Following its announcement of “Metal Monday” end of year 3D printer sales, Boston manufacturer Markforged is set for a strong close to 2018 with the launch of H13 material.
A hot work tool steel, the H13 filament is made for use on the Markforged “desktop-sized” Metal X 3D printer. The material is ideal for making molds for plastic injection, as such Jon Reilly, Markforged VP of product, is calling H13 “a game changer” for manufacturers of high-volume plastic parts.
H13 tool steel
In traditional manufacturing, H13 is an incredibly versatile and widely used tool steel. As a material, it exhibits excellent red hardness, making it resistant to thermal cracking when worked at elevated temperatures, and high toughness.
In Germany and Japan H13 is also traded as s EN 1.2344 and SKD61. Sample applications of the material include engineering inserts, cores, and dies that, in addition to toughness, have a high-polish finish.
Though Markforged is not the only metal desktop 3D printer company to use this material, H13’s compatibility with the Metal X does open up new markets and potential uses for its customers.
3D printing brings innovation to injection molding
California based company Grant Engineering is one of the Metal X’s early adopters. Its core business is 24-hour injection-molded plastic parts production. According to Randy Grant, co-founder and co-owner of Grant Engineering, “Much like the robots and automation we’ve already introduced into our workflow, we see 3D printing – especially the Metal X – as a way keep us hyper-competitive on cost and turnaround time while still delivering the precision and quality we’re known for,”
“Being able to 3D print H13,” he adds, “should enable a lot of innovation with injection molding. We can’t wait.”
Already, Grant Engineering has been using the Metal X to 3D print 17-4 PH stainless steel molds for production. The H18 will be a step forward for such applications at the company.
Kasto, a German sawing machine manufacturer, has joined the NextGenAM project, to support the acceleration of industrial 3D printing.
The initial project partners, Premium Aerotec, Daimler, and EOS, intend to use Kasto’s post-processing system, KASTOwin, to optimize the latter of metal 3D printing.
The KASTOwin system
Founded in 1844, KASTO has pioneered technology in sawing and storing of metal bar stock and sheet metal. With the emergence of additive manufacturing, the company has used its 170 years of experience to develop machinery capable of performing component separation reliably and efficiently.
The KASTOwin system has a cutting range of 400 mm x 400 mm. The machine is also fully enclosed to protect the ambient air from tiny particles produced by cutting the 3D printed components, and an extraction system can be connected for extra safety management.
This technology will support the NextGenAM project’s aim to develop a complete system for the production of aluminum components for the automotive and aerospace industries. A KASTOwin is currently being used in the project’s pilot production chain at Premium AEROTEC in Varel, northern Germany, a research facility developing techniques for processing metallic materials.
The NextGenAM project
Last year,Premium AEROTEC, a subsidiary of multinational aerospace organization Airbus Group, began collaborating with EOS and Daimler to develop a 3D printing powered smart factory otherwise known as the “next generation of additive manufacturing (AM)” i.e., NextGenAM.
Following this, earlier this year, the project established its first pilot plant, comprising of various EOS M 400-4 four-laser system for industrial metal 3D printing, to develop a complete production cell for additive manufacturing aluminum components. This pilot plant will lead to automated industrial 3D printing processes, enabling technology for larger batches of serial production.
“We are taking a significant step towards achieving cost-effectiveness in metal 3D printing throughout the process chain,” said Jasmin Eichler, Director of Research Future Technologies, Daimler AG.
“The project lays the cornerstone for the future realization of larger quantities in the automotive series production process – with the same reliability, functionality, longevity, and economy as for the components from conventional production.”
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Featured image shows the KASTOwin bandsaw, turning device, and horizontally acting blade that separates 3D printed components from theirs build platform and allows them to fall into a container. Photo via KASTO.
Xerion, a German industrial furnace and 3D printer manufacturer, has introduced the Fusion Factory, a three-part FDM/FFF system capable of printing metal and ceramics.
The company has taken inspiration from multi-modular systems, to build a machine which can produce parts on par with Metal Injection Molding (MIM) technique.
FDM/FFF metal printing
Dr. Uwe Lohse founded Xerion Advanced Heating in 1997. In 2016, a subsidiary called Xerion Berlin Laboratories was founded for the development of 3D printing technology. Both companies now form the Xerion Group.
