NXT Factory announced that it successfully completed the development phase of a groundbreaking beam delivery system, that converts a single laser into several million microlasers, without power degradation. The company is leveraging this technology into its first industrial-grade high-speed additive manufacturing systems with a clear mandate to replace traditional injection molding of plastic parts at scale. NXT Factory believes that products currently manufactured using injection molding can potentially be produced better, faster and cheaper with NXT Factory's proprietary Quantum Laser Sintering (QLS™) technology.
Nearly two years ago, founders Jakub Graczyk and Tomasz Cieszyński teamed up with Avi Reichental, former President and CEO of 3D Systems, to establish NXT Factory as part of Avi's XponentialWorks Collider, headquartered in Ventura, California.
"Initially our idea was to just develop a low-cost Laser Sintering 3D printer, but after many months of deliberations, we concluded that the world doesn't need another cheap LS 3D printer. Instead, inspired by HP's success with high-speed Jet-Fusion, we decided to go after a factory-floor ready, high-speed thermoplastic 3D printer and create a new category," said Jakub (Kuba) Graczyk, Founder and CEO NXT Factory.
"We challenged ourselves with the question: can you really take the single laser beam and shape it into an entire cross-section of a layer? Or simply put: can you sinter an entire XY slice at once really fast?" said Avi Reichental, NXT Factory's Founder and Executive Chairman. For the ensuing periods, we conducted a tireless bench research and carried out dozens of experiments. Today, after 18 months of bootstrapped research and development, we concluded, that not only it is achievable – but our technology has the potential to de-bottleneck energy delivery in the LS 3D printing process with truly open-ended potential to scale into mass production."
"We have built an actual prototype and it gives us confidence, that it's not just a theoretical engineering exercise, we have actually proved it, again and again," said Tomasz Cieszyński, Founder and CTO.
Unlike traditional laser sintering additive systems that are single beam powered, NXT Factory is the only one that is covering the entire build area at once. It truly is a quantum leap in digital manufacturing so the company appropriately named it, Quantum Laser Sintering (QLS™).
At the core of the QLS™ technology, is the proprietary light engine with the ability to multiplex a single laser beam into several million microlasers without power degradation, making it possible to scale without compromising on print speed, accuracy and power delivery. A single beam of a 1070nm laser source travels through beam shaping optics, where it is prepared to enter a projector. High-power projector multiplexes the single beam, reshaping it while harnessing all available power into a full-imaged slice of the entire cross-section of a print layer at once in under 1 second per layer.
While today's laser sintering systems are recognized for their production-grade thermoplastic properties, they are very slow. In fact, energy delivery to the material is the bottleneck of this class of systems. Now, thanks to NXT Factory's revolutionary light engine, the exposure time has been reduced and the amount of energy delivered to material each second exponentially increased. In short, NXT Factory believes that its Quantum Laser Sintering™ technology will be the one to transition additive manufacturing from the lab to the production floor at required manufacturing scale and quality.
NXT Factory is pulling all the stops to ensure that its very first 3D printer, the NXF1, is both cognitive and connected to harness fundamental industry 4.0 capabilities such as big data, cloud computing and sensoring. The company is using proprietary deep-learning algorithms to make real-time predictive and prescriptive choices that are designed to optimize the build performance and deliver the best available parameters. It's like cognitive mold-flow for injection molding but designed specifically for real-time, free-form additive manufacturing.