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3D printing products and capabilities are advancing by leaps and bounds as the technology evolves in both hardware and materials.

Clare Goldsberry

January 19, 2016

2 Min Read
3D printing news: MakerBot presents Smart Extruder+; Eastman introduces filament

MakerBot (New York, NY), a fast-growing leader in the desktop 3D-printing industry, announced the MakerBot Smart Extruder+, a new swappable extruder for fifth-generation MakerBot 3D printers. With improved components and an enhanced sensor system, the Smart Extruder is designed to provide a streamlined and reliable printing process from start to finish. Working closely with its parent company, Stratasys, MakerBot put the Smart Extruder+ through its paces with extensive product testing to verify its performance by two independent teams.

MakerBotA total of 5,800 prints were completed by two groups—one at MakerBot and one at Stratasys—to help ensure independent verification of the results. In these tests, the Smart Extruder+ performed consistently and reliably for more than 700 hours on a MakerBot Replicator desktop 3D printer, which equals 1.44 miles of MakerBot PLA filament. In fact, according to MakerBot, over 90% of test units were still printing successfully at 1,200+ hours of print time.

The smart sensors within the extruder have been enhanced for better performance and to streamline the printing process from start to completion—which can save time and money, said MakerBot's information. The Smart Extruder+ sensor system communicates with MakerBot Desktop and MakerBot Mobile to keep users informed about the status of a print wherever they go. For example, the filament detection sensor notifies users on their computer or mobile phone when filament is absent and automatically pauses a print to enable print recovery.

Desktop 3D printers also need filament. To address this industry need for a broader processing filament, Eastman Chemical Co. (Kingsport, TN) and colorFabb BV (Venlo, Netherlands) introduced an enhanced product for the 3D-printing industry at the recent CES in Las Vegas. Made with Eastman Amphora AM3300 3D polymer, the new nGen adds functional properties and print quality to the filament line, and has the ability to print within a wide processing range.

Like the colorFabb XT filament that came before it, nGen is a tough, low-odor and styrene-free offering that is suitable for most day-to-day 3D printing. The filament processes at a low temperature of 428 to 464° F (220 to 240° C) and has an elevated heat resistance of 185° F (85° C). Its ability to dissipate heat faster than other types of filaments reportedly improves performance on overhanging surfaces.

According to Eastman, Amphora AM3300 has good flow properties through the printer nozzle, even at low temperatures, and is not affected by humidity or moisture from the environment, resulting in stable printing results with less waste.

"nGen empowers a larger panel of users to create tough and useful items, as the filament is appropriate for anyone who wants to print a variety of objects without compromising quality, performance, color or strength," said Ruud Rouleaux, Managing Director, colorFabb.

Seventeen varieties are available in the initial nGen portfolio, including 16 colors and one clear filament, in 2.85- and 1.75-mm diameters.

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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