[email protected] was the first multi-material 3D printer available to the public, and one of the first two open-source DIY 3D printers (the other one being the RepRap). Up until 2005, all 3D printers were industrial scale, expensive and proprietary. The high cost and closed nature of the 3D printing industry at the time limited the accessibility of the technology to the masses, the range of materials that could be used and the level of exploration that could be done by end-users. The goal of the [email protected] project was to change this situation by creating a versatile, low-cost, open and "hackable" printer to accelerate technology innovation and its migration into the consumer and Maker space.
Since its open-source release in 2006, hundreds of [email protected] 3D printers were built across the world, and its design elements could be found in many later DIY printers, most notably the Makerbot Replicator. The printer’s multiple syringe-based deposition method allowed for some of the first multi-material prints including direct fabrication of active batteries, actuators, and sensors, as well as esoteric materials for bioprinting and food printing. The project was closed in 2012 when it was clear that the project’s goal was achieved and distribution of DIY and consumer printers outpaced the sales of industrial printers for the first time.