This development from MIT shows some real progress in 3D printing by being able to use 10 different materials. 3D printers offering multiple materials to date have gone as far as three varied only by colour difference. Another 3D printer (Voxel8) offers two materials, one of which is a conducting material enabling circuits to be included within a plastic object during printing. See snippet below for more details.
Printing with multiple materials presents complex technical problems. The MultiFab machine innovates by appyling with existing technologies to the special problems of multi material printing, in particular accurate printhead positioning control.
What materials can the MultiFab use? It uses a range of UV-curable photopolymers with different characteristics . The current materials library includes “a rigid material (RIG), elastic material (ELA), high refractive index material (HR), low refractive index material (LR), and a support material (SPT).”
Click through the article link below to access the paper recently presented at Siggraph for more fascinating details on MultiFab.
3D printing is great, assuming that all you need to do is print one material for one purpose, and that you’re okay with it taking a few tries. But the technology is still far behind where it could be in reliably producing a variety of useful objects, with no assembly required, at a cost that doesn’t make you want to poke your eyes out with a 3D-printed fork.
In recent years companies have been working to tackle some of these challenges with “multi-material” 3D printers that can fabricate many different functional items. Such printers, however, have traditionally been limited to three materials at a time, cost as much as $250,000 each, and still require a fair amount of human intervention.
But this week researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) say that they’ve found a way to make a better, cheaper, more user-friendly printer. In a paper accepted at the SIGGRAPH computer-graphics conference, a CSAIL team presented a 3D printer that can print an unprecedented 10 different materials at once by using 3D-scanning techniques that save the user time, energy and money.
More On Multi-Material 3D Printing
Voxel8 $4.79 million Financing
Faculty members seem to be starting more companies these days. One rising startup that fits that mold is Somerville, MA-based Voxel8, a maker of 3D printers that can print electronics. Voxel8 previously raised money from Braemar, MassChallenge, and In-Q-Tel, and it has now amassed $14 million-plus in total funding. Via xconomy.com
X1, low-cost full-color binder jetting 3D printer
Among other factors that have been desired for a long time now are fast and reliable full-color 3D prints that are affordable. While there have been a number of full-color 3D printing options available for quite a few years now – including the IRIS paper-based 3D printing system from MCor and the Objet500 Connex3 from Stratasys, among others – none of these are geared towards consumers or small businesses who are unable to put forth tens of thousands of dollars towards a 3D printer – oftentimes around $40,000 to $50,000 and more depending on extra features needed.
While it still may not be cheap enough for consumers, Taiwanese 3D printer manufacturer Addwii has just unveiled their X1 3d printer, which uses full-color 3D printing technology and is priced below $20,000 – half of what it costs to purchase an existing similar full color 3D printer. Via 3ders.org
Stratasys Objet 1000 Plus 3D printer
Capable of mixing materials and part sizes while at ultra fine precision, the Objet 1000 Plus has a large build envelope of 1000 x 800 x 500 mm or 39 x 31 x 19 inches. It also includes a new, optimized print block movement which boosts print speeds up to 40 percent over its predecessor. The device can use more than 100 Stratasys materials including the polypropylene-like Endur and it can produce tough parts with smooth surface finishes in high-speed mode while taking advantage of these new Endur Digital Materials. Via 3dprint.com
Images courtesy mit.edu, xconomy.com, 3ders.org, 3dprint.com