3D printers capable of churning out multi-material, multi-colored objects in a single print run can take up quite a bit of office space, and can also cost a small fortune. Take the Objet500 Connex3 from Stratasys, for example. It's about the size of a chest freezer and you could buy three second gen Panamera's for the same price. French startup Pollen has introduced a capable-looking, high resolution machine for the professional market called Pam, which can handle up to four different materials and comes in at a fraction of the cost of the Stratasys printer.
The result of 5 years of research and development, the Pam 3D printer can accommodate up to four materials (such as PLA, silicone, composites and wood-filled PLA) at the same time, fed into the fixed extruder from cylindrical containers placed in the top of the machine. It boasts four different nozzle sizes, a high print resolution of up to 40 microns and prints at up to 400 mm per second.
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Pellets are used as the raw print material rather than filament and the Pam can even mix materials during prints. You might, for example, print something like a shoe, with a rigid plastic base and a flexible silicone top. Other object creation examples from the company include sunglasses frames , watch straps, vases and surfboard fins. A maximum temperature of 350° C (662° F) makes it capable of using natural fibers, minerals or metal as raw materials.
The 71.2 cm diameter, 81.5 cm high (28 x 32 in) Pam is wrapped in attractive wooden housing, and has a very respectable 30 cm diameter by 30 cm high (12 x 12 in) build volume on a suspended aluminum platform. Proprietary software called Honeyprint supports common model file formats, including STL and OBJ, and functions within a web browser, so it can be fired up on a computer or tablet to remotely print objects over Wi-Fi (or Ethernet).
On show at Viva Technology Paris this week, the Pollen Pam is available to order for a special introductory price of €8,000 (about US$9,000), with the cost expected to rise sharply when early adopter orders have been fulfilled. Shipping is estimated to start in March next year.
Pollen has also put together a training package, where users are walked through all aspects of the technology in two half day sessions. You can see a brief overview in the video below.