With more and more interest being generated on 3D printing, there’s still a relatively high hurdle to be crossed, with current 3D printers being still so pricy.
Roland’s new iModela 3D mill will hopefully change this, offering up users the chance to make their own 3D objects at home.
With the iModela, users can use it to mill 3D objects, by starting out with a block of material, the 3D mill will cut out the desirable shapes and objects. It works a little differently from 3D printers, which creates objects by putting layer upon layer of material until the desired shape is ‘printed’.
The mill has an advantage over conventional 3D printers, as the drill of the mill has the ability to move in 3 axes, allowing for a higher degree of precision. Objects will also come out much cleaner. The downside is that the mill can only cut objects from the top to the bottom, meaning that it’s impossible to create objects with void spaces in the middle.
The iModela is on the petit side, however, as it only has a milling area of about 8.6cm x 5.5cm x 2.6cm. This size should be sufficient for the hobbyist to create mini sculptures and small crafts. Hobbyists can enjoy milling out of materials such as wax, foam, balsa wood and plastics. The mill has a resolution of 0.01 cm, which means that its precision is enough to be able to carve out custom circuit boards and detailed wax molds for metal casting.
Currently, the iModela sells for about US$900, which is supposedly cheaper than most 3D printers out there.
I really enjoy seeing these kind of works, where digital models get turned into physical ones. The price of the mill still seems quite steep, but I can almost envision 3D sculpted projects and items being sold on Etsy sometime in the near future.