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Italian Company 3ntr Offers High Resolution A4 3D Printer

While most of the attention surrounding additive manufacturing (AM) systems is focused on the largest companies, smaller businesses continue to find ways to innovate and compete. Formlabs is the poster child for this sort of innovation, being the first company to bring stereolithography to a desktop platform, but it isn’t alone.

Italian-based 3ntr has developed a professional quality desktop material extrusion AM system that may be as good, or better, than any other desktop 3D printer on the market. The A4 AM system has a solid steel frame, and all its structural parts are also made of metal. A fully metal, dual-head extruder further increases the durability of the A4, which represents 3ntr’s first foray into the AM field.

The A4 desktop 3D printer offers fine resolution prints in a compact package. Courtesy of 3ntr.

“Our company was established in late fifties to make parts for corsets. Seven years ago we stepped into rapid prototyping. We were amazed both from the possibilities and the huge costs involved.” said Davide Ardizzoia, 3ntr CEO. “Five years ago we started selling complete plants with our technology in Middle and Far East. Last year we built our own 400W laser cutting Cartesian robot. Building a RepRap was therefore easy for us, and our experience into deploying complex automation systems has given us enough confidence to start this venture.”

The A4 may have started life as a RepRap, but it has developed far beyond that staple of open development. According to specs provided by the company, the A4 has a Z-axis resolution of 5µ, and an X,Y resolution of 11µ. The new 3D printer has a build envelope of 305 x 205 x 210mm (12 x 8 x 8 in.) and a maximum extruder speed of 45mm/sec.

Additionally, the A4 uses removable print area plates to ensure the system sees as much uptime as possible, and, according to the company, features open software architecture that can be interfaced to almost any host software. 3ntr also claims its AM system can print in any available polymer, including PVA, PLA, ABS, Nylon, and PC. 

This completed frog model shows the reduced strata lines generally associated with material extrusion systems. Courtesy of 3ntr.

Both the build envelope and resolution numbers are superior to more popular 3D printers, such as MakerBot’s Replicator 2. The A4 comes in at $4,455, which is a reasonable price for a professional desktop 3D printer.

Below you’ll find a couple of videos of the A4 at work.

Source: 3ntr

About John Newman

John Newman is a contributing editor to Desktop Engineering magazine. He covers the rapid prototyping and manufacturing beat.

4 comments

  1. Hello,

    I have a background in high precision motion control and 3D metrology, and have to question how you can possibly resolve 5 microns in the Z axis presumably using a rolled (unground) leadscrew and a stepper motor with a rotary encoder. I also question 11 micron resolution in the X/Y assuming it is belt driven. Do you have any test data that validates such high resolution?

    I would also imagine the build time to be painstakingly long using 5 micron thin layers. What is the build time for one solid cubic inch at 5 micron resolution?

    Thank you

  2. Hello Tom,
    Do a simple math:

    1) leadscrew is industry standard square profile 10x2mm
    2) therefore 1 screw turn = 2mm Z displacement
    3) We can address 1/6400 of turn of the leadscrew, but we are happy to stay at 1/400
    4) 2mm / 400 = 0.005mm (5micron) minimum displacement

    Printing at 5um layer is a pain indeed…. but printer can do good quality prints at usual 0.2mm layer thickness.

    Is woth noting that 45mm/sec is max advised filament feed speed, while printing speed (aka : the speed of extruder holder) is usually 60…120mm/sec

    Best Regards
    Davide Ardizzoia

  3. Again 0.05mm printing is a pain as it takes AGES to print anything, no matter how fast you are, it takes 4x the time you need for 0.2mm.
    Slicing too is a pain, as the files are several times bigger than usual.
    Machine(s) has no problem coping with 0.05mm layers.

    Best Regards
    Davide Ardizzoia
    3ntr
    (info@3ntr.net)

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