Kickstarter project Tiko promises 3D printing for $179

Boasting a unique unibody design and unparalleled price tag, the Tiko could bring 3D printing to the mainstream. But if you want one, be prepared to wait.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read

Tiko 3D

Among the possible reasons 3D printers aren't yet household items: most are seriously lacking when it comes to decor-friendly design, and most have price tags that range from $500 to several thousand.

The Tiko is a Kickstarter-fueled 3D printer with an early-backer price tag of $179. But just as surprising as the price is the design: It more closely resembles a Brita water filter than an industrial mechanical cube.

Apparently those aspects alone were enough to attract backers by the boatload, as the Tiko surpassed its $100,00 funding goal by more than just a little: The project is currently closing in on the $2.5 million mark, with eight days to go.

The Tiko relies on a unibody design, meaning it has "three sets of arms moving in unison to control the movement of the print head." That allows it print at a resolution as fine as 50 microns, while at the same time keeping costs lower than those of traditional 3D printers (which rely on multiple beams fastened together).

Inside the Tiko's unibody design. Tiko 3D

Furthermore, the Tiko's proprietary direct-drive print system does away with what the developers refer to as "an eye-popping arrangement of belts, pulleys, and tensioners" common to other models.

Other notable features include a flexible print bed (the easier to remove your printed projects), support for standard print spools (and a variety of materials, including ABS, PLA and nylon) and built-in Wi-Fi for printing from cloud sources and your smartphone.

Although the campaign has already blown through numerous $179 backer levels, the developer continues to add more -- and as of this writing you can still pledge $179 for a Tiko printer and spool of 1.75mm filament. Take note, however, that shipping is not included (it will be collected via backer survey), and could be as high as $65.

It all sounds pretty sweet so far, but there's one obstacle to overcome: time. The first early backers aren't expected to receive their printers until November, and anyone who pledges as of now will have to wait until March 2016.

Your thoughts? Is an 11-month wait a small price to pay for a 3D printer with such a small price?