Medical & Dental

Coobx launches patent-pending EXIGO 3D printer, bringing LIFE back to the dead zone

Based in Lichtenstein, Coobx has just launched their new EXIGO 3D printer.

The EXIGO uses patent-pending Light Initiated Fabrication Technology (LIFT). LIFT, says Coobx, allows for high accuracy, speed and continuous printing. The EXIGO is a top-down SLA 3D printer with an “atmospheric build chamber” engineered to optimize 3D printing.

In theory, the atmospheric build chamber means it is possible to create a layer of oxygen below the surface of the resin, making it easier to remove parts and quicker to print. Coobx refers to this area as the LIFE Zone. The choice of terminology could be seen as riffing on another company focused on innovate, and rapid, resin based 3D printing. Specifically, Carbon who discuss their CLIP technology with reference to the ‘dead zone’. While similar to SLA Carbon also make the distinction between their CLIP technology  and SLA.

Carbon recently announced a new industrial scale modular system called SpeedCell. By all accounts, a seat in the room to hear about this technology during AMUG  this week was a precious commodity!

The LIFT technology explained. Image via Coobx.
The LIFT technology explained. Image via Coobx.

“Coobx is different”

Returing to Coobx and according to CEO and head of R&D at the company, Marco Schmid says, “LIFT is different. Coobx is different.” Explaining the new EXIGO, Schmid says,

Generally it’s a top-down machine like the early SLA resin machines, but we’ve implemented the build box, which has a specific atmospheric pressure inside. It’s a fully enclosed build chamber, and thanks to this, materials with high viscosities (like thick honey) can be processed with ease. This also makes it easier to change materials, and much cleaner.

The ‘build box’, which is pressurized, means the 3D printer can have greater control of oxygen. The hardening of a photopolymer through exposure to light and the inhibition of this reaction in the presence of oxygen is the subject of a substantial volume of academic texts. One research group describes the reaction as follows,

Oxygen interacts with photopolymerizing systems both at the initiation stage and in the propagation stage. Its presence generally leads to the formation of an inhibition layer at the top surface of the sample in which the diffusion rate of oxygen into the sample from the surrounding environment is more rapid than its consumption by the polymerization

By allowing the oxygen to infiltrate the surface of the resin in a controlled way, 3D prints will not stick to a membrane as deformation of the print due to this can be avoided.  This means that theoretically, EXIGO can print faster and there is no need for a wiper system as the chamber can control the solidification of the resins. According to Coobx, this system also means that the EXIGO is capable of 3D printing infilled materials.

At 3D Printing Industry we’re keen to see first hand how the system works in practice.

The top-down build chamber of the EXIGO. Photo via Coobx.
The top-down build chamber of the EXIGO. Photo via Coobx.

LIFT Technology

The patent-pending technology Coobx refers to as LIFT includes,

  • LIFT Speed – optimized build chamber and top-down approach allows for build speeds exceeding 300mm/hour.
  • LIFT Accuracy – “fully automated focusing“, ensures accuracy of +/- 10 up to +/-40 microns.
  • LIFT Curing – “An integrated algorithm calculates on every single picture frame to optimal curing time, layer hight and build speed.”
  • LIFE Zone -integrated oxygen inhibition to optimize the building atmosphere
  • LIFT Materials – due to the their unique build chamber, “it’s now possible to print every kind of materials.”

Marco Schmid explains that, “Putting the state of the art, bottom-up printing technology on the head back to top-down was a milestone in development.”

With the Dreve materials, EXIGO is clearly intended for Dental application. Photo via Coobx.
With the Dreve materials, EXIGO is clearly intended for Dental application. Photo via Coobx.

Pre-Processing, Printing and Post-Processing

The EXIGO takes a three-pronged attack for 3D printing. The machine enables print preparation, 3D printing and post-processing to provide a full fabrication solution. The EXIGO prepares for printing with, “market leading support structure generation software delivered with the printer and optimised for the EXIGO.” Which means slicing is carried out directly by the machine. The 3D printing uses the SLA top-down approach and post-processing through its “Clean & Cure” unit.

Coobx’s machine 3D prints with specialized materials developed by their German materials partner Dreve. The medical materials offered include Coobx Ceramic, Coobx Denture, Coobx Gingiva and others. Developing these materials, Coobx clearly view dental application as key to their machine and is currently at the International Dental Show in Cologne. Joining several other 3D printing companies, with Formlabs unveiling new dental materials and DWS who are showcasing their DFAB 3D printer.

Technical Specifications

3D Printer versions: Medical & Industrial
Print Volume 154 x 86 x 110mm (Medical) / 154 x 86 x 340mm (Industrial)
Print speeds up to > 300mm/h
XY Resolution +/- 10 microns to +/- 40 microns
Auto focused, high-power LED Light Engine
Autonomous CPU core unit to process all data internally
Industry 4.0 / IoT ready

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Featured image shows dental models 3D printed on the EXIGO. Photo via Coobx.