3D printing is one of the coolest futuristic techs that can live in the modern home of the present day. Being able to download a digital file and with some time and patience turn that into a real world 3D object is absolutely mind blowing. We can print accessible controller mods to help more people play games, or our own fans for cooling PCs, or just a straight up Steam Deck shell. We are steps away from Star Trek's replicators in my mind's eye. Perhaps many many steps. But one of the biggest steps to jump over has to be the materials we use.
Most 3D printing, especially in the home, uses some kind of plastic filament. There are a lot of great initiatives being taken to cut down on the waste but it's still a lot of plastic. You can get other filaments, made from things like wood. However, it's still often buying a new resource to make things, using a printer that requires very specific inputs, with a fair amount of waste.
Ceramic printers are one of the logical next steps in integrating more materials, but are fairly uncommon compared to their filament brothers. There are difficulties with the printing process thanks to air bubble build ups, and are often fairly niche and expensive. Still they can often use a wider range of materials, and that's why the Matrix 3D printer on Kickstarter has caught my attention.
The Kickstarter page proudly states "In addition to ceramic materials, Matrix can print using a wide range of viscous fluids, especially environmental and ecological restoration materials, to help you realize your creative ideas." While this sounds deeply disturbing, what it means is you can print with things you likely have around your home already. Things like paper pulp, ground up eggshells, and waste coffee grounds can be used to print new things.
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The other big benefit this Matrix printer boasts is an increased capacity for builds. Often printers can be fairly limited in size, but this one can print objects up to 500 x 500 x 700mm on the largest model. They also come with up to 20L cartridge sizes, which can be swapped out mid print. This allows for some fairly large single prints, plus printing in ceramics or other malleable materials means it should be easy to piece multiple prints together, or add your own flairs by hand.
Of course, being a Kickstarter means it's good to keep your wits about you when making decisions. Thankfully, the maker Cerambot has a decent track record, producing two ceramic printers on the platform in the past, and the Matrix is already more than fully backed. So hopefully this one is a safer bet than some of the vapourware around.
Right now there are still some spots left on the early bird backings, which can get you a Matrix M500 for $799 USD, or 47% off the RRP. The larger options are also available at discounted prices, but are all looking fairly limited. If you're hoping to be an early adopter of this multi-printing machine, you might want to get in fast.