Jan 11, 2018 | By David

Towards the end of last year, we reported on a groundbreaking new additive manufacturing development from an exciting start-up based in Bangalore, India. The Ethereal Machines team had been making waves with its new Halo 5D printer, a machine that goes way beyond the usual limits of of 3D printing and even the growing field of shape-shifting ‘4D printing’ technologies. Following up on early buzz, the Halo 5D received its biggest endorsement so far with a ‘Best of Innovation’ award from the CES 2018 trade show in Las Vegas, and it has been demonsrating its breakthrough to attendees over the last few days.

What is referred to as 5D printing by Ethereal Machines is more commonly known as 5-axis machining, and it’s a technology that’s been around for many years. An advanced type of CNC milling, it makes use of five different axes of movement to subtractively produce complex designs for structures that would otherwise be impossible to realize. Having already developed 3D printing technology as well as CNC routers, the team was able to combine both subtractive and additive techniques to come up with a variant on 5-axis machining that could be an entirely new manufacturing solution for a huge range of sectors.

The Halo 5D works with the regular 3 axes of movement (XYZ) that a regular 3D printer has, as well as two extra rotational dimensions (AC). By rotating the print head and the printer bed, the machine enables the efficient production of geometries that would be incredibly difficult and time-consuming to make with other techniques.

“Imagine something like a concave shaped cap — it's impossible to make with a regular 3D printer, because you'd need to build a lot of filler and supports’’, said Ethereal Machines CTO Kaushik Mudda. ‘‘But with a 5-axis, since the bed itself is moving, it gives me the freedom to print however I want, (and make) that kind of structure.”

“We are unique because no other machine in the market offers the option of five-axis printing and five-axis cutting,” explains Navin Jain, who co-founded the company with Mudda in college. He adds that the additional A and C axes offered by the Halo 5D help with the printing of models that need overhangs and other complexities. “Also, (the) desktop-size Halo lets you perform machining on a part you have just 3D printed.”

As desktop FDM machines go, the Halo 5D isn’t cheap, but as an advanced 5-axis machine it represents a new level of accessibility that could see a transformation in the way that many manufacturing projects will operate, with a potential increase in more complex designs and more efficient workflows. It’s priced at around $25,000, which is 40-60 percent cheaper than similar 5-axis machines currently available on the market. This unprecedented low price point is the company’s real innovation, along with the smaller size that will make it even more accessible. After perfecting the initial prototypes, the team worked hard for over a year to get the Halo 5D to be as compact as possible.

After such a strong showing at CES 2018, Ethereal Machines looks set to continue its impressive growth. One order for the award-winning Halo 5D machine has already been placed by a top Indian institute, and another came from a university based in the UK. According to Mudda, people have also been showing considerable interest in one of the company’s older products, the Ray 3D printer.

The three-year-old start-up, which now has over 20 employees and is considering a move to a larger facility, has been getting some serious attention from investors as a result of its performance at the trade show and a few earlier publicity stunts. The team built a bust of U.S President Donald J. Trump using the Halo, and has also been working on one of his daughter Ivanka. A new director, Mohal Lalbhai, already joined Ethereal Machines at the end of last year after making an investment.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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