Dec 3, 2015 | By Alec
While the market for high quality industrial 3D printers is steadily increasing, most are almost completely unaffordable for the average prosumer, and even many startups will think twice before spending their complete budget on a single machine. Thanks why we were particularly interested to learn of a new industrial 3D printer with a huge build area that hails from Montreal, Canada. Featuring a massive heated print area, two toolheads and the best FDM extruders money can buy, the AON 3D printer even costs far less than most industrial competitors and is currently doing quite well on Kickstarter.
This fascinating machine has been designed by the similarly named AON startup lead by Kevin Han, and definitely has some interesting features. As they explain, it was born out of a desire to make FDM 3D printing suitable for more than home hobbyists. ‘We truly, truly believe in the potential of 3D printing to change the world in significant ways. However, we don't think 3D printing more trinkets from PLA is going to get us there anytime soon. [Our] founder comes from a background in materials engineering and chemistry, and so the focus from Day 1 has been making advanced, high performance materials accessible to as many makers as possible,’ they say.
AON itself started out as a 3D printing service provider, but quickly ran into the limitations of consumer 3D printing. ‘We were limited by size, frustrated by the high failure rates of dual extrusion, and could not combat warping and cracking in large prints with useful engineering plastics,’ they say. ‘So we took the best of the hardware, software, and feature sets out there, and combined them into one comprehensive package. This is the printer we wish we had, now made available for everyone. We think you'll like it too.’
And that is, in essence, what they’ve created: a 3D printer perfect for small businesses such as design or architecture bureaus, but also for engineering faculties or even home users with a great budget. While featuring quite a few interesting characteristics, chief among them is an excellent dual extrusion setup that doesn’t suffer from the dreaded ooze or reduced print times. ‘With two independent toolheads, the inactive extruder is parked off to the side to eliminate all oozing issues.,’ they say. ‘If you don't need supports for your object, the two toolheads can work in tandem to print multiple copies of an object at the same time, doubling your productivity. Each extruder can be loaded with a different colour filament or an entirely different material altogether.’ In short, exactly what you think of when first learning of dual extrusion.
But aside from that, the AON just looks like a very high quality FDM 3D printer. A massive build volume of 450mm x 450mm x 640mm (or 18" x 18" x 25") means you can build whatever you want, while no expense seems to have been spared to ensure high quality 3D printing results. An actively heated build chamber (rated up to 70C) makes the AON suitable for high performance materials that suffer from warping and cracking like Nylon and Polycarbonate, while the top of the range E3D (Volcano) hot ends mean that materials can be 3D printed up to temperatures of 450 C, while water cooling mechanisms are in place to avoid heat creep. The precision linear components are also top of the range. ‘The XY gantry is driven on high grade, preloaded Japanese linear guides, and the Z axis is driven by two beefy 16mm lead screws supported by 4 20mm hardened steel linear shafts. Up to 500mm/s travel on XY means quick printing and no ooze,’ they say.
That interesting package is operated with Simplify3D software (comes with the machine), which is typically seen as the best 3D printing software solution for dual extrusion builds. ‘Every AON also comes with a Raspberry Pi loaded with a customized version of Octoprint for full printer control over Wi-fi,’ they add, so you can do whatever you like with it. And then there’s the price: costing just $5500 CAD (or $4100 USD)as an early bird (half the retail price), the AON can be found among the most affordable industrial level 3D printers out there. Sounds good, right?
What’s more, the machine is almost completely ready for production. Having been under development for about a year now, the first prototype was built in August. ‘The printer is fully functional and has been running production prints for customers for the last month,’ they say. ‘The few changes we'd like to make relate to things like better cable management, easier assembly, aesthetics, and reducing the part count for certain subassemblies. We're absolutely confident in the performance of the core design.’ That means shipment can begin as early as February, depending on their success on Kickstarter. If you’re interested, head over to their crowdfunding page here for more information on ordering. The campaign is set to conclude at 21 December.
Posted in 3D Printer
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Pottertown wrote at 12/10/2015 6:19:09 AM:
I'm interested in how they're skirting the heated chamber patents.
Pulsar wrote at 12/4/2015 5:06:32 PM:
Looks like first prototype model for the feasibility study with all those wires hanging around inside of that printer, paper clips holding the print sheet, wobbling pulley in that video etc.. They have long way to go before you can call that DIY proto to be industrial quality.
Eduardo wrote at 12/3/2015 9:16:16 PM:
Lots of "indusrtial grade" printers out there with all kinds of miraculous specs. But one thing they all have in common: Home made RepRap machines with low grade cheap components. Some even say they have a "revolutionary" axis drive like one from Italy the other day showing a rack and pinion and saying it was one of those revolutionary axis drives. The consumer should always get well informed on what is the meaning of industrial grade printers before throwing money away on machines that will break down in a couple of months and will find no support or warranty in most cases. Good luck to the guys from this one and keep one thing in mind. Always treat your customers with respect, tell the truth and everything will be OK.