Xerion’s latest achievement is an FDM-based metal 3D printer. As has been reported before, metal FDM/FFF printing is possible using metal composite filaments, such as The Virtual Foundry’s Filamet. Industrial companies are also experimenting with metal filaments. For example, Triditive is testing metal filaments made by the German chemical producer BASF.
However, metal filaments are mixed with polymers and therefore do not possess the extraordinary mechanical properties of pure metals.
Xerion’s Fusion Factory overcomes this limitation by combining printing, debinding, and sintering into one system. The Fusion Factory produces parts made purely of metal or ceramic, with a density between 98-99 percent.
The Fusion Factory
The Fusion Factory is divided into three parts, a 3D printer, a debinding station, and an electrical furnace.
The 3D printer is like any FDM/FFF printer except with a modified nozzle and feed mechanism made of hundred-percent stainless steel. The printer can print metal or ceramic composite filament on a build volume of 24.5 cm x 23 cm x 20 cm.
Once a part is printed, it is moved to the debinding station where it is dipped into a chemical solution. This process is largely automated and the operator of the machine does not make contact with the chemical solution in any way.
After a few hours in the debinding solution, the part is removed. At this stage, the 3D printed part is free of non-metal particles and contains only metal (or ceramic, depending on the filament used). Therefore the part is fragile. To make into a fully finished metal (or ceramic) part, the component is transported to a specially designed electrical furnace. Here, it is sintered at a temperature above 1,000°C for more than ten hours. In the furnace the outer layers of the metal melt and fuse to make a full metal part.
Some part shrinkage does occur during sintering but this can be countered during the modeling stage.
Future of the Fusion Factory
Currently available technology, in particular, metal powder fusion, can be inconvenient and hazardous, as the powder is inflammable. Using metal filament, Dr. Lohse explained, “You don’t have the problems with powder handling. Of course, filament is easy and convenient to handle. You have filament spools that you can swap out very quickly.”
Furthermore, FDM metal printing offers the option of adding infills to a part, which can increase its strength.
Dr Lohse further said, “The printer also features a dual extruder, which means that it can print with two different filaments at the same time, which opens up the possibility of mixing the filaments to produce parts made up of metal and ceramic compounds.”
In the future, the Xerion wants to make the debinding module without a solvent, and integrate a 3D scanner into the system that could compare the printed model with the CAD file to find inconsistencies.
Lattices, common in many 3D printing applications as an infill pattern, are the subject of a recent study into optimal isotropic stiffness.
Undertaken by a team of scientists at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, this paper, first published online September 2018, discusses the potential impact of extremely stiff lattices, not just for the aerospace industry, but across “heat‐exchange, thermal insulation, acoustics, and biomedical engineering.”
In particular, the research establishes a new class of metamaterial termed “plate-lattices” which suggest a stiffness “up to three times higher than that of the stiffest truss‐lattices of equal mass.” According to Professor Dirk Mohr, specialist in Computational Modeling of Materials in Manufacturing at ETH Zurich, these new lattices “will be the design of choice” when the 3D printing industry moves into mass manufacturing.
A truss or a lattice? What’s the difference?
Often pared together, “truss” and “lattice” shapes are frequently synonymous with one another. Citing some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, Professor Mohr explains, “The truss principle is very old; it has long been used for half-timbered houses, steel bridges and steel towers, such as the Eiffel Tower. We can see through truss lattices, so they are often perceived as ideal lightweight structures.”
Where trusses can be considered as interconnecting beams, or struts, plates are more like clusters of walls. Through computational modeling, Professor Mohr’s team are capable of creating rival lattice structures using these plates. The difference can be noted in the figure below.
Mass production ready
Due to their complexity, 3D printing is the only way of fabricating these plate-lattices. As a proof of concept, computational models of these plate-lattices were fabricated by the ETH Zurich team on a microscopic level.
Using a Nanoscribe Photonic Professional GT system, cubes measuring 2 x 2 x 2 μm were 3D printed. These were then compression tested, leading to a yield strength “within a few percent of the theoretical limits for isotropic porous solids.” Though only produced at this scale, the scientists believe that the plate-lattices could be theoretically manufactured at any size. It’s just a case of the cost.
“If these kinds of lattices were to be additively manufactured from stainless steel today, they would cost as much per gram as silver,” says Professor Mohr. “But the breakthrough will come when additive manufacturing technologies are ready for mass production. Lightweight construction, the current cost of which limits its practical use to aircraft manufacturing and space applications, could then also be used for a wide array of applications in which weight plays a role.”
