Diabase Engineering offers a hybrid 3D printer and CNC mill.
The Colorado-based company, formed in 2014, got its start producing specialized extrusion systems for use with flexible materials. Flexible filament is notorious for misbehaving during printing, as it tends to bend when it shouldn’t, gumming up the works. Diabase Engineering devised the Flexion Extruder, which is capable of handling extremely flexible filaments.
For the company, they wanted more, and decided to build not only the extruder, but the whole machine. Their idea was rooted in the basis of their extruder success: by controlling the process you could ensure quality results. That’s the same approach they’re taking on the new H-Series Hybrid Machine Tool.
But wait, why call it a “Machine Tool”? It’s because that is really what it is. Yes, it’s a 3D printer, but it is also several other machine tools, all in one device.
I must explain at this point that the Diabase Engineering H-Series is most definitely not like the several hybrid devices we’ve seen recently that are essentially a 3D printer that can swap in a low-strength milling head or a weak laser for engraving. This device has some significantly powerful industrial tools.
The tool changer in this case is a rotary five-position unit that can accept a number of different tools. These can include Bowden drives, sensors and more. Of course, they feature the Flexion Extrusion system that can easily fit into the H-Series.
Some of the tools that can be used include:
3-axis CNC milling head
Rotary 4-axis CNC milling tool
Linear 3D scanning
Rotary 3D scanning
Diabase Engineering H-Series 3D Printer
There are some very interesting 3D print features. In particular, the round bit at the top is actually a dry-box for filament storage. This tends to keep filament at its most optimum condition before and during printing.
The tool changer is able to “pinch” nozzles clean. This is really quite important for multi-material 3D prints, where a nozzle might be dripping while awaiting use. There also seems to be a mechanism to detect if filament is not properly moving, and if so, the machine is automatically paused.
Control of the machine is achieved through a WiFi-connected tablet on the web. This is quite a flexible approach, as you can assign a tablet for this purpose and then move it around if necessary.
Over top of the machine is a nicely fitted clear case. This allows one to see operations but at the same time be protected from flying debris that’s been milled off. This makes for an easier cleanup, too.
What’s particularly interesting to me is that this device allows one to mill the surfaces of 3D printed parts. This has been done with certain metal 3D printer hybrid devices, but this is the first time I’ve seen it on a thermoplastic 3D printer.
Diabase Engineering H-Series Pricing
Although the company is now taking orders for the device, the price is a bit variable as it depends on the options you may require. We’re told typical pricing ranges from US$5-10K, which seems quite reasonable for a machine that offers multiple tools like the H-Series.
Diabase engineering describes the H-Series as “The Most Capable Lab-Scale Manufacturing Platform In The World”, and they might be right.