In an attempt to standardize a measure for a 3D printer's abilities, Kickstarter and Autodesk have collaborated to create an open-source 3D printing quality test.
There has been no shortage of 3D printing successes on Kickstarter. Take Formlabs and its affordable, segment-defining Form 1 SLA 3D printer. Fast forward six years from that campaign, and the company is a unicorn, worth over $1-billion.
Despite such successes, there is also a rogue’s gallery of failures that continue to dent trust in the creators that take to the platform. Kickstarter has taken many steps to reassure backers and give campaigns support and training, including establishing the Hardware Studio Connection and introducing project readiness badges back in May.
Following this, the company announced in a blog post today that it has partnered with Autodesk to produce a 3D printable test to demonstrate an FDM 3D printer’s print quality.
The test is open source, inviting feedback and improvement from the community. On appearances alone, it takes the form of your run of the mill printer torture test: all spires, bridges, overhangs and tightly toleranced text. However, with the know-how of Autodesk research scientist Andreas Bastian behind its design, we suspect this model goes above and beyond.
In the blog post Kickstarter explains that the test will assist project creators in calibrating their machines to better showcase what exactly they are capable; a complementary aid to the imagery and videos the platform typically requires of campaigns.
Kickstarter FDM Test: Standardizing Quality?
Besides being a comparable means to show what a printer is capable of, Kickstarter hopes the test will catch on as a way for project creators to build trust and increase transparency in their campaigns.
A lengthy set of parameters accompany the test on its freely accessible Github page. ESUN’s Cool White PLA+ is the preferred filament, to be printed on a printer left at stock settings.
A scoring system evaluates the printed model across seven specific points of accuracy or competency in a 3D print: dimensional accuracy, fine flow control, fine negative features, overhangs, bridging, XY resonance and Z-axis alignment.
The total available score is 30 points, with examples given in the Prusa i3 Mk3 scoring 22.5 and the MakerBot Replicator 2 netting 18.
Publicising prints of this new Kickstarter test model on a project’s campaign page is optional. Kickstarter is not making it a mandatory part of crowdfunding a 3D printer. We can foresee a scenario where a campaign’s lack of showing the printed model is as telling as its inclusion.
Being open source, it’s only a matter of time before improvements fold into the design. Initially designed for FDM, further tests for SLA, SLS and even metal 3D printing methods will be developed, which can only mean a more meaningful evaluation of the prospective machines on the platform — even if it’s ultimately for the backers to print and compare to the campaign’s media featuring the printed model.
You can check out the model for yourself over on the Kickstarter GitHub and evaluate your print using the scoring system detailed here. Happy printing.