While many 3D printing companies have focused on producing prototypes made of plastics or metal, US-based Impossible Objects designed the Model One to 3D print functional parts, at scale, using the widest selection of materials.
Composite-based additive manufacturing method (CBAM) enables companies to use a range of composite materials, including carbon fiber, basalt fiber, Kevlar and fiberglass together with PEEK and other high performance polymers, to build the strongest lightweight parts.
“We’ve seen tremendous interest from a range of companies who want the advantages of 3D printing for their high-volume manufacturing and for materials they cannot get elsewhere,” says Robert Swartz, chairman and founder of Impossible Objects.
Until now, there was no way to print functional parts with the mechanical and material properties at the scale these companies need. The Model One is just the beginning of what CBAM can do. Our CBAM technology has the potential to transform manufacturing as we know it.
The Model One will empower customers throughout the entire manufacturing process, from prototyping to high-volume production, allowing businesses to:
- Create Stronger Parts: Through Impossible Object’s unique process, Model One is able to create parts that can be up to 10x stronger than current 3D printers.
- Use a range of high-quality materials: Through a greater amount of material options, Impossible Objects enables companies to build truly functional parts, from high performance materials such as PEEK and carbon fiber. Because of the composite makeup, customers will be able to customize the part applications, whether to have heat and/or chemical resistant properties, stiffness or flexibility, or other attributes.
- Power 3D printing at scale: With faster build speeds than other additive manufacturing technologies and traditional composite lay-up techniques, Impossible Objects has the potential to enable companies to build vital parts at production speeds 100x faster than current methods. Further, users can make the same part for the prototype and mass production.
Impossible Objects presents their CBAM process as the first truly new 3D printing process in more than 20 years. The manufacturing process is as follows: conventional thermal inkjet heads are used to “print” designs on sheets of composites. Each sheet is then flooded with a polymer powder, causing it to stick where inkjet fluid has been deposited on the sheets. Excess powder is vacuumed off and the sheets are stacked, compressed and heated. The polymer powder melts and bonds the sheets together. The uncoated fibers are then mechanically or chemically removed, and what remains is an exceptionally durable, lightweight object that was previously impossible to make so quickly and inexpensively.
The Model One will become generally available to the public by early 2018.
Companies: Impossible Objects
Technologies: 3D printing
Terms: Composite materials