You’ve got to like alliteration loving company Purple Platypus. They have been an Objet & Netfabb reseller and now are bringing the Purple Platypus Panther to the US market. The printer prints colored ABS plastic, has a layer thickness of 0.1mm and a print build volume area of 32 X 28 X 19 CM. The printer costs only $4000. This makes is much more expensive than a Makerbot but the build volume is much larger. The Panther printer can also take multiple printing heads and also comes fully assembled. Its another great step forward for desktop 3D printing. With Netfabb’s excellent entry level 3D model repair software, the entry level Objet Alaris and now the Panther 3D printer, Purple Platypus is extremely well placed to help the 3D printing market grow considerably.

Purple Platypus is actually reselling and rebranding the Panther. This is a similar arrangement as EnvisionTEC and Zcorp are doing. Indeed both have been announced very close together. The 3D printer is made by UK based company Bits From Bytes. In the UK the same machine sells for 2000 pounds, is styled a little less aggressively and is called the BitsFromBytes BFB 3000.

BitsFromBytes is the company behind the RapMan 3D printer. This entry level machine is based on the RepRap open source project as the Makerbot is. The RapMan comes as a kit and retails for 795 pounds. BitsFromBytes is currently doing a roaring trade concentrating on selling their kits to schools and universities. But, both the RapMan and the new BFB 3000 could be an alternative for Makerbot users.

here is how the various open source based printers stack up price wise:

A RepRap Mendel kit costs $431. A Makerbot kit costs $950, the RapMan kit is $1143, the BitsFromBytes assembled BFB 3000 costs $2878 and the Purple Platypus Panther costs $4000. The Fab@Home kit costs $3500.

I think that it is significant that the RepRap project has now two growing and successful commercial companies that use its core technology: Makerbot Industries and BitsFromBytes. I wonder how many more will follow their path in turning that groundbreaking open source project into money.

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