If you thought that the most innovative development in additive manufacturing conceived in 2017 would arise out of America, China, or another traditional tech forefront, you’d be wrong. The most impressive invention in printing exhibited at last week’s CES 2018 convention in Las Vegas was conceived by a team hailing from the “Garden City of India”, Bangalore. But the awarding of the Best of Innovation prize to Bengalaru startup Ethereal Machines begs a question: how can one win the Best of Innovation in the field of 3D printing if its invention isn’t even a 3D printer?
Apparently, the answer to that question is that creativity and forward-thinking that allows you to innovate your way into a completely new category – in this case, 5D printing – will not be punished.
✅ “We are unique because no other machine in the market offers the option of five-axis printing and five-axis cutting,” explains Ethereal Machines’ CTO Navin Jain. 🙌
Jain is right, the current three-axis printing options that give the still-emerging additive manufacturing sector its alternate moniker – 3D printing – have been the standard to which all additive manufacturing is tethered, until now. The Ethereal Halo 5D printer performs what is also known as 5-axis machining. The process has been around for years and is utilized in computer numerical controller (CNC) milling but has yet to be successfully translated into a printer which can both print and cut the same object.
Ethereal Machines’ co-founder explains the basic idea:
Regular 3D printers operate on just three axes: X, Y, and Z, Mudda told Digital Trends. What we’ve done is we’ve added two additional axes to it: A translational axis and a rotatory axis as well.
Essentially, this means that the printer can rotate and swivel the objects that it is printing, allowing for the addition of intricate designs that would require some sort of additional suspension mechanism in 3D printers. Whether for aesthetic or utilitarian purposes, the ability to print objects on five axes without additional work is intriguing, to say the least. The printer is also capable of cutting soft metals and other materials, which could come in handy during the creation of objects such as jewelry and car parts.
Imagine making structures without any support materials, and the kind of finish you get with this five-axis 3D printing, Mudda says. That’s something that the world has never seen. This is the first [machine] of its kind in the world.
Orders have already been placed for the $25,000 5D printer, with delivery dates yet to be posted.