Smart International announced a high-temperature 3D printing option: the Macro HT.
Smart International Macro
This adds to their previous announcement of the very interesting Macro series. If you’re not familiar, I encourage you to read our previous post on this configuration. But in brief, the company announced dual machines: a Prototyping Unit (PU) and a Production Module (PM), with the idea that you iteratively design a part on the PU and then once completed you seamlessly move it to the PM for low volume production.
Since the machines are internally identical, you can be assured that the production parts are the same as those that were prototyped. And it’s all controlled by a very sophisticated software system with both cloud and local deployment options.
The Macro system was quite functional, being able to handle a wide array of engineering materials, ranging from PLA to flexible to nylons. But one category of materials was missing: high temperature.
Until now, that is.
Smart International Macro HT
With the announcement of the Macro HT, the system now includes the ability to handle higher temperature materials such as PEEK or ULTEM.
How is this accomplished? It seems the company has made some adjustments to the Macro machinery to accommodate higher temperature materials. The new HT build chamber is the same dimensions as the normal Macro units, at 350 x 350 x 400 mm, which is quite large. The HT unit includes dual extruders that allow for the use of soluble support material, and there is a HEPA air filtration system.
However, the HT chamber can be raised to a very hot 200C, far more than the typical 70-100C you find on other heated chambers. In addition, the HT’s hot ends can reach a blistering 500C, which should be able to handle virtually any 3D print material presently available.
In spite of the high heat, the HT unit still offers a print resolution of 0.02mm, which is quite something for a build volume this large.
One very interesting feature in the HT unit is that the motion system does not use belts. Normally, belts exposed to high heat of the level you’d see in this build chamber would degrade or distort. To eliminate that possibility, Smart International has switched the motion system to use ball screws for XY motion. This should significantly increase the lifetime of the machine and ensure more consistent prints over the long term.
Smart International says the HT unit can handle PEEK CF, PEKK, PEI ULTEM 1010, PEI ULTEM 9085, and PPSU, as well as the normally supported Macro materials: ABS, ASA, BVOH, PA6/66, PA12, PAHT, PAHT CF, PC-ABS, PETG, PP CF, PVA, PLA, TPE and TPU.
In addition to all those materials, Smart International has a partner program in which materials vendors can certify their products against the equipment and thus gain a built-in print profile in the print management software. This makes it incredibly easy to get started on virtually any material.
I’m not sure there isn’t an industrial 3D printer that offers so many possible materials in a managed package as is done on the Macro and Macro HT.
There’s another bit of flexibility you might be interested in: The Macro is sold as a new machine, as you might expect. But Smart International also offers the ability to configure a Macro PM with HT build chambers. For example, you might order a Macro PM with three normal build chambers and one HT chamber. This would allow some production of HT parts, while saving money for the production of not-HT parts.
Smart International first appeared on the scene with their amazing Kodak Portrait, a very capable machine. But now they’ve added a similarly comprehensive industrial offering with the Macro and Macro HT series.