While some of us are becoming very comfortable with the idea of 3D printing and its surrounding technologies, nearly everyone is familiar with the inkjet printer as an inexpensive go-to machine for small jobs. It would seem both logical and attractive to translate the inkjet technology to 3D printing as well. Inkjet printers are cheap, fast, and generally reliable within their limits. As smaller machines employing multiple nozzles to spray out an ink onto paper, it would seem plausible to connect the two processes. But how to do it successfully, and at what cost–with what materials?
We may have to wait on comprehensive answers, but we do know now that this is what Zhuhai CTC Electronic of China has been working on in secret. While the cat is out of the bag today, and we don’t know all the details quite yet, this is definitely something they expect to set the industry on fire, akin to the HP announcement just months ago regarding the Multi Jet Fusion industrial 3D printer.
According to Luo Jun, the secretary-general of the World 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance, this new 3D printer may have the ability to show us a new side of 3D printing, as well as demonstrating indeed what China is planning to do in the market. The Alliance comprises over 40 research institutes and enterprises from around the globe who are dedicated to communicating about and promoting the 3D printing industry. Currently, they too are waiting to set eyes–and hands–on this 3D printing innovation.
Confirmed by Jianru Tan, Vice President of Zhuhai CTC Electronic, headquartered in Zhuhai, this technology which will feature a contemporary cube-like structure in black that is aesthetically appealing with curved panels and sleek lines, meant to appeal to both the scientist and the designer in each user.
Tan was able to reveal that the company has been collaborating with the University of London in Britain on the project for over six months, and their resulting efforts should lead to new methods for 3D inkjet printing in color and more.
There are many benefits of inkjet printing that could transfer to the 3D printing arena, but obviously affordability, portability and desktop ease come to mind. Inkjet 2D printers have been inexpensive for a while, and the market is so ridiculously cheap these days that if you need one while out of town or in a pinch, it’s as easy as running out and purchasing one in ten minutes with virtually no concern to your budget.
Materials in the inkjet realm are easy to come by and relatively cheap, which will also make the inkjet 3D printer of great interest, with CTC’s new 3D printer said to use color resin and powder, which will be cured with UV lights, in keeping with CTC’s reputation not only as an FDM printing manufacturer, but also showing off their expertise with SLA and allowing them to expand further in that area.
Along with all the other benefits of inkjet, you generally have a fairly long-lasting piece of machinery that works quickly, reliably, and can provide modest output. Is this something we could look forward to with the CTC 3D inkjet printer? Apparently, we will have to wait a few months to see, as it is poised to be on display at International CES in Vegas being held from January 6-9 2016.
If CTC’s new technology is a success it will be interesting to see if companies like Stratasys and 3D Systems, who already have expensive industrial inkjet 3D Printers on the market, transitions this technology to the consumer, desktop space as well.
Is this a technology that interests you? Are you a fan of the traditional inkjet printer? Discuss in the CTC Inkjet 3D Printer forum over at 3DPB.com.