The Model One 3D printer from Impossible Objects has been named the winner of the RAPID + TCT Innovation Award for 2017. Exhibiting its groundbreaking Model One printer and the technology behind it for the first time, Impossible Objects beat out dozens of other 3D printing companies and experts who showcased their products and ideas at RAPID. The Model One printer will enable companies to create stronger parts, using a wider range of high-quality materials, faster and at scale.
The RAPID + TCT Innovation Award recognizes the new product or service exhibited that will have the most impact on the industry. A committee made of up members of SME, a society of manufacturing professionals, and independent industry experts served as judges and determined Impossible Objects’ technology to be the most innovative.
“The judges awarded the 2017 RAPID Exhibitor Innovation Award to Impossible Objects CBAM technology as its novel layer-wise composites processing technology offered an innovative solution that could provide significant value to its customers and to the industry as a whole,” says Chris Williams, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech, who served as one of the judges. “The award was well-deserved given CBAM’s potential for high-speed production of high-strength composite parts with complex geometries.”
Impossible Objects’ composite-based additive manufacturing method (CBAM) is revolutionary. It enables companies to use a range of composite materials, including carbon fiber, Kevlar, fiberglass together with PEEK and other high performance polymers, which allows for building the strongest, lightweight parts at scale. The Model One is fast by 3D printing standards, yet represents just the beginning of the speeds that the CBAM technology can reach. By leveraging high-speed 2D printing technologies that already exist, CBAM scales to speeds that will print hundreds and then thousands of cubic inches per hour. It is the first 3D printing project that can compete with injection molding and the same part can be used for the prototype and production.
“It’s an honor to win this award and to be judged against some of the major companies in our field,” says Bob Swartz, founder and Chairman of Impossible Objects. “We’re already seeing tremendous demand from the world’s largest companies who are looking to additive manufacturing for better material properties, a wider selection of materials and the ability to print at scale.”
Impossible Objects also announced the rollout of its pilot program with the Model One printer to select Fortune 500 customers, including Jabil Circuits, at RAPID. The Company expects the Model One to become generally available to the public by early 2018.
"It is good to see Impossible Objects commercialize its machine," said Terry Wohlers of Wohlers Associates, an independent consulting firm focused on additive manufacturing (AM). "The product contributes favorably to the availability of options for composite parts made by AM."
Impossible Objects’ CBAM process uses conventional thermal inkjet heads to "print" designs on sheets of composites, like carbon fiber, Kevlar or fiberglass. Each sheet is then flooded with a polymer powder, such as nylon or PEEK, causing the powder to stick where inkjet fluid has been deposited on the sheets. Excess powder is vacuumed off and the sheets are stacked, compressed and heated. The polymer powder melts and bonds the sheets together. The uncoated fibers are then mechanically or chemically removed, and what remains is an exceptionally durable, lightweight object that was previously impossible to make so quickly and inexpensively.