Geo Week News

June 4, 2013

3D manufacturing system prints tools in just 15 minutes

  • 3D Technology

Is ‘engineered quicksand’ a game-changer for burgeoning 3D printing industry?

3D Fabrication Technology Inc. announced it has licensed rapid tooling technology capable of creating instantly formable and reconfigurable 3D-printed tools of any size in just 15 minutes.

Based in Santa Clara, Calif., the company said the patented technology also allows materials to be recycled, enabling mass customization in the commercial production of 3D printed parts and devices.

3dFabTech said its new class of material formulations can undergo reversible room-temperature transitions – from liquid-like to solid with no change in volume.

The transition material technology precisely creates or repairs 3D parts and devices with conventional or high-temperature composites based on a water-soluble, ceramic-based slurry dubbed “engineered quicksand,” which can form composite industrial parts as large as six feet by nine feet.

3DFabTech said reformable tooling can take the contour of any shape pressed against it. Prototype tooling can be prepared in five minutes or less and can be repeatedly transformed into different contours for different parts.

The materials can be contained permanently within an elastic membrane or can be transferred in a liquid-like state from flexible containment to holding tanks and back.

The system makes a mold of 3D printed parts and devices that can act as a template for high-volume production of 3D parts produced by 3D printers or conventional manufacturing equipment.

“The licensing arrangement enables 3DFabTech to quickly address the needs of many industrial applications in the rapidly growing 3D-printing market,” said Bao Tran, founder of 3DFabTech.

3DFabTech said the technology is cheap enough to support rapid production in commercial applications, such as automotive and medical applications, and robust enough to duplicate high temperature parts for aerospace and military applications.

The licensed technology is covered by U.S. Patent Nos. 6,398,992; 6,780,352; 7,172,714; 7,402,265, as well as associated international patents.

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