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Managing Editor  | May 2017

Orchid 3-D printer combines additive manufacturing and injection molding

The new Collider Orchid 3-D printer, which is soon to be in beta testing, combines new additive manufacturing techniques with materials common to standard injection molding processes but without the need for expensive and time-consuming tooling.



The new Collider Orchid 3-D printer in action creating a plastic mold.


The printer, according to an article on 3Ders.org, prints the shell of an object before filling it with a mixture of metal powders and liquid binder. The article continued, “According to Collider, the new Orchid 3D printer is able to produce smooth, surface-perfect objects in materials like silver, stainless steel, silicone, and copper.


“Like a standard 3D printer, the Orchid takes its cues from a digital 3D model. But forget slicing, density, and all that business, because the Orchid only 3D prints the outer shell of an object. This shell, printed in a dissolvable material, acts as a mold for the real material.”


The second part of the printing process uses a cartridge filled with the metal powders and liquid binder and pours it into the mold. Collider has produced several usable materials, including two rubber mixes and two polyurethane mixes.


After the injection molding process is completed, the 3-D printed outer shell dissolves in a warm bath. The metal part is put into a furnace for sintering and to rid itself of the remaining resins.


As an article on MfgNewsWeb.com noted, this Programmable Tooling manufacturing process works best with low volume production and as a “drop-in replacement for plastic casting.”


The article said, “Programmable Tooling is a hybrid process that first prints a hollow shell in photopolymer using continuous DLP lithography. Then, inside the same Collider machine, the shell is injected with traditional plastic casting materials.”


“We’re an automated system that looks like a 3D printer but at the end of the day we are an injection-molding system. So this is a more familiar thing in terms of the design guidelines that manufacturers are already working with,” said Collider CEO Graham Bredemeyer in a recent TechCrunch article.


The TechCrunch article continued, “Collider promises the ability to handle multiple materials with one machine, structural integrity on par with injection molding processes, and a smooth aesthetic. Based in Chattanooga, Tennessee with five full-time employees, Collider aims to lease its printers to service bureaus (like Shapeways) and small regional manufacturers, labs or rapid prototype shops.”


Watch the Orchid printer in action in the video below:

Kamweld Intro

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