South African 3D printing enthusiast Hans Fouche has built his own large-scale 3D printer called the Cheetah (on account of its speediness) and used it to print the shell of a lawnmower. But the printer isn’t just capable of printing larger objects than even the biggest MakerBot 3D printer (which local IT distributor Rectron recently began distributing in South Africa) it does so in a fraction of the time – albeit at lower resolution: the Cheetah uses a 3mm extruder nozzle rather than the 0.5mm nozzles found on most large 3D printers.
Fouche, who lives in Kempton Park, east of Johannesburg built the Cheetah in his garage, and originally used it to print large vases and other household items before turning his attention to “making something useful”. He says he hopes to eventually sell Cheetah 3D printers for around $10 000 each through his company, Fouche 3D Printing.
With a build volume of 1m x 1m x 1m and the ability to use cheap ABS granules as its printing material rather than the filament most 3D printers do – which Fouche says costs about 10 times as much – he might even find a few buyers for the Cheetah.
The lawnmower parts – which include the wheels, chassis and covers – took a mere nine hours to print. Fouche then added the motor, blade, handle and wheel axles from an existing lawnmower that had seen better days.
Plans for Fouche’s mower are available online and have already been downloaded more than 150 times, but given the scale of some of the parts you’d most likely need an industrial-sized 3D printer to make use of them.
Watch the mower in action below: