It’s really fascinating to watch as new ideas emerge to drive innovation within the 3D printing space. Just like the first mainstream engines were driven by steam, which were then supplanted by other fuels, and eventually will be driven by batteries or even the sun, the main technologies behind 3D printers continue to develop, becoming more sufficient and more capable almost daily.
Late last year we were informed about a potentially revolutionary new manufacturing machine which combined 3D printing with other technologies. An early stage prototype at the time, the machine was not quite ready for unveiling, but was released to a few individuals and businesses in November who would help further develop the system.
Here we are several months later and Buzz Technology, based in the UK, has finally unveiled their Industrial Revolution III (IR3) machine via a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. They claim that the IR3 is a “first of its kind 3D printer that is capable of producing sophisticated, fully assembled and working products.”
The IR3 is much more than just a 3D printer. It is a manufacturing machine, which utilizes sophisticated pick and place technology to fabricate objects with a variety of components within, as well as a collaborative product development platform. The way the machine works starts out similar to any other 3D printer. It will print an object based on g-code and when the time comes for a component to be placed within that object — for instance if you are making a remote control car, the machine will grasp a motor or wheel and place it into the 3D printed shell. Once placed the printing process will resume, encapsulating the component.
The IR3’s pick and place system works by using magnets to pick up an object and then place it with micrometer precision. Obviously it can not just pick up any component. The component must be one of many sub-assemblies which are within specially designed housings that Buzz Technology has developed over the last several months. The company envisions that gradually an expansive library of specially housed components will become available allowing for the fabrication of an infinite number of different items.
“If we can bring together people with the different skills – engineering, marketing – required to conceive and develop sophisticated products that better those which are on offer today – and if the IR3 can deliver them – fully assembled and working – into peoples homes around the globe. Creativity will have become a valuable asset again,” Senake Atureliya, CEO of Buzz Technology, told 3DPrint.com.
In addition to multiple extruders which allow for FFF printing, several other modules as well can be added onto the IR3. For instance, a potting system which uses photosensitive resin and LEDs to cure a resin will allow for the creation of incredibly strong objects. The potting system works by quickly putting down a layer of resin, followed by a structural reinforcement such as a wire mesh, then curing the resin and continuing to build on top of that reinforced component.
The machine is available for pre-order in several forms via Kickstarter, starting at just £3,359 for 25 lucky “Early Bird” backers. Prices will go up from their with options for up to four print heads as well as the potting system and other clay and paste extruders.
If all goes as planned the very first IR3 units will begin shipping some time in October of this year with a mass market launch scheduled for later in 2016. Let us know if you plan to back this project. Discuss in the Industrial Revolution III (IR3) forum thread on 3DPB.com.