Fab-fabulous machines of fabbing people. The Fabbster was developed and manufactured by German company Sintermask, the very ones who develop a unique sinter and powder deposition technology that utilizes principles similar to a silkscreen press. What sets Fabbster apart isn’t the fact that it’s high-speed (400 mm/s) or has a incredibly high-temperature extruder (300C or 450C – sources differ), but rather its experimental threaded square plastic feedstock. Yes, they’ve fit a square peg into a round hole. Check this out.
What in blazes is going here? Fabbaloo reported on seeing this type of extruder in action at Rapid2012. Check it.
“The print material for the Fabbster is not standard, coiled plastic filament. It’s sticks. These injection molded material sticks have a very precise shape. They’re square, have teeth along the edges and have a hook at the end. What’s the hook for? You can link them together to produce a long stream of input plastic for the printer. Get this: you can link different colors together to produce weirdly multicoloured prints.”
Finally! I’ve been wondering myself when someone would drop the round filament (Though, I’m sure someone has – inform me if so.) The advantage? Precise deposition and retraction. Added benefit? Mixing colours, faster printing and better resolution. Combined with exotic materials like nylon or PEEK that need a hotter extruder like Fabbster’s, one could have a very Fabulous, Fantastic and Functional 3D printer.
Now, this brings up an interesting topic on non-standard filament types. You won’t be using this filament on other machines (unless you create an adapter of sorts.) The upside for 3D printing companies is that it becomes easy to develop proprietary filament that suits their printer, and only their printer, locking the consumer into their product. However, putting consumer 3D printing on the same level as the crummy 2D printers and their ‘blades and razor’ business model, would be an unfortunate development. But maybe I shouldn’t fear Fabbster as much. They have a picture of an alien running about with a Soviet-style flag on their “Revolution” webpage. What’s the worst that could happen with something like that?