Wow, this is quite a breakthrough. But it's actually the first *commercial* 3D printer engineers can buy to print CFRP. Others already exist for use in R&D, for end-products in aerospace as we reported here http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=251526&page_number=2 and as a service in Europe--stay tuned for more on that one.
This is big AND $5,000. That is a cost of equipment that many model shops and fabrication houses can handle. I certainly agree with Charles in that the next five (5) to ten (10) years will bring about remarkable advances in "addititive" manufacturing. I don't want to go "Trecky" on you but we seem to be moving toward those replicators used on Star Treck. Then again--why not. The fact that carbon fiber can be one components in the "mix" is a huge advance in this technology. One of the issues I have had in trying to provide prototypes for DG (design guidance) work is short use life. Generally, those very early samples can only be used for form and fit and not really that beneficial for intended usage—even moderate usage. The addition of carbon fiber could mean the possibility of evaluation and reliability laboratory testing. This would give real numbers indicating possible MTTF and MTBF. Excellent post—very useful.
Wow, if your writeup is even roughly what transpired that is a symptom that the market for niche tech IPOs and acquisitions must be heating up. Even mentioning the preferences of investors at such an early stage of the technology implies they are looking for quick bucks, and think if they make the think shiny, buyers will go "ooooh".
I'm not expert on all the technologies used, but the strength of carbon fiber composites comes from the (relatively) long fibers transferring load via the matrix (typically an expoxy or similar). You won't get near the potential curing some ooze. Also, if, for instance, they are depositing a resin loaded with fibers, there is a real problem of fiber orientation; look at any real carbon fiber part and you will see woven fibers or highly anisotropic features of some kind, where are very important to the final properties.
I'll go look at their promo material, but can you comment on some details of the deposition and where the carbon fibers come in?
@Charles: Indeed but my worry is why 10 more years? I feel it won't take that long since even at now 3D printing has been taken by storm. There will be many advancements in the next couple of years according to my gut feeling
I agree, Hellmut. In the next ten years, 3D printing is destined for big advances. I'm already talking to automakers who are using 3D printing for stress testing, which would have been unimaginable a decade ago.
3D printer technology is developing quickly, and price is dropping. However, still have to jump in. You can still be saying the same thing 10 years from now.
If you said that about the PC, you would have been waiting from the mid 90's until now. Finally, the desk top PC has reach a platau. But wait, people don't buy desktops anymore. iphones are the new PC. Better wait another 10 years for that to mature.
I would look at it from another point of view. Is opportunity lost if you don't take advantage of what technology has to offer today. Like a lot of tools you get, you didn't know you need it until you got it, then you wonder what you ever did without it.
Remember back in the 90's some older engineers insist they don't need the computer, and would not touch it. My boss sat me down in 1995, and told me there is almost one computer for every engineer in the department, and there is no way we need that many computers. I will not be getting a computer. Would have been a big setback in my work without excel.
The technology of 3 D printers is developing at an amazing speed. As a consequence, if you do not need it today, wait until tomorrow. I wish I was 10 years younger, buying a 3D printer in 10 years will be a much better deal.
I have an extrusion 3D printer at home. There are a lot involved in making a strong part with acceptable surface finish. Certainly a lot of limitations on what parts you can and cannot make.
From the perspective of anyone who might be interested in this printer, can say that they give a rat's a** about how the printer looks. The number one question is limitation. With a continuous fiber, you cannot have jumps. How does the slicer program work to take that into account. That would be a huge limitation. How do you keep the parts flat on the plate. does it mix epoxy while laying down the fiber. That can be a huge ugly mess if the nozzle clogs.
The kinematics mount is a nice gimmick, but once temperature changes, parts grow. Wonder if they took that into account. That is where most misalignment comes from. What kind of bearings do they use in the rods in the back. Those rods look skinny. How repeatable is that. Too bad the nice covers hid those important features. Oh well.
If engineers were truly the only folks making corporate purchasing decisions I'd agree that a rough looking utility design would suffice. But often there are managers who make the ultimate decision as to what purchases they'll permit. Marketing needs the tools to enable them to sell the product. And unfortunately, looks often trump function. You have to know your market! There's nothing wrong with providing good looks with good functional design as has been the case with much of Apple's products. Art, beauty do count as part of the human experience.
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