A 10 year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed this month by GE Additive and the University of Sydney. Under the terms of the agreement GE Additive will invest an annual figure of up to $1 million. The funds will be used to support R&D activity related to materials and powder technologies, sensor technology and image processing analytics.
“By partnering with GE Additive, an industry leader in additive manufacturing, we can set the agenda for this disruptive technology and ensure that Australia is primed to both participate in, and contribute to, this exciting next phase of the industrial revolution. The collaboration will drive the R&D needed to learn how this dispruption to manufacturing can be harnessed for economic benefit. We are especially delighted that this initiative aligns with our plan to establish a new campus at Parramatta/ Westmead, where advanced manufacturing will be a key focus,” added Dr Spence.
Speaking about the rationale behind the decision, Debbra Rogers, chief commercial officer, GE Additive said, “We were immediately impressed by the University of Sydney’s vision for additive manufacturing – not just at an academic level, but also because they understand the positive impact this technology can have on Australia’s economy and its workforce in the very near future,”
“Additive requires a completely different way of engineering and thinking. Educating and training current workforces with new skills and also getting more engineers into additive takes time and programs need to be developed over a number of years. The University of Sydney recognises this and that in order to build the right mindset, the right skills, the right materials we need to encourage close collaboration between companies, academia and governments,” said Rogers.
Other areas of cooperation between GE Additive and the University of Sydney include: Funding from GE Additive to drive new R&D into material and powder technologies, sensing and analytics – building on the university’s existing advanced manufacturing and materials science research capabilities and infrastructure. The development of new applications and potentially new additive manufacturing industries that will drive positive commercial and economic impact and bilateral access to GE Additive‘s and the University of Sydney’s local and global networks of academic, industry and government stakeholders.
Materials Solutions, a Siemens business, will become a pilot customer for the EOS M 300-4 metal additive manufacturing system. 3D Printing Industry is visiting Materials Solutions in Worcester today to learn more about how the four laser EOS M 300-4 will be used for serial additive manufacturing.
The flexible, automated and modular metal 3D printing system was officially launched at IMTS in Chicago earlier this year.
Markus Glasser, Senior Vice President Region Export at EOS said, “The EOS M 300 series is currently the only 3D printing solution for digital industrial production and it especially meets the high demands of production environments. It offers industrial quality as well as an integrated data, powder and parts flow for easy integration into manufacturing plants.”
“As one of the key drivers for the intelligent factory of the future, additive manufacturing plays an important role and as such becomes an integral part of global digitization strategies. We are pleased that Materials Solutions has decided to intensively test our new system in a pilot phase, giving us important impulses for the continuous further development of our manufacturing solutions.”
Markus Seibold, VP Additive Manufacturing of the Siemens Power and Gas division added, “Ever since we started using Additive Manufacturing in the Siemens Gas Turbine division nine years ago, we have relied on EOS technology. We expect the new system to deliver high reliability, increased productivity and integration in our digital production systems. Based on the four-laser system, we will further reduce our unit costs for Additive Manufacturing. This makes the business model behind it attractive for even more applications.”
“At Materials Solutions we will use this system to continuously expand our additive manufacturing services for the aerospace and automotive industries and other sectors.”
EOS M 300-4 (plus the transfer station M) expands the EOS portfolio of systems for Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS). It has a build volume of 300 x 300 x 400 mm and is designed to meet the highest customer requirements for additive manufacturing in production environments. At the same time, the system offers full-field overlap with four scanners, enabling the lasers to reach all spots on the build platform and flexible component orientation. Compared to theEOS M 290 system, the EOS M 300-4 with its four 400 watt lasers increases productivity by a factor of 4 to 10 and results in considerably lower costs per part. The system is designed for automation and (software) integration into existing and future manufacturing environments.
Materials Solutions – A Siemens Business, were won the 2017 3D Printing Industry Award for 3D printed superalloy gas turbine blades. You can make your nominations in the 2019 3D Printing Industry Awards now.
In this edition of our 3D printing news digest – Sliced, we tell you about the latest trends in 3D printing. We have news from the medical and entertainment sectors, new materials and business opportunities. Read on to know more about Nano Dimensions, Local Motors, AMUG, Doctors Without Border, and Fabrisonic.
