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3D Printing Enhanced by 3D Scanning

Inkbit, the company that built the first 3D printer driven by vision-based feedback control, has announced the launch of its Additive Manufacturing System with Inkbit Vista. The first-of-its-kind closed-loop feedback 3D printing ecosystem revolutionizes traditional design and manufacturing methods with a platform based on scalable inkjet deposition and 3D machine vision.

Inkbit uses a proprietary 3D scanning system to generate a topographical map of each layer after deposition. Any discrepancy from the expected geometry is corrected in subsequent layers. These data are also used to train a machine learning algorithm that enables the printer to learn the properties of each material and anticipate its behavior ensuring parts are built quickly and accurately, every time. Per-layer scanning also allows Inkbit to generate a full 3D reconstruction of each part as printed, providing a complete digital record of every print, ensuring 100% quality control on every part.

Inkbit Vista features the proprietary Vision-Controlled Jetting solution and multi-material design software, enabling manufacturers to bridge the gap between prototyping and full-scale production.

Vision-Controlled Jetting (VCJ) takes additive manufacturing to production by enabling real-time, in-process voxel-level control to meet the reliability and performance demands of volume manufacturing. This technology converges advanced computational techniques with a scalable hardware architecture and materials chemistries inaccessible to incumbents. VCJ was developed at MIT and is protected by a strong IP portfolio exclusively licensed to Inkbit.

VCJ makes it possible to develop end-use products with high-performance polymers by:

– Optimizing in real-time for accurate and reliable prints. Inkbit’s proprietary vision system allows the system to capture voxel-by-voxel 3D scan data of the print process at high-speed, modifying each layer in real-time to ensure a perfect print.

– Simplifying and automating the full workflow.  Vision-Controlled Jetting enables simple, fast, and non-hazardous post-processing of parts and reduces costs associated with lost materials, labor, and equipment. Inkbit’s technology can also integrate directly into existing manufacturing systems; with fully automated production, manufacturers can significantly reduce cost-per-part and more efficiently scale production.

– Combining resin 3D printing precision with production-grade materials to move beyond prototyping. Until now, the most precise 3D printing technologies have all required the use of certain undesirable materials which make parts brittle and weak over time. Inkbit’s technology allows these materials, called acrylates and methacrylates, to be completely removed, opening up a new field of high quality and long-lasting parts.

“We are thrilled to launch Inkbit’s Additive Manufacturing System and offer a unique, rapidly deployable 3D printing solution to companies looking to adopt digital manufacturing,” said Davide Marini, co-founder and CEO at Inkbit. “Today, engineers are often using 3D printing technology to make prototypes, but limitations in materials and high costs make end-use product production difficult. At Inkbit, we’re on a mission to disrupt that notion and create a technology that provides fast printing capabilities with unmatched design freedom and reliability for even the most demanding applications and environments.”

Inkbit was spun out of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT in 2017 and has since raised $15 million in equity investments from world-class investors such as Stratasys, DSM Venturing, Ocado, 3M, IMA and Saint-Gobain. Inkbit also received significant funding from DARPA and NSF for the development of its core technology and applications in the medical field.

Some of Inkbit’s investors are not only financially linked to the company but are also looking to implement Inkbit’s technology into their own businesses. According to Tim Steiner, Ocado Group CEO & Executive Director, “… we’re working very closely with Inkbit on some of our own future developments where they’re enabling some really fantastic transformational advances.”

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