MakerBot, one of the leading 3D printer developers and producers, has revealed the latest update for its fifth-generation 3D printer: a printer head that the company promises will streamline the process of manufacturing three-dimensional models and parts, all the while lengthening the period between printer head replacement time.
Named the MakerBot Smart Extruder+, the printer head was developed in collaboration with MakerBot's parent company Stratasys, and its services and functionality were tested and purportedly verified by two teams before it was released as a PLA filament-printing product.
The key to the printer head's new efficiency? An elongated PTFE tube that feeds filament into the printer head for less clogging, an over-molded encoder wheel for secure and constant contact between the wheel and the filament, and general reduced friction.
"The advances we made with the MakerBot Smart Extruder+ are a big step forward and set a new benchmark in 3D printing," said Jonathan Jaglom, CEO of MakerBot, in a press release issued Jan. 4 by the company. "The extruder is the most critical part of a 3D printer and it is a part that wears out after a certain period of time and needs to be replaced."
"We engineered and tested the Smart Extruder+ to enhance its reliability, provide better performance and extend its lifetime," he added.
The time it took to fully extend that lifetime has a testament in its testing period: according to the company, the experimental trials for the Extruder+ racked up around 160,000 hours worth of testing time — the equivalent of 18 years — with a total of 5,800 prints produced, and all with "minimal wear." All of this "simulated real customer usage," reported MakerBot senior test engineer Jack Kinney, who lead the team in developing the Extruder+, and "[logged] every interaction with the printers."
The Smart Extruder+ is currently available for preorder at $200, and will begin shipping on Jan. 18.
See the MakerBot Extruder+ in action in the video below.
Source: Business Wire | MakerBot