Dec 14, 2016 | By Andre
Kickstarter played a large part in bringing the cost of 3D printing down and into the hands of thousands over the last few years. Starting from early filament based success stories like Printrbot to affordable SLA resin 3D printing with the Form-1 to similarly successful DLP projector based units, crowd-funding has certainly helped the technology forward.
One of the few remaining 3D print technologies that has remained in the high-end commercial sector is found in polyjet 3D print technology. Well, It appears that’s all about to change thanks to an ambitious team from Germany called Next Dynamics and their kickstarter ready NexD1 PCB-printable, multi-material liquid jet 3D printer.
In this case, Polyjet (or DigiJet as they refer to it as) refers to the 200 liquid-jetting-nozzles layering down material with 10 micron precision and the subsequent UV curing on a return pass before starting over and over one layer after another. But unlike any polyjet 3D printer out there today, they are hoping to get it to you for under €4000 (or just €2,818 if you are quick enough to catch the early-bird).
And while Ben Hartkopp, from Next Dynamics admits delivery estimates for the first units are still a very rough beyond a “kickstarter timeframe” of September of 2017, having an affordable polyjet based 3D printing option in the market might prove to be a game changer.
If able to deliver as advertised, the NexD1 will be able to combine six different materials at once without any DRM to artificially increase the material price. They are also working with German manufacturers to create new materials that are rigid, conductive, flexible, colored, transparent and also a water washable support material (with materials currently suggested in the $15 - $100 price range per 600ml cartridge).
As is evidenced by the campaign marketing piece below, the device started with the 3D printing of custom circuitry in mind but a bigger picture quickly formed. The team now thinks of the NexD1 as a “start-up starter", that you “can create and iterate almost anything" and that they hope their "tech will become a launching point for new businesses to explore the potential of 3D manufacturing.”
The low price point (relative to what's available today) is claimed to be attainable because they developed their own printhead instead of relying on third party technology commonly produced by Ricoh or Xerox. Maintaining a DRM free material strategy should also ensure the forming of a competitive materials market should the NexD1 establish itself as a player in the 3D printing field.
From a features perspective, you have a combination of the familiar to the absolutely rare. Like many 3D printers on Kickstarter these days, wifi, touchscreen, onboard slicing and a generous 20x20x20cm build area are all present. What you don’t usually find however is circuit printing, 10 micron precision, multi-material options and even eco friendly water soluble support material right out of the box.
As someone that works with commercial grade polyjet 3D printing on a daily basis, I can attest to the technology's secure place in the sector. Multi-material blending with a range of material options is incredibly important in product development and beyond. So seeing this campaign off to an early success is great news.
Unfortunately, even though the price is right for a first step in affordable polyjet 3D printing, there are many uncertainties remaining. The risks and challenges section mentions common issues found in manufacturing aid supply chain, as well as possible component shortages and even last minute design change possibilities.
Fortunately, they do promise complete transparency along their crowdfunding journey, have already partnered with some established brands, and have been working on the system since 2015 via a Fab Lab in Berlin.
As of writing, their Kickstarter has already scooped up €145,000, nearly three quarters of their €200,000 goal. Time will tell whether this Kickstarter campaign will be the beginning of low-cost polyjet 3D printing is yet to be seen. Heck, there is a good chance that the lawyers at Stratasys are already working hard to quash the project before it hits its stride, but whatever happens, bringing polyjet 3D printing to the masses is a necessary step growing consumer appeal in 3D printing, and there's a good chance the team at Next Dynamics has what it takes to get us there.
Posted in 3D Printer
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MarcC wrote at 12/14/2016 10:33:45 AM:
......and the first Sprout of the festive season I've seen in the background.
MarcC wrote at 12/14/2016 10:23:31 AM:
Possibly a European Formlabs? I just wonder how well prepared for IPR issues ahead they are?