The Australian startup company Aoniq is preparing to launch its 888 fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printer, capable of producing prototypes and end-use parts in virtually any plastic and aimed at the consumer and small business markets.
The company realized a significant opportunity in the 3D printing market, specifically that there are cheap consumer printers not suitable for commercial use or expensive industrial printers only affordable for large corporates but nothing in between. Its intention therefore has been to offer a solution that fills the gap, highlighting its maxim that ‘3D printing should be available to everyone’.
The 888 is industrial in its construction, having been modelled on CNC and laser cutting machinery. Aoniq has sought to develop a printer that, like these traditional machines, can be expected to last for many years and rarely break down. The 888 has been built around a durable framework comprising a steel chassis, four linear guide rails and two large ball screws.
It is capable of producing high-quality parts that require little or no post processing. Furthermore, an X, Y resolution of 90 μm (less than the width of a human hair) means that an exceptional level of detail is achieved.
The 888 is said to incorporate a ‘first of its kind’ print bed that Aoniq also intends to sell as a standalone product to 3D printer manufacturers. The base of the bed is sprayed in a paint-like substance that a number of electrodes are run through. This delivers heat evenly and stably across the surface, resulting in the complete base of the part sticking to the bed.
An additional surface is laid on top of the electrodes that ensures parts adhere strongly to the bed during heating as well as release easily from it on cooling. This means there is no need for users to apply a bonding agent and they are saved from having to prize their finished parts off the bed; they can simply lift them off.
The 888 prints parts in any plastic except for polyether ether ketone (PEEK) and polyetherimide (PEI), although these are currently under development and expected to be made printable in the coming months.
Furthermore, Aoniq expects to be the first company to bring a printable PVC filament to market. PVC is the third most used plastic globally owing to the magnitude of real-world applications it can be used in. It offers numerous advantages over polylactic acid (PLA), currently the most popular 3D printing plastic, being lighter, stronger, fire resistant, UV stable, suitable for outdoor use and more environmentally sustainable. Indeed, the company has reported that parts printed in PVC have thus far proved of a superior quality and finish to parts printed in PLA.
The company has also established a 24/7 tech-support center at its offices in Melbourne, Australia. The 888 features an interactive touchscreen that allows users and the tech-support team to communicate directly. Furthermore, an on-board camera enables the tech-support team to more easily diagnose problems and advise accordingly.
Michael Slavica, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Aoniq, said: ‘With this 3D printer we’re giving the average person the ability to not only take on the large corporations but beat them. It’s time for most people already using 3D printers to decide if they want to continue tinkering on the sidelines or actually join the latest industrial revolution.’
The 888 is expected to launch on August 1, 2017, but is available to pre-order at prices starting from 10,499 AUD.