With a mission to deliver 3D printing to the factory floor, the Mosaic Manufacturing team has revealed an entirely new automated system expected to revolutionize workflows by creating a scalable infrastructure, unlocking increased throughput, and decreasing part costs. This combination of ideal benefits is only possible thanks to the company’s automated Array system, made up of four multi-material 3D printers that can run for over 72 hours with no operator intervention.
Array’s ecosystem relies on a host of technologies, including Mosaic’s proven Palette add-on, which was developed to allow multi-material 3D printing for any desktop printer, along with its new Element HT printer, Canvas software, and its exclusive 3D printing material line. Starting at $59,999, Mosaic will begin shipping the first Array units in December 2021. As part of the highly anticipated launch, Mosaic is also unveiling the latest iteration of its flagship Palette technology which incorporates even more materials into a single part, helping democratize access to multi-material printing – a functionality usually reserved for inkjetting printers that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Since its foundation in 2014, the Canadian-based business has increasingly focused attention on reducing the total cost of 3D printed parts and creating a scalable infrastructure to drive the adoption of 3D printing in high-volume applications. Through this new technology, Mosaic says it has developed a solution to bring the cost of a 3D printed part down by up to 95% while increasing the throughput of one operator 17 times. For example, Mosaic can reduce the cost of a $20 3D printed part to $1 at scale, and instead of one operator running a maximum of 15 3D printers, a single person can now run the equivalent of 250 3D printers. This highly ambitious technology is part of a mission to enable scalable output of fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printing.
According to Mosaic, the current 3D printing infrastructure follows a linear cost function, which means that the cost for each unit produced remains the same no matter how many units are made. So, if a part costs $5 to make at a volume of 10, it will also cost $5 if the volume is 10,000. Like many other companies, Mosaic has been pushing to change the scalability of 3D printing to replace traditional manufacturing techniques.
In fact, Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder Chris Labelle said that the new technology’s impact on manufacturing comes from the benefits of scaling 3D printing applications. After three years in the works, Array could help access “flexible output, mass customization, faster turnaround times and unrestricted part geometries” in production volumes of hundreds of thousands of parts per year, continued Labelle.
One of the key characteristics of Array is its robotic system, which has the capability to remove and replace print beds to ensure it is always productive, even when the operator is not around. This automation has the power to transform 3D printing into a continuous and “lights-out” manufacturing process. Each Array has four novel Element HT printers built inside designed from the ground up to allow flexible output, up to eight materials printed in a single print, and able to churn out high strength materials – including PEEK and ULTEM.
Every Element HT 3D printer has a 35 cm3 build volume with a heated build platform, high-temperature nozzle, and a heated chamber. Operators can also access soluble and breakaway support material to have freedom of geometry on their print. Element HT is also available as a stand-alone printer, called Element, in a low-temperature configuration but with the same core technology, available in November 2021 for $5,999 or more, depending on the chosen model.
Both Element and Element HT have embedded Palette X units, the industrialized version of Mosaic’s patented Palette technology. Based on the skeleton of the new line of Palette products, Palette 3 and Palette 3 Pro, the latest model of the material handling system enables swapping materials between prints and printing up to eight colors or materials in a single part. Array is already enabling high throughput FFF 3D printing in 3D printing service bureaus, manufacturers, and educational institutions. Additionally, Labelle expects the technology will be an ideal asset for customers in automotive, aerospace, and healthcare.
“Array has all of our new technology inside, starting with the four Element HT 3D printers, each with an industrialized version of Palette, Palette X,” Labelle told 3DPrint.com. “This is what we’ve been working on the past few years, and a big part of the reason we have been building the company. There is a huge demand for scaled 3D printing, so from a competitive standpoint, we now have Array, which has the material management and the automated multi-color, multi-material output thanks to our Palette functionality. We’ve done a lot of work to make sure we can hit the price point our customer want and enable them to benefit from scaled 3D printing with an accessible cost per part”
One of North America’s largest jersey manufacturers, Athletic Knit, turned to Mosaic’s team to adopt its Palette technology to print custom, colored jersey components. The company had begun outsourcing portions of the supply chain overseas to keep up with the increase in consumer demand. However, this led to terrible lead times. Mosaic is now offering much more than Palette.
The Array product line allows Athletic Knit to hit its cost targets, throughput requirements, and end product specifications by utilizing scaled and automated 3D printing. Now, Athletic Knit can offer highly customized jerseys, a quick turnaround time, and best of all, 3D printing’s flexibility also allows the technology to be set up at the customers existing production facility. This means they can access on-site production even during a worldwide crisis, like during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Mosaic did not just create a four-printer automated system; the team is also working on an even bigger Array model, the Array Production platform, which has the capability to hold up to 24 Element HT 3D printers. Array Production will be ready in less than three years and is expected to provide companies that want to switch to 3D printing technologies with a different, scalable, and industrial technology to churn out more parts faster and at ideally scalable costs. Labelle said the technology would address a market of manufacturers that are creating hundreds of thousands of parts per year, seeking to replace traditional manufacturing techniques with highly scalable 3D printing.
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