About this project
Stretch Goals Announced!!
If we reach:
$100,000: Each backer who purchased a printer will get their very own Makeraser! A fellow start-up, this is a scraper that will have either an injection molded or 3D printed handle and will come with a tube that you can fill with acetone for ABS, ethyl acetate to plasticize PLA, water...whatever you want! (chemical not included). You can read more about Makeraser here:
$125,000: Each backer who purchased a printer will receive a 0.75 kg (1.65 lb) spool of ColorFabb filament in Intense Green (along with the Makeraser). This will give you plenty of filament to start printing immediately upon assembly:
Read About gMax Printer At:
3D Printing Isn’t Just the Future – It’s Now.
Imagine a world where you can come up with a design in your mind and have the physical object, large or small, in your hands with just a few clicks on a computer in the comfort of your own home or office.
History/Why We Began
3D printing is something that I was interested in long before I designed the gMax printer. Studying and working in architecture, I’ve been interested in building and design since childhood. Winter 2010 is when I bought a Prusa RepRap kit from the usual sources, and started assembling in my free time. As much as I loved the RepRap, I found myself being limited by the bed size. While I love the idea of sourcing parts from the community, there were larger objects I wanted to print but simply wasn’t able to. I then started playing around with designs for a larger 3D printer and eventually the idea started to grow legs and become something tangible. I sourced the latest electronics and a strong aluminum framework and used my RepRap to print the parts I needed to build what would become the gMax 3D printer.
Throughout this process I was working full-time and taking my exams to become a licensed architect, which I completed July 2012 – the first prototype was completed that Winter and I’ve been continuously updating, upgrading, and optimizing this printer ever since. In all, over a thousand hours have been put into the printer's design, website, blog and all the test printing. The gMax 3D printer is now at the stage where it’s not just printing efficiently, quietly, and beautifully – it can easily compete with the top-rated 3D printers on the market with a level of affordability and ease of self-modification that puts it in a class of its own.
Below are several renders showing the design's progression:
With a 16'' x 16'' x 9'' (2,304 in3) build volume, the gMax 3D Printer is among the top when it comes to build volume capabilities. The gMax will provide you the option to print larger, print smaller, or print something in between. If you want to print one long continuous print, you now have the opportunity (rather than having to break the pieces up into smaller prints). Size also doesn't have to come at the sacrifice of quality since the printer is also capable of printing even small parts in amazing details down to 75 micron layer height.
Also, the 16’’ square acrylic bed does not require heat if you’re using PLA. There is no additional cooling, curing or additional steps needed – once the print is finished, it easily pops off of the acrylic and is ready to go. Another great feature I’m really excited about is that I’ve recently added an LCD screen and SD card reader so now I can print even without a computer.
When it comes to the actual frame system, I have chosen to go with the very strong 80/20 aluminum frame system. Many similar 3D printers use the 1’’ x 1’’ extrusions but gMax uses the larger 1.5’’ x 1.5’’ profiles for superior strength. For the connectors, I have gone with precision milled aluminum z-axis motor couplers instead of lesser quality plastic connectors. These couplers have a spring built into their design to protect the motors from torque homing overshoot.
For the extruder, I use the best MK-7 drive gear for excellent filament grip and a reliable and proven J-head hotend with a single continuous barrel and power resistor for quick startup heating. Note, the temperature is limited to 247 degrees. There is also a very useful LED light bar shining on your object so you can always have a good look at what you are printing, along with an integrated blower fan. What I also think is quite useful is that the entire extruder module can be popped off and replaced with a number of future tool heads. This includes the possibility of drill heads for drilling patterns, laser etching (with the proper safety precautions), light CNC milling, roller blade for paper cutting, and more.
On that note, this entire printer is designed for easy future modifications and customizations, not just the extruder. All of the colored parts are 3D printed so you can easily prove the usefulness to your friends/family/colleagues by showing them that the printer was made with parts made on another printer. Future upgrades can be accomplished by the end user by simply printing new or customized parts. 3D printed parts mean we can print on demand while avoiding the lengthy manufacturing process associated with other printers.
Another note worth mentioning is how quietly the gMax prints. Unlike a lot of other 3D printers on the market, you can barely hear the gMax when it is running. When I started I was operating out of a bedroom, and was able to sleep through the night while the printer ran.
