Powered by the company’s proprietary Factory in a Tool (FiT) technology, the nRugged is designed to rapidly and accurately 3D print on-demand parts in hostile environments. As part of an AMUG panel nScrypt’s LJ Holmes explored the machine’s unique multi-material fabrication capabilities, as well as its potential for helping reduce global supply chain shortages.
“nRugged is a complete 3D manufacturing system, not just a 3D printer,” said nScrypt’s CEO Dr. Ken Church. “Because it’s a version of our Factory in a Tool, it solves the problem of building a precision product, not just a part, and does it in harsh environments. The real advantage of this tough machine is rapid mobility, while maintaining precision. We are excited to show it at AMUG this year.”
nScrypt’s Factory in a Tool
Essentially, nScrypt’s Factory in a Tool systems are designed to provide users with an all-in-one 3D printing, milling, polishing and post-processing tool. Leveraging the firm’s multi-head tool-changing technology, its machines are able to run multiple heads at the same time, allowing adopters to combine each toolhead’s capabilities and create uniquely multifunctional parts.
FiT technology has been integrated successively into each of nScrypt’s machines, including its 3Dn Series and 3Dn-DDM Series systems, which have often found embedded electronics and bioprinting applications. In May 2020, for instance, the firm conducted an experiment using the BioFabrication Facility (BFF) aboard the ISS, to create a viable human knee meniscus.
Since then, nScrypt has steadily built on its portfolio, achieving six-axis 3D printing via its new 3Dn-Axis system in March 2021, a machine designed to provide users with greater geometric control when creating parts. In order to accommodate its military clientele, the company has now also developed its nRugged system, which is built from the ground-up for rapid deployment within harsh environments.
Precision 3D printing goes off-road
Marketed by nScrypt as the ‘ruggedized version’ of its FiT platform, the nRugged can be factory-configured to allow the production of either electronic or medical devices within the same machine. Featuring a carbon fiber exoskeleton and 150 x 150mm heated bed, the system can be fitted with up to four heads, enabling extrusion, milling, polishing and pick-and-place to be conducted simultaneously.
nScrypt’s technology has long been used within military applications, with 6 FiT systems installed at various Army bases and labs, and the nRugged has already been called into service. As part of a program led by the non-profit Geneva Foundation along with the U.S. military, the new system’s bioprinting capabilities were field-tested in March last year.
During the project, the machine was loaded onto the back of a truck, and proved capable of being rapidly deployed, set-up and configured in a desert environment, ready to 3D print medical parts on-demand. More recently, the nRugged has also been utilized to additive manufacture engine parts for automotive R&D firm Larsen Motorsports’ Gen 6 jet-powered dragster.
Using nScrypt’s new machine, the firm’s engineers were not only able to replace the car’s gaskets with more durable seals, but the new parts were able to resist extreme temperatures as part of a six-month endurance trial, showing that the nRugged yields enduring components within various high-pressure environments.
Demoing the nRugged at AMUG
nScrypt unveiled its nRugged system as part of an AMUG presentation titled “Developing and Transitioning Best AM Practices for Technological Dominance for Our Warfighters.”
The launch was followed by a live panel, in which Holmes discussed the printer’s deployment within Department of Defense initiatives, in addition to its potential utility for those firms seeking to embrace localized production. Moderated by DEVCOM’s James Zunino, the discussion will also include contributions from U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and New Jersey Innovation Institute panelists.
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Featured image shows nScrypt’s nRugged 3D printer. Photo via nScrypt.