Carbon’s new M1 3D printer has been announced, but I feel the more interesting part of the Carbon story is the materials they’re offering - and will offer for the machine.
The M1 is their first 3D printer, and it’s priced at premium levels, based on our previous analysis. The curious thing is that while Carbon’s CLIP technology has been widely noted in the media, its technical advantage (increasing print speed by reducing / eliminating adhesion to the bottom plate) has been also achieved on several other machines.
So why the premium pricing? I think it’s about the materials.
Currently Carbon offers several interesting resins for use in their machine:
RPU Rigid Polyurethane: RPU is our stiffest and most versatile polyurethane-based resin. It performs well under stress, combining strength, stiffness, and toughness.
FPU Flexible Polyurethane: FPU is a semi-rigid material with good impact, abrasion and fatigue resistance.
EPU Elastomeric Polyurethane: EPU is a high performance polyurethane elastomer.
CE Cyanate Ester: Our Cyanate Ester-based resin is a high performance material with heat deflection temperatures up to 219°C [426°F].
PR Prototyping: PR is our prototyping resin with properties similar to SLA resins. It is available in six colors.
This is an excellent set of materials to choose from, as they’ve covered the basics of needs: rigid, flexible, elastic, high-temperature and color. From what I’ve heard, these are all high quality materials that produce excellent results.
But let’s keep one thing in mind: this is their INITIAL set of materials. There’s nothing stopping them from developing many more and adding to this list.
In fact, resin 3D printing has a bit of an advantage in that there are perhaps an infinite number of photocurable resins that can be devised for use in this machine. The materials scientists at Carbon must surely be busy developing an even broader set of materials.
I believe it is very important for them to do, because the system developed by Carbon involves use of such proprietary materials. It’s a bit like a cable tv channel: subscribe to our channel because we’re the only ones that have Show X or Sports Event Y. You’ll want to have a Carbon machine to get access to the materials they’re developing.
It’s a fascinating business model that may well prove very profitable, so long as they can continue to provide a leading set of materials for use in their equipment.