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2015 has brought in with it a slew of announcements that spell major disruption for existing 3D printing technologies. Advances in the technology are being fueled by investment in the technology and expectations that the 3D printing sector could grow significantly. A report by Wohers in 2014 found that the 3D printing industry is expected to grow 31 percent annually from 2013 to 2020 when it eventually will become a $21 billion market.
For example, we recently reported on an announcement of “CLIP” technology by Carbon3D. That technique leapfrogs existing 3D printing technology to enable 3D objects to be created 25-100 times faster and of geometries significantly more complex than what is possible with existing 3D printing technologies.
Even a college student from the University of Buffalo says that he has a 3D printer which is significantly faster than current generation machines. The technology is similar to that recently announced by Carbon3D.
Steve Heller, market analyst, said of Carbon3D’s CLIP technology that “if CLIP delivers on its promise of being able to rapidly produce commercial-quality parts, which seems likely, it could fundamentally change the common belief that 3D printing is a technology primarily reserved for prototyping applications and isn’t well suited for larger-volume manufacturing needs.”
Prismlab, a Shanghai-based company introduced the RAPID 400 3D printer in March 2015. The new printer speeds up 3D printing times by a factor of 8 to 10. The printer is also able to fabricate very large objects, as large as 324 x 576 x 576 mm in dimensions.
Both Prismlab and Carbon3D printers are based on SLA technology. SLA, or Stereolithography, is a technology used by some of the most advanced 3D printers to enable very high accuracy construction and good surface finish in the objected that are fabricated.
Australian company Gizmo 3D has also announced plans to introduce a super fast printer by the end of the year based on a technology called Direct Light Processing (DLP). The Gizmo 3D print process is more continuous and is likened to fabricating the object by printing continuous frames of an animation. Kobus duToit, founder of Gizmo 3D, says that the process should be called “animated printing”. du Toit said that with the Gizmo 3D printing technology that they’re able to print an object as large as 150mm x 80mm x 26mm at a 50 micron z-axis resolution in 6 minutes.