MakerBot Files MultiHead Printer Patent
Kyle Maxey posted on May 14, 2014 |
Could prosumers soon have the ability to print in multiple materials? MakerBot’s new patent mi...
3D printing, multimaterial, patent, makerbot, objet, FDM

Prosumer powerhouse MakerBot has filed a patent that could signal its intention to build a multi-material desktop 3D printer.

According to the MakerBot patent, called “Build Material Switching”, the company would use feed lines to print multiple materials through a single extrusion head.

Similar to other FDM machines that use both a build and support material, the MakerBot extruder would be able to switch between materials on the fly and, presumably, deliver materials with relatively good accuracy. Though on that issue MakerBot does point out that “[W]here the process switches from one color to another, an old color may linger within an extrusion nozzle due to non-laminar flow, adhesion of the materials to the inside walls of the nozzle, and so forth. As such, it may be appropriate to provide a safety margin for the transition from one color to another, or to empirically determine adequate lengths of transition segments for various color changes.”

Although the MakerBot patent was filed in late 2012 and published in February 2014, there’s been no word on whether the company moved forward with the production of a machine that incorporates this new technology.

Given that MakerBot was acquired by Stratsys, who also owns multi-material powerhouse Objet, the Brooklyn based firm might be getting advice from its parent company on how to perfect their system. While the technology and materials at the core of each machine are completely different, I imagine there are a number of technical hurdles that still need to be overcome.

If MakerBot does market a multi-material 3D printer, consumers might actually get their hands on a machine that does more than just print trinkets and qausi-functional tools. Adding transparent, rubber or transition materials to a prosumer’s palette would be a true game changer and might spoil predictions that 3D printers will never be common household items.

Image Courtesy of Google Patents

Recommended For You