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Development of the H-Series

Updated: May 11, 2021

The H-Series is a significant departure in style and functionality from a typical desktop 3D-printer. How did that come to be?

The initial plan for the H-Series project was to build a multi-material printing system with a focus on elastomers. Specifically, we began by targeting footwear and sporting goods. Both product types utilize elastomers for their combination of strength and flexibility, and are ideal applications for 3D printing because of the high-price point of the finished product and the potential for customization. In both casual and performance footwear, there is a clear willingness to pay a premium for personalized fit and performance. Also, in our projects, we’ve found elastomers to be much better suited than rigid plastics for creating functional parts with extrusion printing. The high layer adhesion of urethanes gives a much more isotropic and durable finished part. Given the ability of the Flexion Extruder to print elastomers quickly and accurately, this was a natural starting point for the machine design.

The Flexion Extruder is a direct drive setup with a short compression path between the drive roller and the hotend. This offers a number of benefits, but means that the toolhead has a relatively large mass, so a lightweight printer form like a delta or prusa would not be suitable as we increased the number of toolheads. So we started looking at the machine less as a desktop printer and more as a piece of heavier laboratory or shop equipment. A higher tolerable mass of the machine overall made higher stiffness of the motion control system feasible. Bor