Mysterious Multi-Material 3D Printing Coming From Lake3D
We’ve obtained scant information about a new 3D printer from startup Lake3D.
The Netherlands-based company seems to be an offshoot of the Dutch Smart Industry Action Agenda’s Fieldlab Multi-3D initiative, in which a number of parties are collaborating together to envision new manufacturing environments.
The goal of Lake3D is to market a 3D printer that can effectively produce multi-color 3D printed teeth. These would be ultra-realistic because of the color textures, and are intended to be used as replacement teeth. According to Link Magazine:
“In three to five years’ time it should be there: the multi-colour 3D printer that makes affordable artificial teeth that are indistinguishable from the real thing, ultrafast. A co-creation project within the smart industry field lab Multi Material 3D (MM3D) has demonstrated the technical feasibility of such a printer.”
How does it work? We asked Lake3D CTO René van der Meer, who explained:
“We use inkjet which allows us to jet multiple industrial grade / medical approved materials.”
If this is the case, then by combining a series of color resin reservoirs they should be able to produce arbitrary color textures. It’s not entirely clear how they solidify the materials, but it sounds somewhat like Stratasys’ PolyJet system, where inkjets selectively squirt photopolymer resin that is then solidified with a sweep of a UV light source.
According to van der Meer, Lake3D intends both to sell machines to users and to provide multi-material 3D print services to interested parties. That seems like a very flexible business approach, as it allows some skeptical customers to “try before buying”.
Lake3D Dental 3D Printer
Will they succeed? They believe their process will enable the production of artificial dentures at a far lower cost than is done today. That’s likely because they chop out several manual steps from today’s traditional process and automate much of the effort.
I have many questions, but it seems it’s pretty early at this point for Lake3D to answer them, as the company was just founded two weeks ago! However, they are obviously taking on the intellectual property developed by the Fieldlab, and so should not have as much a hill to climb as other startups.
At this point they do not have any specifications for the machine, whose concept rendering appears above. There is not even a name for the machine yet.
Dental 3D Printing
I believe this is a good market to attempt to enter. Lake3D must realize the depth to which 3D printing has taken over much of the work in the dental industry, as teeth are a highly customized environment.
Even better for Lake3D, the dental market is so familiar with 3D printing that it is highly likely they will more rapidly adopt their 3D printed teeth solution, as it is simply another product from a technology they already understand.
Unlike many other 3D printer startups, they don’t have to persuade the industry of the value of 3D printing. Other companies have spent years and years doing so in other industries. Sometimes it pays off handsomely, as in the case of the automotive and aerospace industries.
Perhaps Lake3D can do the same with teeth?