New Matter says the low price is largely due to the simplification of the printer's design. Both the extruder and the print bed move during the printing process. This two-axis motion system means fewer components are required to build each printer.
The MOD-t sold out of its early bird specials in just two hours, but that still leaves funders with the standard $249 option (with an additional $40 to ship in the US). The fixed funding campaign is shooting for $375,000. It's nearly there with 35 days left to go.
Printing pioneers aiming for the consumer market know it's not just about creating a super-affordable printer. It's also about creating software and systems that make it easy to use. New Matter is tackling this in part with a curated library full of 3D designs already optimized for the printer.
Software will let users customize the designs, though the printer will also support creations made with third-party design tools. The library/store is intended to take the guesswork out of the process for beginners. A demonstration video shows the customization software on an iPad, with users touching designs to change colors and view the rendering from various angles.
The MOD-t uses PLA plastic filament and can make an object as big as 6x4x5 inches. It has Wi-Fi, a compact Apple-inspired design, and weighs 11 pounds. It can currently print as fine as a 0.2 layer resolution. New Matter is experimenting with 0.1 mm layers, with the goal of having that setting ready for when the printer ships.
New Matter seems to have the inexpensive part of the 3D-printing equation locked down. If the build quality lives up to its billing and the software is genuinely easy to get into, then this could become one of the very first entry-level 3D printers to beckon the average user into a fascinating world of extruders and filaments.