3D printing using conveyor belts has become a huge base for activity over the last year or so. The Blackbelt 3D printer raised close to twice what its funding goal was with explosive popularity. The idea was also seen back in 2010 when MakerBot considered the idea, and in 2014 when Andreas Bastian’s Lum Printer was developed.
Today, we see Printrbot and Polar3D teaming up to bring us the Printrbelt, which is a compact conveyor belt based 3D printer.
Teamwork and Development
Polar3D is known for developing its own conveyor belt 3D printer called the Polar 3D Flash, which is still in early stages. However, the team at Polar3D got in touch with Printrbot to see if they would be interested in teaming up. Polar 3D would provide the software while Printrbot would do the development of the printer. Of course, Printrbot jumped on the idea and quickly developed what would be called the Printrbelt.
Bill Steele of Polar 3D says, “Our cloud platform allows you to have a single printer that takes the place of many, many, many printers. So instead of having a whole slew of printers printing all your parts, you can send all the jobs to the print queue for the Printrbelt, and it will print all of them successively.”
Printrbelt is the most modern example of a 3D printer that can be used for batch production, but it likely will bring on imitators as time goes on. It begins to answer the question of how 3D printing can complete with traditional manufacturing. With machines like Printrbelt, that’s how.
The Printrbelt weighs 19 pounds and has dimensions of 16 x 24 x 16 inches. It offers a print speed from 30 to 60mm/sec with a recommended layer height of 0.2mm, depending on the material that is used. The belt is made from stainless steel and the pulleys are composed of 20-tooth, dual-flange GT2 aluminum.
The electronics inside include a Raspberry Pi 3 and Printrboard Rev F6. It takes a 1.75mm PLA filament and comes with a sample to try. The print head for the machine moves on an X axis angled at 35 degrees to the Z axis which is a heated conveyor belt. It also features a Nema17 motor for X, Y, and the Extruder. There is also a geared stepper for Z belt.
The Printrbelt is available for sale on Printrbot’s site and its regular retail price is $1,999. However, you will see sales on occasion, as one just ended on July 4th. The site explains that each machine will be made one at a time and shipped in order. That means, of course, that it may be some time before you get your printer but it may well be worth it to enjoy this modern piece of technology.
As we move into the future it’s likely this sort of technology will continue and improve over time. But for now, Printrbot and Polar3D bring something new and exciting to the market.