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.
“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.
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.