Feb. 23, 2015 | Alec

Anyone with a desktop 3D printing will doubtlessly admit that, while a lot of fun, 3D printers can be agonizingly slow. Even relatively small projects tend to quickly take hours and hours, encouraging ridicule from your family. That’s exactly why we are very interested in a new 3D printing principle, developed by two Dutch entrepreneurs, called Flexible Hybrid Slicing. Not only will it allow you to 3D print shapes and forms hitherto impossible to make, it also has the potential to speed up 3D printing by up to 80%!

While Flexible Hybrid Slicing won’t be released to Kickstarter until Tuesday or Wednesday, Dutch developers Gerben Eykenaar and Maarten Kurver were kind enough to introduce their innovative approach to us already. Over the past one and a half years, the duo has been working on refining a remarkably simple solution to the tediousness of 3D printing: incorporating a special type of supportive sheet material into the manufacturing process. It’s called Triple D3 layer material, and is a type of Modified Polystyrene (MPS) solid sheet that has a very interesting reaction when PLA filament is 3D printed on top of it.

The sheet and its developers Gerben Eykenaar and Maarten Kurver.

Essentially, it creates a semi-permanent bond with the PLA, but can also be easily removed after printing is complete. Instead of 3D printing endless support structures, you can instead simply pause the printing process halfway through, place bits of Triple D3 Layer material on necessary spots and continue printing. They call this technique Flexible Hybrid Slicing and it will not only save a lot of time, it also enables you to design and 3D print shapes that would otherwise be impossible to create.

‘By successfully eliminating unnecessary volume- and support printing through so-called Triple D3® layer material the total printing time can be improved considerably in almost all cases’, says Gerben Eykenaar. ‘The trick of this developed sheet material is, that it will provide for a perfect level of adhesion for both very commonly used PLA and PS filament, albeit that the sheet material may be released from the printed PLA layers afterwards (due to its unique Stick-N-Slide® properties).’ Not only does this mean you don’t need support material, but you can also save time by using sheets of Triple D3 to replace other sections that don’t necessarily need to be 3D printed.

To see the Flexible Hybrid Slicing technique in action, check out this clip here.

‘So, if we print a box we do not print the bottom layer and top layer, but replace this with the insert of the solid MPS sheet material. This not only means an enormous improvement in printing time, but also gives the opportunity to play with the sheet material in another way,’ Eykenaar says. ‘If you print the box with the PLA filament, the PLA will stick during the printing process on the MPS sheet material and thus allowing for very sharp lines and edges and a troublesome free 90 degree overhang, albeit that  you still can release the sheet afterwards.’ This enables you to easily make small horizontal grooves and overhanging sections easily and quickly, something which would otherwise be a time-consuming nightmare that tends to fail.

To incorporate this Flexible Hybrid Slicing technique into your 3D printing process, the duo has also developed a plug-and-play beta software ( called the FHS-App) to support the design, slicing and printing process. Using this app will enable you to place Triple D3 material onto your projects without the extrusion head getting ‘lost’.

An overview of the beta version of their FHS App.

While more information will doubtlessly be revealed as part of the launch of their Kickstarter campaign, the pair have already designed a fun little 3D printed game using their FHS technique. It’s called ‘MyGrow Golf’, and it would be impossible to 3D print without a sheet of Triple D3. ‘It reflects all basic features of the implemented process technology’, says Maarten Kurver. ‘So, it is far more than just inserting a material piece into the 3D print, as designing a fully operational sliding lid within a 3D print is now possible and easily reproducible, thanks to the unique stick-and-release properties of the very sheet material.’

Gerben Eykenaar, owner of The Export Office, and Maarten Kurver, owner of Ctrl Design, are Dutch engineers who have extensively collaborated with universities and industrial specialists to develop their FHS 3D printing technique. Through their forthcoming Kickstarter, they are hoping to raise the funds necessary to take their Triple D3 sheet material into production. While we do not yet know what amount of funds they are trying to raise, their crowdfunding campaign will definitely be worth a visit. Who wouldn’t want to greatly speed up 3D printing and create more diverse and interesting shapes?



Posted in 3D Printing Accessories


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blue monkey wrote at 2/27/2015 1:49:15 AM:

could this be used as the top layer of a print bed rather than blue painters tape? 3d print up some clips to hold the Triple D3 material down to a glass print bed. To remove print, remove clips and print bed, then scrape off / flex blue bed material to pop off prints. Maybe the adhesion would be too good, and bed would be damaged in removal. But if this did work, you could solve another massive problem of FDM printing. if it does work, should offer that as a kickstart reward, bed sheet cut to size for common printers, and clips printed to suit those printers.

Gerben Eykenaar en Maarten Kurver wrote at 2/24/2015 4:03:00 PM:

Thanks for all your appreciated input so far: We would like to give our reaction to the comments above: First of all we also love 3D printing a lot and would like to add a positive contribution towards the often heard remark “it is slow and only suitable for prototyping.” For that very reason we very much wanted to speed up the printing process, making even more people to love it. Moreover you can print the entire ball game in less than half a day, so playing it that very same day is our guarantee. In the very case of this ball game, completely printing the top and bottom lid ( being already approx. 45% of the total printing volume, exclusive support ) will take at least ten hours more, as the sheet material used is super smooth and high gloss ( so, comparing it with slicing in the highest print quality possible appears fair to us ). Second the thickness of the sheet material is 0.04 “ ( 1.0mm ) and the created groove height for the sliding panel is almost the same dimension . We believe that it is not possible to create - with the current 3D FDM printing technology - such an accurate groove height with a 90 degree overhang, which still will be functional and operational. And if the 3D printed sheet would have been molten in the lid, obviously you could not remove it afterwards, so no sliding lid function created and /or possible for the top lid. On the Kickstarter page ( expected release tomorrow ) we hope extra information about the insert- and overprint methods will provide for more clarity. And last but not least we think that the pricing for our sheet material ( obviously also suitable as release pad on your printing bed ) is surprisingly competitive. So, pay us a visit on the Kickstarter page and hopefully you will become one of our enthusiastic backers. Gerben Eykenaar en Maarten Kurver

FBW wrote at 2/24/2015 9:57:40 AM:

Where does the insert in the video come from? How is it removed? Conveniently omitted. To me this makes absolutely no sense at all. The post from Partsplitter says it all.

Partsplitter wrote at 2/24/2015 8:23:30 AM:

Why use a special material that has to be cut somehow precisely into the needed shape and dimensions and is probably hard to reuse for all the "one off" designs most people print? Would it ot be much easyer to design your file in a way that you first print the needed sheet for the massive overhangs a few layers thick, then print the complex part and use a "pause-at-layer" function so you can insert the preprinted sheet in the design and have it basically incorporated and "molten" in to the final product? Should not be that hard to realize imho and would not waste any special or possibly expensive material.

Adrian wrote at 2/23/2015 6:39:23 PM:

"Anyone with a desktop 3D printing will doubtlessly admit that, while a lot of fun, 3D printers can be agonizingly slow." Really? Agonizingly slow compared to what? Going to the store and buying the thing I just invented? Oh wait, you can't do that, because it doesn't exist yet! I really hate when 3d printing is put down in the media. Anyone new to 3d printing will read that first sentence and have their perception of 3d printing tainted (in a negative way). Instead we should be promoting 3d printing, and encouraging more people to get involved.

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