TCT 2017 3D printing show at the NEC
The TCT 2017 was, as always a great opportunity to view the latest 3D printer offerings by the great and the good as well as a chance to meet the some of the latest start ups. This 3D printing trade fare seems to get bigger every year. This year seemed to be the most impressive, certainly in terms of showing off 3D printed products, to wit there were a couple of F1 cars on display this year as 3D printer manufacturers and services showed off the capabilities of 3D printing. This is an endorsement of how additive manufacturing is becoming a more mainstream part of product development and production.
So all the usual suspects were there as well as many smaller companies and a lot more from China than we have previously seen. So here are a few of our highlights. Its not an exhaustive list just a few encounters we had on what was the last day of the fair. (p.s. apologies for photo quality )
The Jellybox is a nice Core xy build, open system, 3D printer specifically designed for schools. This printer is a kit, a kit designed to be put together quickly and easily out of the box. The jellybox uses high quality components, e.g. E3D hotends, built within a acrylic frame. It is open source and uses a Ramps board. You can therefore choose your own software and can print with any filament, it has a heated bed.
As you can see it’s a very colourful printer. Although it is not in an enclosed print chamber the hotend is shielded from little hands using a fibreglass shield. The Jellybox was the winner of Make magazines “Best for Schools” award 2017. Price wise it comes in at a bit over £700 or $949. But for this price the print quality is very good, certainly well above your normal 3D printer kit quality.
Next up I thought we would talk about our chat with Duet3D. Duet3D make high quality electronics for 3D printers. Now we have to confess that what caught our eye first was not so much their electronics but the 3D printer they had bought and adapted, a Scara Arm 3D printer.
This was quite mesmerising to watch. They had brought a cheap kit and then upgraded it with their Duet board together with some other tweaks. It was an interesting conversation starter if not a good design for a 3D printer.
Anyway back to their boards. Essentially a high quality 3D printer board with 120MHz ARM Cortex-M4 processor, high current heater channel (very important), in-built TMC2660 stepper drivers and dual extruder capability , with it’s own very nice web portal. They also have a Delta 3D printer smart effector with in-built probe which makes calibration of Deltas a doddle. The web portal was very good, this would be especially useful if you had to manage a large number of printers and the level of control you had, including easy access to configuration.h files was great. The Wifi version of their board comes in at £144. If you are serious about building a quality machine we can see this as a price worth paying.
Next a couple of interesting prints. Mainly, the largest 3Dbenchy we have seen printed by 3D Platform. 3D platform specialise in making large build volume 3D printers. We loved this collection of 3Dbenchys, you can just make out the miniature one sitting on the bow of it’s larger sister.
We also saw this great 3D printed humming bird, the kinetic sculpture is designed by Derek Hugger.
BCN3D, after the success of the BCN3D Sigma R17 have launched their BCN3D SigMax. Here you can see the use of its “duplication” printing function where it prints the same model/s from one of the IDEX extruders as the other. Or you can use it’s “mirror” mode where you can print the mirror image of a model at the same time, great for when you need to print left and right side equivalents. This makes it great for high volume 3D printing, improving production volumes, especially helped by it’s increased print area of 42cm x 29.7cm x 21cm.
The BCN3D sigmax will be available from November.
Mass Portal Filament Dryer
We didn’t see many new things at the TCT show 2017 but the Filament dryer by Mass Portal was one of them. So we all know how moisture can play havoc with your 3D print quality, especially if you are using PVA or Nylon. Well Mass Portal have addressed this by producing a dryer specifically designed for 3D printer filament. It comes with preset profiles for common filament materials as well as the ability to create your own custom filament profiles so that you can get your filament in to the best possible condition prior to printing.
These filament dryers also allow you to directly feed the filament from the dryer into the printer, shielding the filament from the environment right up to when it hits the extruder. These will come in at around £1500. It seems expensive but if you want that level of control over your filament, ensuring repeatability, we cannot see anything else out there which is going to give you this level of performance.
XYZ Printing Da Vinci Color
This brings us to our second innovation, the XYZ Printing Da Vinci Color. This is XYZ Printing‘s full colour 3D printer, marketed as the worlds first 3D colour inkjet filament printer. Essentially, this is a FDM 3D printer combined with an inkjet printer. It uses XYZ printing’s new Color-inkjet PLA that will absorb ink from the inkjet heads. The printer prints out the 3D object and then prints, using CMYK inkjet ink any pattern you want on to the object.
This really is the next level of 3D design and build. It will be fantastic for model making, artwork and just about and design and build project where colour is an integral part of the finished item. It comes in at about £3100 and the Da Vinci Color will be available from November.
Polaroid Play 3D pen
Well last year we saw Polaroids 3D printer at TCT 2016, this year there big push was for their Polaroid Play 3D pen. This was quite a lot of fun, worked well as 3D pens go and certainly seems better than their foray into 3D printers, we were unconvinced by their proprietary filament system with a price tag of £50 per spool. This seems well priced at just £29.99, just in time for Christmas.
But probably our favourite thing at the show, after traipsing around for several hours was…………