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.
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.