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Wham Bam Systems, a developer of accessory products for 3D printers, has announced the launch of its new FDM tool changer device.
Named ‘the MUTANT V2’, the easy-to-use add-on can be installed in place of the default printhead, enabling users to quickly change between hot ends, laser cutting tools, and any other custom tool heads they may have in their arsenals. In essence, the MUTANT transforms run-of-the-mill desktop FDM 3D printers into universal multi-use manufacturing tools.
Wham Bam Systems commenced the development of the MUTANT back in 2018, and it’s both patent-pending and trademarked. After over five months of beta testing starting August 2020, the product eventually evolved into the MUTANT V2 available today.
“The MUTANT V2 makes it so simple to swap out any hot end or tool in just seconds,” said Melinda McGee, spokesperson for Wham Bam Systems. “Just shut down your machine, swing down the locking lever, and remove your current hot end. Then replace it with another, swing the lever lock into place, and turn your machine back on – it’s really that simple.”
Advancing desktop 3D printing with Wham Bam
Wham Bam’s product portfolio is an interesting one as it contains no 3D printers and no materials whatsoever. Instead, the company has built its entire business around 3D printing accessories, all designed to provide quality-of-life benefits for desktop 3D printer users.
The firm’s first product line was the Flexible Build System, an easy-to-install build surface that makes printing and part removal more reliable. It reportedly surpasses PEI in terms of temperature resistance and material adhesion.
The MUTANT V2
Manufactured out of high-strength glass-filled nylon, the MUTANT tool swapping system grants the ability to substitute out hot ends on the fly. This can mean simply swapping out a clogged FDM nozzle for a new one, or installing an entirely new tool altogether. Wham Bam’s extensive list of recommended tools includes laser cutters and engravers, CNC tools, pen plotters, food extruders, clay extruders, dial gauge indicators, and even knives.
According to the firm, the add-on was built to last, as it’s able to withstand long periods in heated enclosures up to a maximum temperature of 140°C. The MUTANT also features a precise dovetail joint for accurate tool alignment and a level lock system to ensure a definitive connection.
The tool changer can be mounted onto almost any FDM 3D printer (except delta systems) with V-slot wheels or MGN12H linear rail bearings, as well as Prusa i3-style systems. It works with both direct drive exruders and remote extruders.
McGee adds, “The MUTANT is a workhorse, made to last, and made to ensure consistency, making it one of the most important innovations in the 3D printing market to date.”
Accessories and add-on devices like the MUTANT hold great potential for innovation. Open-source developer Andreas Müller recently created a novel 3D printer attachment that enables single extruder FFF systems to produce multi-color prints. Dubbed the 3D Print Colorizer, the project is also a custom tool changer device but it works in conjunction with Sharpie pens to produce multi-color parts on standard desktop 3D printers.
Elsewhere, researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have previously developed a hardware add-on that transforms commercial laser cutting systems into hybrid 3D printers. Dubbed LaserFactory, the electromechanical assembly attaches to a laser cutter’s head, resulting in a comprehensive fabrication platform that can be used to create fully functional electronic devices such as robots.
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Featured image shows the new MUTANT V2 tool changer device in action. Photo via Wham Bam Systems.