Mass Portal has a belt 3D printer!
This might sound a bit strange, because the Latvian company has only produced delta-style 3D printers to dates, and they are very high quality delta 3D printers.
There are several belt 3D printers on the market, most notably Creality’s 3DPrintMill, the Blackbelt, PowerBelt, White Knight, TigTag3D, iFactory3D, and a few others.
Each of these are of similar design: a moving conveyor belt serves as the build plate (the Z-axis specifically), and a cartesian arrangement powers the X and Y axes.
The Mass Portal MP20 Belt isn’t like that at all. It is indeed a delta 3D printer — but one with a belt print surface. Mass Portal describes it as:
“The original high-resolution desktop 3D printer — now with automated part removal.”
This makes the machine a bit different than the other belt 3D printers. Here the build plate (the belt) remains stationary during the print, and only moves to eject the print when complete. With moving belt 3D printers, very long objects can be printed because the belt continuously moves during printing.
This means the MP20 Belt is basically a regular delta 3d printer that can continuously produce objects by ejecting each at job completion.
The belt itself on the MP20 Belt is interesting. It’s made from stainless steel, and is “self-tensioning”. One of the weaknesses of many belt 3D printers are belts made of material that degrades over time. Here, the stainless steel is very unlikely to ever degrade.
The build area of the MP20 Belt is also interesting: 100 x 100 x 100 mm. That’s a full meter tall, but fairly narrow for the diameter. You can 3D print tall objects, which somewhat resolves the comparison between the MP20 Belt and normal belt 3D printers that can print longer (or taller) objects.
What’s most interesting is that the belt ejection system is not the only feature distinguishing the MP20 Belt from “just another FFF 3D printer”. In fact, the MP20 Belt is otherwise configured as a low-volume production machine. Note these features:
- All metal hot end (for engineering-grade materials)
- Open materials design (for using many unusual materials)
- Dual extrusion (for soluble support material and complex geometry prints)
- Onboard camera and remote monitoring system
- Air filtration system (for office use)
- Enclosed chamber (to retain heat and increase part quality and print reliability)
There’s also an optional feature to automatically switch filament spools when one runs out. This is notably important when you consider that this machine can print continuously, print after print. The ability to auto-swap spools transforms this device into a true one-machine factory.
In the past, I’ve noted that Mass Portal machines tend to print extremely high quality prints, and at good speed. I haven’t used the MP20 Belt yet, but I expect that it will retain those characteristics, making this a very powerful combination.
Curiously, Mass Portal was also one of the first companies to offer an array solution for low volume production. Their Dynasty platform is a way to produce a lot of 3D prints in parallel.
But now you can print many objects automatically on the MP20 Belt as well. It’s a different take on low volume production.
I’m wondering if they will enable the MP20 Belt to be used in the Dynasty array, which would provide a significant amount of automation.
Via Mass Portal
Well, the issue here is this is a clear violation of MakerBot/Stratasus’ patent on a printer with a heated bed that moves the end effector in the X, Y and Z axis.
See here: https://patents.justia.com/patent/8668859