Additive Manufacturing Strategies

AON3D Introduces the AON-M Industrial 3D Printer: High-Performance Thermoplastics at Low Cost

ST Medical Devices

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The AON-M

We’ve been talking a lot about Kickstarter campaigns lately. We’ve seen some amazingly successful ones, and then a few others that have been…a bit less successful. AON3D’s 2015 Kickstarter, which introduced the industrial AON 3D printer, was definitely one of the former, bringing in a total of $89,643 – well over the campaign’s $65,000 funding goal. Now, the Montreal-based company is introducing a new model, one that, according to AON3D, surpasses the first in every way.

Randeep Singh, AON3D’s Head of Business Development, describes the new AON-M as a business-friendly industrial 3D printer that offers the same features and quality as some of the industry’s most high-end printers, for a fraction of the cost. It’s an improvement over the original AON in terms of design, software, and most of all, materials. The AON-M can print with an extensive list of materials – just about every FFF material on the market, the company says, including the rare PEEK and other high-performance thermoplastics. A brief list:

  • PEEK
  • PPSU
  • PET-x
  • Polycarbonate
  • ULTEM
  • Composites including glass, carbon fiber, metal, wood
  • PLA, ABS, HIPS, nylon

“New materials open up new applications,” Singh tells 3DPrint.com. “With materials like PEEK and ULTEM, you’re able to use 3D printed parts in the field. You can install them under the hood of a car (for example)…you can use the parts for many more end-use applications.”

“Rapid prototyping is our core market right now,” he adds. “We would like to move into more general manufacturing in the future, but right now most of our customers are doing low-volume manufacturing.”

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A part printed in PEEK on the AON-M

“End-use” is the key, as manufacturers begin to look towards 3D printing functional parts instead of just prototypes. The shift really began when Carbon introduced the M1 3D printer, which, in addition to its unprecedented print speed, shook up the industry by presenting thermoplastic materials that could actually be used for tough, functional parts. Since then, other 3D printer manufacturers have begun focusing more on developing printers that can create end-use parts as well.

As the range of 3D printable thermoplastics continues to broaden, companies like AON3D look towards offering high-performance materials at a low cost. Roboze may always be known as the company that brought affordable PEEK and PEI to the 3D printing market for the first time, but those kinds of materials are becoming increasingly more accessible as 3D printer manufacturers refine the technology. At $14,950 CAD, the AON-M is particularly inexpensive for a printer of its capabilities.

The key, Singh tells us, is the AON-M’s actively heated build chamber. It’s significantly hotter inside than the original AON, which makes it capable of handling a much wider array of materials. The reason that high-performance thermoplastics are difficult to print is because they have the tendency to crack and warp, but the AON-M’s high heat – the build chamber reaches a temperature of 70°C, or nearly 160ºF – prevents these issues.

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Like the original AON, the AON-M features dual independently controllable extruders for multimaterial printing, and a specialized “duplication mode” allows the user to complete production runs at twice the speed. The default nozzle size is 0.6 mm, but 0.4, 0.8, 1.0 and 1.2 mm options are also available. Additional specifications include:

  • Printer size: 800 x 900 x 1250 mm
  • Build volume: 454 x 454 x 640 mm
  • Maximum print speed: 500 mm/s
  • Z layer height: >0.05 mm
  • Build plate: Removable borosilicate glass on MIC6 aluminum plate with optional PEI surface
  • XY resolution: 0.025 mm (theoretical)
  • Z resolution: 0.001 mm (theoretical)

At some point, Singh tells us, AON3D hopes to add to the AON-M’s already long list of printable materials.

“Materials are the future,” he says.

The rest of the 3D printing industry will likely agree, as printer manufacturers race to outdo each other with newer, better, more high-performance materials. If it’s a materials race that’s happening right now – and it certainly seems to be – AON has positioned themselves comfortably near the front. Discuss in the AON-M forum at 3DPB.com.

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