3D Printer from Makerbot for Schools and Small BusinessesShawn Martin | December 11, 2018
A fragmented 3D printer market has left small businesses and academia ill-equipped to support additive manufacturing. Current desktop printers in the sub-$20,000 price range may come up short when it comes to deliver professional-grade functional prototypes. This is largely due to a technology barrier that separates desktop printers from industrial-grade additive manufacturing machines.
However Makerbot, a unit of Stratasys, claims to have solved the cost-to-value proposition with a product that it said addresses accessibility issues along with printability, dimensional accuracy and print speed.
Method is a new professional-grade desktop printer developed specifically for small businesses and academics. The company said it is both a learning tool and a functional prototyping machine.
Nadav Goshen, CEO of Makerbot, said that Method is a breakthrough in making three-dimensional printing more accessible at a lower price point. "We believe Method will accelerate the adoption of 3D printing,” Goshen told Engineering360.
There are numerous features of the Method printer that the company expects will set it apart from current desktop printers in the sub-$20,000 price range.
A circulating heated chamber provides for active heat immersion throughout the duration of the print. Temperature stability is intended to improve print quality while an adjoined heated build plate reduces warping.
A dual performance extruding system equipped with smart sensors, a 19:1 dual-drive gear ratio and an elongated thermal core provide active jam detection, a heat-up time of less than 60 seconds and accelerated print times, while also identifying low levels of consumables during the actual print.
Dry-sealed material bays are designed to protect consumables from damaging humidity levels. The printer also features built-in humidity sensors to ensure filament materials are not jeopardized.
A rigid metal frame offers structural support to offset flexing, improve print quality and reduce the possibility of print failure.
Finally, PVA water-soluble support material is intended to provide geometric freedom, improve print quality and surface finish, and enable removal without solvents.
The Method printer has a volumetric feed rate of 50 mm3 per second, a build-volume of 6 in by 7.5 in by 7.75 in, and a gantry speed of 500 mm per second. It is equipped with a processor and new software architecture to operate the tool. The company said it can achieve a dimensional accuracy of +/-0.2 mm with vertical layer uniformity and cylindricity.
Makerbot also offers a range of precision materials, including Makerbot tough filament, an engineered filament with an impact strength greater than ABS; Makerbot Precision PLA, which may be used for initial prototyping; and Makerbot PETG, which features high-strength, durability, chemical resistance and what the company claimed are excellent mechanical properties.