The new Figure 4 production materials sample part kit showed up on my desk today. I had seen some parts being printed at our booth at Formnext 2019. But these parts quite simply blew my mind.
This particular part was printed with the PRO-BLK 10 material which prints at 60 mm per hour at a 50 micron layer thickness. It has a Heat Deflection Temperature greater than 70 degrees Centigrade and a 12% elongation at break. This means that you can now print thermoplastic-like parts directly on a Figure 4 3D printer.
This is an automotive vent, a set of two parts actually that snap fit. Two sets were printed on a single Figure 4 platform in 1 hour 13 mins. That’s 36.5 mins per set.
This revolutionizes plastic injection molding. No need for expensive tooling. No need for long lead times. No need for retooling if the design changes while the tool is being produced. In fact, you can even go all out and have a different and unique design for each part.
Maybe I should explain by means of an example. Say a motorcycle manufacturer wants to run a production of a limited edition motorcycle of 500 units. They don’t want to do the usual stuff like paint the tank and panels a different color. That’s old news and boring. What if they want the motorcycle to actually look different with redesigned parts? Stuff like rear view mirrors, handlebar grips, dashboard, logos, badging, etc. Basically any part that will fit a 125 x 70 x 346 build volume. What if they want to emboss or extrude the owner’s name on the dashboard or on the key? Come to think of it, that wouldn’t make the motorcycle a limited one. It would actually make it unique. One of a kind. Not one of 500.
Producing these new parts using plastic injection molding using would need a different set of tools which would be expensive and have a long lead times of many weeks of not months. But with the Figure 4 and its amazing new production materials, these parts could be printed in a week or two on a Figure 4 Modular. As the needs of the company grow, they could add modules to keep up with demand.
With the Figure 4 Production things could be scaled to an industrial level with robots added to the system configured to pick and place parts and platforms. Even clean, dry and cure parts to product a million parts per year. This blows the lid off because designers now no longer need to restrict themselves to the limitations of plastic injection molding. They can design parts and components which are lighter, stronger and more efficient without needing to bother whether a production designer will be able to make a mold for them or not.
This is exciting stuff and I’m stoked to start talking to customers in India about possibilities that they haven’t even begun to think about. It’s one thing to convince a customer to buy your product by convincing him that its better than someone else’s product. But opening a customer’s eyes to a problem that he didn’t realize he had and then convincing to buy your solution to his problem makes things a whole lot more challenging and rewarding.
I love this 3D printing sorcery. 🙂