Stratasys-owned 3D printer manufacturer MakerBot this week launched the METHOD Materials Development Program, which brings together partners from across the additive industry to qualify filaments for its METHOD 3D printer platform. MakerBot has also debuted the new MakerBot LABS Experimental Extruder for the METHOD platform, which will unlock compatibility with a wider range of engineering-grade materials.
To mark the launch of the new METHOD Materials Development Program, MakerBot has already enlisted a number of partners, including Jabil, KIMYA, Polymaker and Mitsubishi Chemical. Working with these various players in the AM materials world, MakerBot aims to qualify more filaments for its 3D printer hardware to expand material options for its clients and create opportunities for new applications.
“The MakerBot METHOD platform brings features to engineers that were previously only available on much more expensive industrial 3D printers,” explained Nadav Goshen, CEO of MakerBot. “These features enable METHOD 3D printers to achieve industrial reliability, precision, and engineering performance by tightly controlling the entire printing environment, from the heated chamber to the sealed filament bays and performance extruders.
“We also recognize that many of our customers want a way to experiment with different materials to explore new 3D printing applications. With the MakerBot LABS Experimental Extruder, we are opening more advanced settings for customization, allowing both users and our development partners to print and qualify a wider range of engineering-grade materials on the METHOD platform.”
Qualified materials on the horizon
MakerBot and its partners are already working on qualifying new materials for its METHOD platform. Jabil Engineered Materials, for instance, is qualifying Jabil PETg ESD, a material with electrostatic dissipative properties that would be ideal for producing parts for sensitive electronics.
France-based KIMYA is in the process of qualifying a few materials with MakerBot: ABS CARBON, an ABS composite material with 30% chopped carbon fiber; ABS ESD, an ABS-based material with ESD properties and carbon nanotubes; and PETG CARBON, a PETG reinforced with carbon fibers.
Polymaker, for its part, is testing PolyMax PC, an engineered PC filament with good strength, heat resistance, toughness and print quality, and PolyMax PC-FR, a flame retardant PC filament (UL94V-1/1.5 mm) with applications in the automotive, railway and aerospace industries. Finally, Mitsubishi Chemical is qualifying DURABIO, a bio-based, BPA-free material that offers good transparency and high chemical and scratch resistance.
The MakerBot LABS Experimental Extruder, which was announced this week at Formnext, will become available through an open beta program next month. Through the program, MakerBot says it will give away a limited number of the extruder to existing and new METHOD customers. The extruder expected to launch commercially in Q1 2020 and is compatible with the METHOD and METHOD X 3D printers.