ShapingBits launches a pair of multi-material, high-resolution 3D printers


Recently launched on Kickstarter, the 3FXtrud Uno and 3FXtrud Duo are next-gen, multi-capable machines.


While it seems like just about every week a new 3D printer debuts on Kickstarter, some more than others are geared toward the DIY crowd. With that in mind, Bogdan Diaconescu and Difei Zhang — who are the co-founders of Albuquerque-based ShapingBits — have unveiled a pair of multi-material 3D printers that enable Makers and budget-conscious startups to create functional objects in an easy-to-use, cost-effective manner.

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The 3FXtrud 20 Uno is a single extruder printer built with features that make it Maker-friendly with expedited setup and reliable printing in a multitude of filaments. This device primarily caters to those seeking to devise objects in hard, flexible and soft thermoplastics, which can all be 3D-printed using its universal extruder system. Meanwhile, the 3FXtrud 25 Duo throws on an additional extruder to give users a true free-form fabrication printer with advanced capabilities that allow for a greater variety of engineering (and FDA approved) materials — from compressible to maximum strength, and from low to high melting temperatures.

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“True free-form fabrication (3F) can be achieved when any shape can be printed,” Diaconescu explains. “3FXtrud Duo uses a multi-material dual extruder, thus can print a large number of thermoplastics along with any two combinations of such materials. With 3FXtrud Duo you can print any 3D geometry with overhangs, bridges, internal spaces with internal objects, all possible by using dissolvable support materials.”

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Based on an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) and RAMPS 1.4 board, the machines also pack an advanced multi-material, all-metal head that excels at printing a broad range of thermoplastics. At the moment, supported filaments include ABS, nylon, TPU, TPE, PC, PC-ABS blends, HIPS, PVA, PLA, PETT poly, metal/ceramics blends, wood, carbon fiber, and conductive materials. This unique extruder was designed to provide Makers with minimum maintenance and prolonged utilization, by reducing stripping, skipping and jamming, and employing a tool-free, constant-force feeding system.

What’s more, a notable feature of both 3FXtrud devices is its superior temperature control. Both printers are equipped with a high-temp heated bed that can sustain up to 130°C continuously along with an extremely flat and removable glass surface for improved adhesion and to prevent warping. And to offer even more control over a broader range of filaments, the Duo boasts a fully-enclosed build volume that eliminates air drafts and gives a stable air temperature profile by trapping the heat. This minimizes interlayer stress in the printed objects, and ultimately improves its overall quality and robustness.

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“A particle and activated carbon air filter with air temperature homogenizer for odor free operation can be installed, which provides a uniform temperature profile for the enclosure,” Diaconescu adds. “For the mavericks wanting even more control and desire to work with experimental materials, a closed loop air temperature conditioner can be installed for an extended enclosure air temperature range.”

  • Build volume: 20cm x 20cm x 20cm (Uno) / 25cm x 25cm x 25cm (Duo)
  • Layer solution: 40 to 300µm (Uno) / 20 to 300µm (Duo)
  • Printing speed: 20mm/sec to 150 mm/sec (Uno) / 20mm/sec to 200 mm/sec (Duo)
  • Nozzle diameter: 0.35mm (replaceable nozzles include: 0.2mm, 0.4mm, 0.5mm)
  • Filament size: 1.75mm
  • Software: Software: Repetier, Printrun, Slic3r
  • Connectivity: SD card, USB (Wi-Fi in development)

Interested? Head over to its official Kickstarter campaign, where the ShapingBits team is currently seeking $15,370. Shipment is expected to begin in June 2015.

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