The news is starting to flow from RAPID 2013. The first system that caught our eye at RAPID is the Multi Proto Lab from the National Nanotechnology Manufacturing Center (NNMC). The Multi Proto Lab is an all-in-one rapid prototyping system capable of integrating 3D Printing, precision milling, drop-on-demand printing, extrusion deposition and more in a single machine.
If additive manufacturing (AM) is reducing the need for a dedicated tool space, the Multi Proto Lab might offer even more opportunities to reduce the size of a workshop. As I’ve mentioned recently, AM is a fantastic technology, but it isn’t capable of producing every part or every prototype all on its own. If the new system from the NNMC lives up to its promise, you’ll find all the help you need in one place.
“What makes the Multi Proto Lab different from conventional rapid prototyping is that it can perform many different prototyping processes in one machine,” said Calvin Close, NNMC media spokesperson.
The system offers thermoplastic material extrusion 3D printing, extrusion deposition, conformal polymer layer dispensing, laser soldering, and nanoscale metal deposition via various tool components that the machine can use as needed. It is also capable of high speed precision milling to 20 thousands in the x-y plane and 20 thousands in the y-axis.
To assist with quality assurance, the Multi Proto Lab has in-process monitoring that uses a laser tool to measure the height of materials deposited on the substrate, and a camera that takes measurements on the X and Y planes. The machine can perform conductance testing to ensure everything is working properly between different stages of manufacturing.
Currently, the Multi Proto Lab is offered in two models: the compact and standard. The compact system can be loaded with two tools at a time, while the standard can be equipped with up to six. Both versions offer a build area of 24 x 36 x 8 in. The NNMC is currently developing a 6-axis robotic arm to work inside the Multi Proto Lab to maintain a vacuum seal while still providing a means to transfer a part from one process to the next.
Rapid Ready will be bringing you more information and features from RAPID 2013, and you can read some of our previous coverage of the event here.
Below you’ll find a video about the Multi Proto Tool.