It was a huge disappointment, as both men originally started playing with the technology under the assumption that 3D printing would be as reliable as a regular 2D printer. That’s why they decided to start developing their own 3D printer, with the goal of shifting construction conventions entirely. “When we started making LOCOOP Y our benchmark was the ink jet printer. Essentially a machine that anyone with some basic computer knowledge could set up in a reasonable amount of time, with minimal fuss, and consistently get the results they expect,” they say. “Up until now, desktop 3D printers haven't been reliable enough to use for complex prints or to print multiple versions of an interchangeable part.”
But the OCOOP Y 3D printer is, they say. Their solution was found in Original Delta Technology, a technology that is never used for 3D printing, but that can be found at the core of robotic high speed assembly, pharmaceutical manufacturing and even robotic surgical procedures. “We were inspired by the Delta Robot, invented in the 1980s by Swiss Professor Reymond Clavel. Industrial machines are used thousands if not millions of times a day and stay reliable. We asked ourselves, ‘Why can't 3D printers be the same?’,” they say. “LOCOOP Y is the first 3D printer to bring this technology to the mass market.”
So how is this Original Delta setup different from a regular Delta 3D printer (or even a Cartesian one)? In a nutshell, Original Delta simplifies movement considerably, by cutting down the number of movable parts. It features three individually-operated arms, which are all connected to a single power source. While Cartesian and linear delta 3D printers need keep constant tension on carrier rails – causing friction and wear and tear – the LOCOOP Y 3D printer doesn’t even have carrier rails, but simply the three arms which move in precise circular patterns.
While it sounds simple, this setup is far less prone to errors like layer shifting – which occurs when the carrier rails on Delta or Cartesian 3D printers lose tension. “Based on our experience, layer shift is most likely to occur three-quarters of the way through a big print, when you're on a tight deadline. By eliminating carrier rails on the LOCOOP Y, we've also eliminated layer shift,” they say, adding this also solves various other common alignment issues. As a result, the LOCOOP Y 3D printer should be highly reliable, providing the kind of results unexperienced users expect from their 3D printer. Its makers even go as far as arguing that it provides the same level of replicable precision as can be found on industrial 3D printers.
While the validity of those claims will have to be seen, it does make the LOCOOP Y 3D printer a very appealing machine. But its other features are appealing too. Costing just $1,500, it can be assembled in just an hour thanks to a series of magnetic joints. A 50 micron printing resolution, SD card control and an intuitive touchscreen just adds to its attractiveness. “But even more importantly, it maintains that level of precision over time. We've run prints up to 48 hours with no print errors,” its makers say.
What’s more, the LOCOOP Y is a decently sized machine with a build space that is 200mm in height and features a diameter of 180 mm. A closed print chamber ensures a stable temperature and decreases the chance of warping, while the entire machine uses very little power as well. “At just 60 Watts, LOCOOP Y uses half the energy of a conventional 3D Printer. This makes printing with LOCOOP Y not only super-efficient, but also environment friendly. Think of what this would mean for a lab or school running multiple printers at the same time,” they say.
The LOCOOP Y 3D printer is nearly ready for launch. “Right now we’re working with our manufacturing partner, Intops, to finalize production. We’re putting LOCOOP Y together in the same high tech, precision factories that Intops uses to produce smartphones and accessories in Korea,” they say. Intops has also been behind numerous other Indiegogo crowdfunding campaigns in the past. And indeed, that’s where you can find the LOCOOP Y 3D printer. A super early bird can be ordered for just $890 through their crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, with shipping expected to start at the end of the year. If truly as accurate as its makers claim, this 3D printer could be a huge hit.