Sep 20, 2016 | By Benedict

Zhuhai CTC Electronic, China’s leading 3D printer manufacturer, today officially released two new 3D printers at a press conference in Dongguan, China. The new printers are the Walnut 18 selective laser melting (SLM) 3D printer and Riverbase 500 light-curing (SLA) 3D printer.

After almost two million RMB ($300,000) of investment and 18 months hard work, a lot was riding on CTC Electronic’s latest press conference, organized to showcase the company’s two latest 3D printers: the Walnut 18 SLM metal 3D printer and Riverbase 500 industrial SLA 3D printer. Billed as “intelligent and industrial” machines, the Walnut and Riverbase could, according to the company, prove to be a benchmark of China’s growing 3D printing industry. The 3D printers will each come packaged with CTC Electronic’s own operating system, which customers can upgrade for free every year as new material compatibilities are developed.

The unveiling of the two new 3D printers took place in the city of Dongguan, where 60% of CTC Electronic’s 3D printing customers are based. According to the company, widespread local adoption of the new industrial 3D printers could radically change how operations are conducted in the area. “Dongguan is the world's foundry town, but also the most developed city for domestic industrial 3D printers,” a CTC Electronic spokesperson explained. “CTC's new industrial 3D printer release will push the region from the traditional manufacturing industry to Industry 4.0.”

At the heart of the Walnut 18 SLM 3D printer is a parallel dot-scan system, which enables users to fabricate 3D printed metal parts with high precision. “When scanning of layer N is complete, a layer of powder is spread on top, and the scanning line of layer N+1 is shifted away 0.5 degrees, so that the laser beam scans overlap with the concave recess area of the layer N,” explained molding expert Professor Liu Bin. “The process continues with this 'X-type split-level' scanning, with molten metal wetting the side of the layer N scanning line, and gravity causing liquid metal to fill the recess area. The fusion line between the two layers is combined tightly, resulting in very few holes and a density of nearly 100%.”

Conventional SLM techniques use a fixed angle, meaning a part’s surface roughness is generally between 15 and 50μm. CTC’s X-type split-level gradient scanning, which uses 0.5-degree angle changes, can directly improve the surface quality of an SLM 3D printed part, with roughness reduced to 8μm or less.

One of the most useful features of CTC Electronic’s new Walnut 18 SLM 3D printer is its unique method of fabricating support structures. Instead of using traditional vertical supports, the printer uses a tree-like overhang system which produces added stability. “The overhang structure is formed to add support in advance to ensure the stability of the 3D printing process,” said Professor Liu Changyong of Shenzhen University, an advocate of CTC Electronic 3D printers. “After printing, these supports can be removed to reveal the finished part. Traditional vertical support structures can affect the shape of an SLM printed part, reducing the overall accuracy of the print.”

CTC Electronic specializes in dot-scan 3D printing technology, which it first started developing in 2010. It first announced its Riverbase 500 3D printer back in early February. The company’s RiverOS software is compatible with Mac, Windows, Linux, and other operating systems, and will soon be able to process G-code-style prints which require no on-screen configuration. The software, which is fully internet-enabled, also works with 3D printers besides those made by CTC Electronic, including Formlabs and 3D Systems machines.



Posted in 3D Printer



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I.AM.Magic wrote at 9/21/2016 8:49:25 AM:

Impressive specs, lets see real parts, close up preferably. Will China dominate its own market? will it be able to move out? or is it "just" going to partner with an Western company?

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