We certainly are not over exaggerating to say that Netherlands is the next Silicon valley of 3d printing industry, and the Rapidpro 2015 held between 3rd to 5th March in Veldhoven Netherlands is a perfect proof. For those who do not know about RapidPro 2015, it was a yearly tradeshow. 3d hubs, 3D SYSTEMS, COLORFABB, FORMLABS INC, I.MATERIALISE and XYZPRINTING were some of the reputed participants for this year’s edition. While everyone expecting big announcements from these companies, the limelight was taken away by a little known company called 3D Robot Printing.
3D Robot Printing is a Hoorn based startup owned by a 28-year-old entrepreneur called Jasper Menger, He shocked the crowd at RapidPro 2015 with a robot arm is capable of 3D printing in every direction. The response his invention got from the industrial giants and from the general public was overwhelming. Jasper Menger explained that the 3D Robot Printing started as a hobby project when he was working at Roland Robotics, a company that makes robotic arms.
While Robotic arms are being used by varied industries to replace human in the production line, Jasper Menger used the high precision of a robotic arms to his advantage and hacked it to make it into a 3d printer. The end result was a 3d printer that used software and robotic movement patterns to perfection and make a printer the world has never seen before.
3D Robot Printer uses plastic and Glass fiber granules as raw material, the granules are melted at 220 degrees Celsius and extruded through a 3 mm nozzle. As the printer uses granules instead of filaments, the printers operation cost is incomparably cheaper than any other technology available. The movement of the arms and its speed is regulated by the custom software developed by 3D Robot Printing. Adding to the features Jasper added "The options for robots are only growing. They are easily programmable for tool changes, enabling you to incorporate various tasks into a single printing project. It ensures that production can continue 24/7."
Flexible arm system of the 3D Robot Printer allows it to have a bigger build volume than any known FDM printer. 8 x 3 x 2 meters is the maximum the company has successfully achieved on the robotic printer. Boasting about this unique capability Jasper said "We can configure complete systems specifically aimed at the customer, with differing installations with printing capacities from 1 x 1 x1 meters up to 8 x 3 x 2 meters and everything in between. Alternatively, we print on demand. Don’t have a drawing of what you’re looking for? Not a problem, we can cover all necessary steps."
At this build volume the printers minimum layer size is 1 millimeter, however the larger layer size does not diminish the quality of the prints. The visitors who saw the printer in action said the quality was as good as injection-molded fiberglass/PP products. Jasper was keen to tell us that "This technology is perfect for making injection mold prototypes before the actual injections take place." The larger build volume and high precision prints makes the robotic arm printer a perfect machine for making molds of larger objects like cars, boats and Architectural structures. Jasper Menger, also notified that the robotic printer is now available for sale for any interested buyer. He added that the development of this printer does not end here; his vision is to add more 3D printable materials to the portfolio.
Jasper Menger explained his vision saying "I’m from an entrepreneurial family, and was always told to do something extra or special. That’s our approach to the future. We are aiming to develop affordable metal 3D printing based on the same robotic concept. I’m working on a method to do this on very large and much cheaper scale than the current market does. This should make 3D printing far more attractive – even to the private consumer."