Nov 6, 2016 | By Alec

Over the past few years 3D printing has repeatedly proven itself as the premier prototyping technology, but we are still waiting for the next commercial step. Of course at its core 3D printing is about creating completely new and unique objects, and large scale (but customizable) manufacturing has therefore been the at the core of expectations for 3D printing since its very beginning. So what’s taking so long? Unfortunately material, speed and size limitations have remained unsurmountable obstacles, and contributed a lot to the end of the so-called 3D printing hype. Prototyping might stay the highest possible commercial level for a long time.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. A new challenger has appeared with the secretive Israeli startup Fleximatter. Though they have chosen to limit themselves to a semi-hidden social media presence so far, they are actually working on an unusual 3D printing technology that could take FDM principles all the way to the manufacturing realm. In fact, their Fleximatter 3D printer features a massive build platform of 800 x 800 x 900mm, and 3D prints objects in blended color layers at insane speeds. They are also already selling 3D printed objects, like stools, vases and wine racks, commercially in Israel.

Before you get your hopes up, it does seem as though this is largely a Work-in-Progress affair. They are reportedly still attempting (or have recently succeeded) at patenting their high-speed 3D printing technique – which provides “incredibly fast extrusion” with a 0.1mm accuracy. One 3D printed chair featuring 7kg of plastic was made in as little as six hours. What’s more, this 3D printer is compatible with a wide range of flexible and rigid, functional materials, and enables the fantastic color-blending features visible in the objects above and below. Even stools capable of carrying a person’s weight seem like no problem at all.

Those two features alone make this a hugely appealing technology already, as end-product 3D printing suffers from the very long production times and very limited material options. High production speeds also push down costs, making it easier to compete with conventional manufacturing options.

These achievements support the company’s vision of changing the way products are manufactured, “by creating a 3D printing system that is ready for production of real products and not just models.” As the developers explained, it’s their mission to bring 3D printing’s level of flexibility to every designer and design firm and enable true on-demand production, complete with endless customization options at a reasonable price. “Every Fleximatter product is manufactured on-demand, and with endless options of customizations, and perfect fit to the specific experience requirements of our customer,” they say.

However, little else is known about this extrusion-based 3D printing technology right now. It does appear like it has been developed with financial backing received from the Israeli government back in 2015, while they look to be working on a two-pronged commercial effort: to offer 3D printing services and to commercially sell 3D printers. A webpage for the latter is already online (with prices starting at $30,000), while an online Israeli shop featuring vases and more can be found here.

While Fleximatter’s potentially revolutionary concept thus isn’t quite ready for prime time yet, it certainly demonstrates that the 3D printing world hasn’t reached its zenith yet. There are still plenty of ways to overcome existing technological barriers and bring 3D printing to the mainstream, and Fleximatter could do exactly that.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Technology

 

 

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