Jun 30, 2016 | By Alec

Over the past few days Amsterdam played host to Additive Manufacturing Europe 2016, which featured numerous interesting workshops, speakers and visions of what 3D printing will bring to the future of manufacturing. But of course the 3D printing community is anxiously waiting for the release of several 3D printers, and fortunately many of these upcoming models were present in Amsterdam as well. 3ders.org checked out three of the most anticipated 3D printers of the moment.

Zortrax’s M300 is even bigger in real life.

Just earlier this week, Zortrax announced the unveiling of the M300 – the successor to the very popular and successful M200 3D printer – and promised it would be bigger and better than its predecessor. Building on the M200’s success, it also relies on Zortrax’s layer plastic deposition (LPD) 3D printing technology. 3D printing at a resolution of anywhere from 90 to 300 microns for a single extruder, the Zortrax M300 3D printer is capable of using 4 different types of Zortrax 3D printing filaments: the versatile Z-ULTRAT, the matte Z-HIPS, the semi-transparent Z-GLASS and Z-PETG, which is known for its resistance to just about all kinds of salts, acids and a lot more.

But it’s biggest selling point, undoubtedly, is the M300’s size. The M200’s 200x200x180 mm build space wasn’t the smallest around, but the M300 features a comfortable 300x300x300 mm build space – large enough to 3D print an entire motorcycle helmet in a single piece. As you can see above, it looked even more gargantuan in real life, stretching the concept of a desktop 3D printer to its limits. But then who wouldn’t want to sacrifice desktop space for something like this? The M300 will retail at $5000.

What’s more, the Polish innovators might take home the prize for the most impressive print of the whole event. For right at the door, they set up an amazing, full-sized 3D printed superhero model. As you can see above, it’s not quite Batman, not quite Nightwing, but it’s certainly highly impressive. Featuring over 400 separate parts, it was built in about two weeks of constant 3D printing. “It can be any hero you want it to be,” Zortrax said.

Speed is everything for Sharebot.

In contrast, the Italian innovators from Sharebot focused completely on speed, rather than build size. This was illustrated by the fact that they exhibited their Voyager DLP 3D printer next to their brand-new Voyager Warp DLP 3D printer. Though exactly the same size and only distinguishable thanks to different casings, the Voyager Warp is actually eight times faster. This remarkable speed was already reported on earlier this week, when the company revealed that they can 3D print up to 100 mm per hour, which is much faster than most other resin-based 3D printers out there.

Those speedy claims were only further emphasized in Amsterdam, where Arturo Donghi, Sharebot CEO revealed that their 3D printing speed is actually comparable to that of Carbon’s Clip 3D printing technology. In fact, the full case of resin ring prototypes visible below were 3D printed in as little as 15 minutes. What’s more, the Voyager Warp 3D printed 64 rings in the same time that the Voyager 3D printer did ‘just’ 9. The resolution quality, meanwhile, hasn’t suffered at all and stayed at 35 microns. While the Voyager wasn’t outdated at all, its Warp successor can be a game changer.

So what’s next for Sharebot? While they revealed that they would like to upgrade their DLP 3D printer’s build size, the technology is simply too expensive to do so right now. But so far, the company can’t complain, having only been in operation for two years now. “We’re the biggest in Italy, and we produce about 200 3D printers a month, with most going throughout Europe. About 3,500 3D printers are active right now,” Donghi told us. Incidentally, the company now also has several interesting and free projects for FDM 3D printers available on their website, including for a stool, a functional suspension model and a fantastic dinosaur model.

Leapfrog nearly ready for Bolt 3D printer launch.

As the event was held in Amsterdam, Dutch companies could of course not be absent from Additive Manufacturing Europe. And perhaps the most anticipated Dutch 3D printer right now is the Leapfrog Bolt 3D printer, which has been largely shrouded in mystery so far. Fortunately, the Dutch developers exhibited, among others, a remarkable prototype of the Bolt 3D printer that looks to deliver on all fronts.

For starters, development on the Bolt is progressing very rapidly. As the Dutch innovators revealed, they are performing final tests this week, and are expecting to have the 3D printers in stock in the Netherlands in three weeks from now. While the prototype itself still featured a practical, rather than an aesthetic cover (which will be fundamentally different on the final model), the interior is what matters.

And there, the Bolt is very impressive. As readers might remember, a recent sneak peek of the Bolt 3D printer revealed some very interesting properties. Featuring a dual print head capacity, an Activated Carbon HEPA filter, a completely closed 3D printing platform, and a custom multi-platform software, it looked promising. “The software is the best we have ever developed. It provides control of the Bolt from any device with a browser and WIFI and give you full control on the Bolt. Combined with shared storage, filament detection and a webcam, the bolt is a high quality 3D printer with a superb ease of use,” they said.

But perhaps the most remarkable news in that sneak peek was the company’s decision to build a dual-headed 3D printer. As experienced users will know, these setups tend to suffer from oozing (which can ruin colored prints), while you also need to sacrifice build space to accommodate the additional hardware. While Leapfrog did say that these problems didn’t affect the Bolt 3D printer, they did not reveal why.

Fortunately, Leapfrog was willing to share a few more details on that front in Amsterdam. As the Bolt prototype revealed, the very large build space is more than big enough for two print heads, which can 3D print in replicator or mirror mode (produce multiple copies of one item), or move separately to work on different projects. Dual color printing is also possible. “Then you park one of the heads on the side, to avoid contamination of the active material with the inactive material. The inactive head cleans itself before going to print itself, by wiping itself on a perch,” The Leapfrog staff revealed.

But there’s more. The Bolt 3D printer was under development for a long time, and the Dutch company revealed that they are ready to start moving in different directions once this 3D printer is completed. Among others, they are working on ISO certification, which they should receive in the near future. “That means we can start more professional production in the near future. So there’s movement in all aspects of the company,” the company revealed in Amsterdam.

Not that Leapfrog was doing badly; right now about 7,500 Leapfrog 3D printers are in the field, mostly spread out over Europe. But most remarkably, they are also working on a growing presence in Japan, provided by a Ricoh – of metal 3D printing fame – partnership. Through it, the Japanese technology giants provide full services as well. “We are very happy with that partnership. We found Ricoh through the EMEA offices, and they actually approached us,” they say. “They found us to be interesting due to our educational program and the setup of our machines.” Leapfrog is going places, and the Bolt will certainly help.



Posted in 3D Printer



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