While there are a lot of other budget-friendly 3D printers currently on the market sitting at a lower price point, I have gone to extensive efforts to make this printer simultaneously optimal and cost-effective because you are getting what you're paying for and more. This is not a printer that you will need to replace in 6 months or a year– it’s an investment that has the capability to evolve and become specifically tailored to the end-user.
My aim is to provide a simple to assemble high quality printer kit with all of the best upgrades. The gMax kit comes with everything you need to build a great printer at a reasonable price.
- Huge 16’’ x 16’’ x 9’’ (2,304 in3) build volume
- As low as 75 micron layer height (with 0.35mm nozzle)
- The 16’’ acrylic bed does not need cooling if using PLA
- 1.5’’ x 1.5’’ inch strong aluminum frame system
- Precision milled aluminum z-axis motor couplers
- Print without a computer (LCD screen and SD card reader)
- Extruder: MK-7 drive gear, J-head hotend, LED light, integrated blower fan
- Parts easily swappable and customizable
- Very easy assembly – just need to slide in and screw.
- Quiet when running, especially compared to a lot of other 3D printers
- Works with most common open source software (slic3r, pronterface, etc.)
One of the interesting things about the gMax design was that it was purposely over-developed to make it more beneficial for the user. The reason behind this was to make the parts easy to disassemble and modifiable to your liking. For example, the extruder purposely has the extra bolts and seemingly superfluous pieces in order to be able to modify each part individually rather than have to take the entire thing apart to get to one specific element. This also applies to many of the brackets and connectors on the printer. An added benefit is that it makes the parts easy to assemble as all of the parts simply need to be slid in and bolted together.
(gMax Printer Design by Gordon LaPlante is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. )
28.5’’W x 24’’D x 21.5’’H
(Requires 6’’ clear space behind the printer to operate)
Approx 35 lbs
Black or Anodized Aluminum 80/20 frame system
Each kit comes in one of four plastic colors or any ColorFabb PLA color, plus one of two frame colors (Black or Anodized) - depending on reward selection.
Works with all common 1.75mm PLA or ABS
115V/230V, 340 Watt power supply (printer uses approx. 40 watts)
0.35mm or 0.5mm diameter nozzle
75 micron (0.075mm/0.0029’’) to 350 micron (0.35mm/0.0138’’) layer thickness depending on nozzle
Print via USB or from an SD card without the need of a computer!
RAMPS v1.4 electronics preloaded updated and customized Marlin firmware
NEMA 17, 1.8o step angle with 1/16 micro stepping
Why We’re Selling This as a Kit
Some people have asked why I am selling this as a kit rather than as a turnkey out of the box printer. There are a couple of reasons. For starters, we want to make sure that printers don’t get damaged in transport. While we currently have enough manpower to source, manufacture, and package the materials needed for a proper kit, at the moment we don’t have the resources to find and properly train people to assemble and package a series of full-on machines. Secondly, we are currently working with a limited amount of space.
The success of this Kickstarter will not only allow us the opportunity to hire extra hands to increase our team, it will also grant us the resources to expand our space so we can increase our output and capabilities (including expanding our product line).
Another very important reason we’re going this route is because selling the gMax 3D Printer as a kit significantly brings down your cost to own this machine without any sacrifice to quality. And last, but certainly not least, we’ve received great feedback from people who are excited to tap into their inner maker and be part of the construction of their own 3D printer!
Just a few of the great things about the gMax 3D Printer Kit are its ease of assembly, the quality of the parts, and the ability to customize to your personal needs. Upgrades are inevitable when it comes to 3D printers and gMax is no exception. We are currently working on dual extruders, printing in other materials, etc. but our main focus is to provide a streamlined machine that will allow you to hit the ground running, printing bigger and better right out of the gate. This printer was also designed to be future-proof to allow the next wave of innovations to be implemented on the current machine.
For even more images check out gmaxprinter.com
Risks and challenges
This printer has been tirelessly worked on for over a year and a half with several hundred hours put into 3 different prototypes. I’ve waited this long to officially debut it because I wanted to ensure this printer measured up to the highest standards and will perform both beautifully and immediately upon assembly. That being said, building and operating a 3D printer takes a level of care and detail in addition to being at the mercy of various external details such as humidity and human error. I have been optimizing and upgrading this printer from the original prototype for the past 9 months to improve upon the accuracy, stability, and consistency of the quality, but will also include a detailed FAQ list to assist with any technical issues. Each printer will also include an easy-to-follow, visual instruction manual in addition to the series of YouTube videos we are creating in order to make assembly seamless and troubleshooting a minimal inconvenience.