Promoting 3D printing
Nano Dimensions, an Israeli AM company specializing in 3D printing precision electronics, has sold a machine in South Korea. With the help of the company’s reseller in South Korea, HDC, Nano Dimensions installed a DragonFly Pro system at the Chungbuk Technopark, a not-for-profit business incubator focused on biotechnology. Gilad Reshef, Nano Dimensions’ APAC Director, said, “The South Korean market is very important to Nano Dimension and installations at premium and innovative customers such as Chungbuk Technopark are one of the key reasons why we have partners like HDC.”
GoProto Inc., an on-demand 3D printing and manufacturing service bureau, has opened a facility in Melbourne, Australia. The new 9,000 sq facility is now producing using the HP Jet Fusion 4210 printer.
Gener8tor will introduce gALPHA and gBETA programmes on additive manufacturing in Youngstown, Ohio. gALPHA is a four-week workshop to help student form start-up companies and gBETA will provide professional help to early-stage startups operating in Youngstown. Both programmes will begin in 2019.
Driving 3D printing forward
Local Motors, an Arizona-based automaker, has announced the Olli Fleet Challenge, which invites residents and councils to propose a three-month use of the Olli in their district. Olli is an environment-friendly autonomous electric vehicle, nearly 30% of which is 3D printed.
Jay Rogers, CEO and co-founder of Local Motors said:
“The world is eagerly searching for innovative solutions for sustainable transportation. Over the past few weeks, we’ve provided nearly 2,000 Olli rides to thrilled audiences including government decision makers,”
Rogers further added, “This challenge is a meaningful opportunity for local and business leaders to take the next step and put their collective heads together to envision how mobility is going to change in their communities, and then have the opportunity to immediately test that vision.”
The BMW iFE.18, an electric race car by BMW will have its debut at the ABB FIA Formula E Championship in Ad Diriyah, Kingdom of Saudia Arabia. The electric motor of the drivetrain component has an aluminum casing which is 3D printed.
The Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) has announced the recipient the annual Innovators Award. Professor Gideon Levy of Technology Turn Around (TTA), an Israeli start-up consulting company, will receive the award at the 2019 AMUG Conference.
The Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA) has appointed a new President. Marcus Burton will serve for two years as the President of the association. On 4 December Burton met with Business Minister Richard Harrington and Chi Onwurah MP at Westminster.Burton commented, “I’m honoured to take up the Presidency and looking forward to using my term to make a difference to the industry in which I have enjoyed such a rewarding career. Issues such as Brexit and Industrial Digitalisation will have a major effect on our industry and I want to make sure that our voice is heard.”
A peek at support materials
3DGence, a Polish 3D printer manufacturer, known for the INDUSTRY F340, has released a soluble support material for PEEK and ABS. The Engineering Soluble Material (ESM-10) is designed to serve as support for the PEEK and ABS models.
Furthermore, the Polish manufacturer has also introduced the Support Dissolving System (SDS), a 55.2 liter capacity tank. Finished parts are dipped into the SDS to remove support material.
The proposition was granted after a piece of investigative journalism revealed that prisoners in Texas penitentiaries were denied dental prosthetics on a regular basis.
An Australian woman, Anelia Myburgh, has received a jaw restoration surgery with the help of 3D printing. In 2017, Myburgh had lost eighty percent of her jaw due to cancer. Dr. George Dimitroulis, a Melbourne-based maxillofacial surgeon replaced Myburgh’s jaw with a 3D printed titanium prosthetic.
Pierre Moreau, a rehabilitation engineer and part of the 3D printed prosthetic project, said, “The MSF Foundation launched the 3D project in Amman in February last year, and we started to see the first patients two months later … So far, we have delivered 16 printed prosthetics.”
Daniel Crawford, CEO of axial3D, said, “Our 3D printed models are used extensively by leading surgical centers across Europe … Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare offers a leading neurosurgery program and by utilizing 3D printing, it is expanding its already high standards and providing a better experience for its patients and clinical team.”
Weta Workshop, a New Zealand-based Oscar-winning design and prop studio, has installed a Massivit 1800, a large-scale 3D printer by Massivit, an Israeli 3D printer manufacturer. The printer was set up in the studios Wellington workshop in New Zealand. Weta Workshop is known for its work grand design and prop work on such films as Lord of the Rings and Blade Runner 2049.
Richard Taylor, CEO Weta Workshop, said, “For 15 years, we have dreamed of a day when a printer would provide super large scale, speed and build strength at low print costs, in equal measure. The Massivit 1800 has delivered this for us.”
