3D Printing Machines for a Better Future

In 2005 RepRap revolutionised what became the 3D printing industry by introducing the open-source self-replicating 3D printer. Very much self-explanatory, the concept gave birth to a new era in which parts and even whole machines are built on a larger scale.

The project was conceived for general use, it would allow people to produce domestic products in the comfort of their homes. According to a study published in Mechatronics Journal in 2013 if a family would use the self-replicating 3D printer to produce 20 household commodities they would save between $300 and $2000 per year compared to simply buying the product without the shipping costs.

In 2016 the wind of innovation blows strong, especially in the additive manufacturing world. Both small and big companies have got a hold of the potential of producing layer by layer, the following lines will discuss some of the machines that promise to put their imprint on this industry and the world.

WASP, which stands for World’s Advanced Saving Project is a very interesting concept. Firstly, because their team’s mission is to make the world a better place and secondly because it is an open source project. Their products are constructed according to eco-friendly and sustainable principles which mean they must be able to use renewable energy sources. This is great when you think that many parts of the world still experience energy shortage. In their quest to achieve their ultimate goal, the company developed two machines, PowerWASP and DeltaWASP. The latter is designed to be able to build both small and large scale products from materials that are available on location. Working hard on research they managed to get the machines to work with a whole range of materials from PLA to ABS, nylon, polymers and laywood. Most representative of their vision is the BigDeltaWASP, a 12-metre tall machine that resulted from research in sustainable housing construction.

HP enters the additive manufacturing market with a powerful product. Launched to the European market at the end of last month, the HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution is an end-to-end machine that is said to deliver products in a faster, cheaper manner and with increased quality.

HP’s vision is made possible through the complete solution they offer which includes the 3D printer, a processing station and the HP SmartStream 3D Build Manager and Command Centre which is their software solution. The printing process is based on powder bed fusion fused with agent and energy to build products from plastic. What makes Jet Fusion a valuable product is its capability to reuse the debris resulted from the finishing process meaning it is also a cost-efficient product. All in all, what HP is offering is a continuous printing and finishing processes that maximise productivity, all with the promise of time and cost efficiency. Interestingly, a number of the parts of their 3D Printers are also printed by their 3D Printers – practising what they preach!

Now is a great time to read and understand the research and development that has occurred in the Additive Manufacturing industry because the results are already here. It’s a completely fascinating field because it offers solutions to all aspects of human life and it gives providers the chance to come up with products directed towards people’s needs, at the same time it is proving to be a sustainable solution.