As with most 3D printers, one of the biggest challenges comes with production schedules. We’ve discussed this in great detail and feel confident we will meet the demands and expectations of our awesome supporters. Specifically, we are taking a few proactive steps such as 1) Printing parts long before this launch and 2) Obtaining extra manpower to devote to printing and kit assembly on a full-time basis. 3) Setting limited quantities for each goal so that month to month we are realistically meeting our estimated delivery dates.
Our production pipeline is scalable because if we need to meet demand by printing more parts, we can easily add more printers to our current stock. Also, all of the framework, electronics and hardware are sourced from large distributors and are widely available allowing for less delays in the ordering process. Finally, we have very few specific customized parts, aside from the 3d printed ones, which will reduce the need for a single specialized distributor to create these parts.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The power supply is a 320 watt computer power supply which allows for 230V as well as 115V. The power supply is strong enough to allow for future printer accessories to be added.
We also may offer a smaller external power supply, around 70 watts, for those who do not want wish to add any accessories in the future. This other power supply would be similar to a laptop power supply ‘brick’ and would make the printer lighter and easier to plug in but it would have to be purchased as an accessory.
Yes. We have made a decision to provide all files for download, for free, to support the community which supported us. This allows you to print replacement parts should the need arise and it will allow others to hopefully learn from our design decisions.
Cost estimating is a little tricky at first but once you've printed a few models you can easily start understanding the cost. I've found the easiest method is to weigh the object after it prints. Typically when you buy filament, the cost is in lbs but they also usually show how many kg as well. Once you know 1000 grams (1kg) cost x amount of dollars its pretty easy to figure out the rest. For instance on average 1kg of filament is approx $40 USD. That means every 100 grams is $4. With a cheap scale off amazon you can get pretty accurate costs. It also depends on how much infill is in your print. This is changed in the settings and it can reduce wasted plastic.
One example for cost is the 'architectural print' in our blog. It was completed for under $15 in plastic.
It must be mentioned this form of 3d printing is much cheaper than powder printing or using a print service. it just takes time to print the parts.
The printer works with all common ABS and PLA filaments. We print most of our objects in PLA due to its sweet smell and ease of use. The printer currently does not include a heated bed and PLA is much easier to use on non-heated beds.
Other new filaments are available, including faux sandstone and wood, which should work fine with this printer but they have not been tested yet. Many successful tests have been completed on printers of this type.
You mention the 16" acrylic bed doesn't need heat if printing PLA. Does it have a heated bed for ABS? I understand that ABS has a warping problem if the bed is not heated.
We have heard of this problem but we haven't experienced it yet. The fan is variable so you can slow the cooling down if needed. We have looked for a heater that is 16" square and we couldn't find one at a reasonable price but the printer was designed with a 320 watt power supply which would be enough to support a future heated bed. We primarily print in PLA which sticks very well to the acrylic.
Currently we have the bonsai planter available on shapeways and this was done to test the service. Our models will be available for free on a future, now-secret, download site - stay tuned!
Although we don't run the software on a mac personally, we purposely designed the printer to use the most common electronics and the community has been doing a great job of running on mac. So yes you can.
We use Printrun Pronterface to control the printer and its available on mac:
I also found a tutorial on getting slic3r to run on mac which is the slicing program we prefer:
We will be updating the future forum with any new information we find.
All 3d printed models on these types of printers are NOT considered food safe. If companies or people claim they are food safe straight out of the printer, they either do not know or are misleading people. We value our customers health and feel it must be made clear. Fused filament printers, such as the gMax and other popular printers, print models out of many layers of plastic. These layers create many small voids where bacteria can grow if used in contact with food. This bacteria is hard to remove via traditional cleaning methods due to the small voids.
We recommend researching techniques to kill bacteria on printed plastic, beyond using antibacterial soap. Special steps must be taken to ensure the safety of the people eating your food.
It also may be possible to use epoxy coating over the model to seal the small gaps. We have not tested this method but many articles can be found online detailing the experience.
Lastly, our preferred method may be to use the gMax printer to create the model of your choice, then use a food safe silicone mold material to make a food safe negative mold. Many products can be found online to achieve these molds including http://www.makeyourownmolds.com/. Many people use this method as the preferred method for making food safe molds.
