Why 3D print with plastic pellets?

Plastic is literally everywhere.  Have a look around - whether you are at your desk, in the kitchen, or in the bathroom, there are likely many plastic products in sight.  If you pick one of them up, you will notice that the object is seemingly one cohesive piece of material, and for all intents and purposes, it is.  It has gone through many steps to get to you in this form; however, at one point in time, it was many small pieces called pellets (or resin, in industry).

Pellets are the most basic and least processed form of plastic, and they are what our printer uses to make anything you desire.

So, why bother making a printer that uses these, you ask?  Well, here are a few reasons:

Availability and Material Selection
Since plastic parts are so common in today’s world, pelletized materials are readily available in hundreds of materials, grades, shapes, and sizes - this allows Sculptify to rapidly grow our material library.  This is accomplished through obtaining samples, testing/optimizing print settings, passing the knowledge and materials on to the customer, then using your feedback to improve and expand.  With this growing selection, we can offer a wide range of material properties, ranging from hard and rigid, to soft and flexible.  This allows our desktop 3D printer to serve vastly more functions to the everyday user, as compared to its filament-based brethren.

Controllable Quality and Performance
Using pellets also gives us the ability to closely control the quality of our print material.  All of our materials come with the proper manufacturer certifications, which let you know that you are getting exactly what you pay for (no lead, asbestos, fillers, etc).  Additionally, all of our materials are sourced from companies with proven track records of high quality, service, and ethics. Our new printing method also circumvents the well known issue of filament manufacturing quality - this eliminates the  need to worry about diametral tolerances and associated extrusion rate issues.  Since our technology allows for improved consistency in material flow, higher precision pieces can be made.

Ease of Use
Our printer is as easy to load as a coffee maker.  Simply grab your bag of material, open the printer lid,  and scoop in the material of your choice.  After a few short minutes, the system will be heated and ready to print - that’s it.

Cost of Ownership
Since we use material that is essentially in its most raw form, several expensive manufacturing processes can be sidestepped.  Minimal processing means two things - higher quality materials, and reduced cost.  As you know, the cost of filament adds up fast, particularly for ‘exotic’ materials, and 3D printing can become a very expensive interest.  Our system helps to reduce that hole in your wallet.

When we envision the printer of the future, we see a device that is not only easy to use, but also incredibly versatile.  With a wider range of quality materials at a reduced cost, we think that our first printer is a large step in the right direction.

So, what’s next?
We are currently testing the viability of many different materials that we would like to see available to everyone.  In a way however, it’s up to you, the community.  We would love to hear your input in terms of new materials and material properties.  Sculptify works closely with US-based suppliers and distributors, so if there is shared community desire for a particular material, we will do the R&D, certify it to work in our printer, then make it available as quickly as possible.

Thanks for reading.




Posted by Slade Simpson on May 10, 2014.