May 10, 2017 | By Benedict

3D printer company Impossible Objects has unveiled the Model One, its highly anticipated composite-based additive manufacturing method (CBAM) 3D printer that can print with carbon fiber, Kevlar, and fiberglass, as well as PEEK and other high performance polymers.

Illinois-based Impossible Objects is known around these parts for its unique CBAM 3D printing technology, which the company says can be used to print with highly desirable materials like carbon fiber. Last year, we included Impossible Objects’ in-development 3D printer in a list of machines that could shape the future of additive manufacturing.

Now it looks like we’ll have a chance to confirm or disprove our prediction, because the Impossible Objects Model One, the first CBAM 3D printer, is just about ready for launch.

The announcement regarding the Model One was delivered by Impossible Objects at the RAPID + TCT conference (where else?), where companies like Aleph Objects, 3D Systems, and Formlabs have been showcasing their newest products.

But despite the flurry of product announcements from all across the industry, it’s no exaggeration to say that Impossible Objects’ new machine could be one of the most exciting revelations of the week. Customers will finally able to try their hand at CBAM to see what all the fuss is about.

In the CBAM process, conventional thermal inkjet heads are used to “print” designs on sheets of composites, which can be carbon fiber, Kevlar, fiberglass, or another high performance material.

Each sheet is then flooded with a polymer powder, such as nylon or PEEK, which causes the powder to stick where inkjet fluid has been deposited on the sheets. Excess powder is then vacuumed off and the sheets are stacked, compressed and heated.

At this point, the polymer powder melts and bonds the sheets together. The uncoated fibers are then removed using mechanical or chemical means, leaving behind a durable, lightweight object.

According to Impossible Objects, the Model One 3D printer will use this unique technology to 3D print functional parts, at scale, using a wide selection of materials. And in an extremely effective manner, too:

The Illinois 3D printing specialist says its machine can create parts that are up to 10x stronger than your average 3D printed object, while printing them at “faster build speeds than other additive manufacturing technologies and traditional composite lay-up techniques.” How much faster? 100x faster, apparently.

Parts 3D printed on the Impossible Objects Model One 3D printer

Understandably then, a lot of people in the business are keen to get their hands on this super-strong, super-fast 3D printing experience. Impossible Objects says as much.

“We’ve seen tremendous interest from a range of companies who want the advantages of 3D printing for their high-volume manufacturing and for materials they cannot get elsewhere,” said Robert Swartz, chairman and founder of Impossible Objects.

“Until now, there was no way to print functional parts with the mechanical and material properties at the scale these companies need. The Model One is just the beginning of what CBAM can do.”

Although Impossible Objects sees the Model One being used for a range of applications, from prototyping to production, it is the more serious production end of the spectrum that could really benefit most from the new CBAM 3D printer.

“The development of an automated, low-cost composite additive manufacturing system could revolutionize the U.S. composite tool and composite end user parts industries,” said Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Lonnie Love. “Impossible Objects’ CBAM technology has the potential to revolutionize this market.”

The Model One will be available to the public by early 2018, but companies that want to be considered earlier for a pilot program can get in touch with Impossible Objects for an advance shipment.

“We’re excited to take this next step toward providing a tangible solution for the largest manufacturing opportunities that businesses have,” said Larry Kaplan, CEO of Impossible Objects. “With our deep expertise in additive manufacturing, we’re committed to finding the fastest, most efficient ways possible to produce the most vital and complex parts from all types of materials.”

RAPID + TCT is taking place at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA, and wraps up tomorrow, May 11.



Posted in 3D Printer



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