When it comes to 3D printing, speed is one of the areas in which we would all love to see the most improvement. After all, who wants to wait hours for a fist-sized object to be fabricated? In a world where things are taking place at an ever quicker pace, the lack of speed within the 3D printing process is certainly holding the technology back.
Over the last year we have heard several claims by the leaders within the industry that their forthcoming 3D printers will in fact be much faster. HP claims that they will have a new “ten times faster” Multi Jet Fusion technology available in 2016, while 3D Systems is working hard on a machine they claim will be 50 times faster than current printers on the market today. With that said, little is being done within the consumer market, particularly for FFF/FDM machines. These printers seem to have hit a major speed barrier unless the entire printing process is re-imagined.
That’s just what one 15-year-old teenager named Thomas Suarez is trying to do. We did a story on Suarez back in July when he announced that he would soon be unveiling a desktop 3D printer capable of printing at speeds which are 10 times greater than current technologies available today. As we mentioned in July, Suarez is not your typical 15 year old. He has been an app developer for years, and even gave a TED talk at the tender age of 12.
Today Suarez’s company, CarrotCorp, has officially unveiled their high-speed machine, and although general specifications have yet to be revealed, the ORB 3D Printer seems to be quite revolutionary.
The ORB uses several technologies new to the industry. These include a modular setup, allowing for customization and the rapid switching of particular components. It utilizes a spinning disc architexture, similar to that of a record player. The platform rotates rapidly, thus translating into print speeds which are 10 times that of your typical FFF/FDM 3D printer. Additionally, the ORB printer will be able to use special magnetically enhanced filaments containing specks of metal, which enable it to heat up, melt, and extrude much faster than filaments you may be used to. This, combined with a new heating process which stacks several heating elements on top of one another with a small air gap in between, should equate to the ability to extrude large quantities of molten plastic within a short time frame.
The modular system is part of an open development kit that CarrotCorp will soon be making available. This means that custom modules will be able to be created and used for the machine. Each module will handle a different print function. One module is used for extrusion, another for disc rotation, and so on. Each print instruction is then transmitted to the particular module which requires it.
As for print instructions, Suarez has developed his own type of code. The ORB printer will not use G-code, instead relying on ORB Print Code, a human-readable code which can be understood by practically anyone. Below is a short example of what this code will look like:
heat extruder 230;
The printer itself is shaped almost like a round fish bowl, and provides a full 360-degree viewing angle of the object being printed, even though the build platform is fully enclosed. Suarez and his company plan to launch a crowdfunding campaign in order to raise the necessary funding to mass produce this incredible new 3D printer in the coming weeks. Those interested can sign up on the company’s webpage in order to be notified of the forthcoming campaign. We will have to wait until then, it seems, before a price for the ORB is announced.
Please feel free to discuss the technology behind this new printer, as well as your thoughts on its potential, in the ORB 3D Printer forum thread on 3DPB.com. Below you will find a teaser video for this machine, released last year.
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