How long do you think the machine can run without a part failure? (and which parts are most likely to fail)
The only parts to fail have been redesigned to make them stronger or prevent future failures and. We anticipate this printer running for years with the usual maintenance (i.e. oil the rails and check the motors). Again we don't strive for part failure but in the event something happens it is easy to replace parts. We also plan on releasing any newly design parts to the community so you can replace parts at your choosing.
The longest print, by time, has been around 20 hours so far. At first I was worried about the printer running for such a long time, but after completing many long prints (over 12 hours) we have had no problems other than me stepping on the USB cord at about hour 8 which killed the print. There is no reason the printer can’t print longer and we are confident of that.
In the prototyping phase a few stepper motor drivers were killed as I was playing with the voltage and the original design had optical endstops which proved to be troublesome. We have since moved to mechanical endstops which work great. We haven't had any significant failures other than the typical prototype problems and lessons learned. The printer and its electronics have proven to be quite resilient throughout the design and testing phase.
We offer a 1 year warranty on all printed parts. This warranty only applies to the printer in its original configuration. If the printer is re-configured or modified we can’t guarantee the parts will not fail. The frame is supplied by 80/20 and is very adequate for the printer and the electronics have proven to be very reliable. In the event failure happens, replacing parts is very easy due to the printers design. We want our customers to have a great 'working' printer and will do our best to make that happen.
3D printing can be for everyone. Whether you want to print a prototype, a toy, or replace a broken bracket around the house - the capabilities of a 3D printer are remarkable. 3D printing is new but it is also growing at an amazing pace. Think of the school teacher who wants to show their student what a human femur looks like. For $10 in plastic a model can be made and shared with the class. Fabricators can prototype very cheap models before ever turning the CNC. Industrial designers can produce many test models for a fraction of the cost of traditional modeling. Even the home hobbyist can tinker with many design ideas for a relatively low price. There are also websites such as Thingiverse where you can download and print already existing models.
Think of 3D printing as a tool and it's only useful if you use it. If you design it, you generally can print it. It’s becoming a printed world.
Fused filament fabrication (3d printing) is a great new and powerful tool but we highly encourage people to take a minute to research what this form of printing is capable of and what are its limitations. A few things to note:
FFF printing prints models layer-by-layer by squeezing plastic filament out of a fine hole in a heated nozzle. It is very similar to a precision hot glue gun. Since the models are printed layer by layer, special consideration must be paid to the orientation of the model on the printer. Any large overhangs must have support material (which can be automatically generated in the software) to allow for the top layers to have something to print on. This support material can be broken off after the print.
While FFF printing can have very small layer heights, down to 75 microns on the gMax, the models do not come out perfectly smooth. If this is the desired result, additional steps must be performed to smooth the surface including sanding or spray painting.
FFF printing is not great for very fine details such as small figurines. To accomplish these details, powder printing is a better method and print services are available such as shapeways. look at our website to see the detail that can be achieved.
FFF printing is great for larger detail models, prototpying mechanical parts, brackets, and many other models such as you see on our website.
gMax can successfully print overhangs less than 65-70 degrees without the need for support depending on the slicing settings.
We've been running our first prototype very hard since January of this year and the newest prototype is a few months old. We worked out all of our kinks before launching Kickstarter as we wanted our focus to be on the company and its creation, instead of the printer. Many people enter Kickstarter with a prototype and we entered with a working product.
We currently print about 40-50 hours a week on each printer. Once the Kickstarter and company is in full force we will be printing essentially non-stop. We have had very few, if any, issues with the final prototype but in any case the printer has been designed in such a way to allow for very easy swapping of parts, motors and electronics for upgrades or repairs. Any issues are resolved and incorporated in the final design. We understand no printer is perfect so we planned for that. We use our printers to print all parts and reliability is very important to us.
I live outside of the US and am interested in the $1400 International reward. The estimated ship date is listed as May 2014 but in the description it says backers will receive the goods in time for the holidays. Can you clarify?
We listed May 2014 as the estimated ship date to be safe. We wanted to make sure we gave ourselves enough time to ship out the first few waves of the kits domestically before starting to tackle shipping all over the world, since different countries will have different rules and regulations. The wording in the actual description about receiving the goods in time for the holidays was a typo and we apologize for any confusion this may have caused.
That being said, while we cannot guarantee this 100%, we are feeling very confident that we will be shipping out the international units before May 2014. We will be keeping backers informed so please keep an eye out for updates.
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