It’s been a while since our last blog post. We had promised our Early Adopters that we would hold off on all marketing activities until we shipped their machines and responded to any maintenance issues. Our last 8 months have been entirely focused on setting up our manufacturing process and supporting those initial customers. We are now up and running!
Last week we debuted the H-Series at the Rapid+TCT event in Detroit. For a couple of reclusive engineers, this was a bit like walking out of a dark room into blinding sunlight- 3 full days of non-stop socializing. It was a blast though to see people’s reactions to the machine. Most would walk by playing the normal trade show game of avoiding eye-contact. They’d glance at the machine and quickly look away, then do a double-take and stop in the aisle frowning. By far the most common question was, “What is that?” We had the machine running a little sample part to show a multi-material print followed by a couple of milling cycles. We also had a half-dozen example builds on a rack behind the machine. Generally, it took several minutes of conversation for people to actually understand the new capabilities this machine offers. So, we’re going to set the booth up again here at our shop and do a video version of the overview we gave at the show. Watch for that in an upcoming blog post. We will also use that setup to start doing tutorials and training videos for the H-Series.
A new capability that we exhibited at the show was hot tool burnishing. This is a finishing technique that allows us to smooth out the layer lines on elastomeric parts. It is similar to ironing, but rather than doing it on a flat surface in a single print layer with a standard nozzle, we developed an undercut ball-end tool to use in 3D contoured toolpaths. We expect this to be extremely useful for applications involving skin contact (like braces and prosthetics) where the typical textured surface of 3D printed parts causes problems by providing sites for bacterial growth. The beauty of the burnishing technique is that it creates a smooth sealed external surface on a part, increasing the strength and durability of the part, while creating no chips (unlike milling). We are currently prototyping a retractable version of this toolhead that will allow for increased tool reach. More on this soon, but in the meantime, check out the concept below: