Last year, a group of former MakerBot employees decided to venture out into the confines of Brooklyn, New York, looking to start their own 3D printing service bureau, which they’ve called Voodoo Manufacturing. Thus far, Voodoo seems like a promising venture, having already collaborated with the Syfy channel to 3D print characters and gadgets from a number of their television shows, which were put on display back in March at the Silicon Valley Comic Con. The print farm startup has also placed a keen focus on sustainability and waste prevention, recently ridding itself of over 600 pounds of plastic waste, which was given to Filabot in order to recycle it back into usable filament.
Home to around 127 MakerBot 3D printers, mostly comprised of Replicator 2s and a few larger-scale Z18s, Voodoo Manufacturing is constantly looking for new ways to enhance their services and spread the gospel of 3D printing. This week, they’re prepared to introduce their newest and most flexible material to date, their thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), which will be offered in full-flex and semi-flex. The TPU materials’ specs include:
- Density: 1.2 g/cc
- Melting point: 216 °C full-flex, 168 °C semi-flex
- Shore Hardness: 85A full-flex, 98A semi-flex
- Elongation at break: 660% full-flex, 600% semi-flex
As Voodoo Manufacturing notes on their materials page:
“TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) is a flexible but strong material, ideal for parts that require rubber-like properties. It has great elasticity, allowing for repeated stretching, movement, and impact without wear or degradation. We offer both full-flex and semi-flex versions, perfect for applications and parts including seals, gaskets, plugs, and more generally flexible parts, components, and products.”
According to Voodoo Manufacturing co-founder Max Friefeld, the TPU material has the versatility of synthetic rubber, but is also much more resistant to wear and tear. Voodoo has been experimenting with this new material for quite some time, but wanted to ensure that material was viable to their business model.
“We’ve been doing TPU on a one-off basis for the last few months on individual projects,” Friefeld said. “The biggest thing, the reason we’re announcing it now is…we didn’t want to release the material until we could guarantee we could do 10,000 parts in two weeks or less.”
Despite their vast arrangement of MakerBot 3D printers, printing 10,000 parts from the TPU material in less than two weeks is no easy feat. The primary reason is that the MakerBot 3D printers weren’t quite engineered to print with the rubbery TPU, which led to numerous issues with clogging. After some timely modifications, though, Voodoo Manufacturing was eventually able to print the TPU material at a reliable and high quality rate.
According to Friefeld, the TPU material stemmed from the demand of their customers, who are eager to start prototyping and producing with materials that aren’t rigid plastic. The TPU could also help bring desktop FDM printing to a newfound level, providing more than just a manufacturing tool for small plastic items and rapid prototyping. Seeing as their growing customer base has been clamoring for this new rubbery material, the TPU is sure to bring about more innovative projects out of the Brooklyn-based Voodoo Manufacturing facility.
The startup certainly has room to grow and experiment with new materials, as they’ve continually reinvested and expanded their 3D printer hardware with their own revenue, rather than through funding rounds. With the recent news of MakerBot fleeing their Brooklyn manufacturing center for cheaper pastures in outsourced production, Voodoo Manufacturing is now poised to take over the role as New York City’s darling 3D printing company. As they continue to expand upon their material and printing capabilities, Voodoo could soon become an established pioneer for the advancement of desktop FDM printing. Thoughts? Discuss further over in the Voodoo 3D Printing forum over at 3DPB.com.[Sources: Voodoo Manufacturing, Technical.ly]