For part 2 of MISUMI‘s MechLab Blog Design Spotlight series, we interviewed MAKEiT, Inc‘s CEO, Salomo Murtonen who designed their printers from the ground up. Check out the excellent insight he gave on the present and future of 3D printing. Don’t forget to check out the various linear motion components that can be used in 3D printers on our website!
Q1: What was the biggest design breakthrough in 3D printing since its conception?
Additive manufacturing has been around over 20 years. Personally, I believe the biggest breakthrough was the release of open source 3D printer firmwares, which eventually brought significant disruption, advancement and expansion to additive manufacturing. A wide range of 3D printing applications have sprouted ever since. Who would image skin can be printed? How about making a house with a printer? It’s all happening.
Q2: What is your biggest design inspiration?
MAKEiT, Inc. has been striving for simplicity in design, while rich in feature, solving practical problems. One of the biggest design inspirations was from the simple and low cost design of standard wall-mount shelf tracks. To tackle the problem that most 3D printers take up a lot of space, we changed the original design to mount printer directly to the wall tracks without shelf panels, just simple and cost effective. Unlike other printers placed on manufactured shelves, MAKEiTⓇ Pro printers can be stacked vertically and horizontally on an existing wall with a pair of wall tracks. We take advantage of this feature ourselves as we have limited floor space in our facility. Instead of taking up floor space, our 3D printing production line exists on two walls. In a small area of just 6×6 square feet, we stack 18 MAKEiTⓇ Pro printers that are able to make printed parts day and night. The flexibility of wall-mount system allows printer user to place multiple printers on any wall in a small area, saving floor space.
Within an existing facility, businesses can scale up their 3D printing production easily by stacking more printers on empty wall. There is no need to displace current resources or incur extra real estate costs by renting more room. The low setup cost of MAKEiTⓇ wall mount production line is remarkable compared with regular printer placement using manufactured shelves.
Q3: What advances in 3D printing would you like to see or even pioneer?
We’d like to see, or maybe explore functional multi-material printing. For an example, there are many different components on a piece of car door. What if they are all printed at once using various materials with pick and place assembly technique?
Q4: What advice would you give to future engineers not only in the 3D industry but in any field
3D printing is a fast growing industry, it is changing our future and how things are made. Traditionally there is gap between design and manufacturing. These two processes are completed with different tools and by different people. Nowadays, 3D printing enables rapid prototyping and production. Specifically, prototyping and low volume production can be done on the same 3D printer by the same operator. I think more people in the STEM fields should learn about the design process suitable for 3D printing. 3D printing is here to stay and will disrupt more industries. There is going to be large demand from different industries for 3D printing professionals. Anyone who is interested in 3D printing should get involved as much as possible while in school. You could create your own specialty in 3D printing.
Q5: What makes 3D printing an important industry?
3D printing has already solidified its place as an irreplaceable rapid prototyping tool. It has significantly decreased the time needed for concept design and the production process. 3D printing is able to handle complicated parts geometries that wouldn’t be possible via traditional manufacturing. Highly customized products can be manufactured cost effectively with 3D printing. In addition, 3D printing has found a place in making custom production tools. Molds, patterns, jigs, fixtures and other toolings are used to be crafted over weeks or months at very high costs. In contrast, tooling, such as low-run molding masters, can be printed in same day for
a fraction of the cost. Furthermore, 3D printing still has the opportunity to revolutionize manufacturing by making it
possible for business to produce items on demand and locally, removing the need to carry a high volume of inventory. Fully automated 3D printing manufacturing can further lower operation cost and increase productivity. Companies from aerospace, automotive, healthcare, designer goods and toys, to jewelry have already adopted customized 3D printing in manufacturing space. 3D printing’s industrial applications are endless. We are very excited to bring more innovation in the near future.