At long last, Mosaic Manufacturing finally released their sophisticated Array / Element system.
We’ve written about this system previously and have even seen it in person several times. It’s an innovative combination of 3D printers and automation, all in a neat package.
The core is the Element, a high temperature 3D printer capable of printing a wide range of engineering materials, ranging from common PLA and ABS, through PC, CF, to high temperature materials such as PEEK and PEKK (on the Element HT). It’s also capable of multimaterial 3D printing.
The company likes to describe the Element as being of “manufacturing quality”, which hints at the robust metal components that make up the Element.
The Element includes a number of convenience features that you might find on an advanced 3D printer, including networking, in-chamber camera, removable flexible build plates and more. It has a very generous 355 x 355 x 355 mm build volume.
While the Element is a very powerful 3D printer itself, the key is the Array system. It’s a large enclosure that hosts up to four Elements at the same time and provides a considerable amount of automation.
For example, the Array includes a filament management system where operators can swiftly insert “material pods” that are automatically detected by the Array. When a spool runs out, the Array can automatically shift to another equivalent spool and continue operations.
For this reason — and many others — the Array is a true production 3D printing system.
By the way, these material pods include desiccant to keep the material dry, and there’s also automated humidity control in the Array.
The Array allows each Element to access up to eight different filaments during print jobs. This is a powerful multi-material capability that you don’t often see on other production equipment.
There’s more. The Array comes with software to manage the four printers, able to dispatch work intelligently and maintain operations. There’s also “Canvas EDU”, which is a student portal where jobs can be submitted to the system for dispatch. This basically makes the Array a no-brainer for advanced educational institutions looking for an easy way to enable students to quickly print complex 3D models in engineering materials.
When jobs are completed, a robotic system in the Array pulls out the completed print plate for storage, and inserts a new fresh plate from the inventory. Operators can show up later and remove the prints from the plates, and then re-insert the plates back into the inventory for future jobs. It’s also possible for operators to roll out a the Array’s storage unit for separate processing as above.
The bottom line here is that the Array / Element system maximizes print throughput while at the same time minimizing operator intervention. In other words, they should be quite economical and effective to operate.
The news is that this week the company shipped the first customer units of the Array to selected North American buyers. Next month they’ll follow up with shipment of the Element and Element HT 3D printers for use in the Array.
Mosaic Manufacturing said the price of a 4-printer Array system is US$79,999, which seems like a deal considering the amount of labor savings one would enable with the device.