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NAutilus 3D Printer

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 The Idea and who I am

My name is John Kray. I am a young hardware designer with a dream to create an affordable desktop 3D printer that integrates all the best technologies desktop 3D printing currently offers, all into one cohesive package! I have a degree in Physics from Lewis & Clark College, and I have been running a 3D print service for almost 2 years now. This experience has led me to add many of my own modifications and improvements to my printers to increase reliability, robustness, and quality. I want to take what I have learned and create a 3D printer that can really push what is possible for 3D printing, without compromising on usability and affordability.

Some important notes

The information on this page is sparse as I am developing this printer on my own in addition to running my 3D print service. I apologize that there is not more information and that some of it may not be up to date with where the development is currently at. As development moves forward, I am hoping to bring more people on board and provide more information. If you are reading this and are interested in helping on the project please fill out the form at the bottom of this page. 


Some Prints of the Nautilus Prototype


Development Updates

Fully Enclosed

There are many great desktop 3D printer out today, but most still have an open frame design making the room they are in dictate the printing environment. This is fine for some materials like PLA and PETG, which do not shrink much as they cool. However, once you start printing larger parts or want to use other materials like ABS, ASA, and Nylon, printing in an uncontrolled environment introduces a number of challenges. This is why the Nautilus 3D printer will be a fully enclosed solution, reducing that chance of parts warping, and increasing the layer bonding and strength of the prints. 

Another benefit of having a enclosed printing environment, is we can trap the fumes and more importantly the micro particles that are created through the process of melting plastics at high temperatures. There is still a lot of research that needs to be done about the harmfulness of micro plastic particles, but it is generally agreed upon that they do pose a health concern. With the fully enclosed environment we have the option to add air filtration, or ventilation systems similar to a fume hood.

A fully enclosed printer is the first step. It traps the heat generated by the heat bed and the hotend,  raising the temperature of the print environment which greatly aids in layer adhesion and reduces prat warping. Yet we can take it one step further. Starting out with this great platform allows us to look into adding a heater upgrade later down the line. This would give the user precise control over the temperature of the print environment.  



Why 3 materials

How many desktop 3D printer out right now come with dual extrusion? The list is not long, and gets even shorter when you consider for many of these printers, dual extrusion is a expensive upgrade that may require quite a bit of assembly by the user. I want to change that. The Nautilus 3D printer will come standard with 3 material capabilities. Three materials offers some really exciting possibilities. 

Dedicated support material is huge advance in desktop 3D printing. Using soluble supports allows for new more complicated geometries to be printed, while improving the surface of supported areas on the part, and removing the chance of damaging the part during support removal. The other option is break away support material, which is much easier and faster to remove than the old method of using the same material as the part for supports. Three materials allows us to always have a dedicated support material, yet still have two more material slots which we can use different colors or different materials all in the same print.

Open source design files available on Thingiverse



Feeding the beast

Traditionally there are two feeding systems for 3D printers, direct drive and bowden. Direct drive offers more precise extrusion and the ability to print flexible materials, but puts more weight on the moving axis. Additionally, multi-material direct drive setups are heavy and require multiple hotends and stepper motors. Alternatively, bowden takes the extruder motor of the moving axis, reducing the inertia of the axis. However, bowden has far less extrusion accuracy and cannot really handle flexible material all that well. My solution is to have one direct drive extruder using dual Bondtech drive gears and one hotend with an automatic filament loading system very similar to what Joseph Prusa is working on right now with his MMU 2.0. This means multi-material printing with the precise extrusion of direct drive.



Tool Cartridges

This one is simple, the Nautilus 3D printer will have quick change hotends called Tool Cartridges similar to the ink cartridges on an inkjet printer. This means, swapping out a hotend for one with a different nozzle diameter only takes a matter of seconds. Additionally, if the hotend gets clogged or damaged, it is quick and easy to remove and clean it or replace entirely if the damage is beyond repair. No disassembly required!

Yes, we will be using genuine E3D for the hotend and plan to support both brass and hardened steel variants.

Modern Features


Detachable magnetic build surface

The Nautilus 3D printer will have a detachable magnetic flexible build surface. The means part removal is quick and easy. Simply flex the bed and the part pops off! This also allows for having a different build surfaces for different materials, and no more difficult removal and replacing of PEI sheets. 

7in touchscreen printer user interface

A large 7in touch screen will be used for the printers interface. This allows for easy navigation of the Nautilus' UI. 



We are now using the Duet 2 WiFi 32bit controller board as something with a bit more power and flexibility was needed to enable all the features we want to have. This replaces the Einsy Rambo that was initially being used for this printer. 

The Duet 2 WiFi offers awesome features such as StallGaurd for senor-less homing and crash detection, built in WiFi for sending print files from Cura over a local network, power loss recovery, and much more!


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The Nautilus will run a custom configuration of the Duet RepRap firmware.

Slicing will be done in Cura 3 and we will be submitting custom configuration to Ultimaker so that support for the Nautilus will be baked right into each new release of Ultimaker Cura. Sliced files can be sent directly from Cura to the Nautilus over WiFi.

We will also be developing and tuning profiles for a number of popular filament brands, so that printing with many of the top filaments can be done in just a couple clicks!



We will be utilizing the CoreXY kinematic system. This means all steppers save the extruder stepper will not be on the moving axis. This will decrease the weight moving axis resulting in more precise movement and less ringing artifacts. The Nautilus will also use Igus Dryling bearings for silent operation. This enables the use of Igus aluminum rounds as Drylin bearings will not damage the soft aluminum like ball bearing would, and the aluminum rods are much lighter than their stainless steel counterparts.

The build plate will be supported on both sides by steppers with integrated lead screws. The means the build plate will not vibrate, and there will be nearly no slop in the z direction resulting in precise adjustments to print layer height. 


Open Source

We will be releasing design files and component sourcing for all aspects of the Nautilus 3D printer. If the printer succeeds source files will be released at launch. 


Portland Mini Maker Faire

We had a great time sharing our new Nautilus 3D Printer prototype at the Portland Mini Maker Faire this September!

Thank you to all those who stopped by and showed their enthusiasm and support for what we are doing. It was awesome!

Here are a few pictures from the event.

Help make the Nautilus 3D printer a reality!

This is strictly a donation! You are contributing towards the development of the Nautilus 3D printer. Your contribution does NOT guarantee the success of the printer and you will NOT receive a printer in return for you contribution. That said, I will be forever thankful, and you can have the great feeling of supporting the development of a new standard of what a desktop 3D printer should and can offer! Contributions of $100+ can optionally have their names listed in the Contributors section below.


Or show your support by purchasing some Hydra Research swag!

Proceeds go directly to the Nautilus 3D Printer R&D  

T-Shirt - Hydra Research
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Stickers - Hydra Research
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Join the Team?

If you have knowledge building and design 3D printers and would be interested in working on this project, please fill out the form below.



John Kray

Founder of Hydra Research
Contribution: Project lead

Zach Rose

Engineer/Product Designer at Hydra Research
Contribution: Product development

Devan Tormey

Contribution: PCB design/fabrication

Glenn Hill

Contribution: PCB design/fabrication

Financial Contributors

Tom Kray | Gina Kray