Impossible Objects launches CBAM 25

Impossible Objects has announced its latest 3D printer, the CBAM 25, said to be fast enough for mass production of parts.

Impossible Objects has developed a Composite Based additive manufacturing (CBAM) approach that makes use of inkjet technology. The existing CBAM 2 machine uses HP 45 thermal inkjet printheads, which are disposable items, though the new CBAM 25 uses piezo electric heads. As with all 3D printers, it builds objects up one layer at a time, in this case jetting a clear fluid onto a sheet of either long fibre carbon or fibreglass for each layer. Then a polymer powder is spread over the sheet, adhering to the printed fluid to form the object layer. There’s a choice of PEEK and Nylon 12 powders, with a powder size between 50 and 70 microns. 

The excess power is removed and the next layer is printed onto the next sheet. The unused powder is recycled back into the machine to be re-used. All the sheets, each with a separate layer of the object, are then stacked one on top of the other and heated to the melting point of the polymer and then in a separate operation they are compressed together to form the object. The unused part of the carbon/ fibreglass sheets are then removed by sand blasting to leave the finished part. 

The carbon/ fibreglass material is roll fed into the printer, which runs at a speed of 7.6mpm. The maximum build area is 457 x 449 x 101 mm. The parts need a minimum wall thickness of 2mm but there’s no need for any support material and no restriction on build angles. 

It’s mainly suitable for producing large, flat parts. The parts are said to be chemical and heat resistant and are said to be accurate to within 100 microns. The machine runs at normal room temperature off a standard 220v power supply. The process is not hazardous, so there’s no risk of explosion, unlike some 3D printers, and no special material storage required. 

Robert Swartz, founder and chairman of the board at Impossible Objects, told me: “We can use almost any thermoplastic and have trialed many. At this point the fibre is not recycled but once volumes are large enough we intend to recycle this material. We use 15 mm fibres.”

He commented: “The CBAM 25 is the world’s fastest printer, and we are entering a new era of 3D printing with nearly unlimited material options at the speed of true mass production. This is a Moore’s law moment for 3D printing, and this is just the first step.”

Impossible Objects’ CBAM 25 3D printer lays down PEEK polymer materials on carbon fibre substrates for high speed 3D printing.

Steve Hoover joined the company as CEO earlier this year, having spent two decades in R&D at Xerox, including a stint running its Palo Alto Research Centre before becoming CTO of Xerox. He emphasizes the importance of production speed with the new CBAM 25, stating: “With a fifteen times speed improvement over existing 3D printers our new CBAM 25 completes the transition of 3D printing from its roots in prototyping to the heartland of manufacturing. It’s hard to actually imagine what fifteen times faster means. For a comparison, this is also the speed difference between the fastest human running the mile and a Formula race car in a straight away. That’s the same difference that our new CBAM 25 has versus prior technologies. We believe that this is a huge-step forward not only for our company, but also our industry, as it moves 3D printing into volume manufacturing.”

It’s worth noting that Weber State University has been working with the existing CBAM-2 printer for advanced aerospace research. Devin Young, grant writing and research specialist at WSU, who works at the MARS Center, noted: “CBAM makes parts that are lighter and stronger than some of the other methods out there, and it does it faster.”

The CBAM 25 should be commercially available in early 2024. You can find more details from impossible-objects.com.


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