Catherine Hayes, vice president of global marketing at 3D Systems Inc. of Rock Hill, S.C., said the prototyping and modeling industry is approaching the I age, where consumers will have three-dimensional printers at home as prices drop below the 10,000 euro (about $13,900) barrier.
With 3D System's V-Flash Desktop Modeler now below that level, the era of consumer-focused 3-D printers was in evidence at the recent Euromold 2009 show in Frankfurt, with machines such as Solido Ltd.'s SD300 Pro modeling package for 2,950 euros ($4,088).
Aiming at the engineering sector, Z Corp. of Burlington, Mass., showed its large ZPrinter 350 for one-color prototypes. Z Corp. bills it as the world's first automated, monochrome 3-D printer and most affordable automated 3-D printer to date at 21,815 euros (about $30,300).
The company claims the machine operates at up to 10 times the speed of machines using competitive technologies.
Voxeljet Technology GmbH of Augsburg, Germany, introduced the VX800HP a faster and higher-definition version of its current VX800 model together with a high-definition upgrade to its VX500 machine. The 450-millimeter-wide (18-inch) printing head has more than 10,000 individually controllable nozzles and can print an 850mm by 450mm (34-inch by 18-inch) build area in two steps. It cuts single-layer build time from 35 seconds to 20 seconds and doubles resolution to 600 dpi, or dots per inch. Thinner layers of 80 microns also can be produced now, down from 150 microns.
Parts built in the Voxeljet material can be infused with wax, epoxy resin, polyurethane or acrylic resin for a finer surface.
Voxeljet offers just one acrylic powder material in two different degrees of fineness. The company said the material is similar to what is often sold as wax for lost-core casting, but the core cage is said to be stronger and less likely to break during handling and transport.
Huntsman Advanced Materials introduced two new ultraviolet light-curing Araldite resins that provide ABS-like strength for the Digitalis machine it launched at Euromold 2008. The new products include the translucent MLS MicroLightSwitch 70000 and opaque MicroLightSwitch 70100 grades. It displayed examples of jewelry, hearing-aid parts and an engine block made in the 70000-grade materials. Huntsman Advanced Materials is a unit of Huntsman Corp. of The Woodlands, Texas.
Teufel Prototypen GmbH of Nersingen, Germany, showed new technology for vacuum-cast nylon part production. The reactively processed material is nylon 6 reinforced with 35 percent short-glass fiber.
Eindhoven, Netherlands-based research institute TNO Science and Industry displayed what it said is a fast and accurate micro-stereography 3-D printing machine.
TNO claims the machine can print 1,200 layers an hour or six times faster than most conventional stereolithography equipment.
The institute also showed its developments in selective laser sintering for applying conductive tracks onto flexible substrates such as plastic films. TNO said the technology is a spinoff from the European Flextronic FP6 research project. Vipem Hackert GmbH in Grunbach, Germany, and Conductive Inkjet Technology Ltd. in Cambridge, England, provide seed inks.
Hofmann Innovation Group AG in Lichtenfels, Germany, showed a new polypropylene laser sintering material and an XXL-sized Hofmann Medea 1500 selective laser sintering ma- chine, which the company claims is the largest in the world, with its 1,500mm by 500mm by 500mm (60-inch by 20-inch by 20-inch) build volume. The unit can build automotive instrument panels in a single step without adhesive joints or welded seams.
Alphacam Fertigungssoftware GmbH of Schorndorf, Germany, displayed new RP Tempering kits that combine nanomaterials and a special treatment to enhance mechanical and surface properties and improve snap-fit and living-hinge performance. It also lubricates moving parts such as gear sets for easier operation.
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