Over the years, CES has become a convention known for hosting surprises and shock announcements, but we don’t think a lot of people saw this coming. Polaroid, the American camera giant responsible for the instant camera of the same name, is entering the 3D printing market. On display at the CES show floor, to the surprise of many, they have just unveiled their Polaroid ModelSmart 250S 3D printer – an interesting and FDM 3D printer fitting somewhere in the range between desktop and professional models thanks to its very large build area.
Polaroid, of course, was once ubiquitous – it would be very surprising if any camera shown in 1990s sitcoms wasn’t a polaroid. However, the company went into a steep decline during the early 2000s, but is now back and expanding into new markets – with 3D printing apparently among their targets. However, they’ve kept some of their classic image, even featuring bright rainbow stripes running across the front of the ModelSmart 250S. Could this be the Polaroid of the 21rst century?
But it’s also a very interesting machine when you look beyond its brand, which has been developed in collaboration with UK-based partner and inkjet cartridge manufacturer Environmental Business Products (EBP). The latter company entered the 3D printing industry in 2014, and will now be working with Polaroid as part of a three year manufacturing deal. “We are passionate about 3D print technology. Partnering with a trusted, household name like Polaroid will help 3D printing become part of everyone’s everyday life. EBP believes in offering the most creative and innovative experiences so it is great to partner with a brand which embodies the same values as us,” Aleem Hosein, the Managing Director at EBP, said on the Polaroid website.
Utilizing FDM technology but on a scale usually found on professional machines, it could be that Polaroid has found a perfect market niche with its ModelSmart 250S, which is doubtlessly intended for startups and research environments. In a nutshell, it contains all the features you’ve come to expect on a top range FDM 3D printer in 2016, namely autocalibration, a Wi-Fi-enabled camera, app control, smartchip mechanisms for filament control, and a proprietary driver software package for convenient use. It features an appealing build space of 250(w) x 150(h) x 150(d) mm, and produces a respectable layer height in the range of 50 – 350 microns. It also 3D prints just about every PLA you can think of. Most interestingly, it features transparent double-sided adhesive Z-Axis sheets that can applied to the print bed to make model removal effortless. “[These Z-axis sheets] Optimise highest quality outputs with smooth and blemish-free models,” and “Reduces premature wear-and-tear on print head,” its developers say.
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