Next generation 3D Printers

The evolution of human race from Gorillas to Homo sapiens if is considered to be outstanding then the evolution of printing from Wood block printing to 3D printing is no less adventurous. 3D printing is not only futuristic but also versatile, flexible and highly adaptable. A technology which is as straight forward as putting layers on top of layers to form an object could one day be stated as the reason for the second industrial revolution is exceptional. 3D printing really is ushering a new era of almost all the existent industries. As the application of this technology is expanding and the prices are dropping more and more people are able to afford a 3D printer at homes and offices.

Various companies, research organization as well as various universities are working towards expanding the capabilities of 3D printers. A few years down the line 3D printers could print only in specific material like plastic, but now the list of materials that can be used in 3D printers have become quite long and the usage of other materials in 3D printing is expanding rapidly. The prices of these machines were sky high but also the expiration of the patents the prices have become quite in the budget. In this article we plan to cover a few Gen-next 3D printers that are betting on changing the 3D printing industry and also the influence of 3D printing on other industries.

3D Metal printers

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between Sigma Labs Inc. and Interactive Machines Inc. in which these two companies plan to form a joint venture in order to develop and commercialize 3D metal printing machines. The new 3D metal printer will be designed to produce an increased output up to 10 X over the 3D printers that are currently available in the market. The collaborative effort of these two companies plan to demonstrate a proto-type during the third quarter of 2014 but before this is done adequate financial support is to be gathered to implement this business plan. The machine thus made out of this collaboration will be an output of a unique combination of the expertise of the two companies. The machine will be designed in such a way that it will significantly outperform the existing 3D metal printing devices in terms of deposition rate while maintaining requisite part quality.

Frank Yopak, President of Interactive Machines said, “I believe that the market for such a system is significant as most users of 3D metal equipments are currently limited by slower production rates and lower overall machine productivity.”

Another metal 3D printer that is creating a lot of buzz is Sciaky’s electron beam additive manufacturing technology or the EBAM which can print enormous metal proto types. It has a volume of 19′ x 4′ x 4′ and can 3D print in materials such as titanium, tantalum, stainless steel, and Inconel. The technology has a fully articulated electron beam welding gun which converts a CAD model into a 3D printed part.

MakerBot reveals the Gen-next of 3D Printers

The CEO of MakerBot Bre Fettis flaunted two 3D printers from MakerBot that are aimed for usage at home, offices and industries. These two printers named MakerBot Mini; the Desktop 3D, and the Replicator Z18 3D. These printers are the fifth generation replicator machines by MakerBot. The built volume of these printers is almost 11% larger than the predecessor. The layer resolution which is almost 100 micron is quite high. The company is hoping that this fifth generation of 3D printers as will set new standards for ease of use, quality and reliability. The machine is app and clod enabled. These two products were put on show at the 2014 CES.

3D printing fossils with virtual Paleontology

3D printing seems to be one of the friendliest technologies around. The mixing of 3D printing with other technologies produces things which are impeccable. The new development will support the statement made above. The combination of CT scan and 3D printing is helping Paleontologists to recreate ancient fossils. Sergio Azevedo and his team at the National Museum of Brazil in Rio have used a CT scanner to find out the orientation of a specimen that was found by Sergio Azevedo. The fossil was scanned and a 3D replica was printed out in resin. This enables a safe access to the inner structures which is usually paleontologists cannot access.

The fossil which was found by Sergio Azevedo turned out to be a crocodile which was 75 million year old and was extinct. Azevedo has used this technology to produce 3D printed replicas of dinosaurs as well.

3D Systems’s Projet x60: Break the monotony of single color

3D systems launched the new ProJet x60 series which has an unparalleled ability to print 90% of the colors that are available in Photoshop and new VisJet PXL materials utilizing 3D System’s color jet printing technology. It offers enhanced functionality, utility and productivity. The ProJet x60 can make full color models along with precision. From architectural white to photo realistic pastels or bold vibrant colors all can be done quickly and affordably by this printer. It has a faster print mode option, mobile connectivity and also a powerful coloring and file preparation software tool.

Cutting the cost of Micro and Nano manufacturing: 3D printers

There are numerous examples of improved products when any technology is mixed with 3D printing. Here is yet another such example of 3D printer and a drawing programme amalgamation. Researchers at KTH Microsystem Technology hope to use this combination to produce micro- and nanostructures required for the millions of devices and sensors of the future at prices which are as affordable as computers. This is being considered as the inexpensive printing if 3D silicon structures.

Prof. Frank Niklaus of KTH Microsystem Technology says, “It could be made very easy, flexible and cheap compared with today’s manufacturing processes. All you’ll need is a 3D printer and someone to draw the structure in a drafting programme on a computer.” This technology consists if a layer by layer process for defining 3D patterns in silicon using focused ion beam writing followed by silicon deposition.

These are a few notable gen-next 3D printers. 3D printing is changing with every passing day and the application of this technology is finding a place in a wide array of industries. As per the recent progress that has been made it is clear that when this technology is mixed or combined with other existing technology the output is magnifique!

Image Credit: wlodi(flickr handle: wlodi)

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