Some of the coolest 3D printers I’ve seen have been the ordinary MakerBots or other basic printers that have been hacked by individuals and turned into something unique – a tattoo machine, a candy printer, etc. Often, those printers are altered simply by removing the extruder and replacing it with something else – like a tattoo needle or a syringe. Recently, there have been a few 3D printer manufacturers who are beginning to cash in on that kind of thinking by creating swappable extruders so that one machine can be used for very different functions.
Georgia manufacturer Hyrel 3D has gone a step further by developing a line of exchangeable extruders that actually are syringes. The Syringe Delivery System (SDS) is a series of syringes ranging in capacity from 100 microliters to 60cc, and you can load them with anything. Not just your standard 3D printing materials, but really anything – adhesives, gels, fluids, pastes, whatever you want, and they are capable of printing with nanoliter resolution. The system is ideal for biological printing applications; for example, Hyrel 3D suggests using it for:
- Bio-gels and liquids used for bioplotting
- Proteins, steroids, and PEG gels
- RGB materials
- Conductive pastes and liquids
“The SDS opens up the unrestricted sourcing of chemicals for 3D printing — you’re no longer restricted to what suppliers will sell you,” says Hyrel Chief Technology Officer Karl Gifford. “It’s ideal for people that want to develop cost-effective applications in numerous fields.”
It could also just lend itself to fun experimentation, too – although at $400 for a single print head, you’d better be pretty dedicated to your experimentation. Used in a professional setting, the system could lead to some intriguing developments. Hyrel 3D says that their goal is to break up the “monopolies on material supply chains by 3D printing companies” by allowing users to print absolutely anything they can think of printing, rather than being limited to what can be made with existing materials on the market.
According to Hyrel 3D, the SDS is the result of collaboration between research teams on five different continents. This isn’t the company’s first foray into multipurpose 3D printing; their Hyrel System 30M is a massive, multi-talented machine that is compatible with a multitude of tool heads for 3D printing in any material, as well as laser cutting and routing. Four SDS extruders can be used at once on the System 30M; materials can be mixed and matched as you choose. A quad-extrusion print head that is compatible with micro-fluidic mixing chips will run you at least $2,500.
Hyrel 3D has only been around for three years, and their product development has been relatively quiet, but that looks like it’s about to change.
“While our first three years in business have been focused on product development, we’re very optimistic about what 2016 has in store for us,” says Matt Koesters, Communications and Public Relations Specialist for Hyrel 3D. “Our technology is disruptive — even by the standards of the 3D printing industry — and we are poised for some very aggressive growth.”
Discuss your thoughts on this new technology in the Hyrel 3D Printer forum over at 3DPB.com,