An entirely new desktop 3D printer designed for engineering use, specifically for injection molds, has been announced today by Avante Technology.
The company has previously been developing a line of engineering-grade polymer filaments for use in professional desktop 3D printers, but now it appears they’ve decided to market their own machine.
The new machine, the Fabricatus, is an open-style device made from high quality components. The highlights:
- Healthy print volume of 200 x 200 x165mm
- Glass print bed, heatable to 120C
- Automatic print head and print bed calibration
- Default 0.35mm nozzle; options available
- Maximum extruder temperature 245C for multiple engineering materials
- Uses 2.88mm filament, but has an option for 1.75mm
- Dual, independent hot ends with 2 cooling fans each
- Not particularly fast printing at 40-80mm/sec
- Connectivity through ethernet, USB and internal SD card
The machine is, of course, designed to use Avante Techonlogy’s engineering grade materials that enables economical production of injection molds for limited applications. They explain:
Minimizes cost and time required to modify your molds. Print in hours start molding the next day. Avante injection molding grade material costs less than $2.50 per cubic inch ($0.15 per cubic cm), for most printed mold designs. The savings on replacing one metal mold with printed composite molds often pays for the cost of this printing system. Example: single cavity ASTM flexural modulus test bar mold: print time of 4 hours; cost of material: under $50. Same tool milled in aluminum: $4,000 plus shipping from China; 4 week delivery. Rework extra $1,000 or more.
CEO Bob Zollo explains more about this interesting machine:
The advanced automated calibration touch-probe combines with our proprietary Contour Control™ surface profiler to automatically compensate for the slightest deviation from flatness in the print bed. When printing at 0.05mm layer height, this compensation ensures we are getting proper precision across the entire print bed.
The Fabricatus will be sold eventually for USD$3,750, but for a limited time during launch they’re dropping USD$500 off the price for a limited time.
This announcement parallels what we’ve been seeing lately in the industry: develop materials, machines and accessories to support the ability of desktop 3D printers to produce engineering-grade objects. There are a number of companies pursuing this goal, offering high temperature, high precision equipment capable of creating useful engineering prototypes and even small run production units.
However, Avante Technology’s approach is interesting in that they’re shifting from a materials product to a combined materials and equipment approach. The idea, I suspect, is that by controlling both you can develop reliable print profiles for predictable production of precision parts.