Next year’s 3D printers
December 5, 2012
The 3-D printing industry is on track to be a $3.1 billion business by 2016 and the innovations on display this week at Euromold, a manufacturing trade show, show its foundation is growing — both in revenue and in physical print size, Wired News reports.
The big news out of Euromold is the new Objet 1000 3-D printer, named for its 1000 x 800 x 500 mm (39.3 x 31.4 x 19.6 inches) — more than three times the size of competitive printers.
Instead of being limited to printing small components like a bike helmet or pedal, engineers can now print an entire bike frame in one shot.
VoxelJet makes a line of machines that print sand. Voxeljet software takes 3-D models and inverts them to create empty voids along with channels for funneling in molten metal. The printed sand molds are delivered to foundries where they are filled with liquid aluminum, bronze, or other metals. After the metal has cooled, the 3-D printed mold is smashed with hammers, revealing a metal version of the designer’s original CAD model.
MCOR 3-D printers use paper instead of plastic to make models. Their machines glue sheets of standard 20 lb. bond paper together while a knife cuts the cross section for the 3-D model. The machine repeats the process thousands of times until a solid paper model is removed from the build chamber. This week, they also announced the new MCOR Iris, which adds color printing to the specs, giving designers access to millions of colors via inkjet printheads.
Concept Laser produces high-quality parts by melting metal powders using high-powered lasers. Their systems can process precious metals to create jewelry, or high-performance titanium to create turbine components for jet engines, including medical-grade products out of stainless steel and pure titanium.
Geomagic Spark allows engineers to capture 3-D data with a scanner, and convert it into parametric data that can be modeled, expanded, and refined. Tools like this would be ideal for engineers who need to quickly fix a complex piece of machinery, without requiring them to remodel every feature of a complicated part.
3D Systems announced a pair of new high-resolution printers (16 micron layer thickness), the ProJet 3500 HDMax (plastic) & CPXMax (wax), with larger format print areas (298 x 185 x 203 mm / 11.75 x 7.3 x 8 inches), and tablet apps to control and monitor the print jobs. They also announced a new offering as part of their desktop Cubify system, called FreshFiber sculpture cases. Customers choose a phone model, color, and an photograph, and their web-based software converts them into a 3-D model which can be printed and shipped.