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Granted, additive manufacturing is a pretty great fabrication technique. But in many cases, it’s simply a tool among others. And a much as we hate to say it, sometimes 3D printing is not enough.
Many companies, fab labs or passionate makers invest in several machines to have access to both additive and subtractive manufacturing capacities. While operating with separate tools offer many advantages, it is also expensive and requires overall more resources (storage space, learning curve for each tool, etc).
What if there several of these fabrication tools could be combined into one?
All-in-one 3D printers (AIO), multi-tool 3D printers, personal fabricators, hybrid 3D printers, multifunctional fabrication tools… There are many names for this new breed of versatile machines. These supercharged 3D printers combine several key functions in addition to 3D printing such as 3D scanning, CNC milling, or laser cutting and engraving.
With this article, our goal is to give a comprehensive overview of the products available for this fast growing market segment. We did not test ourselves most of these machines and do not pretend to give a full performance assessment. We want to provide an up-to-date list of the 2015 all-in-one 3D printers and multi-tools machines (basically capable of doing more than classic additive manufacturing). You should find here the usual suspects who’ve been there for a few years, but hopefully you’ll discover some less known but still powerful machines.
Now, let’s see this list of the 2015 best all-in-one 3D printers and multi-tools machines.
Desktop 3D printers with a built-in 3D scanner
Those desktop 3D printers come with a 3D scanner integrated in their frame. Pretty neat! The scan quality is not industrial-grade and you won’t be able to get high resolution files. But for replicating a basic object with 3D printing, they should do the trick. Besides quality, the main limitation is the scan volume, determined by the size of the frame enclosure of the 3D printer.
Da Vinci 1.0 AIO by XYZPrinting – $799
This 3D printer made in Taiwan is widely praised for its affordability, ease of use and price-to-print quality ratio. However, the 3D scanner quality is quite mediocre and does not work well on detailed models. This model contributed a lot to making the term AIO popular, although it only offers 3D printing and 3D scanning (vs much more functions for machines listed later in the article).
Zeus by AIO Robotics – $2,499
AIO Robotics, a US manufacturer, chose a name which clearly states their “All-In-One” focus. Users praise the compact design and the decent quality of the 3D scans. The community feedback is overall better than the Da Vinci 1.0 AIO, but the Zeus is also more expensive. Also, spare parts are difficult to find and this 3D printer is not designed to be easily teared apart and upgraded or fixed.
Desktop 3D printers with a built-in 3D scanner and additional tools
Personal Fabricator by FABtotum – $1,050
This stylish hybrid 3D printer comes from Italy and brands itself as a multipurpose tool, allowing users to 3D print, scan, mill and event cut! It’s pretty difficult to get detailed feedback from users, and to give a fair performance assessment for the Personal Fabricator. Two known issues are the frequent jamming of the filament feeder and the extruder clogging. Overall, the value proposition is pretty incredible at this price point. Too good to be true?
Flux – $699 (pre-order)
Many ambitious startups have set out to build the ultimate all-in-one 3D printers. Many died on the way, too. The Flux could be an exception and actually launch one day, at least we hope so. A self-proclaimed “multi functional digital creating device”, the Flux is based on a Delta structure and offers 3D printing, 3D scanning, laser engraving, and even precision drawing with its holder functional head. Successfully funded on Kickstarter ($1.6m!), we expect this one to make waves in the all-in-one market once it’s available. The Flux is even available for pre-order so that means it can’t fail, right? (I see you Pirate3D backers!).
Desktop 3D printers with multiple tools (but no built-in 3D scanner)
PowerWASP EVO CNC Mill – approx. $2,100
This desktop 3D printer from Italian manufacturer WASP boasts a nice drilling function and can also be fitted with a syringe to extrude past-like materials.
MakerArm – $2,899 (pre-order, full set price)
This robotic arm seems straight out some science-fiction movie. With an impressive number of tools and functions, the MakerArm is a serious contender for the ultimate digital fabrication tool. It of course allows 3D printing (FDM and SLA with a DLP projector) and paste-like materials extrusion, but also CNC milling, laser engraving, soldering, precision cutting (wax, foam…), object manipulation, custom tool mount… The downside: shipping is announced for Fall 2016, giving plenty of time to the company to experience some reality checks (or improve even more this insanely cool machine!).
ZMorph 2.0 S – $3,795 (full set price, +$499 for 3D scanner add-on)
Another highly promising multi-function 3D printer from Poland, the ZMorph 2.0 S has multiple exchangeable tool heads to cover almost anything a maker can dream of. From 3D printing and paste extrusion to CNC milling, laser cutting and engraving, this complete hybrid 3D printer is a great all-around machine (it even has a heated build platform and touch probe for automatic calibration). The Zmorph 2.0 S can even be connected to an external 3D scanner! The scanner is not built-in, that’s the only reason why we put the Zmorph 2.0 S in this category. Using laser triangulation and a rotary table, this 3D scanner add-on makes the Zmorph one of the most complete personal fabrication system.
5axismaker – approx. $7,700
Coming from the UK, this insane machine operates on 5 axis (duh!), and offers a milling head, a 3D extruder, a touch probe and a special bracket designed to mount and hold custom tools. Also interesting: the quite big build area, 40 x 40 x 40 cm for the regular version.
Gaja Multitool – $8,650
3D printing (including with advanced materials such as ceramics), milling, cutting, drawing, carving… With 10 differents tool heads and a massive build volume, this Polish multitool 3D printer is one of the most advanced in this category.
This selection should cover most of the desktop all-in-one 3D printers available in 2015. Do you know another digital fabrication tool that would fit here? Please send me an email (email@example.com) and we’ll gladly include it here!
We haven’t included the industrial-grade 3D printers, since they cater to a completely different audience and require most of the time an initial investment north of $250k. We will focus on the all-in-one production 3D printers in a separate article.
We hope you enjoyed this list as much as we had fun writing it.