Many desktop 3D printers are designed with a sole end user in mind. Which is great as there are a ton of awesome 3D printers available on the market today. However, one way to make the industry grow is to get more 3D printers in schools and educational settings. The problem with some of the 3D printers available is they aren’t meant for more than one user at a time.
You can imagine how expensive it would get to try and supply a class of 30 students all with their own 3D printer. And, let’s admit it, these machines are way more fun if you’re the one getting to use the 3D printer rather than watch someone else use it. So to get 3D printers in schools, we need something that is designed to be used by more than one person at the same time. Something that allows multiple people to create and view the printing process at the same time. Well, Polar3D has done just that.
Polar3D is a rather unique technology company with a range of different 3D printing products. The company is based in Cincinnati, OH and aims to make 3D printing universally accessible. Their main product offering is the software cloud-based technology, Polar Cloud. This software allows anyone with internet and a browser to create and transform 3D models as they wish. And, multiple users can use it at the same time and queue up their respective 3D printers.
Of course, what good is a 3D printing software if you have no 3D printer? Polar3D manufactures their own 3D printer, the Polar 3D. While it is an amazing educational tool with awesome features, it is not designed for every type of user. Let’s dive into more of the details to find out why this 3D printer isn’t built for everyone.
Cores Features of Polar 3D
- Glass print bed: Not only is it mirrored glass, it is a round print bed, which is rather unique. The majority of 3D printers use a square bed. The extruder moves left to right, front to back, and up and down while the rectangular or square bed stay in place. But the circular design allows for the bed to rotate and move along its axis, front to back, and the extruder moves up and down to make for an unusual printing style. It is almost mesmerizing to watch the Polar 3D create objects.
- Webcam: Tucked just under the print head you will see there is a tiny camera. This allows you to watch the entire print process live. Make sure everything is going as planned and show your friends the progress it is making. Another rather unique feature that you don’t see on a lot of 3D printers. But it seems like a great thing to have in a classroom setting. You can give your students a different point of view when monitoring the printer.
- Multiple Filaments: The Polar 3D supports multiple types of filaments. This is a great feature for those who like to experiment or create things with more than just the standard PLA. Often times we see 3D printer companies try to make a few extra dollars off their users by making it difficult to use different types of filaments. This forces them to purchase filament directly from the company. Luckily for us, Polar strayed away from this. They are giving us the ability to explore and try new things with their 3D printer.
Here are the key specs of the Polar 3D 3D printer:
|Build Area||8.0” x 6.0”|
|Print Speed||100 mm/s|
|Filament Types||ABS, PLA, Wood, Nylon PVA, PP, Luminescent|
|Layer Resolution||50 – 400 microns|
|Nozzle Diameter||0.4 mm|
|Price||$899 (Check out the latest prices here!)|
Pros of the Polar 3D
Now we can look at some things I love about this printer.
- Polar Cloud Technology: Cloud-based software, which enables you to control all aspects of your print from anywhere with an internet connection and an internet browser. You can easily create, transform, and manipulate any 3D models right in the software. This software was designed with the intent to help educate and enable the digital world for the masses. Polar wanted to create something that was easy to use and very good at what it does. Polar hit the nail on the head with their cloud-based editor.
- Another great aspect of the Polar cloud is the multi-user functionality. Essentially, multiple people can be editing their 3D models at the same time. Once your model is ready to be created you can upload it to the queue for your Polar 3D. The machine will then pull the prints in order of the queue and bring your 3D models to life. This is another feature that seems aimed directly at the educational industry. You can have an entire class working on different models and printing them. This will streamline the entire creation process and allow for more hands-on time with the technology for all users.
- Structure and Design: The all-metal L-shaped 3D printer is a very sturdy piece of technology. The powder-coated steel gives it a very professional appearance. It also adds to the stabilization of the machine, which is great for keep prints from moving around during the process. It is the perfect size to fit on a table or desk to let others gather around and watch the magic happen. This unique design enables the machine to stay rather small and compact, but still, use all 8 inches of the glass print bed. The overall size of the machine measures in at 12.5” x 8” x 14”. The total build volume of the Polar 3D is much larger than similar sized “small” 3D printers. It often has smaller overall dimensions as well. This makes it ideal for storing the printer when not in use and leaving plenty of extra room to work around it too.
Cons of the Polar 3D
There are a lot of awesome aspects of the Polar 3D, but I also found a few things that aren’t so great.
- Price: A bit on the high end for what you are getting if you are a single at-home user. But given the company’s focus for this to be an educational piece of technology, the price seems much more reasonable in terms of a school purchasing one.
- Print bed: While I am a big fan of the overall design and function of the print bed, I am disappointed that it is not heated. Since it is already a glass bed you would think Polar could’ve easily included this feature, but they decided to forgo it. The none heated bed can lead to more warping and prints not sticking throughout the process. In a world where millimeters matter, even the slightest movement of your object could affect the finished part. Hopefully, on future models, Polar will incorporate this into their designs. The print does come packaged with a can of hairspray. Spray a little on the bed and it will help the print stick in place throughout the printing process. At least, this will help with PLA. For other filaments, you may need to get a little more creative.
- Enclosure: Another downside is the open-air design. 3D printers seem to function better and produce higher quality parts when they are a fully enclosed design. It allows you to maintain printing temperatures and protect from any unwanted drafts blowing through the room. While this isn’t a necessary aspect of 3D printers as many companies prefer the open-air design, it is always a nice luxury to have. Luckily, you can easily create or purchase your own enclosure if this is a big letdown for you.
Final Take – A Great Educational 3D Printer
Polar wanted to create a 3D printer for educational use and they did just that. Not only did they create this 3D printer, they created one that excels at what it does for its target audience. All aspects of the Polar 3D scream educational use and classroom setting. From the multiuser functionality to the unique style and print process, even the webcam and ability to use multiple filaments are all excellent features for students. It allows multiple people to use, monitor, and create the same machine. While I do think it is a bit pricey for an at-home user, it is still a great 3D printer. It is not perfect. But for spreading the technology and introducing more minds to the digital world it definitely gets the job done there. However, if you are looking for a 3D printer that you or just a couple others will exclusively use, you may want to look towards another 3D printer. For $900 you can find a 3D printer with the same quality of prints but much more functionality than just education–based features.
Grade: 7.7/10 (score):
- Print speed 6.5/10
- Build area 8/10
- Precision 8/10
- Value 7/10
- Ease of use 9/10