Impossible Objects launches second 3D printer

Impossible Objects has announced a new 3D printer, the CBAM-2, which uses the company’s patented Composite-Based Additive Manufacturing process, plus a partnership with BASF that will allow its customers to use PA6-carbon fibre composites.

The CBAM process starts off by feeding long-fibre carbon or fibreglass sheets into the printer and then printing a clear fluid, which is basically a binder, through a thermal printhead to create an individual layer of a part. This is followed up by laying down a polymer powder, which sticks to the sheets in the shape defined by the clear fluid, with the unusued powder being removed, which is very similar to binder jetting.

This is then repeated to produce a stack of these sheets, each containing one layer of the object. These sheets are then stacked together and heated to the melting point of the polymer, and then compressed to the desired height of the object. The sheets are bonded together where the polymer has delineated the shape of the object. The remaining part of the sheets, which are not bonded together, are then removed through either a mechanical or chemical process. 

This process is reasonably quick and produces 3D composite parts that are strong and light with good temperature performance. It’s certainly an interesting way of combining carbon fibre and fibreglass with high-performance thermoplastics like PEEK and Nylon.

The new printer uses the same process and is more of a refinement over the existing machine. Thus it takes larger 30x30cm sheets. It’s gained three extra cameras for better quality control and to monitor the inkjet heads. It also has automatic powder filling and bulk ink cartridges. 

Strangely, Impossible Objects’ press release bangs on about the printer being better than ‘conventional’ 3D printers – I’ve really no idea why since there’s nothing conventional about any of the many different 3D printing processes – which is kind of why everyone describes 3D printing as a disruptive technology! There are various other dubious claims, such as the printer being 10x faster than a conventional 3D printer, which is completely meaningless since there is no standard speed to measure a 3D printer by.

That said, the company’s existing Model One 3D printer is used by a number of Fortune 500 companies, including Ford, manufacturing services company Jabil, the United States Air Force, and the National Institute for Aviation Research. 

Bob Swartz, founder and chairman of Impossible Objects, commented: “It’s been exciting to see how our customers are putting our approach to work to create high-performance parts for everything from aircraft and cars to lightweight athletic gear.”

The arrangement with BASF will allow Impossible Objects’ customers to 3D print high-performance carbon fiber-PA6 composite parts for the first time. According to Impossible Objects, these carbon fibre-PA6 composites offer better strength and temperature performance at a lower cost than PA12, and are up to four times stronger than Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) parts and twice as strong as Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) parts made with PA12.

Kara Noack, regional business director for BASF 3D Printing Solutions, commented: “Our collaboration with Impossible Objects opens up new possibilities for customers, especially in the automotive and industrial sectors where we’re seeing strong demand for PA6. This partnership is in line with our philosophy of open innovation and support for open platforms. We’re encouraged by how Impossible Objects is using PA6 and are excited to work together to advance the state of additive manufacturing.”

In addition, Impossible Objects has raised $4.1 million in funding in a round led by returning investor OCA Ventures, bringing total funding to more than $13 million.

Both the CBAM-2 machines and the PA6 materials will be available from the start of Q3. You can find more details from www.impossible-objects.com.


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