After their very public spat with a rival light-cured resin 3D printer manufacturer in November, the Canada-based NewPro3D had been keeping a relatively low profile. While the company was almost two years old, and had the advanced SLA 3D printing technology to show for it, they weren’t really at the point where they wanted to make themselves public. Unfortunately fate stepped in and the battle with the NEXA3D team forced their hand and they revealed their ILI 3D printing process (Intelligent Liquid Interface) to the world. But without an actual product on the market there wasn’t much else to do but go back to work and finish what they were working on.
The NewPro3D team certainly fared better than NEXA3D, who ended up cancelling their Kickstarter campaign, blaming the Canadian startup and their allegations against them. There is little argument that NewPro3D’s accusations stalled the campaign’s early momentum, although in the wake of the implosions of Pirate3D and the iBox Nano, it was probably more of a timing issue coupled with the quickly assembled Kickstarter that did them in.
NewPro3D didn’t really seem sure where to go next with their new tech; do they market a 3D printer or license it as OEM for other 3D printer manufacturers? It wasn’t until the team got a visit at their Vancouver HQ from the grandpappy of 3D printing himself, Chuck Hull, to give them encouragement that they decided to head off to Las Vegas for CES 2016 where they ended up making quite the splash.
There was a lot of buzz going around the CES floor as visitors to the NewPro3D booth watched in awe as the notoriously complicated Eiffel Tower model printed flawlessly in fifteen minutes. You’ve probably seen plenty of 3D printer manufacturers show off their own versions of the small replica of the iconic French landmark that has replaced the ever-present Yoda head as the go-to test of a 3D printer’s quality — primarily because it actually is a pretty hard model to print, and has plenty of detail to show off layer resolution. Typical FDM 3D printers can produce a similar-sized tower in about eleven hours, so watching it literally get pulled out of a vat of resin in minutes is bound to cause a stir.
If NewPro3D’s primary reason for attending CES was to show off what their technology is capable of and get exposure then it was a job well done. After two years of working in near secret on the ILI process it certainly made some impressions, and according to the company brought them quite a bit of interest in business opportunities and partnerships. On some level I’d imagine their trip to CES was worthwhile for the simple catharsis of being validated, and not worried that their two years of hard work was for nothing, as I’m sure many of them felt during their row with NEXA3D.
“What people are most excited about, is the evolution of speed across the industry. These are major strides towards 3D printing becoming closer and closer to being viable for mass production at speeds and costs that can surpass traditional methods of manufacturing, with no design limitations. This shift towards the commercialization of 3D printing would not be possible without the constant competition within the industry to make prints more intricate, faster, lighter, stronger and more cost effective,” NewPro3D’s Nick Findler told 3DPrint.com.
“NewPro3D’s primary objective for CES was to showcase the speed of the technology and to explore a variety of business opportunities such as partnerships, licensing and going into full scale in house production. and the interest has been almost overwhelming and has definitely left the team feeling validated in what our team of engineers have worked so hard on over the past 24 months to create.”
Here is an interview with NewPro3D’s Diego Castanon Seoane and Nick Findler at CES:
I still maintain that as incredible as the growing speed of light-cured resin 3D printers are, the material expense and mess involved in the process is still an issue that needs to be dealt with on the manufacturer level. Not to mention the cost, which is not likely to sway most users away from FDM any time soon. But it’s clear that the technology is impressive and that there is a lot of potential for it in the industry. We have the speed, now let’s make it cheaper, give it more material options and make it less of a hassle.
We’ll see what the future holds for NewPro3D’s technology in the coming months I’m sure, but for now the company is deciding where they want to take their technology next. They’re also continuing to develop two additional 3D printers, one large enough to manufacture a 25 foot turbine blade in only 16 hours, and a new metal 3D printer that uses a new, never before seen process that they promise will completely shatter existing metal 3D printing speeds. Discuss this new machine in the ILI 3D Printer forum thread on 3DPB.com.