Makerbot launches Method X 3D printer

Makerbot, which mainly makes desktop 3D printers, has announced a new 3D printer, the Method X. This builds on the existing Method that was launched at the end of last year but gains the ability to print a standard form of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) material. 

Makerbot’s new Method X builds on the existing Method printer but with the ability to print standard ABS material.

There’s nothing new about ABS, which is a fairly common material for 3D printers. However, Makerbot claims that most of these printers use a modified form of ABS that is easier to print. Instead, the Method X printer can use standard ABS, which can withstand up to 15°C higher temperatures, is up to 26% more rigid, and up to 12% stronger than modified ABS. As a result, the Method X is targeted at manufacturing tools, end-use parts and functional prototypes, rather than just the quick prototyping and concept iterations of the existing Method.

Makerbot has also borrowed technologies from its parent company, Stratasys, with the new printer able to lay down the SR-30 support material.

The new X model is based on the same chassis as the existing Method and has the same build size at 15.2 L x 19 W x 19.6 H cm, using dual extruders, but with a single extruder option coming that should allow a slightly larger build volume of 19 L x 19 W x 19.6 H cm.

The Method printers use a Circulating Heated Chamber rather than a heated build plate, which Makerbot says should give good Z-layer bonding for parts with good strength and surface finish. Also, the chamber for the X model reaches 100ºC rather than the 60ºC of the existing Method.

The new X also includes industrial features such as Dry Sealed Material Bays, Dual Performance Extruders, Soluble Supports, and an Ultra-Rigid Metal Frame. In addition, the extruders have a thermal core that’s up to 50% longer than a standard hot end to enable faster extrusion. It also boasts a high degree of automation with 21 onboard sensors for monitor printing, including RFID chips, temperature sensing, humidity control and material detection. It can print repeatable and consistent parts, such as jigs, fixtures, and end-effectors, with a measurable dimensional accuracy of ± 0.2mm.

Naturally, Makerbot is also supplying its own form of ABS, from its Precision material range. This is said to have similar thermal and mechanical properties to ABS materials used for injection molding applications. The Method X printer can also use MakerBot’s Precision and Specialty Materials range, including its PLA, Tough, PETG and PVA materials.

Nadav Goshen, CEO of MakerBot, says that the original Method was designed to alter the price to performance barrier, adding: “With Method X, we are taking a step further to revolutionize manufacturing. Method X was created for engineers who need true ABS for production-ready parts that are dimensionally-accurate with no geometric restrictions. Method X delivers industrial-level 3D printing without compromising on ABS material properties and automation in a new price category.”

Makerbot is already taking orders for this new printer though it won’t ship until the end of August 2019. It’s priced at $6499, which translates at time of writing to £5360 but let’s face it, this could change given the way that Sterling is yo-yoing around the currency exchange markets at the moment. One thing that is worth noting is that back in January this year the original Method also started selling at $6499 and is now down to $4999.

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