3D printer with 'eyes and brains' opens up new applications: Page 2 of 2

June 05, 2019 //By Rich Pell
3D printer with 'eyes and brains' opens up new applications
Additive manufacturing startup Inkbit (Medford, MA) has unveiled its first printer, which uses machine vision and artificial intelligence (AI) to expand the range of materials it can print with.
machine-learning systems automatically correct any errors in real time and proactively compensate for the warping and shrinkage behavior of a fickle material. Those processes, says the company, further expand the range of materials it is able to print with by removing the rollers and scrapers used by some other printers to ensure precision, which tend to jam when used with difficult-to-print materials.

Designed to allow users to prototype and manufacture new objects on the same machine, the company's industrial printer has 16 print heads to create multimaterial parts and a print block big enough to produce hundreds of thousands of fist-sized products each year (or smaller numbers of larger products). The machine's contactless inkjet design means increasing the size of later iterations will be as simple as expanding the print block.

"Before, people could make prototypes with multimaterial printers, but they couldn't really manufacture final parts," says Inkbit co-founder Wojciech Matusik, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science. "This is something that's not possible using any other manufacturing methods."

The company says it will begin selling printed products later this year, starting with a pilot with Johnson and Johnson, before selling its printers next year. If it can leverage current interest from companies that sell medical devices, consumer products, and automotive components, the company expects its machines will be playing a leading production role in a host of multi-billion-dollar markets in the next few years, from dental aligners to industrial tooling and sleep apnea masks.


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Additive manufacturing learns about superalloys

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