Bulleit Frontier Whiskey, a Kentucky-based whiskey maker, has launched the Bulleit 3D Printed Frontier, a collaboration between artists and makers in Oakland, California. The event features a 3D printed bar designed by the German FAR frohn&rojas,
Smart bonding with Fabrisonic
Fabrisonic, an American additive manufacturing company, has partnered with Luna Innovations, a manufacturer of optical measurement equipment for defense and medical industry. The partnership will see the manufacturing of smart structures made of metals using Luna’s optical sensors and Fabrisonic proprietaryUltrasonic Additive Manufacturing (UAM) method, which can bond various metals at a low temperature.
Yasuhiro Haba, Mimaki’s Executive General Manager of Sales Division, said, “Working towards ADAPT’s vision for the amalgamation and evolution of AM technology and digital production, Mimaki will continue to contribute to ADAPT activities through our inkjet technology and mass customization printing solutions.”
Mimaki’s full-color inkjet 3D printing
In the additive world, Mimaki is known for the 3DUJ-553 full-color UV inkjet 3D printer, capable of more than 10 million colors.
One of the clients of Mimaki, JMC Corporation, a Japanese CT scan specialist uses the 3DUJ-553 to 3D print color parts of human anatomy for use in the medical sector.
Mimaki’s customers have reported high quality of color parts made in the 3DUJ-553. Popls Inc., a Japanese printing company, used plaster based 3D printing before acquiring the 3DUJ-553 to supply its customers in the comic market.
Miki Nakazawa, Executive Vice President of Popls Inc, said, “Using Mimaki’s 3DUJ-553 printer, we were able to show our customers that 3D print has evolved […] Compared with this, our past work seems to be faded.”
On joining the ADAPT center, Mimaki installed the 3DUJ-553, and UJF-7151 plus, a large-format inkjet printer, at the MIT.
Haba said, “Mimaki will utilize the feedback gained through ADAPT activities to help with future product development. We are honored to be selected as one of the founding members of MIT’s ADAPT.”
The ADAPT center
The ADAPT consortium was announced by Professor John Hart at this year’s formnext in Frankfurt. Professor Hart is a renowned mechanical engineer, known for creating the high-speed FDM printer FastFFF and cellulose-based filament.
The consortium brings professionals from various disciplines, including mechanical engineering, materials science, and business to develop additive manufacturing. The Center also holds research symposiums on additive manufacturing and a members-only annual workshop.
In addition to the above-mentioned efforts, ADAPT also runs a certified online course on additive manufacturing. The 11-week course takes a student from the basics of AM vocabulary to the preparation of parts for 3D printing, and AM product viability analysis.
Mimaki is among the twelve members to join the ADAPT center so far. Other members include the automotive manufacturer General Motors, British metal 3D printer manufacturer, Renishaw, and German 3D printer maker EOS.
These members contribute funds to ADAPT that are used to further research on additive manufacturing.
Siemens, Europe’s largest industrial manufacturing company, has opened a £24 million research facility at theUniversity of Nottingham (UoN) to accelerate advanced manufacturing technologies.
With a total research portfolio of £80 million, the Advanced Manufacturing Building (AMB) will support the UK’s manufacturing industry by developing new processes involving additive manufacturing, bioengineering, and Operations Management (OM) and Information Systems (IS).
“This new facility heralds the start of something truly special for Nottingham, and will help place the region and indeed the country at the cutting edge of digital manufacturing,” said Juergen Maier, Chief Executive of Siemens UK, upon opening the AMB.
“Why is this important? It’s important because our future lies in driving a new technological revolution focusing on AI, automation, robotics, and 3D printing as well as many other new exciting technologies. It will ensure graduates are at the cutting edge and ready to take up the high productivity, high wage jobs of the future.”
The Advanced Manufacturing Building
Financed through the through the Local Growth Fund, the AMB houses UoN’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing (IfAM), a facility measuring approximately 9000 square meters. The IfAM encompasses a multidisciplinary team of academics in the UK, Malaysia, and China.
“Skills challenges remain a key issue for many manufacturing businesses in the UK, due to factors such as the fast pace of technology development, an aging workforce and a shortage of graduates with relevant multidisciplinary skills and experience,” explained Professor Svetan Ratchev, Director of the IfAM.
“The Institute is helping to shape the manufacturing research agenda nationally and internationally and is supplying the technology and specialist skills to support key industrial sectors and encourage the growth of emerging industries.”
Moreover, other areas of research focus at the AMB include advanced materials, drug delivery and tissue engineering, food sciences, human factors, machining and condition monitoring, metrology, process and environmental technologies, and human-machine interactions.
