Next Dynamics’ NexD1 3D printer has backers pledging over half a million dollars on crowdfunding website Kickstarter, for a machine that promises to print electronics and multi-materials. The company describe the NexD1 as the “world’s first affordable multi-material desktop printer.” The campaign still has 8 days left to run, but has already reached more than double the initial €200,000 goal.
The creators of the 3D printer, Next Dynamics, are based in Berlin and claim the printer can print electronics as well as several other materials. Having seen Kickstarter backed projects making spectacular claims in the past, some have questioned the company’s ability to deliver on these promises.
3D printing electronics
According to the Kickstarter pitch, the NexD1 can 3D print fully functional PCB circuits with use of conductive component cartridges. 3D printing enables the circuit boards to be fully incorporated in a 3D design through “galvanizing a nano-particle infused resin.”
The 3D printer has a 6 cartridge storage system which means it can 3D print 6 different materials at any one time. Since there are no digital rights management over the use of materials by the company, third party materials can be developed. Next Dynamics are currently working with other German manufacturers in order to create new materials for the device. At present, they are offering “hard base resins, conductive, flexible, colored, transparent and support materials.” Flexible materials are beneficial to the 3D printing of wearable technology, particularly when combined with 3D printed electronics.
Water soluble supports
The six cartridge storage system also allows supports to be 3D printed simultaneously. The company have developed a water soluble support material which is eco-friendly and saves the user effort of manual post-processing. The support material is non-toxic and highly soluble.
The company explains their NexD1 works,
By using high precision nozzles that form tiny droplets of material, these droplets are deposited on the printing bed and then cured by UV laser.
According to the company, the process is similar to Stratasys’ Polyjet method and the German team have coined their refined technology ‘DigiJet‘. The inkjet based method was developed by Next Dynamics. Major enterprises such as Xerox, Konica-Minolta and Ricoh have worked in this area for a long time with considerable R&D budgets, we are intrigued to see how this start-up addresses inkjet technology.
From the Kickstarter campaign DigiJet technology can print at a precision of 10 microns at high speed with use of six piezo printheads and 200 liquid-jetting nozzles. Precision is ensured through a pre-heating system and accuracy through their wide high-powered UV laser. This UV laser instantly cures the object which contributes to the fast speed of the 3D printing.
The 3D printer’s sleek design contains a 10 inch capacitive touchscreen and built in Wi-Fi. Meaning it can be operated either remotely through a smartphone or through the printers controls.
NexD1 will retail at $5449 after crowdfunding, with material cartridges available from their website for $15-$100. The company plan to deliver the NexD1 this year, with beta units shipping in April and early bird backers having their machine shipped in September.
While the NexD1 certainly looks impressive on paper, there are concerns about validity. At the time of writing, the Next Dynamics team have received over €543,000 in funding, however they have also received over 465 comments: some of which raise unanswered questions. Questions have been raised about the viability of the machine’s capabilities, with comments also relating to the licensing and also whether a particular design created by Bathsheba Grossman was printed on the NexD1. Specifically one of 3D designs used to promote the device may not be what it seems. Grossman says that the .stl for the design was not publicly available and questions if it was printed on a prototype NexD1.
With their plans for 3D printing electronics Next Dynamics may at first glance appear similar to Nano Dimension’s Dragonfly 2020, especially in relation to the inkjet technology. However the approach does appear to be markedly different. Also it is not possible to gauge the conductivity from the information on Kickstarter nor does it seem that the resolution offered is comparable. These questions will no doubt be resolved once the printer is seen in action. Another primary difference (without seeing the 3D printer working) is cost.
A key issue for now is whether the NexD1 (pronounced ‘next one’) actually works as it says it does or whether it’s just the ‘next one’ to fall short of the hype. We hope that the answer is the former as seeing new 3D printing innovations succeed is a real passion for us.
3D Printing Industry will be visiting Next Dynamics for what the company promise will be a working demo of the 3D printers possibilities. A recent comment from Next Dynamics on Kickstarter provides an explanation for why the company have not provided further demonstration prints as of yet,
Before we can share the print files with you, we will have to check the situation regarding the copyrights, because some people are expressing problems with this.
We are preparing a new update which will include the print you have voted for, answers about the files and some more.
We would also like to say, that we are investing all our time into the continuing development of the 5th generation printer, because this is what we do best and where we need to focus our energy at this time. It is much more important to create final product that will satisfy our standards and which will do so way beyond the scope of our Kickstarter campaign. Our team consists mainly of engineers, with little manpower devoted towards social media and so on, as we work at our most efficient this way. We are constantly trying to take time for requests and comments but we also need to focus on our main task of continued development.
We are very sorry that we are not responding very swiftly to all your requests. But our main goal remains to work on delivering a finished printer on time, which we will do no matter what. We want to thank you for your support and anticipation of the NexD1.
We will bring you an update on this project after we get a first-hand experience of the printer.
Featured image shows Next Dynamics’ NexD1 3D printer. Image via Kickstarter.