary cartridges, but it sounds like you can use standard feedstock on spools, as well, which should hedge against gouging on consumables.

The Buccaneer - The 3D Printer that Everyone can use! (Thanks, John!)


  1. Has anyone with a good working knowledge of 3D printers evaluated their claims? They certainly make a convincing case, but it still seems almost too good to be true. I’m really tempted to support this thing, but for $400 I want to be confident first. In particular, I’d like to know:

    * Can it accept third-party feedstock? It certainly looks like you can feed any 1.75mm filament of the right composition in there, and anyway their cartridge prices appear to be competitive, but I’d like to be sure that they won’t be trying to enforce proprietary cartridges or something.

    * Is the resolution good enough to make decent tabletop gaming minis? I realize that its overhang capability is probably pretty limited, so complex pieces or dynamic poses would have to be printed by subassemblies and glued together; is that practical?

    1.  “If you want to use your own filament, you may do so without the
      cartridges however we recommend using our cartridges as its neater and
      its designed to ensure that less jamming occurs.”
      Of course that doesn’t mean they can’t go proprietary later.

      1. Is that a limitation of the size of filament they’re using, or of filament extrusion in general?

  2. $400 is an unreasonably low price for this hardware; clearly they’re trying to combine 3D printer hype with the razor blade business model.

    Other than a wildly successful Kickstarter, I doubt it will be a real commercial success since resins are expensive and the resulting prints aren’t useful in the same ways rough PLA and ABS parts may be.  But I hope I’m wrong.

    1.  They’re printing with PLA, not resins.  The cartridges look like they work out to about $40 per kg, which is surprisingly normal considering that it’s in smaller chunks and put in their own cartridge.

      This looks a lot like a reprap offshoot with an H-bot X/Y axis, and the build area is similar to a Makerbot Cupcake.  Overall, the price doesn’t look unreasonably low as long as they’re able to mass-produce the case and X/Y parts.  I’d worry more about how easy it would be for the end user to adjust any tolerance errors or replace parts that wear out.

  3. It’s still a lot to pay to make your own plastic tchotches.   I can see if you sell jewelry or miniatures made this way.  But for home use, how many little do-dads do you need?

    1. For makers, being able to fabricate custom joints and brackets could be very useful. If (big if) the resolution is fine enough, it could be fantastically useful for tabletop gamers wanting to fill out their stock of minis. Could also be fun for creating accessories for toys–I’ve seen some folks online selling add-on kits for e.g. Transformers toys to reflect stuff they have in the shows/comics.
      We’re not yet at the “everyone needs one” level of fidelity, but there’s lots of niche applications.

    2. You would be surprised at the number of things that can easily be fixed with one little part that can be made with a device like this.
      I recently fixed the latch on my Honda with a little part that a guy “printed” with a maker bot.  Cost him a few cents, cost me a couple of dollars and a wee bit of time — people who took their car to the “shop” to get the same thing fixed paid around $200 US.

    3. Yes, it is, and it will be a long time before you can print jet engine parts and optical waveguides at home the way today’s million-dollar printing tools can.

      But maybe you’d be more apt to print chocolate, frosting, and sugar glass? 3D print cake decorations?

  4. My main concern would be the “cloud” aspect — if they turn the servers off do you end up with a $400 box sitting on your desk?
    They have a single-line comment on the Kickstarter page (but without any explanation):

    *Note that the printers can operate offline without going through the Pirate Cloud*

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