One of these companies is 3D Systems. Although they have been working hard on a new system for incredibly fast printing, rumors throughout the year that HP would soon be developing their own printers, as well as the fact that 3D Systems is working with Google to produce modules for their upcoming Project Ara, certainly has spurred on this development.
The system, which is described by 3D Systems as a Continuous, High-Speed Fab-Grade Printer, promises to fabricate objects up to 50 times faster than today’s top-of-the-line jetting 3D printers. Considering that HP recently revealed their Multi Jet Fusion technology, which they claim to have capabilities of printing at speeds up to 10 times faster than current technologies, if 3D Systems can deliver on their goals, this certainly would be a big deal for the company.
Just how fast is this machine? According to Jeff Blank, VP of Global Engineering at 3D Systems, the printer is capable of placing 4 billion drops of color photosensitive material down in a precise fashion each minute.
“This groundbreaking machine seamlessly brings all the benefits of full-color 3D printing onto the production floor, enabling consumer product creators, manufacturers, engineers and more to dream up new designs by the minute instead of by the week or month,” stated the company on their blog.
As you can see by the video and images we have provided, the system includes multiple build platforms which are tethered to a race track-like architecture. These build platforms, as we have mentioned in previous articles, rapidly move around the track, and are able to take off-ramps once complete. These off-ramps could lead to an area for finished products, or other manufacturing areas which utilize additional technologies.
“I’m personally very excited about this technology because it’s truly the Holy Grail of 3D printing,” stated Blank. “Because it’s continuous, you can take things off track to do a machining operation, or milling operation, or post processing operation. There is no limit to where this technology can go.”
As each build platform makes its way around the track, the machine deposits — and almost immediately cures — a photosensitive resin which is sprayed on via inkjet-like technology. Instead of the print head repeatedly moving back and forth, multiple platforms of objects pass swiftly in straight lines under the print heads. Much more rapid rates of printing are possible using this technique rather than traditional means of printing, as there is no need for the print heads or the build platforms to stop and change direction.
This could very well be the future of mass additive manufacturing, as such a machine seems like it should easily be able to integrate into already existing automated manufacturing setups. Let’s hear your thoughts on 3D Systems’ plans to change the face of mass manufacturing. Discuss in the 3D Systems 50X Faster 3D Printer forum thread on 3DPB.com.