Modularity in 3D Printing

Published on May 24, 2017

Modularity in 3D Printing

Blog
  • Modularity is a key feature of the Nectar One.
  • We’ll explain the benefits of our modular architecture to you in this post.

A lot of people are curious as to the modular architecture of the Nectar One and why we chose to do it in this manner. Modularity is not just any feature it is a crucial one for us. Our 3D printer has been designed from the ground up with modularity in mind. At every significant step we think about modularity and maintaining the modularity of the printer.

The key modules themselves:

  • Our Linear Motion System (LMS) was developed in house and custom built for the Nectar One. By developing this system ourselves we are able to reap cost and efficiency while painting the accuracy and speed that we need to print well.
  • Our RFID Material Recognition System lets the printer automatically use the correct settings for the Nectar One for each of our materials. Should you wish to use another material, no problem, you can manually enter the settings through the browser.
  • The printer logo has a capacitive touch sensor letting you interact with your printer.
  • Our Door System automatically opens and closes the 3D printer door when you touch the logo. The door can also be opened via the NectaWare software.
  • Our Active Carbon and HEPA filter was custom made and designed to fit into the Nectar One so you can print safe in the knowledge that fumes will not enter your workshop from the printer.
  • Our Material Feeder system was designed to work with custom sensors that prevent nozzle blockages.
  • Our Four Zone Aluminum and Glass heated bed was designed to heat up quickly and have four independently controllable heating zones. This means it can be adapted to fit more print profiles.
  • Our BeeHead was designed with physically separate hot and cold zones and custom parts to reliably and quickly extrude material.

Each of these hardware modules exists independently but they are made to work in concert.

 

 

What are the advantages exactly of having a modular architecture?

Easy to service: Each one of our hardware modules can be removed with one screwdriver in under five minutes. Modules such as the Carbon/HEPA filter which in essence are a consumable because every few thousand hours they have to be replaced are especially easy to remove. This means that any kind of consumables and simple servicing could, if need be, be carried out by the customer.

Cheap to service: With industrial 3D printers if a key component breaks a very knowledgeable and experienced mechanic has to come to you and service the machine. We could send someone with limited technical skill to replace your part. Or you could have spare parts on hand to do it yourself. This means that the per hour service costs are lower.

Quick to service: The time between a fault having been identified and solved is also quicker since each of the core modules that lead to failures can be simply swapped out.

Reduction in downtime: This has an additional effect of minimizing downtime. The part and problem do not have to be analyzed and repaired on the machine while the machine is non functional. The new part replaces the old and we at Nectar HQ can then analyze what went wrong. Meanwhile you’re already off and running.

Cost effective to upgrade: If we develop new hardware modules then the customer can upgrade to them by purchasing (or leasing) the individual hardware upgrade module in addition to the printer they already have.

Customers can in so doing upgrade at their own pace. The service life of the Nectar is extended because a family of upgrade and replacement parts will be available and easy to use.

Add new capabilities to your existing machine: In addition this means that you can upgrade and improve your existing machine with exactly those modules that make sense for you.

Don’t buy any functionality you don’t need. Invest in only those upgrades that make sense for you. At the same time this lets people buy only want they need as well. We can offer a printer that can be extended so you don’t pay for things you don’t need.

Future resilient. In a fast growing market such as ours, future proof would possibly be an impossible claim to make. By having a modular structure however key technology modules can be replaced should they become redundant or surpassed.

Investments in modules. From an R&D perspective this also means that we can invest in upgrading, developing and improving particular hardware modules. Our R&D spend is not aimed at replacing the entire machine but rather at improving the functionality of one key component.

Working with customers. By cutting up the printer into discrete technology bits we are better able to work with customers. Customers are our partners and we in partnership with them develop our technology. For customers it is easier to give feedback on and talk about the improvements of one singular hardware module. It helps keep interactions and conversations clear.

More iterative process. Our modularity lets us be more iterative by focusing more of our attention on rapidly improving the key component that at this time is the most relevant to our users. This makes us more agile and more able to rapidly redeploy resources where they’re needed.