When we last met Imprinta, the company sold an inexpensive desktop system, the Hercules. How times have changed!
Now the Russian company offers a much stronger device, ironically named the Hercules Strong. This device is specifically targeted at 3D printing professionals seeking a more reliable experience and the ability to use more appropriate engineering materials.
The Hercules Strong is quite a powerful 3D printer, boasting a large build volume of 300 x 300 x 400 mm and a minimum layer size of only 0.02mm. The device includes a heated print surface, and the stray heat is circulated around the build chamber with a couple of active fan units. This should ensure a very uniform temperature during printing.
There’s more. The Hercules Strong includes swappable nozzles to increase print speed – at the cost of layer resolution. The company says they can accept up to 1.2mm nozzle diameters.
Materials suitable for the Hercules Strong include ABS, PLA, PVA, HIPS, Flexible, PC-ABS, Carbon Fiber-infused, Nylons, PET-G, PP, SBS and more, making this device certainly at a professional level.
There is a fully automatic calibration system included, which includes an interesting nozzle calibration feature. The Hercules Strong can detect filament-out and immediately pause the print for material reload and print restart.
One unique specification is their claim to reliably 3D print for as much as 150 hours continuously – that’s 6.25 full days! How do they do this? They seem to have two features that are the keys to enabling this capability. First, there is the air circulation system that ensures no spots within the hot envelope will exceed maximum operating temperatures.
Secondly, the Hercules Strong includes their “UniHot” extruder/hotend. This design has “maximally reduced” the size of the hot zone within the component. This is quite important, because lesser toolheads will, over a long period of time, allow heat to seep upwards to areas not designed to take the heat. This can pre-soften filaments and degrade the extruder’s ability to push the filament. With the UniHot extruder design, this effect should be minimized and allow the machine to print for a very long time.
Another interesting feature is that the Hercules Strong can accept high capacity spools of up to 5kg in weight. They’re actually stored inside the build chamber as seen here, where they can benefit from the build chamber’s circulated heat. This can help thermally condition the material as well as drying out any moisture in the filament.
Imprinta says they’ve also prepared a Hercules Strong Duo machine, which will have two nozzles. This will enable the machine to 3D print with dissolvable support material and make highly complex prints.
While the Duo version will not be on sale for a short while, but will apparently be priced at €4500 (US$5,150). The company currently sells equipment anywhere in Russia, but now has an office in Prague for European sales.