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3D printer manufacturer B9Creations has launched a new line of resins that it says can be used to create injection molding-quality plastic molds.
Included in this ‘Robust’ range, is an ABS and polycarbonate (PC) material that features a high heat deflection temperature (HDT), making it ideal for producing smooth, impact-resistant molds. Alongside its ABS/PC thermoplastic, the firm has also released a similarly-resilient engineering-grade ABS, that when used with its B9 Core Series 3D printers, is said to yield strong, stiff, highly-stable parts.
A growing material portfolio
As a self-styled 3D printing “innovation engine,” B9Creations offers systems, materials and services to manufacturers in the jewelry, prototyping, research and medical sectors. Over the last ten years, the company has built up a broad machine portfolio, including a B9 scanner, as well as the B9 Core Med 550 and XL 3D printers, and its speed-oriented B9 Core Series 530, 550 and XL DLP systems.
When it launched back in 2017, the firm’s flagship machine was marketed as having a four times faster than average print speed, and a throughput during an 8-10 hour day of ‘hundreds of models.’ Since then, B9Creations’ printers have continued to find new industrial and medical applications, with the likes of Ding Tool using them to 3D print automotive dent repair tools two years later.
More recently, U.S. social services group Black Hills Works partnered with B9Creations to additive manufacture custom assistive devices for over 600 disabled people. During the project, the organization is said to have LCD 3D printed eating utensils, wearable devices, wheelchair grips, waterproof call lights, specialist workplace tools and more.
To continue unlocking applications for its technologies, the firm has also invested in growing its material offering, launching its B9Captivate toolkit, before opening a $500,000 material R&D lab. This commitment now appears to be paying off, as after the company’s FastWax Castable resin release last year, it’s now launching two more materials, with the aim of making short-run production more feasible.
Introducing the Robust range
Designed specifically for use with its B9 Core Series machines, albeit compatible with its 5 Series XL systems with some rejigging, B9Creations’ new materials are characterized by the same impact-resistance, and yield parts with a similarly-smooth finish.
However, while Robust ABS effectively emulates the strength and stability of ABS plastics when used in a manufacturing environment, the ABS/PC features a higher flexural modulus of 1.6 GPa. As a result, the latter can be used to 3D print alternatives to traditional metal or injection molded molds, potentially enabling manufacturers to reduce their costs for such parts from $5,000 to $10,000, down to just $1-10.
Whereas conventional molds can take up to six weeks to design and produce, 3D printed substitutes can also be created in as little as one hour. By in-sourcing molds in this way, adopters not only stand to reinforce their supply chains, but scale their workflow from prototyping into short-run production, while the resulting parts could allow them to process materials that are better tailored to their needs as well.
Already, Robust ABS/PC has been adopted by an unnamed client, that B9Creations deems to be “one of the largest manufacturers in the U.S.” Since it started using the new resin along with B9 Core Series 3D printers, the firm says that it has managed to go from producing five parts with other technologies, to 3D printing more than 100 in the same timeframe.
“I can get high-precision parts in an hour,” said a spokesperson for the manufacturer. “It’s not only enabled our R&D, but it has also on-shored our manufacturing and opened up a wide range of low-volume, custom business we’ve had to say no to in the past because of cost and minimum order quantity requirements.”
Industrializing DLP production
B9Creations continues to market its larger B9 Core Series 3D printers as “volume production” machines, but it’s not the only DLP system manufacturer seeking to industrialize the technology. Austrian optical device developer In-Vision, for example, launched its first 4K UV light projector for use with resin-based DLP 3D printers earlier this year, which is built to meet industrial throughput requirements.
Back in December 2020, Stratasys also strengthened its commitment to the high-throughput DLP market with its $100 million acquisition of Origin. The Origin One 3D printer is designed to allow for the mass production of end-use parts, and following the company’s takeover last year, Stratasys CEO Yoav Zeif hailed the machine’s speed for enabling it to capture a “range of in-demand production applications.”
Likewise, High Speed Extrusion (HSE) 3D printer manufacturer Essentium signed a letter of intent to acquire Collider in July 2021. The latter is developing a ‘Programmable Tooling’ process, which combines additive manufacturing with injection molding in a way that could allow it to meet the needs of those in the automotive, aerospace and medical sectors.
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Featured image shows a 3D printed jewelry mold produced using the B9 Core 5 Series XL 3D printer. Photo via B9Creations.