MakerBot has introduced its newest 3D printer, focused on manufacturing applications.
The new Method X is a follow-up with more features to the initial Method,which was introduced at the end of 2018. The same size and build volume as its predecessor, Method X raises temperatures so it can work with fully manufacturing-grade ABS – rather than the often different formulations used in other ABS 3D printing filament. The chamber now can reach upto 100°C, from Method’s 60°C, enabling work with the higher-temperature formulation. This increases its ability to produce a large number of high temperature products.
The system also leverages more from Stratasys, including its soluble SR-30 support material. The improved temperature and performance place Method X in the manufacturing arena, as it is designed to create functional prototypes, jigs and fixtures, and end-use parts in low-volume manufacturing setups.
“When we initially launched Method, we broke the price-to-performance barrier by delivering a 3D printer that was designed to bridge the technology gap between industrial and desktop 3D printers. This made industrial 3D printing accessible to professionals for the first time. Since then, we have shipped hundreds of printers and received positive feedback from a number of our customers on the precision and reliability of the machine,” said Nadav Goshen, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), MakerBot. “With Method X, we are taking a step further to revolutionize manufacturing.
Method X was created for engineers who need true ABS for production-ready parts that are dimensionally-accurate with no geometric restrictions.
Method X delivers industrial-level 3D printing without compromising on ABS material properties and automation in a new price category.”
Less than 12 months after the launch of the METHOD, desktop 3D printer provider MakerBot has launched the METHOD X. A new addition to the METHOD line of machines, the METHOD X has been made to fill a niche in the market between desktop and industrial systems, identified by MakerBot as “Performance” 3D printers.
MakerBot heads for professional market
In line with the Stratasys objective, Makerbot decided to focus more on professional 3D printing m than on the consumer sector from its inception. Speaking to Goshen at the time, he told me about the launch of the Method line in the light of the Makerboat market and hopes to “rebuild its core competency”.
How does it compare the METHOD?
The main difference in the METHOD X when compared to the original METHOD is that it is capable supporting more challenging materials. It has a 100°C Circulating Heated Chamber, making it possible process a METHOD X ABS. In internal testing, METHOD X ABS has shown to be up to 26% more rigid, and up to 12% stronger than modified ABS formulations used by competitors. The material also reportedly withstands 15°C higher temperatures than the next leading brand ABS. As the METHOD is a line of dual extrusion 3D printers, METHOD X ABS can be 3D printed simultaneously with SR-30, a soluble support material from Stratasys. In addition, like the original METHOD, the system is also capable of 3D printing objects in MakerBot PLA, MakerBot TOUGH, MakerBot PETG, and MakerBot PVA.
For the majority of specifications, the METHOD and the METHOD X are the same, as Goshen states, “METHOD and METHOD X are the two variants within the METHOD family of 3D printers. Both printers offer measurable and repeatable dimensional accuracy (±0.2mm / ±0.007in) that is on par with entry-level industrial 3D printers.”
With base values the same, it then begs the question – why did MakerBot release the METHOD X as a new system? And not simply make it an upgrade for the original METHOD which has already shipped to hundreds of customers? According to Goshen, this has always been the plan. “We planned METHOD X in parallel to provide a more industrial-grade machine to manufacturing professionals,” he said, adding that “METHOD X took longer to develop due to the higher chamber temperature and additional mechanical and electrical requirements.”
Further, Goshen says, “We believe that both METHOD and METHOD X have their place in the market.” Adding a Circulating Heated Chamber has, of course, raised the cost of the machine. By releasing the original METHOD first, without this added cost, mean that the industrial features boasted by this line of machines could be offered within a lower price bracket.
“The different features and price points allow us to cater to different customers,” Goshen says by way of explanation.
“METHOD has a lower entry-price to get started with the METHOD platform for design engineers who are mainly interested in concept and fit prototypes that don’t need ABS.” The METHOD X, on the other hand “provides true production-grade ABS for manufacturing and design engineers who create end use parts, manufacturing tools, and functional prototypes.”
Office 3D printing manufacturers are trying to make the material shorter by compressing it with a thermal and mechanical properties that make it easier to print with modern ABS composites using a hot plate.
The precision of the ABS MakerBot has a thermal deformation temperature of up to 15 ° C over that of competing ABS, which has been modified to make printable material without a heating chamber. With METHOD X, heating the chamber to 100 ° C significantly reduces the deformation of the workpiece, increasing its durability and surface area.
The METHOD X was launched early this week following Q2 2019 financial results from Stratasys within which the company spoke favourably of the success of the METHOD. This printer will start shipping at the end of August, and is available at the previous Method price point of $6499, while the original Method has been reduced to $4999.