PrintFoam develops a new foam printing system
PrintFoam is a spin-off from MIT in 2016 with the goal of creating lighter and cheaper 3D printed parts by leveraging the power of foam materials – meeting the demand for lightweight structured materials in an increasingly 3D printed world.
PrintFoam’s proprietary resins have been around for a few years now and have demonstrated noticeable performance gains in many applications where you would expect to find traditional foam solutions. Seeing these developments, other 3D printing companies have started to take notice. But, to date, existing printing platforms have been too slow to fully utilize this unique resin technology.
PrintFoam brings this technology to new markets with the development of the first printing equipment specialized in the printing of foams on an industrial scale.
According to Mathew Pearlson, director and co-founder of Print Foam, the “ah-ha moment” came when he realized the need to ignore traditional vat-based printing techniques popularized by companies such as FormLabs, Carbon and Desktop Metal. “Using a combination of new optical patterning techniques, as well as moving away from a standard vat printing process, we realized it would be possible to produce 3D printed foam sheets the size of plywood in minutes.”
By accelerating production time from hours to minutes, PrintFoam has been able to enter a plethora of new markets previously unreachable with large, architectural-sized panels.
“It’s truly remarkable, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Dr. David Walker, co-founder of Azul 3D and executive chairman of the Photopolymer Additive Manufacturing Alliance. “Everyone in the field is trying to mimic the behavior of traditional foams using plastic lattices produced by computer models. These models keep telling engineers to generate lattices with smaller struts and smaller unit cells… In essence, the computer is yelling at the engineer to stop what he is doing and use a foam for the application.. As a community, we didn’t listen and acted on it.
Designed from the ground up to meet the needs of its customers, the new system is expected to disrupt manufacturing with scale and speed that matter. According to Pearlson, “The new PrintFoam system expands our ability to provide complete solutions to our customers who are looking for ways to print many materials quickly without sacrificing resolution.”
The technology is currently in limited beta access, but the company is actively accepting a limited number of new partnerships. PrintFoam is already working with customers to explore new approaches to noise mitigation, carbon sequestration, concrete construction, and more.