It is almost unbelievable how quickly 3D printing has progressed, both in terms of quality and cost. It was only about a decade ago that worthwhile hobbyist 3D printers started hitting the market, and they were quite expensive. Over the last 10 years, there has been a race towards the lowest possible prices. But even the most optimistic of us never thought 3D printers would reach a price point comparable to inkjet and laser printers. We were wrong. Selpic's Star A, which is launching through Kickstarter, starts at just $99 and can even be upgraded with a laser engraver module.
The Star A 3D printer just recently launched on Kickstarter and it has already reached nearly $50,000 in funding. That’s five times the original funding goal. With a $99 price tag for Super Early Birds, it’s easy to see why Star A 3D printers are flying off the virtual shelves. Currently, the bottom end of the 3D printer market is sitting right around $150, with occasional specials popping up lowering that price a little bit further. At $99, the Star A is even more affordable than popular budget models like the Creality Ender 3. The Star A’s optional upgrades, like the 1.6W laser engraver module, just sweeten the deal further.
The question, of course, is whether the Star A is worth buying at any price. It has a 120 mm (4.72 inch) cubed build volume, which is identical to the Monoprice Mini 3D printer, but quite a bit smaller than the Ender 3’s 220 x 220 x 250 mm (8.7 x 8.7 x 9.84 inches). All other specifications are fairly comparable, and tend to have little to do with the real world performance of a 3D printer anyway. Notably, the standard Star A does not have a heated bed — that’s an option. So you won’t be able to print materials like ABS without upgrading. The color touchscreen is also an upgrade and you’ll only have buttons like “start” and “stop” available without it.
When it comes to the quality of the construction, Star A appears to be adequate but not great. It’s a cantilevered layout with relatively thin hardened rods and Z axis lead screw. Those are mounted into a plastic frame, which isn’t braced in anyway. Ultimately, that will result in a lack of rigidity that will force you to print slowly if you want to maintain any kind of respectable quality. Other than power loss recovery and quiet stepper motor drivers, the Star A doesn’t have any of the convenience features that are common on higher-end models. Simply put, this is a low-budget printer at a low-budget price — but that might be exactly what you’re looking for.
If you want to get your hands on a Star A 3D printer, the Kickstarter campaign will be running until December 3rd. All of the Super Early Bird pledge options have now been claimed, but early birds can still get the Star A for $119 without any of the upgrades. Rewards are expected to be delivered in December.