As 3D printing matures, the differences between desktop 3D printers and larger, professional 3D printers will blur. The newly introduced MakerBot Method is an example.
MakerBot launched Method, a desktop 3D printer that the company claims creates a new category for the professional 3D printing market. MakerBot plans for this 3D printer to bridge the gap between desktop and industrial 3D printing by bringing features previously available only on industrial 3D printers.
Industrial technologies on the MakerBot Method 3D printer include a Circulating Heated Chamber, Dual Performance Extruders, Precision PVA Water Soluble Supports, Dry Sealed Material Bays, and an Ultra-Rigid Metal Frame. Method also includes built-in sensors and automation features for a seamless experience. The printer’s industrial features control the 3D printing process to deliver precision, reliability, and dimensional accuracy at an accessible price. This technological breakthrough defines what MakerBot is calling the “Performance 3D Printing category.”
Method delivers repeatable and consistent parts with +/- 0.2 mm dimensional accuracy as well as vertical layer uniformity and cylindricity. The dual extrusion system found in Method combined with water-soluble PVA builds parts with good surface finish.
MakerBot claims Method builds parts with up to 2X faster print speeds than desktop 3D printers. Method offers out-of-the-box deployment and a hassle-free guided setup, making it easy to install and use. Method also includes automated maintenance procedures and support.
A detailed look at the features:
The Circulating Heated Chamber controls the temperature and quality of every layer. In providing full active heat immersion during the entire duration of the print, Method allows printed materials to cool at a controlled rate for better dimensional accuracy and improved layer adhesion and part strength.
Dual Performance Extruders are built for high-speed printing. A dual-drive gear system grips the material securely while the drive’s 19:1 gear ratio provides up to 3X the push force of a typical desktop 3D printer. This allows Method to provide a consistent feed of material into the hot end to produce consistent geometry. The new lengthened thermal core is up to 50% longer than a standard desktop hot end for faster extrusion rates.
Water soluble PVA Dissolvable Supports enable fast and easy support removal.
Dry-Sealed Material Bays form a seal to keep filament material pristine and reduce moisture absorption. A suite of built-in sensors monitors humidity and alerts users of any changes to the environment. This feature is especially crucial for water-soluble PVA, which quickly absorbs moisture when left in the open.
Materials for Method are manufactured to exacting diameter and quality specifications. Shipped in a vacuum-sealed metalized polyester bag, quality can be preserved until opening.
MakerBot offers two categories of materials for use with Method: Precision and Specialty. Precision Materials are extensively tested by MakerBot for the highest reliability and measurably accurate parts and include MakerBot Tough, MakerBot PLA, and MakerBot PVA.
Specialty Materials are for users looking for materials with advanced properties to push the limits of what’s possible. These materials provide basic print performance and can require additional workflow steps to print successfully. The first material on the platform is PETG, one of the most widely used polymers with excellent engineering properties, with more to follow.
The Ultra-Rigid Metal Frame runs the full length of the Method body to offset flexing. Less flexing means more consistent prints with better part accuracy and fewer failures.
Faster, Better 3D Printing
The Smart Spool provides valuable information, including type, color, and amount of material remaining with an RFID chip directly to MakerBot Print, while desiccant in the spool maintains a low moisture level inside the drawer bay.
The 5-in. Capacitive Touchscreen gives status updates of current print jobs and allows users to navigate the menus intuitively.
MakerBot Print Software integrates with 25 of the most popular CAD programs. For easy collaboration, teams can also save 3D files as projects and share them via the native Cloud Management platform. Method’s built-in onboard camera also allows users to monitor their print progress remotely with MakerBot Print or the MakerBot Mobile app.
The Spring Steel Build Plate provides true flatness for unyielding part accuracy and enables the printed part to pop off the plate.
The MakerBot Method 3D printer has been tested by MakerBot for over 220,000 hours of system reliability, subsystem, and print quality testing3.
The MakerBot Method 3D Printer has a current price of $6,499. Shipping of Method is expected to begin in Q1 2019.
MakerBot, a subsidiary of Stratasys Ltd.