The University of Nottingham & additive manufacturing
Additionally, Jake Berry, Member of Parliament for Rossendale and Darwen and Minister for the Northern Powerhouse proposal, commented on the establishment of the AMB:
“Our £5 million investment in the University of Nottingham’s new Advanced Manufacturing Building through the Local Growth Fund shows our modern Industrial Strategy in action.”
“This state-of-the-art facility will benefit Nottingham, the Midlands, and the whole UK economy by driving innovation, equipping people to secure highly skilled jobs and supporting manufacturing businesses of all sizes to thrive.”
Submit your nominations for the 2019 3D Printing Industry Awards here.
Today, two years after the launch of the Replicator +, American desktop 3D printer manufacturer and Stratasys subsidiary MakerBot has released the Method. Designed as a mid-way point between the industrial FDM and personal desktop market, MakerBot is calling the Method “the first performance 3D printer.”
Last week, 3D Printing Industry was invited to MakerBot HQ in Brooklyn, NY, ahead of the public launch to speak with the company’s President and CEO, Nadav Goshen, and Forrest Leighton, VP of Marketing.
A strong front in the face of the company’s return with a new product, Goshen explains how, with the Method, MakerBot is looking to “rebuild its core competence” and boost its presence within the engineering sphere.
Eradicating the ‘go figure’ approach
MakerBot’s foundations were, of course, established through the maker movement. In machines made for this market, there is always a willing participation element in the 3D printing process, as Goshen describes “[Operators] find themselves working for the 3D printer […] Up until now [3D printer development] was a refinement of the first RepRap.”
With the Method, however, he adds:
“We stop the ‘go figure’ approach.”
Through analyzing the market, in its transitional phase MakerBot identified “hobbyist, consumers, professional and education” as the four key areas of 3D printing application. Under the direction of Goshen, and inline with Stratasys, the company has selected two of these areas to pursue with the Method, namely “professional” and “education.”
At this point the company also faced a decision. “We could not unlock the professional market with the current desktop 3D printers,” Goshen adds, “including our own.”
And so, “We thought differently. We thought, what are the minimum specifications that you want to have in the professional market, and then, what is the lowest price you can get?”
MakerBot Method technical specifications
The Method 3D printer is a dual extrusion FDM 3D printer, relying on one nozzle to print soluble supports, and the other to make the object. It has a circulated heat chamber to help with the layer adhesion and overall quality of 3D printed objects. To boost the speed, and reportedly “print up to 2X faster” than other desktop material-extrusion 3D printers, each of the Method’s extruders include heaters with higher processing rates compared to the company’s existing systems.
With single extrusion, the Method has a max build volume of 19 L x 19 W x 19.6 H cm / 7.5 x 7.5 x 7.75 in. With dual extrusion, this volume is shrunk to 15.2 L x 19 W x 19.6 H cm / 6.0 x 7.5 x 7.75 in.
MakerBot’s operating software for the Method allows the user to 3D print in one of three possible, and automated, modes: Draft, Balanced and Minfill (i.e. hollow.) All objects shown at the press preview day were 3D printed with in Balance mode, providing a good, smooth surface finish.
Other key features of the 3D printer include an ultra-rigid metal frame body, for a more stable print, dry-sealed material bays, and readable RFID chips on the spools, to feedback real-time usage and moisture data, read and delivered in real-time by the 3D printer through its integrated touch screen. The 5″ user interface also includes animations to aid the user in performing operations and the 3D printer’s general setup.
In the presentation of the machine, user friendliness was one of the key takeaways from the press event last week. From the demonstration, the Method certainly looks like it would operate with a smoothness on-par with a common paper printer. And this, in many ways, is what MakerBot is trying to achieve.
The Method 3D printer is now available for preorder directly through MakerBot, with shipping to begin in the first quarter of 2019. Presently, the company is also looking for on-board partners to offer the system in different companies around the world.
As of now, the machine has been in beta testing for 1 year with between 20 and 50 trusted customers including a handful of research institutions, small consumer electronics companies and, according to Leighton, “all the biggest brands.”
At present, though the Method is an open materials platform, PLA and PVA are the only official materials released by MakerBot for use with the machine. In the near future, the company plans to expand this material availability, along with further operation modes and extruders.
Making bold claims in the closing comments of the press preview at Makerbot HQ, Goshen said “I think every engineer should have three things beside them: a pencil, CAD software and the Method.”