3D Printers

CIM UPC Technology Center to launch experimental hybrid ‘PowerDIW’ 3D printer

The Barcelona-based CIM UPC Technology Center which spun-off now-industry stalwart BCN3D in 2019, has announced plans to launch an experimental new hybrid 3D printer. 

Set to be unveiled on September 29, 2022, CIM UPC’s Direct Ink Writing (DIW) system features two printheads capable of operating simultaneously, thus making it capable of higher part throughputs. Users can also tailor this ‘PowerDIW’ machine to meet their needs, either by adding other 3D printing technologies, or the integration of a closed enclosure to unlock enhanced humidity control. 

“We are very excited to introduce the PowerDIW to the market,” said Roger Uceda, Technology Transfer Director of CIM UPC. “Direct Ink Writing is a very interesting technology to develop new 3D printing materials and applications because it only needs a small amount of material to work, and this is the reason so many researchers are demanding a machine like the PowerDIW.”

Manufacturing innovation at CIM UPC 

As the technology institute of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, CIM UPC works to advance digital manufacturing through research, technology transfer and training activities. While the center is engaged in CNC machining, metrology and silicon molding R&D, it has also established a reputation as a 3D printing hub. 

Over the last 20 years, CIM UPC has built up a large install base, including Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) and stereolithography (SLA) systems. Using these, the technology accelerator not only offers prototyping services in which product designs can be validated in less than 72 hours, but engages in application development. 

Back in 2012, one of CIM UPC’s research groups also founded BCN3D while designing a new FFF 3D printer, which prioritized affordability, versatility and usability. This work culminated in an IDEX setup that effectively doubled the throughput of FFF 3D printers. Since BCN3D was spun-off by CIM UPC in 2019, it has gone on to iterate on the technology, and integrate it into units like the Epsilon W27 and W50 3D printers

The CIM UPC Technology Center's PowerDIW machine. Photo via CIM UPC.
The CIM UPC Technology Center’s PowerDIW machine. Photo via CIM UPC.

Developing a DIW system for R&D

CIM UPC’s experimental new 3D printer is essentially designed to better meet the needs of researchers seeking a flexible, highly-capable DIW 3D printer. The system addresses the latter via the integration of two high-pressure printheads. Thanks to a built-in lifting mechanism, the second of these can be lifted away from the first, thus ensuring that they’re capable of working simultaneously, without the wrong material being dragged through prints. 

Both printheads are also capable of functioning at a pressure of up to 850N, a level that tends to be beyond home-made syringe-based systems, while the PowerDIW’s standard armor casing-enclosed BD syringes and quick change system are said to be easy to clean and set up, making it simple for researchers to operate. 

To provide the system with the widest possible experimental applications, CIM UPC has built the machine to be fully-configurable. As a result, adopters can kit the PowerDIW out with new capabilities like FFF, Digital Light Processing (DLP) or pellet extrusion, and spec it out with the ancillaries needed for any given test. 

Using its new system, the Spanish R&D center says it’s possible to conduct R&D in the fields of metallurgy, fuel cells, composites, ceramics and tissue engineering, as well as in areas where “huge extrusion force is demanded.”

The PowerDIW is expected to be presented imminently by its early adopters including AIMPLAS and UPC Barcelona Tech’s CIEFMA and BBT-UPC centers. Between them, these research organizations are said to be engaged in advanced 3D printing experiments on various fronts, covering biomedical materials, soft robotic sensors and catalytic energy applications. 

The dual printhead setup on the CIM UPC Technology Center's PowerDIW machine. Photo via CIM UPC.
The dual printhead setup on the CIM UPC Technology Center’s PowerDIW machine. Photo via CIM UPC.

Featured image shows the CIM UPC Technology Center’s PowerDIW machine. Photo via CIM UPC.