All of the 3D Printing News from the TCT Show
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on September 30, 2019 |

The TCT Show just rolled through Birmingham, UK, meaning that over 10,000 attendees were engaging with more than 300 exhibitors in the 3D printing industry. In that flurry of additive manufacturing (AM) hubbub, some crucial news was announced that shouldn’t be glossed over. We’ve broken down some of the key stories for those who may have missed it in the past week.

3D Systems Unveils Figure 4 Production Resin


Black 10 is the first photopolymer resin from 3D Systems that actually behaves like a thermoplastic. (Image courtesy of 3D Systems.)
Black 10 is the first photopolymer resin from 3D Systems that actually behaves like a thermoplastic. (Image courtesy of 3D Systems.)

At the UK event, 3D printing stalwart 3D Systems introduced a photopolymer dubbed Black 10 for its Figure 4 platform. It may be just a single plastic, but it’s importance must be underscored. This is the company’s first photopolymer that behaves like a thermoplastic. Whereas photopolymers tend to become brittle overtime without the use of secondary curing techniques, this resin acts more like the material we associate with end parts.

According to the company, it does not require thermal post-curing, which means that more parts can be made more quickly with less post-processing. It can also be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol, so advanced solvent cleaning processes are not necessary. Altogether, 3D Systems claims that customer tests allow parts to be completed four times more quickly using this material than with other 3D printing technologies.

The resin works with 3D Systems Figure 4 platform, which is a modular line meant for production AM through the use of fast digital light processing technology. Along with Black 10, the firm announced several other Figure 4 resins:

  • HI TEMP 300-AMB:A rigid plastic that withstands up to 300°C of heat, making it ideal for testing high temperature components and the production of motor enclosures.
  • EGGSHELL-AMB 10:A resin designed for printing sacrificial tooling that is used incasting silicone parts.
  • RUBBER-BLK 10:A malleable material with high-tear strength meant for prototyping hard, rubber-like parts.
  • FLEX-BLK 20:A flexible and durable material that is high-impact and fatigue-resistant for functional assemblies.

MakerBot Releases ASA Filament

ASA expands the number of materials that the Method X can print with. (Image courtesy of MakerBot.)
ASA expands the number of materials that the Method X can print with. (Image courtesy of MakerBot.)

The Method X 3D printer, released this past August, was shown at a trade show for the first time at the TCT event. With it came a new ASA filament, which improves on traditional ABS plastic with better heat and chemical resistance. The material also demonstrates good gloss and color when exposed to the elements, which MakerBot is highlighting in its marketing efforts to the automotive, energy and agro industries. Water resistance makes the material ideal for objects such as gardening equipment or external automotive mirror housings.

Zortrax AnnouncesPro, PEEK-Capable 3D Printer

The Endureal 3D printer is described by Zortrax as a “third generation” system, in that it can use high-temperature materials. When describing the evolution of desktop 3D printers, this may be an apt description, given that desktop filament printers went from do-it-yourself kits to more capable, reliable, mass-produced machines to systems such as this, which are capable of printing with engineering-grade filaments. (Image courtesy of Zortrax.)

The Endureal 3D printer is described by Zortrax as a “third generation” system, in that it can use high-temperature materials. When describing the evolution of desktop 3D printers, this may be an apt description, given that desktop filament printers went from do-it-yourself kits to more capable, reliable, mass-produced machines to systems such as this, which are capable of printing with engineering-grade filaments. (Image courtesy of Zortrax.)

After a few hiccups several years ago, Polish 3D printer manufacturer Zortrax seems to have recovered its reputation as a manufacturer and released a professional system focused on high temperature materials. The Endureal is a follow-up to the firm’s professional Inventure system and kicks the extrusion temperature up to 200°C. The closed build chamber features heat-shielded zones to ensure that all components maintain optimal temperatures even while the chamber is operating at maximum heat.

This is no small bit of news, given the very few brands, aside from Stratasys, with systems capable of printing with such engineering-grade materials as PEEK. This is an indicator that printers capable of using such strong and chemically, thermally, and impact-resistant materials are starting to proliferate, potentially driving down the cost of industrial 3D printers overall. In turn, we might expect to see increased adoption across the industry.

Additional features of the machine include a robust build volume of 400 x 300 x 300, as well as a Blackout Response System meant to maintain the exact position of the printhead in case of interruption so that printing can continue where it left off when operations resume. Zortrax has incorporated 16 sensors into the machine to detect issues such as filament jams and shortages, overheating, or problems with the fans or extruder, and to calibrate the system. All of this is designed to allow the machine to operate for long periods of time without issues.

The Endureal 3D printer will be available in Q1 of 2020, though pricing has yet to be released.


Markforged Announces Inconel 625 for Metal X


As the TCT event occurred, Markforged made an exciting announcement regarding its Metal X 3D printer: the availability of Inconel 625. This material, as you might recall from our article on metal AM powders, has high temperature and corrosion resistance, making it both ideal for use in harsh environments and difficult to process using traditional manufacturing techniques. This, in turn, makes Inconel potentially a perfect candidate for 3D printing, as complex geometries can be formed when otherwise impossible. However, the material is also notoriously expensive, particularly in powder form.

By making Inconel 625 printable with the Metal X system, which is already less expensive than metal powder bed fusion 3D printers, Markforged opens up its adoption to a greater number of customers. This could include businesses in the fields of aerospace, offshore energy and chemical processing.

On the left is a crucible clip printed using Metal X. On the right is a clip printed using direct metal laser sintering. (Image courtesy of Markforged.)
On the left is a crucible clip printed using Metal X. On the right is a clip printed using direct metal laser sintering. (Image courtesy of Markforged.)

Customer Nieka Systems is using the technology to 3D print crucible clips for holding samples in place while converting ore or cement into glass discs. The company claims that the use of the Metal X system and its Inconel material has reduced production costs by 10 times, compared to relying on a third party to use a metal powder bed fusion process to make them. At the same time, the turnaround time for crucible clips has been cut from weeks to days. The finish is also greatly improved, according to the customer.

Inconel 625 is the most recent metal to be added to Markforged’s portfolio of metals, which also includes17-4 PH Stainless Steel, H13 Tool Steel, A2 Tool Steel and D2 Tool Steel.


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