Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Makerbot Method Has an Open Materials Platform; Mitsubishi, Kimya, Polymaker, BASF, Lehvoss and Jabil Join Alliance

ST Medical Devices

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Stratasys has announced that its Makerbot Method 3D Printer now has an Experimental Extruder that automatically turns it into an open materials printer. You can now buy a MakerBot LABS Experimental Extruder and then buy materials from Jabil, Polymaker, Kimya, Mitsubishi Chemical, LEHVOSS Group and BASF, Makerbot’s materials partners.

Johan-Till Broer, VP of Product Development, MakerBot said:

“By transforming METHOD into an open materials platform, we provide our users with an incredibly powerful tool to realize their ideas. Engineers can now print a growing number of advanced third-party materials on an industrial 3D printing platform, which was designed to produce stronger and more accurate parts than competing desktop 3D printers. We have partnered with some of the best material companies in the industry to rapidly expand and diversify the materials portfolio for METHOD. With our partners and customers, we will explore the boundaries of what’s possible with METHOD to unlock new applications.”

Dr. Xiaofan Luo the CEO of  Polymake, was quoted as saying:

“With more synergy between material and machine we see a greater focus on the applications realized with 3D printing. High temperature materials provide a gateway to production-ready printed parts and the METHOD is the perfect platform to utilize them,”

The company touts its heated build chamber and own soluble support materials, sensors tracking temperature as key advantages of the printer. It also discloses that the new extruder can go to 300°C which could potentially unlock some rather interesting materials such as PA and perhaps even PEKK. Some of the new materials available through their alliance now include Polymaker PC, Jabil ESD safe PETg, Jabil TPE, Kimya ABS Carbon which has been loaded with 30% chopped carbon fiber, Kimya PETg carbon, and Mitsubishi Durabio which is a bio-based PC.

Makerbot’s rise was swift and the company pioneered desktop 3D printing. Its fall was almost as fast with serious engineering missteps, quality control issues accompanied by deep feelings of hate from many in our community. A significant portion of us will never really forgive Bre for his missteps and the fact that the firm turned its back on open source and even started patenting innovations made by its community. New owner Stratasys has now with the Method developed a credible printer, however. Will we ever love Makerbot again? I’m not sure, but we could use them at one point.

The Method works well and delivers good reliable results. Opening up that machine to a materials alliance should increase the number of materials available for the method. With better pricing and more manufacturing options the Method should be more useful. Just like Stratasys’ materials alliance for its industrial systems an “open materials” or “semi-open materials alliance” is a step away from control towards manufacturing. When manufacturing many suppliers and materials give you confidence and reduce vendor lock-in making it more likely that you’ll use that printer at scale. Whereas being completely open would be even better for end-users I applaud this move towards a more mature industry-ready 3D printing market.

 

 

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