EnvisionTEC Unveils Continuous DLP 3D Printer
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on June 06, 2016 |

Once Carbon broke the Internet with its ultra-fast continuous liquid interface production (CLIP) technology in 2015, the race was on for other manufacturers of vat polymerization 3D printers to demonstrate their own rapid 3D printing processes. Despite Carbon’s existing patents on aspects of continuous digital light processing (DLP), Carima in Korea, 3D Systems in the United States and Prodways in France have all shown off variations of the technology, with Carima planning on a commercial release. Now, DLP pioneer EnvisionTEC has unveiled its own continuous 3D printing process.

The Micro Plus cDLM 3D printer 3D prints castable objects at speeds of 10 to 20 minutes per inch. (Image courtesy of EnvisionTEC.)
The Micro Plus cDLM 3D printer 3D prints castable objects at speeds of 10 to 20 minutes per inch. (Image courtesy of EnvisionTEC.)

At the JCK Las Vegas trade show, EnvisionTEC showcased their new Micro Plus cDLM 3D printer, which features a UV LED light engine capable of 3D printing objects at speeds of 10 to 20 minutes per inch on the Z-axis, depending on the material. The system has a petite build size of 45 mm x 28 mm x 75 mm (1.8 in x 1.1 in x 3.0 in), an integrated PC with Wi-Fi and a built-in touchscreen. The system is currently being targeted at the jewelry market for its ability to 3D print directly castable objects.

As EnvisionTEC CEO Al Siblani said of the new product, "The addition of cDLM technology to EnvisionTEC’s Micro Plus 3D printer is a game changer for the jewelry industry. Traditionally, 3D printing castable materials such as our PIC 100 would take hours. With cDLM, bridal and fashion rings can be designed, grown and ready for investment casting the same day, which is a huge advantage for the jewelry market."

Other than the above specifications, not much information was revealed about the machine. It is possible that it employs a similar oxygen-permeable window employed by the Carbon and 3D Systems machines, which would allow for minimal friction and maximum photo curing as the print bed is raised from the photopolymer vat. We will have to wait until the machine is made available in August to know more.

As more manufacturers showcase the ability to 3D print at CLIP-like speeds, the companies may also need to prove the material capabilities possible with their platforms. In addition to developing a number of different resins with industrial-grade qualities, Carbon is collaborating with Kodak for further materials research. EnvisionTEC may be able to compete on this front, given its recent partnership with Royal DSM and an already extensive materials portfolio for its DLP machines. Carbon also boasts isotropic material properties with its prints, and it remains to be seen if these competing processes can pull off the same results. As Carbon attributes this ability to the continuous nature of CLIP 3D printing, it's possible that these other systems can too.

The news of the new cDLM system comes on the heels of EnvisionTEC's massive presence at RAPID 2016, where the company made a splash into the world of large-scale industrial 3D printing. With the unveiling of a giant composite 3D printer and a partnership with Viridis3D for 3D printing sand cores for metal casting, the company demonstrated that it seeks to expand beyond its large market share in the DLP space. The Micro Plus cDLM, however, indicates that it is determined to remain the leader in the DLP market as well.

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