EnvisionTEC's Mystery 3D Printer
EnvisionTEC is hinting at a new dental 3D printer.
The Michigan-based company has long been a provider of high-resolution resin-based 3D printing equipment. I’ve seen many samples from their printers in the past and have always been impressed with the incredible detail that’s possible with their technology.
The company also has made considerable progress to deliver a fantastically wide array of materials for their printers, perhaps more than any other resin 3D printer manufacturer. While they offer the standard functional resins, such as castable, end-use, dental, prototyping, jewelry, etc, they also offer some very unusual materials not easily found elsewhere, including: bioprinting, FDA-cleared, Health Canada-approved, and others.
Recently they posted a rather mysterious teaser for what appears to be a new dental 3D printer, as shown above. That rendering doesn’t show much, and in fact has half of the machine hidden under a cloth.
What can we say about this upcoming machine?
It’s clearly targeted at the dental industry, as their teaser says “Dental Manufacturing”.
Their slogan for the machine is “One Vision, One Machine”. This may hint at the capabilities of the device.
In resin 3D printing a three-step process is most often used: laser-driven printing, alcohol-based cleaning of leftover liquid resin, and finally UV-powered part curing. For quality parts these are the steps that must be completed.
Many resin systems undertake this process, but use separate devices for doing so. For example, the Formlabs Form 2 has two accessories. One is used to quickly clean residual resin off the print by immersing in an agitated solution. The other accessory is a UV “oven” that cures the printed part through long exposure to UV wavelengths.
But that scenario requires three machines: the printer, the cleaner and the curer.
I’m wondering if EnvisionTEC’s new dental machine might include all these functions within one machine? That might fit with their slogan.
If so, it could make for a very much simplified workflow. Operators might be able to initiate a print and then return later to remove a fully completed print - one that has been cleaned AND cured within the same device.
Their secondary slogan is “The One, the Only One”, and that also points toward an integrated function machine.
The EnvisionTEC web page URL also provides some clues: “https://envisiontec.com/envisionone-cdlm-3d-printing/“. Here we can tell that the machine likely uses CDLM, EnvisionTEC’s “Continuous Digital Light Manufacturing” tech that can 3D print at higher speeds. It may also suggest that the machine’s name could be the “EnvisionOne”.
We have no idea if any of this is true; it’s merely our speculation. But it would certainly not be surprising if this is the case, as EnvisionTEC, as one of the original resin 3D printer manufacturers, has faced considerable market pressure from a variety of inexpensive competitors that have recently entered the market.
The dental industry is seen by many as a profitable market for 3D printers, and as such it has attracted a number of competitors seeking a piece of the action.
The secret to success in that market will be to differentiate, and that might be what EnvisionTEC is up to with their new, unannounced machine.