Spotlight on Kickstarter: The Buccaneer 3D Printer

Project Name: The Buccaneer – The 3D Printer that everyone can use!

Category: Hardware

Goal: $100,000 (£64,000 – which was met in 10 minutes!)

Currently Funded: $893,000 (£570,000)

Deadline for Pledging: 29 June 2013

We've certainly had some fun fooling around with 3D printers in our time, but price tags in the thousands have been a real barrier to widespread home consumer adoption. However, the swashbucklers at Pirate 3D are changing that with the $397 (£254) Buccaneer 3D printer. Their Kickstarter campaign has already met its goal nine times over, guaranteeing manufacturing for backers.

The Buccaneer looks like an old Power Mac G4 Cube, but with a hole at the top for inserting the consumable plastic 1.75mm PLA spool in a cartridge that feeds the printer. Unlike the MakerBot Replicator and other current 3D printers, the printing happens out of sight; once your item is finished it's lowered onto the platform below. The Buccaneer has built-in Wi-Fi so you can treat it like any wireless printer, as well as a cloud connection option to print from your smartphone or tablet while away from your home.

All the software to run the Buccaneer is free, and Pirate 3D features Smart Objects software for browsers and Android to let you design an object (which will expand to other platforms). For all you inventors out there, the company hasn't completely dumbed down the experience – there's also a full software development kit (SDK) in development.

Don't expect titanic print-outs with the Buccaneer though. The printer itself is almost half the size of a MakerBot Replicator 2, so its build volume is also smaller: 150 x 100 x 120mm maximum. However, the layer resolution is the same – 100 microns – so the quality should be on par. Plus, it ships (arrrrr!) ready to plug in and use, no assembly required.

Early Kickstarter backers have already snatched up the first 360 Buccaneers for $297 (£190), but you can still land one for the regular price of $397 (£254), which includes one print cartridge and shipping to anywhere in the United States, Canada, or Singapore, where Pirate 3D is based (shipping to the UK will run you an extra £64 on top, for a total purchase price of £318).

Expect your printer to arrive early 2014 unless you pledge at least $997 (£638), in which case it'll arrive in December with your name laser-engraved, along with 10 bundled cartridges.

Interested in other neat Kickstarter tech projects? Then check out Robohand, a 3D-printed mechanical hand for people missing fingers, and EMBRACE+, a smart bracelet that lights up to notify you when your phone gets a message.