For the wide range of 3-D printers on the consumer market today, precious few have the baseplate size to print more than trinkets (only one in our recent roundup could even fit an 8.5"x11" sheet of paper). Luckily, the gMax 3D printer is just a Kickstarter away from bringing large projects to your desktop.
By “large” we mean 16"x16"x9", enough to finally print a regulation-size chessboard for all those 3-D-printed rooks you’ve been churning out. Altogether, the gMax will ship with over 575 cubic inches more printing space than the midrange Cubify Cube or Afinia H479.
The gMax began life when its creator, Brooklyn-based Gordon LaPlante, tried to apply his work in architecture to 3-D printing. He originally bought and assembled a RepRap Prusa printer in 2010, but found that it just didn’t have a big enough build area to print the plans he was dreaming up. So, he channeled the replicating RepRap spirit and used his Prusa to print out parts for an even bigger monster. He worked on the gMax until he got the first prototype up and running last winter.
The gMax’s Kickstarter reward price points are $1,095 for a budget model (sans several features which can be added later) and a $1,295 for the full-featured model. Though these are more than twice the price of some other RepRap models, the added features (like an LCD screen and SD card reader) blow the other RepRaps out of the water in addition to physically dwarfing them. Plus, unlike traditional RepRap kits, the Kickstarter funds will allow LaPlante to ship you an assembled machine so you can get to printing right out of the box.
In addition to the huge print area, the gMax also claims a minimum resolution of 75 microns per layer, which is more precise than leading consumer market competitors like Cubify’s CubeX and MakerBot’s Replicator 2X, which both retail for over $2,500. The gMax also comes with thicker aluminum frame struts (1.5" bars, compared to industry-standard 1"), and the entire extruder module is intentionally interchangeable, and could eventually be used with drill heads or laser etchers to make the gMax a complete printing and machining kit.
In fact, most of the non-aluminum expandable parts are 3-D-printable, which will allow the modding community to easily manipulate the gMax’s design. LaPlante has already taken the biggest step to engendering the love of tinkerers by licensing the gMax design under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.