Can a $40 FlexTILT 3D-Printed Head Compete With the $149 Original?

Is 3D printing the next step in niche manufacturing for photography gear? How does a 3D-printed product stack up against its all-metal CNC'ed inspiration?

Earlier this year, Edelkrone announced a 3D printable version of its FlexTILT tripod head as part of a new program called ORTAK. The new ORTAK line of products is an attempt to take advantage of the rise in consumer 3D printing technology by providing the non-3D printed materials and plans for a product. The consumer can then make their own to suit their individual needs for a lower cost than buying the full Metal version. 

Angus Deveson over at Maker's Muse took the time to make a 3D-printed version and put it to the test and see if it can compete with the original metal design. I've seen a few attempts and reviews of the tripod head, but Deveson and Maker's Muse are a great resource dedicated to 3D-printing techniques, products, and improving the 3D-printing community. So, it is interesting to see how good a product he can produce with his experience and at what cost. 

Deveson also talks about whether this type of manufacturing is something that more companies should or will be doing in the future. 3D printing is on the rise, and the price of quality consumer printers is dropping rapidly. Not only that, but there are more and more resources for well-designed product blueprints that can be bought online. 

So, is this something you would be willing to build at home to save a few dollars? I know I would love to feel the difference between the two myself. 

Have you 3D printed your own FlexTILT? How does it perform?

Michael DeStefano's picture

Michael DeStefano is a commercial/editorial photographer focusing on Outdoor Lifestyle and Adventure. Based in Boston, MA he combines his passion for outdoor sports like climbing and surfing into his work. When not traveling or outdoors he is often found geeking out over new tech gadgets.

Log in or register to post comments

I fail to see the use of this entire design of head. It seems less versatile than pretty much every other head design.

You are not alone here.

I agree I don't have much interest in this particular design. But the video really isn't about the design so much as can a 3D printed version compare and will we see more companies design with this in mind. That I do find interesting.

In some situations It is actually quite helpful, first off it has a much lower profile than regular heads, the fact that you can move it up and down the vertical axis is unique to this head and has often proved very helpful in tight spaces where a tripod can’t extend as high as you’d like. I use it mostly on sliders for Tim lapse , it is lighter than a regular head too, and you can get overhead shots with it...

Its very useful on a monopod or camera stand where all you need is quick and easy tilt without having to fuss with knobs. Makes focus and recompose much easier on a tripod. I have one for my camera stand in studio and one for my monopod.

A monopod is a tilt. You dont need a head to tilt on a monopod, thats specifically why you would choose a monopod over a tripod.

I have never been in a situation where I thought, man, if I could only get my camera 2 inches taller.

The only benefit to using this over a standard ball head, is it can raise two inches. But cant adjust for level, and is extremely limited in every other way.

If you tilt a monopod you lose stability. Having a quick and easy z-tilt on top keeps the monopod upright and you can quickly tilt up or down accordingly.

This isn't meant to replace a ball head. Its a differnt tool for different situations and needs. I don't need a ball-head on my camera stand in studio where it is always level. I use a ball head on a tripod when I am in-field. I still like to have the z-tilt on top of the ball head since I can use the ball head to frame up the shot nice - lock it down. Then use the z-tilt for quick and easy focus and recompose, or small tweaks in composition - while still having the ball head in home position.

Lost count of the number of ads I've seen for this tilting Z head thing. It has no place in arsenal.
However, I have printed a lot of helper components from small shoes to hold up small bounce cards on a tabletop setup to pars for long-term time-lapse cameras housings that I build.

That what I would like to start doing. Printing little things to make life easier.

I never got the original aluminum head because I found it way to expensive for what it does, I had bought a chinese knock off that was advertised online with the original edelkrone images (one could call it fraud) for slightly more than the 3d printed version, it was completely useless. When this came out I pulled the trigger, works perfectly as advertised!

I think this will be very cool with other accessories, such as lens hoods. Especially if you can get the design and then modify some of the design to ones own preferences.

I'm not a specialist but I think that the end result depends on printing technology and material for print. Carbon fiber 3D printers should be great for such things. They used for printing industrial-grade parts.