Dec 17, 2015 | By Alec

The Italian 3D printer developers from Lumi Industries are those kind of engineers who never seem to rest on their laurels and always have more than one project in the pipeline. Only in September of this year, they found excellent Kickstarter success with the all-in-one resin-based 3D printer LumiPocket LT, which eventually gathered more than $60,000 in pledges, but it looks like they are working on a lot more than that compact machine. For as CEO Marin Davide just revealed, they are simultaneously working on a fascinating design feature that could be integrated on just about every desktop 3D printer in the future. Called the LumiFold system, it’s a Z-axis mechanism that makes the 3D printer smaller than the maximum part height, and will expand during 3D printing.

It’s just one of the many ongoing innovations that Lumi Industries is seeking to implement. If you happen to have backed the LumiPocket LT, you can follow the interesting development process here. At the same time, the Lumi team recently presented the LumiKit at the Maker Faire in Rimini, a boxed version of the LumiPocket. In fact, all of their innovations seem to focus on compactness in some regard, and as the CEO explains in a press release, that feature has been on the Lumi radar ever since their released their first machine in 2013. “We believe that, similar to the evolution of computers from big mainframes to compact personal computers, this will help the 3D printers to become more and more adopted”, he says.

That is also reflected in this new Z-axis mechanism. "Its most interesting feature is that the total height of the 3D printer, when closed, is smaller than the maximum height of the 3D printed part, as it expands while printing,” the CEO explains. “This new solution not only gives the possibility to have compact and portable devices, but also in the including examples it can lead to a smart and stylish design, betraying our Italian origins!” What’s more, the new system can be applied to 3D printers of various technologies, including SLA, DLP and FDM 3D printers, and is currently patent pending.

This curious innovation has come out of the desire to revolutionize the entire concept of resin 3D printing which, as they rightly point out, has so far only been benefitting from resin curing innovations. The mechanical lifting system has, meanwhile, stayed the same for years. “We think that our solution can be a disruptive innovation that will change completely the way 3D printers are conceived and designed,” the team argues. More importantly, it also has the ability to speed up the slow 3D printing process.

But the compact nature of such a design also cannot be ignored, as it brings several advantages to the table. “It takes up little space, it is easier to share it and it opens the way for interesting scenarios. Such as a teacher who can bring a 3D printer in his suitcase and print 3d models during his lessons; or doctors that during a conference can make 3D printed parts for colleagues, or patients, showing the part where they intend to operate. Possible scenarios do include also live presentations for jewelry or fashion companies, in which it would be possible to go to the presentation with your 3D printer and create for the customer,” they say. If that mobility can be achieved without sacrificing quality, then it will definitely open a wide range of new applications. There’s thus an interesting time ahead for Lumi Industries, who have said that they will use this system to develop a wide range of new 3D printers that are compacter and more efficient than ever before, in part through partnerships.

One of the most interesting examples of this is the LumiFold TAB, a 3D printer that fits on top of a tablet (3 cm thick or so). “It uses visible light and a special control system that allows the electronic parts to be controlled from the Tablet without wiring, just using modulated light”,  they say. And as you can see in the images above, that tablet slowly grows in height during 3D printing, while all the electronics have been efficiently tucked away. “The Tablet can be kept under charge when printing, and it runs the slicing and supports generation in both automatic and manual mode,” they add. The Italians are already confident that big tablet manufacturers like Sony, Apple and Samsung will be interested in this 3D printing accessory, and rightly so.

But the other compact 3D printers under development look equally interesting. What about the LumiFold CUBE, a compact UV 3D printer specifically for the jewelry market with a printing area of 10x10x5cm? “It  is designed for jewelry / dental use that will be able to use a wide range of materials, while the New LumiFold XL is a UV resin 3D printer with a printing area of 25x35cm, 30cm height, and the machine is just 15cm tall when closed,” they say.

An FDM version of the Lumifold using this mechanical Z-axis system is also under development, and will be just 10 cm tall – expanding with a temperature controlled chamber during 3D printing. This latter machine is under development with an FDM expert partner. “We think this machine would be really interesting for space use. Imagine this 3D printer to be used on the ISS! Since weight and size of everything that is transported is critical due to really high costs, an ultra-thin and light 3D printer would be an excellent solution for 3D printing in space,” they speculate. Could it be that the real future of 3D printing technology isn’t just in quality results, but in machine size?



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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