Multiple material 3D printing

It’s no surprise that we’re wild about 3D printing, especially [Devlin]. Now we’re absolutely out of our minds for this multi-material polyjet machine that is featured in the video above. Before we go any further it’s worth mentioning that this post is not advertising, we just think this machine is unbelievable.

It is capable of printing 600 dpi in 3D using multiple materials at the same. Two types of rigid material, one like ABS and the other like polypropylene, as well as seven levels of a soft material all exist on the same print head. They can be deposited along with a support material at the same time. In the video you can see enclosures that come out of the printer with rubber-like padding already mounted in the hard plastic shell. They even show a bicycle chain that is fully assembled after printing. Cost for these machines? We don’t want to know, it’s just fun to dream about having unrestricted access to one.

[Thanks Karl via PDDnet]

60 thoughts on “Multiple material 3D printing

  1. @ru
    “The key patents covering plastic extruders are expiring. The key patents covering this sort of resin curing are going to hang around for a little while yet.”

    only a concern if your commercializing your design. A large number of hobbyist projects stumble over patents.

    As for your assertion “that SLS is conceptually and mechanically simpler”…Poppycock.

    SLS involves beam steering a CO2 or similar laser
    These use a DLP projector with no color wheel.

    SLS uses a descending stage, and ascending stage on the “reservoir” and a wiper for surfacing
    These use an ascending build platform…the material self levels.

    Reprap will improve sure…but FDM will always be FDM. It only gets so good. Discussing alternate technologies of RP entering homebrew is ASSISTING the advancement….perhaps not of the reprap project but of the future of home RP…because FDM does have limitations.

    Attempting to negate the discussion of alternatives by claiming their somehow impossible out of some sense of loyalty to the status quo is tantamount to whining…

    and youll notice the two people encouraging such experimentation….PolyJetter and myself….Have already “paid up” for commercial offerings.

    When so many people think that RP is limited in capability and resolution theyve seen in Zcorps or REPraps, when a 5 year old printers demo WOWs the masses….Those of us who actually USE serious commercial hardware professionally actually bother to speak up and contribute the only people who dont benefit are the naysayers.

  2. FDM (makerbot, reprap) are in my view self limiting technologies in so far as the quality of the output isn’t going to improve past a certain point. That point, which is close to commercial offerings, is the result of fundamental trade offs between speed and size of the material. You will never be able to fill a 90 degree corner with a circular filament. It just doesn’t work. It’s just simple physics that dictates this and there is really no way to get around it without moving to a different method of laying down material.

    I hate, absolutely hate to say that method A doesn’t work. Because somebody generally comes along and makes method A work. But I don’t see how FDM is going to get any better than commercial offerings. I just don’t see it happening. Even the commercial options, in my opinion, aren’t that good. Yes, you get ABS parts but the surface finish is pretty good but not that great. Not as great as a ultra high end SLA or polyjet machine. Which, really are the only two processes right now (aside from EnvisionTEC’s offerings) that really make “real” parts. By real, I mean high quality surface finish. They all three use UV chemistry. SLS makes good parts with good materials but the surface finish is very rough, like a sand casting.

    The honest answer, but one most people don’t want to hear and the one most companies will not tell you is that there is no one single best technology. It all depends on your application, price point, etc. We are nowhere close to the point where we can say “Tea. Earl Gray. Hot.” and presto. Or “Liver, Type O Blood, The Following XYZ Immune Markers” either. We as a society are working very hard on those type of things – see this VERY good video of the potential way this technology may evolve – – but we are not anywhere close yet.

    What I DO see happening in the near term is a different method of DIY 3d printing and rapid prototyping that doesn’t use the “large CNC glue gun” FDM method but uses high tech, high precision, low cost, commonly used components used in innovative methods (like DLP and a Z axis stepper). That is a very simple machine that can produce VERY VERY GOOD parts at a fair cost and without intense complexity in its construction or ongoing operation. As good as SLA? Done right, maybe. Even if it is 80% as good as commercial offerings, the quality would be outstanding. These are $40,000 machines (and up) right now but honestly, the BOM can’t exceed $5000, most likely far less if you repurpose things (take a DLP chip out of an old projector for example).

    As much as I love the reprap, makerbots, etc – they are always going to be highly limited in quality and as a result, are not the driver of growth that is going to make people demand a 3d printer on every desk, like the standard inkjet printers we have now.

    But the potential is there. Not sure the patents are going to allow it anytime soon but if people are not selling them but just building them for their own use (and then selling kits to make them) then I am not a lawyer but perhaps there is a legal avenue in which to facilitate the widespread dissemination of high quality 3d printers to the makers of the world?

    Not quite the best possible solution but damn, just think about what doors that would open and how empowering that would be to people with ideas but without access to $150,000 machines or $500+ print jobs.

  3. The DLP method seems to be growing fastest, I gather Aardman are using 5 envision machine on their current project, not sure which units bit the resolution these machines can work to is astonishing. Yes the support structure needs removing but it’s quicker than melting the wax support from the fine detail on a polyjet type machine.

  4. Not sure I agree that support removal is easier than on a polyjet. I have removed both and if the geometry is simple, the EnvisionTEC style isn’t too bad. But in some orientations, it can be a pain. Melting out or waterjetting out polyjet support material isn’t bad but it too takes some time.

    I noticed that Zcorp now offers a DLP based system that is a private label of EnvisionTEC’s ULTRA system. It is pricey, but at under $40k, a deal compared to a $120k polyjet machine.

  5. idea:-

    use the cyanoacrylate technique, *but* use an inert gas fill (dry nitrogen) in the build chamber.

    that ought to fix it, the plan here is to evacuate the chamber using a low grade vacuum pump harvested from a car aircon unit or similar (short duty cycle), fill chamber with nitrogen then fill the head reservoir with cyano and print away.

    Simplez. :)

  6. oh, and something most people don’t know is that colloidal silver(made using two silver electrodes in DI water with a slow reversing constant current of a mA or so) can be “printed” using a conventional print head in theory to make circuits on the cheap.

    can’t wait until someone tries this using a sheet of paper or printing acetate.

    I also found out that mixing silver with many off the shelf RTV adhesives including Weldtite tyre repair compound can allow circuits to be made with little effort.
    The technique here is to “flush” the print head through with a solvent such as isopropanol after printing to clean out any remaining RTV before it sets.

  7. Cyano is a liquid at room temperature before it cures. You could thicken it to a gel but if you put it into an inert environment, how do you plan on curing it? You could print one or a few layers but not thousands. You would need some method of supporting it.

    As for silver, that could make for some interesting combinations. However, most RTV material is in the 100,000+ cp range. You can’t really inkjet anything more than 100 or so cp, without special ultrasonic printhead technology. In short, inkjet isn’t going to print RTV material. But there are many other ways to deposit it. Makerbot perhaps?

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