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AMS Spring 2023

BMF Introduces New High-Resolution microArch S230 Microscale 3D Printer

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MIT spin-out Boston Micro Fabrication (BMF) specializes in microscale 3D printing, and launched its original microArch system globally in February of 2020, just in the nick of time before the COVID-19 pandemic began in earnest. Not long after, its microArch S240 for short-run industrial production was introduced, and today, the startup introduced its latest industrial-grade micro-precision AM system: the high-resolution microArch S230. Additionally, BMF is introducing three new materials as well.

“The miniaturization trend continues to dominate nearly every industry, but as parts get smaller, they become harder to design, more expensive to manufacture, and generally more complicated to put into production,” said John Kawola, the CEO of BMF. “Not to mention, technological barriers had previously made additive manufacturing out-of-reach for most use cases requiring small parts. We changed that notion and brought 3D printing to industries that once deemed it impossible, and this new addition to our portfolio – the most advanced of our highest-resolution printers yet – will open even more doors for new applications on the smallest scale.”

AL Ceramic parts

This next-generation 3D printer, built on the startup’s patented Projection Micro Stereolithography (PµSL) technology, is said to offer excellent precision and speed, combined with accuracy, design freedom, and ultra-high resolution prints down to 2μm; a good combination for manufacturers and researchers that require microscale parts with tight tolerances for prototyping through short-run production.

PµSL uses a high-quality movement platform and a flash of UV light at microscale resolution to achieve rapid photopolymerization of a whole layer of liquid polymer to print high-resolution parts. But the difference between the new microArch S230 and its predecessors is its larger build volume of 50 x 50 x 50 mm, not to mention the fact that BMF says it can print up to five times faster than its prior models.

BMF has installed over 125 of its original microArch systems around the world since its 2020 launch, with demand still rising for the startup’s PµSL technology and its ability to print intricate, repeatable parts for prototyping and end-use parts for industries including biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, microfluidics, medical device manufacturing, MEMs, electronics and electrical connectors, and more. It seems like that demand will continue for BMF’s new microArch S230 3D printer.

“As a current BMF customer, we’ve been thrilled with the performance of our microArch S130 to support our work in micro-printing ceramics – providing the resolution, accuracy and precision necessary for our parts. As the first customer of the new microArch S230, the next generation 2µm system, we are excited to utilize the enhancements of the platform to increase our part capacity with the larger build volume and speed up our printing times,” said Toby Schaedler, Manager, Architected Materials and Structures Department at HRL Laboratories, LLC. “We are looking forward to continuing to work with the BMF team and their line of micro-precision 3D printers to support our micro part needs.”

HT 200 part

In addition to automated laser calibration and its larger build size, the microArch S230 also features active layer leveling and the ability to handle materials of higher molecular weight with viscosities of up to 20,000 Cp; BMF says this makes it possible to fabricate stronger functional parts. The new microscale 3D printer is compatible with a wide range of ceramic and engineering resins that are good for printing end-use parts. This includes the three new materials BMF is launching with the microArch S230: AL (Alumina) Ceramic, HT 200, and MT (Magnesium Titanate) Ceramic.

The first is a biocompatible, chemical-resistant ceramic resin that’s good for high-strength, high-stiffness, and high-temperature applications, including casings and housings for medical devices and injection molding tooling. The durable, high-temperature HT 200 resin also features high strength, and is able to be soldered for end-use parts in electrical components and connectors. Finally, BMF’s new MT Ceramic is a good choice for millimeter wave applications like wave guides and antennas due to its low dielectric loss and high dielectric constant.

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