Dual-nozzle 3D printer allows two-colour prints

The Lathon 3D printer has two print heads that operate in sync for integrated two-colour or cross-material prints.

The Lathon 3D printer has two print heads that operate in sync for integrated two-colour or cross-material prints.

(Credit: Nohtal Alex Partansky)

Kickstarter has been the absolute champion of making 3D printing accessible, and it's hopefully just about to bring another first to the table: the Lathon 3D Printer. Unlike models such as the Buccaneer and the Peachy Printer, though, the Lathon isn't about affordability but flexibility.

How it differs is its print extruder — or rather, extruders. It has two. Combined with the ability to print in eight different materials, this makes for some interesting potential, combining multiple colours or multiple materials in one single, integrated print.

"With most printers you are limited to just one nozzle and just one colour. I designed the Lathon from the very beginning to use two nozzles unlike other printers that just add another nozzle at the end. During the R&D stages multiple nozzle carriage designs were created in order to ensure the use of the full twelve inches of the print bed," creator Nohtal Alex Partansky explained.

(Credit: Nohtal Alex Partansky)

"Another limitation with other dual nozzle printers is the speed. Most printers have the stepper motors mounted to the print head giving them a large moving mass thus limiting their ability to change direction. Since nobody wants to wait all day for a simple print the Lathon has a Bowden-style extrusion to lighten the moving mass by over 80 per cent. With the Lathon you can have the speed of a delta printer with benefits of a Cartesian."

The printer also has a large, enclosed print bed measuring 30.5 x 20 x 23 centimetres (12 x 8 x 9 inches) with a cooling fan, which reduces the quantity of print particles in the air while maintaining an even temperature, and the dual heads, Partansky said, allow you to print an object with dissolvable supports — enabling objects that would otherwise collapse under their own weight during printing, when the plastics are soft and malleable.

"With the ability to print in different materials it is possible to print overmolded prototypes," Partansky said. "In the product development market overmolds are a common practice but up until now the ability to have in house rapid prototyping capabilities were limited."

The printer has been tested with eight materials successfully so far, including ABS, Laywood, carbon fibre, high-impact polystyrene, nylon, PLA and TPE.

The Lathon is currently available as a reward for an early bird pledge of US$1650 (plus shipping), but we don't expect supplies will last long at that price. Head over to the Lathon Kickstarter campaign to learn more and pledge your support.

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Printers
About the author

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

 

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