Florida-based manufacturer of micro-dispensing and 3D printing equipment nScrypt has developed a tool changer for its multi-head Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM) machines. Demonstrated on the company’s 5-axis 3Dx-700 system, a gantry-based, high-precision platform built for an unnamed military client, the tool changer allows the machine to seamlessly switch between different tool heads.
“The nScrypt tool changer turns our multi-head machines into powerful Direct Digital Manufacturing systems. It enables the user to go directly and quickly from a CAD file to a fully functioning product, complete with electronics, without manual tool changes,” explains nScrypt’s CEO, Dr. Ken Church.
“It loads and changes tool heads as needed. With Z tracking, the system can also print conformally, on surfaces of any geometry. This system goes beyond 3D printing of parts to digital manufacturing of finished products.”
Micro-dispensing at nScrypt
Founded in 2002, nScrypt has focused its operations on additive manufacturing and micro-dispensing.
Micro-dispensing involves depositing droplets of ink in volumes of less than one microliter. This process facilitates multi-material 3D printing, which has been incorporated in nScrypt’s hybrid gantry DDM system. Micro-dispensing also allows the fabrication of smart devices, conformal antennas, and microfluidic devices.
The company’s patented SmartPump microdispensing tool uses nTip, which is described by nScrypt as the smallest commercially available pen tip diameter at 10 microns. It can dispense more than 10,000 commercially available materials with volume control up to 20 picoliters. Recently, the SmartPump was delivered to an undisclosed electronics manufacturer for use on its factory floor.
Switching between different tool heads
nScrpyt’s DDM technology, also known as a Factory in a Tool (FiT) system, combines microdispensing, material extrusion, micro-milling, and pick and place tool heads with multiple cameras, for autonomous, hybrid manufacturing.
Using air-powered ports and an air-powered clamp, the company’s new tool changer enables the transition between these different tool heads as needed without manual input from the user. As well as the SmartPump for microdispensing, users can also switch between nScrypt’s nFD material extrusion head for 3D printing, the nMill tool head for milling and polishing, and nPnP for picking and placing electronic components.
Furthermore, the tool changer is able to run multiple heads simultaneously, allowing for a combination of each tool’s capabilities. For example, using multiple microdispensing tool heads can increase throughput, or users can load different heads for an amalgamation of functionalities.
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Featured image shows the tool changer switching between different tool heads. Video via nScrypt.