3D printing has established time after time over the past few years that it is the chief prototyping technology. However, we are still waiting for the next commercial step. Primarily, 3D printing is about producing completely new and distinctive objects and thus, ever since the very start, large scale (but customizable) manufacturing has been the core of expectations for 3D printing. However, material, speed and size limitations have turned out to be unbeatable obstacles sadly, and made a large contribution towards the end of the so-called 3D printing hype. Prototyping might stay the highest possible commercial level for a long time and it would appear as if 3D printer might just not make it.
But then again, it does not need to be like that. The enigmatic Israeli startup “Fleximatter” has come out to be a new challenger. Until now, they have limited themselves to a semi-hidden social media presence. But they are working on a rare 3D printing technology that could take FDM principles all the way to the manufacturing realm. Having a massive build platform of 800 x 800 x 900mm, the Fleximatter 3D printer 3D prints objects in blended color layers at incredible speeds. 3D printed objects like stools, vases and wine racks are also being sold commercially in Israel by them.
This is mostly a Work-in-Progress affair though. Allegedly, they are still making an effort (or have just succeeded) at patenting their high-speed 3D printing technique. This technique is capable of offering “incredibly fast extrusion” with a 0.1mm accuracy. Featuring a 7kg of plastic, a 3D printed chair was created in merely six hours. The 3D printer is compatible with a wide range of flexible and rigid, functional materials, and enables the fantastic color-blending features as shown in the objects above and below. Besides, stools that can carry a person’s weight appears to be not a problem at all.
This has become a very tempting technology already with the help of these two features alone. End-product 3D printing suffers from the very long production times and very limited material options. The costs are also pushed down by high production speeds, thereby making it easier to compete with conventional manufacturing options.
These achievements support the company’s vision of changing the way products are made, “by creating a 3D printing system that is ready for production of real products and not just models.” It has been illuminated by the developers that it is their mission to bring 3D printing’s level of flexibility to every designer and design firm and enable true on-demand production, complete with endless customization options at a reasonable price. They stated, “Every Fleximatter product is manufactured on-demand, and with endless options of customizations, and perfect fit to the specific experience requirements of our customer.”
Nonetheless, little else is known about this extrusion-based 3D printing technology presently. It seems that it has been formed with financial backing received from the Israeli government back in 2015. The startup is working on a two-pronged commercial effort; to offer 3D printing services and to commercially sell 3D printers. For the latter, a webpage is already online (with prices starting at $30,000) while an online Israeli shop featuring vases and more can be found at market.marmelada.
Hypothetically, Fleximatter is a ground-breaking concept and hence is not entirely ready for prime time yet. Despite that, it definitely establishes that the 3D printing world hasn’t reached its zenith so far. There are still several ways to overcome existing technological barriers and bring 3D printing to the mainstream, and Fleximatter could do exactly that.