A Kickstarter-funded project to develop a new type of 3D printer hopes to unseat competitive printers that use expensive plastic filament.
The new printer—called David—is interesting because it may presage a trend toward use of extruders to convert standard plastic pellets for additive manufacturing, rendering the term “3D printing” meaningless.
A new additive manufacturing machine introduced at IMTS 2014 by Cincinnati
Incorporated also uses an extruder to lay down plastic, one layer at a time. The new David printer from Sculptify (Columbus, Ohio) is interesting because it uses an extruder for a much smaller additive manufacturing machine. The build volume is 7.8in x 8.6in x 7.3in (496 cubic inches).
“David is an incredibly versatile device, that can be used by both consumers and prosumers alike,” says Slade Simpson, Sculptify co-founder and CEO. “Sculptify believes that for 3D printing to reach its fullest potential, printers need to be able to serve hundreds of different purposes. “ Simpson, a recent engineering graduate of Ohio University, previously worked with rapid prototyping equipment in the R&D Department at the Commercial Vehicle Group (New Albany, Ohio).
David uses a process called Fused Layer Extrusion (FLEX) technology. The layer resolution varies by material (20 microns for PLA). Sculptify claims positioning precision of 8 micron or better on the XY axis and 3 micron or better on the Z axis. David is made of high-grade aluminum alloys with polycarbonate glazing. Details on how FLEX works have not been released.
Plastics that can be processed in David include ABS, high-density polyethylene (HDPE), PLA, EVA, polyamide, thermoplastic polyurethane, high impact polystyrene, polycarbonate, and wood/plastic composites.
“David provides customers with the freedom to choose from an extensive selection of materials — which range from hard and durable to soft and flexible. By eliminating the dependence on filament, Sculptify can offer exotic materials and composites never before used in 3D printing,” said Luke Daniel, director of business development.
As part of a $110,000 Kickstarter campaign, Sculptify pre-sold 33 Davids. Shipment is expected mid next year. An assembly site has not yet been identified. Right now only pellet refill bags are available for sale on the store on the company’s Web site. Projected retail price is $3,195.