lutum1Desktop 3D printing is starting to make its way out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary. This is seen in the massive amount of new composite materials seen within the FFF-based 3D printing market. There are literally hundreds of different material options to choose from, whether it be composite metal filaments, wood-based materials, or even conductive filament, the choices are no longer limited to just a few boring plastics. At the same time, the hardware is changing as well, in order to support better printing of these new composites as well as the printing of multiple materials at once, using dual extruders.

Another trend that is beginning to emerge is that of extrusion-based desktop 3D printers which forgo the heating elements altogether, leave plastics and the typical fused-filament-fabrication (FFF) method behind, while instead using self-hardening materials. These materials include paste-like products such as silicon, foods, and different types of clays. However, we have yet really see a company take the printing of these materials to the next level.

lutum7

That is until now. Last month, we reported on a Dutch company VormVrij, which had 3D printed several really high quality clay-based objects they’d been working toward, and announced that they would be releasing 3D printers in the near future. Well that future is now! They have just released their new line of LUTUM 3D printers at an event called RapidPro 2015.

“We launched the LUTUM clay printer at the Benelux 3D event, Rapidpro,” Marlieke Wijnakker of VormVrij informs 3DPrint.com. “Our printer has a dual claystruder making it possible to print with two colors or kinds of clay. And it can start and stop (mid print) which increases the shapes that can be made, when compared to a continuous flow printer.”

lutum6The company isn’t just releasing one 3D printer, but they have elected to release four different models, all bringing something a little different to the table. Those base models are as follows:

  • LUTUM Original: Base System with a continuous flow clay tank – Priced at €4655
  • LUTUM UNO: Base system with a single extruder (1XL clay tank) – Priced at €4999
  • LUTUM RapidPro: Base system with a double extruder (2 clay tanks) – Priced at €5500
  • LUTUM MAX-XL: Base system with double extruder (2 XL and 1 normal clay tank) – Priced at €5858

“The printer[s] can actively control the clay’s flow. Part of the model can be printed in a different color or another clay type altogether,” Wijnakker explained. “We haven’t scratched the surface of possibilities this may present and hope many exciting applications will emerge.”

The idea that this 3D printer can print with multiple clays at once opens the door for a lot of experimentation and new creative processes. While the company advertises the ability to print in multiple colors, the idea of perhaps using different types of clay could bring the greatest potential to the desktop 3D printing space. We’ve already seen 3D printers that utilize metal clays, which can be burned into solid metal using a kiln. It should be interesting to see what types of innovation buyers of this printer come up with.

As for the clay system itself, the storage and pressure vessels are made up of high pressure plastic with a fully transparent tube that allows for users to easily check the level of clay. The maximum working pressure is 5 Bar (72 psi) and the vessels all come with a pressure dial to ensure that this remains correct during a print job. Also included are a safety pressure relief valve and an orion style airhose connector. The vessels come in two different sizes, either 3.5 liters or 8 liters, depending on the amount of clay needed.

lutum5VormVrij is also currently working on putting together a brochure, making many different printer add-ons available for purchase. These will include items such as sculpting tools, software, air systems, different extruders, clay preparation tools, and more.

As for the specifications of the base models, they are as follows:

  • Printer dimensions: 1040 x 960 x 1300 mm
  • Build volume: 650 x 700 x 700 mm
  • Print speed: 30mm/s for rounded parts or 15mm/s for cornered parts
  • Maximum print speed: 100mm/sec at 3mm extrusion width and 1.5mm extrusion height
  • Printing materials: Softened Clay
  • Tolerance: X – 1mm, Y – 1mm, Z – 1mm (dependent on clay body and height of the print)
  • Connectivity: USB, SD card
  • Software: All open source – Slic3r, Pronterface, Repetier
  • Firmware: Customized Marlin

It should be interesting to see all of the unique creations that are fabricated on the LUTUM 3D printers as well as what type of consumers are attracted to it. With a price tag in the $4,000-6,000 range, it looks as though it is targeted toward the prosumer markets. What do you think? Would you consider purchasing one of these new printers? Discuss in the LUTUM 3D Printer forum thread on 3DPB.com.

The clay-containing vessel

The clay-containing vessel

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