Already, CES 2018 is only a little over a month away. It’s getting so close, in fact, that the CES Innovation Award recipients are being named. The Innovation Awards honor what CES describes as “outstanding product design and engineering” in new consumer technology, and they’re highly coveted every year as a stamp of excellence. In the 3D Printing category this year, the award goes to Ethereal Machines, a Bengaluru-based company gaining attention for its 5-axis 3D printer/CNC machine hybrid, the Ethereal Halo.
A typical 3D printer prints on three axes: X, Y and Z. With a 5-axis 3D printer – also sometimes called a 5D printer – the movement of the build platform actually creates two additional axes. This results in more design flexibility, more complex parts, and greater part strength. The Ethereal Halo is the first 5-axis machine Ethereal Machines has designed; the company began by manufacturing standard 3-axis machines until it decided to challenge itself – not only by creating a 5-axis machine, but by making it both a 3D printer and a CNC machine.
“All our earlier products were 3-axis machines,” said Kaushik Mudda, one of the founders of Ethereal Machines. “After building a sustainable business we wanted to up the ante to make a desktop scale 5-axis CNC machine. The existing ones were all really huge, and really costly, so we thought this was a good challenge. And we didn’t realise that a bunch of mechanical engineers like us wouldn’t suffice, so we had to bring in designers, electrical engineers, coders, and so on. But then we had the idea of let’s delve into additive manufacturing. So once we had the 5-axis CNC, from mechanical engineering to the proprietary code that’s require to print with it, we just started toying with the idea of ‘what will happen if I move an additive head onto this machine?’ and from there we got to the Halo.”
The disadvantage of typical FDM 3D printing, Mudda explained, is that you’re essentially just stacking layers on top of each other, and if you put enough force on the Z axis the part is going to break. The moving bed of a 5-axis 3D printer, however, allows the machine to print from different angles, building an object that’s sturdier than stacked layers. It also allows for geometries that aren’t possible with conventional FDM 3D printers.
“So imagine something like a concave shaped cap – it’s impossible to make with a regular 3D printer, because you’d need to build a lot of filler, and supports,” he continued. “But with a 5-axis since the bed itself is moving, it gives me the freedom to print however I want, [make] that kind of structure. Or a cylinder with fan blades, how do you do that with a regular 3D printer?”
By combining both subtractive and additive manufacturing in one machine, even more flexibility is enabled. Entire products can be built on the same machine, in the same build, with the 3D printer and the CNC router working together – the user can easily switch between them at any time. The machine is desktop-sized, too, and prints with a wide range of 3D printing materials. It can also machine a large variety of materials, meaning that complex multi-material objects can be built, even things like wearable electronics, said Mudda.
Winning the CES Innovation Award came as a surprise, and has gotten Ethereal Machines some attention. Recently the company signed a contract with the University of Sheffield, where students will use the Halo for aerospace and aviation applications. It’s a busy time for Ethereal Machines, which is now at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit beginning in Hyderabad today. And of course, there are preparations for CES, which is taking place in Las Vegas from January 9-12.
You can take a look at the Ethereal Halo in action below:
Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.[Source: Gadgets360]
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