TTP's Vista print head
Cambridge-headquartered technology and product development company TTP has unveiled its ground-breaking Vista 3D printing head.
Vista 3D is the first print head technology that can print with more than one material, a capability the Vista 3D team at TTP believes could revolutionise the industry in the next decade. Unlike existing 3D printing technologies, Vista 3D print heads can dispense or print ceramics, chemicals and even biological cells, in addition to traditional materials such as metals and plastics.
This opens up the possibility of printing products as diverse as toys, medical devices, aircraft parts and even diagnostic test strips at the touch of a button and the breakthrough could potentially change the face of manufacturing.
The technology, the team explained, will give organisations the ability to print off stock and supplies of complex products that comprise of several materials as and when they need, making the process of ordering goods from the Far East or other manufacturing facilities a thing of the past, bringing manufacturing home, streamlining the supply chain and achieving improved efficiency.
By discovering a breakthrough method in droplet ejection, TTP's Vista 3D can print large (50 m+) particles and more viscous and volatile fluids. The open printhead architecture and nozzle motion to eject fluids makes it possible to digitally print these commercially attractive materials. Such features also allow Vista to exhibit a much better reliability than has been possible for inkjet technology previously.
Up until now, 3D printing has been restricted to single material types or families of the same material, such as UV cured acrylic basic resins, waxes, plaster materials and metal powders, all of which have to be used separately.
Vista 3D print heads can print both organic and inorganic materials including ceramics, biological cells, enzymes, metals, plastics and a broad range of other chemical materials.
TTP's Dr David Smith commented: "3D printing has already been hailed as the future of manufacturing and many household-name companies are already making use of the technology to cut costs, reduce inventory and improve development and manufacturing flexibility, albeit limited to single material components.
"Our latest breakthrough will speed this process up and change the face of manufacturing over the next 10 years. The manufacturing process has remained the same for centuries with one company making products in a factory then shipping them out when orders are made. Multi-material 3D printing will change this. No longer will organisations need to bulk buy or wait for items to be restocked, companies can simply print off the products they need, when they need them."
He continued: "It will become possible to go to your local garage and have a new exhaust printed out there and then for you or to go to the hospital and get a custom implant created for you at the touch of a button.
"From a medical perspective, the opportunities are endless from printing out a diagnostic test to ultimately printing off an organ that can be used in the human body."
This innovative and patented technology by TTP is already being commercialised in 2D printing for a variety of more conventional printing applications through collaboration with a number of world leading businesses.