Turn your garage into a giant 3D printer with the superfast, South African-built Cheetah 3


Regular readers of htxt.africa should be familiar with the name Hans Fouche by now.

The Kempton Park-based chocolatier and former F1 engineer is a leading light in a local 3D community made up of leading lights. Fouche’s day job is 3D printing confectionery on demand, but by night he’s an experimenter extraordinaire who turned his garage into a giant 3D printer and has been pumping out 3D printed domestic appliances and apparel of late.

And now he wants to turn your garage into a 3D printer too, with the launch of the Cheetah 3.1.

Cheetah 3.1 is the first 3D printer designed and built by Fouche’s new venture, Fouche 3D Printing, which he set up a few months ago with partners from Centurion’s House4Hack makerspace. It’s based on his garage-sized printer, and is capable of producing 3D prints up to a cubic metre in volume (1x1x1m).

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The original Cheetah printer in Fouche's garage.

The original Cheetah printer in Fouche’s garage.

Cheetah is basically an enormously scaled up desktop printer and works in much the same way as any other RepRap derivative with two important differences. Firstly, it takes plastic pellets as its raw feedstock, rather than coils of filament, which are much cheaper top buy. Secondly, because of its size Fouche typically equips it with a nozzle of 8mm (it will take standard 3mm hotends, mind) which means it ejects a lot of plastic very quickly. A typical desktop 3D printer might take four or five hours to print a phone stand, it only took a bit longer for Fouche to print a lawnmower. He says it’s about 10 times faster than other printers.

Fouche's 3D printed lawnmover. We've used it. It works.

Fouche’s 3D printed lawnmower. We’ve used it. It works.

The bad news is that the Cheetah really isn’t for everyone. It’s designed primarily for rapid prototyping in heavy industry, and to be a cheap alternative to large laser sintering machines that cost millions of rand. At R100 000 it might be 10 times faster than desktop printers, but it’s also 10 times more expensive. So unless you really want to 3D print every piece of furniture in your home, and possibly your home as well, it’s probably not for the humble hobbiest. By comparison, though, the BigRep One – a similarly sized machine also based on RepRap principles – costs around $39 000 (R458 000), which makes Cheetah 3.1 the cheapest in class.

Interested? You can contact Fouche via his website here.

And this is what it looks like right now.

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Cheetah 3.1 in all it's giant 3D printed glory.

Cheetah 3.1 in all it’s giant 3D printed glory.

[All images supplied, except top image CC-by-2.0/ Tambako the Jaguar]

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