Printing pioneers

For Photocentric, 2019 is shaping up to be a momentous year in which it introduces a number of disruptive, game changing LCD 3D printers, resins and chemicals to various markets

The last 18 months have been a particularly productive period of time for international 3D printer manufacturers Photocentric. “We have been incredibly busy in recent times, during which we have developed a number of new printers,” begins Managing Director,

Paul Holt. “We have also taken on more engineers and chemists and have started to work closely with BASF – one of the largest chemical producers in the world – to offer functional resins.

“In the meantime, we have exhibited at the Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) conference and the International Dental Show (IDS) event for the first time, as well as at RAPID for the third time. It was at the latter that we were able to showcase our new Magna printer for the first time and having it alongside our prototype LC Maximus large format printer meant we drew a strong degree of attention from manufacturers that need large parts.”

For Paul and the rest of the Photocentric team, the first half of 2019 has been very much about laying the groundwork for the launch of its new printers, starting with the LC Magna, for which it already has a full order book. “We believe LC Magna to be a disruptive, industry-changing machine,” Paul enthuses. “The largest LCD screen-based printer currently available on the 3D market, it is truly one-of-a-kind. Driven by our vision of enabling custom mass manufacture, LC Magna is a cost-effective, large format printer capable of large component prototyping and mass production at an affordable and competitively positioned price.

“Its combination of large build volume and accurate printing make it the right tool for mass manufacture. The build volume is 510mm x 280mm x 350mm and it operates with a 4K Ultra HD screen, giving it unparalleled precision and detail when creating high resolution mass manufactured parts. LC Magna’s large build volume capabilities and maximised build plate capacity allows users to increase throughput, speed up assembly production and reduce lead times. Therefore, a glasses manufacturer – for instance – can now produce 36 optical frames within 12 hours, while a dental technician can print 46 flat arches in just over two hours. Magna is our first release of our next generation of LCD printers, we will be releasing our next additions later in 2019.”

Another recent highlight for the company was its success at the 3D Printing Industry Awards in early June 2019, when it was presented with the ‘Best Desktop Printer of the Year’ prize as a mark of recognition for its previous LCD printer innovation – the Liquid Crystal (LC) Precision 1.5. “This was a credible sign of the hard work and dedication that everyone at Photocentric pours into our unique method of LCD printing,” Paul states. “It is exciting as it gives a glimpse into what the future may hold for us as we start to release our next generation of LCD 3D printers that will revolutionise the additive manufacturing industry.”

As Paul goes on to detail, there is a vast array of wonderful examples of LCD technology being used in proactive industries today. “An example of this would be Quimbaya Orfebreria, an Argentinian goldsmith,” he says. “In the face of some difficulties arising from product demand outweighing supply, it made the decision to replace traditional methods with 3D printing by making use of the LC Precision 1.5. As a result of this, the company’s manufacturing time was reduced by 80 per cent, production was increased by 400 per cent, and it is now able to produce more intricate and complex designs for its clients.”

As a chemical manufacturer, as well as an LCD printer manufacturer, Photocentric has a host of exciting new products in the pipeline for release later in 2019. These include, a high temperature resin, which has been tested to 300 degrees centigrade, as well as a new grade of stronger, more flexible resin. Furthermore, having witnessed first-hand the demand for LCD 3D printing at the 2019 International Dental Show, the company will be releasing its first targeted dental printer – Liquid Crystal Dental – this year.

“Quarter four of 2019, meanwhile, will see the release of something huge, that being the Liquid Crystal (LC) Max,” Paul reveals. “This will be the largest LCD printer to ever become available! It uses a 4K 40” LCD screen and offers a massive build volume of 700mm x 893mm x 510mm, and for prints like large automotive parts, furniture, sporting goods or even full scale body mannequins, LC Max is the printer of choice for extra-large requirements.”

Earlier, Paul made mention of Photocentric working closely with BASF, and partnerships such as this will form a key part of the future growth aims of the company. “In the case of BASF, our partnership focuses on establishing and expanding the 3D printing business with materials, system solutions, components and services,” he adds. “This cooperation offers solutions to industries that enable processes to be made using additive manufacturing to replace traditional tooling methods, and creates flexibility of geometry, absence of tooling costs and custom design.

“At the same time, we are developing our partner network to springboard into the US and Asian markets, and are working ever-more closely with large industrial OEMs and with our distribution partners around the world to offer solutions to real applications. The key to growth will be proving that we have the printers and materials that the market needs. There are many additive manufacturing technologies available now, but few that offer affordable, large scale printing, and the opportunity to work closely with the manufacturer to develop the right materials for specific applications, which Photocentric can do!”

Photocentric
Products: 3D printers, resins and chemicals