Enough of the fancy talk from Las Vegas, the real news was coming from frosty Frankfurt where new rapid manufacturing contender Huntsman Advanced Materials unveiled the Digitalis.
The heavy piece of kit won the Euromold Gold Award 2008, a fact attributed to the team work behind the project as we were constantly reminded throughout the press briefing. What this level of grafting by the boys in Basel has achieved apart from a rather unglamorous statuette is some impressive new technology; primarily the MicroLightSwitch UV exposure system.
This new technology focusses 40,000 points of UV light from the micro-mechanical shutter system over radiation-curable resin, giving a broader spectrum of applications for rapid manufacturing, and giving benchmarks of over twice the speed on other RM/RP machines (the clearest explanation being that 40,000 points of light are better than one laser).
Huntsman already produce over 9,000 products around the world and believe there’s still space to squeeze into the RP/RM market with a machine of their own, possibly a risky strategy considering the downturn of finances recently. Five years in the making might be the reason why they’ve chosen the midst of a recession for the release, and it’s our guess that it is why it’s here with only one resin as a standalone model. Engineers at the launch were quick to add that other resins, including colour, would be a definite addition, as would another machine launch next year.
As for the competition, a few faces could be seen amongst the crowd at the launch, but everyone else did their best to ignore the machine’s presence – with some blatantly unfazed by the news. Regardless of their views, it will be interesting to see where the uptake will come from.