While 3D printing and rapid prototyping are growing rapidly for every sector out there, the requirements from these two technologies are ever increasing as well. In heavy industries like automobile, construction, aerospace or industrial manufacturing; stronger and more durable products are necessary to meet the growing demand of clients. For specialized uses, the stronger the finished product, the more durable and reliable it is. Different printer inks are being used for different purposes all over the world. For example, the recent hand-held model 3D oodler’s printer ink had to be quick drying, quick melting, as well as child friendly. Various bio-inks being produced are also being upgraded and improved according to the needs of the medical industry.
The most recent advancement in this regard is the introduction of a special kind of bio ink that can print in stem cells! Bio ink is necessarily a material that behaves as scaffolding upon which the scientists can grow and implant stem cells i.e. cells that can differentiate them into any other kind of cell. Industrially, the requirements for 3D printer inks are all about strength. Stronger polymers and materials are being explored in order to get the strongest possible inks that can withstand a lot of factors, ultimately resulting in durable 3D printing and rapid prototyping results. The world loves to learn about new 3D printing materials as these new materials have a lot of potential to 3D print things that were not possible to print even some years ago.
Markforged, a company that has come up with some development that has never been seen before, is set to astonish the world with its latest invention in the materials department. Their rich inventory already includes some composite materials such as fiberglass, carbon fiber and not to mention the super strong Kevlar. They have just announced a new material in their fleet that is to open up new avenues in the 3D printed consumer or end use parts. This new material is called Onyx.
Onyx is made in combination of micro carbon fibres and nylon. The end material is in the form of a filament that is tougher, stronger and more tolerant to heat than other plastic based 3D printing materials. The features it boasts includes the additional stiffness of a fiber reinforced plastic, the toughness of nylon, a deflection point of heat at 145 degree Celsius or 293 degree Farenheit. Hence, it can withstand harsh conditions with flying colors. An additional benefit of the new ink would be that it needs to undergo little or no post processing. The end products turn out to be smooth with a matte black finish- hence emitting that much coveted aura of ‘3D printed, but don’t look like they have been 3D printed’ appearance. That too has been possible without the necessity of any mechanical or chemical finishes after rapid prototyping.
In the current system of industrial manufacturing, it is still rather rare to actually produce 3D printed end user parts. The main use of 3D printing technology is mainly for rapid prototyping. However, thanks to materials developing companies like Markforged, end user parts which can be transported directly from the build plate to the assembly line are no longer a concept in theory, rather they are becoming more of a reality. Manufacturers have been keen at the idea of 3D printed end user parts for a while now. The introduction of Onlyx already is giving rise to a lot of excitement. A company that would potentially adapt the technology is Media Blackout. Its specialization is in connections and cables for high end cameras. If they adapt 3D printing and rapid prototyping of their equipment with the help of Onyx, their produced materials will be more durable than ever before.
As a new entrant in the 3D printing industry, the contribution of Onyx in getting Media Blackout to embrace the new method is immense. By dint of Onyx being used in their 3D printing and rapid prototyping equipment, Meida Blackout can now produce and deliver better performing, stronger parts to their customers with a faster than ever turnaround time- which is of course, at a lower cost! The company has enthusiastically and wholeheartedly embraced the technology. Media Blackout founder Alan Rencher thinks that the company is never going to look back now that Onyx is on their fleet. It is helping them make end user parts that are going directly to the market for sale.
However, Media Blackout is not the only fan of Onyx as a 3D printer ink. Another notable customer is the Dixon Valve Company. They supply high performing fittings and parts to various industries such as the construction, agricultural, oil and gas industries. In the company, Onyx is being used in the robot grippers of their factory which has enabled them to lift their heavier parts robotically and moving them with less wear, which ultimately results in less maintenance. Another company, SawBlaze produces awesome battling robots for competitive arenas. They perhaps provide the best possible statement in favor of the toughness of the new filament. SawBlaze team leader Jamison Go highly praises Onyx, saying that the material is fantastic. They expect their robotic parts to withstand a lot of abuse and Onyx has been the perfect material that attests the confidence they have on it.
Onyx can be used both on its own and with further reinforcing, with layers of carbon fiber, Kevlar or fiberglass. Markforged issues a cautionary message not to be using it with other Markforged printers except with the Mark Two Enterprise Kit as other models have risk of damage. The company states that parts 3D printed using Onyx can be up to thirty percent stiffer and stronger than similar parts printed using other 3D printing and rapid prototyping devices. You can even request a free sample off their website if you would like to test its strength yourself.
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