Nov 1, 2016 | By Alec

Whichever way you look at it, manufacturing success is all about materials. That perfectly explains why 3D printing has not been able to replace numerous other manufacturing technologies just yet. Aside from cost and speed issues, many regularly used materials with appealing properties just aren’t 3D printable (yet). But this is changing rapidly, and an interesting new 3D printing platform has just appeared in China that brings carbon fiber into the practical, affordable 3D printing realm. Called the DB-F01 3D printer, this two-meter tall machine by Beijing Douba Science and Technology 3D prints up to 4 kg of materials per hour and is perfectly suitable for the production of load-bearing, high quality functional objects.

Now you might think: but surely pure carbon fiber isn’t 3D printable? And you’d be partially right. A man-made material that is stronger than steel or aluminum (ounce for ounce), it is currently extensively used to manufacture cars, airplanes, wind turbines and other high cost products. The problem with the carbon fiber is that it is very labor-intensive to work with, and is often manually milled. While not 3D printable on your typical desktop 3D printer, a handful of professional 3D printing service providers have been successful with 3D printing carbon fiber composites, such as MarkForged.

Right now, several startups are working hard to make more carbon fiber composite 3D printing options available, and they will doubtlessly take a closer look at this new DB-F01 3D printer from Duoba Tech. As the Chinese developers revealed, their engineering team started with the tenets of ‘large size, fasting 3D printing, strong materials and large-scale project enabling’ in mind. Fast forward two years, and the result is a 3D printer that can easily 3D print weather-resistant, load-bearing parts of huge sizes, thanks to a 1200mm x 1200mm x 1200mm build envelope. The DB-F01 has just been made available.

While its very printing speed of 4kg per hour will doubtlessly appeal to a lot of professional users, the DB-F01’s biggest selling point remains its ability to 3D print carbon fiber. Specifically, they have developed a composite material that is far cheaper than filament to produce, and has already proven its worth during the 3D printing of various sculptures and pieces of furniture. Visible above are a 15 kg table, 3D printed in around 20 hours, that can perfectly be used a dinner table and can be placed around a tree thanks to the middle hole. The chair was 3D printed in about ten hours, at a rate of about 600 gram per hour, and is far stronger than ordinary plastic chairs.

At the same time, the Chinese developers see the 3D printing of sculptures as another very important direction they wish to explore. But of course the thick 6mm layers make this more suitable for large-scale sculptures, that undergo some level of post-processing. While various options are possible, the best results were realized on the Easter Island stone. Its surface was first filled with a filler mud, a thick paste-like decorative condensate material, followed by extensive sanding and painting. So much is possible in that regard, they say. Other available materials include glass fiber composites, modified PC polymers, modified PA polymers, modified TPU polymers and other plastic particulate materials, all enjoying the same high printing speeds.

The Chinese company further revealed that this 3D printer is the result of their independent R&D process, and that they have already patented their technology. “These products rely on our own research and development results in the field of PC polymers, PA-modified polymers and TPU polymer materials, which overcome filament limitations and significantly shorten 3D printing times,” they said. “It also breaks with the traditional image of 3D printing, supposedly taking a very long time, with high material costs, and. The DB-F01 also ensures that 3D printing can be used for more applications.”

The DB-F01 3D printer is currently in its pre-sale stage, with shipping set to begin in March 2017. This two-meter tall 3D printer also features a very attractive price tag of just 200,000 RMB for pre-orders, putting it in the sub-$30,000 range. After release, it will be available for 350,000 RMB (or approximately $47,000).

  • printer size: 1890mmX1860mmX1780mm
  • build envelope: 1200mmX1200mmX1200mm
  • Feeding method: granular
  • The fastest printing speed: 16mm / s
  • Maximum printing weight: 600g / h --- 4kg / h
  • Maximum height: 3.5mm-4mm
  • Printing temperature 210 ℃ -275 ℃
  • Slice format: Stl
  • Print format: Gcode
  • Print accuracy: ± 1mm


Posted in 3D Printer



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Alech wrote at 11/8/2016 5:30:22 PM:

Please don't compare this printer with Markforged. Markforged prints in nylon with one printhead and with continous fiber from an additional printhead. That is something completely different than composite filament.

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