3D Desktop Printer

Desktop Factory

Industrial Design, Mechanical Engineering, Contextual Research

Background and Challenges

With support from Idealab, a multibillion-dollar technology incubator, Desktop Factory challenged Nectar to design and engineer the enclosure, hopper, and coating subsystems for an innovative desktop printer that produces durable plastic objects and parts—with smooth finishes and detailed features—from 3D computer-aided design (CAD) data.

Innovating a 3D Printer for the Desktop

While many manufacturing, product development, and tooling companies leverage 3D printers for rapid prototyping, bringing 3D printing technology to the home and office desktop is the mission of the Desktop Factory.

Innovating a 3D Printer for the Desktop

Supporting Multiple Desktop 3D Printing Needs

Unlike existing 3D printers, whose primary focus is on the production of physical prototypes of mechanical parts for use by engineers, the Desktop Factory 3D Desktop Printer needed to support the varying requirements of the home and office. In other words, the Desktop 3D Printer had to address the needs of model hobbyists, part-time designers, and professionals ranging from architects to surgeons. Satisfying these wide-ranging applications presented challenges that required extensive research into who would use the printer and how it would be used as a critical stage of development.

Engineering a Simple, Affordable 3D Printer

After conducting human factor and configuration studies, Nectar performed industrial design on the printer’s exterior, control panel, hopper, and coating subsystem. Using research findings, evaluations of concept mockups, and the results of color studies, Nectar refined the design for the Desktop Factory 3D Desktop Printer and generated detailed CAD models and a ready-to-manufacture production package. The firm also served as liaison to the manufacturing vendor to ensure quality, cost-effective production.

Delivering a 3D Desktop Printer with Mass-Market Appeal

Nectar delivered an innovative 3D Desktop Printer design that fulfills the Desktop Factory’s vision of a low-cost-yet-capable 3D printer for mass home and office markets. The Desktop Factory 3D Desktop Printer builds durable, functional models from the bottom up, one layer at a time.


With this affordable 3D Desktop Printer, small firms and independent professionals can open up new markets for their talents. Educators can also leverage the technology to help students develop creative, imaginative, and practical skills that will benefit their future careers.

Delivering a 3D Desktop Printer with Mass-Market Appeal