When we met Quantica at RAPID + TCT this year, we were so impressed with its inkjet 3D printing technology that we quickly invited Founder Ben Hartkopp onto the 3DPOD to discuss the startup’s plans. After unveiling the T1 Pro printer at Formnext 2021, the Berlin-based firm is back with a desktop system, dubbed the NovoJet C-7.
Quantica’s Desktop Inkjet 3D Printer
Quantica’s inkjet technology is unique in its ability to process high viscosity materials, potentially opening up the inkjetting segment to the production of a much broader range of functional items. Incorporating this technology into a compact package, the NovoJet C-7 can 3D print with viscosities of over 380mPas at jetting temperature, which equates to about 4,000 mPas at ambient temperature. That’s about 15 times more viscous traditional inkjet 3D printing.
Users can also experiment with liquids high particle loading. Additionally, the system can control up to seven material channels, allowing for a variety of material combinations with enhanced mechanical properties, color fidelity, and aesthetics. The NovoJet C-7 can also be customized depending on the needs of R&D labs.
The NovoJet C-7 has been specifically designed for research into new materials and workflows, as well as feasibility testing and application development. However, Quantica also suggests that it can be used for customized, low-volume production so that, once parts are designed with the machine, they can then be manufactured in small batches. It’s worth noting that this is among the first desktop inkjet 3D printers, though Stratasys does manufacture a range of smaller machines, including the J35 Pro desktop 3D printer.
Quantica states that it has multiple industry partners in the dental, medical, and electronics sectors, among others with whom it is developing targeted solutions. According to the company, the NovoJet C-7 will begin shipping as an open system by the end of 2023, which will then be followed by the release of a closed system for specific applications. The open nature of this machine will allow researchers to experiment with the technology to develop fluids and design for multi-material inkjet 3D printing.
Breaking the Limits of Inkjet 3D Printing
At the moment, the world of photopolymer 3D printing is undergoing a transformation. On the vat photopolymerization side, we’ve seen newer machines capable of 3D printing with higher viscosity resins that allow the technology to break out of acrylate-based materials. As a result, users can produce parts that have longer lifespans and can withstand a broader range of environments.
Development in inkjet has been somewhat slower to take off, in part because the technology is more complex. So far, Inkbit is one of just a few startups alongside Quantica that is seeking to open up the material set for the technology. The implications for inkjet are seemingly much more profound given the ability of the technology to combine multiple materials at once.
So far, PolyJet from Stratasys has enabled vibrant, full-colored objects with varying degrees of flexibility and opaqueness. However, these parts are best suited for aesthetic purposes, such as visual and textural prototyping. If PolyJet machines were able to process more materials, it could not only result in more functional end parts, but components with even more unique properties. Think 3D printing electronics and biological matter directly into polymer items.
The NovoJet C-7 is only the beginning for the company. If Stratasys wants to get to snuff out the competition before it grows too fierce, an acquisition would certainly make sense in this case.
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