This is a (currently) one man startup about both developing and providing innovative technology currently focusing on 3D-printing services and working on cheap and fast but still precise metal 3D-printing while offering regular plastic printing on the side.
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3D-printing is the everyday blanket term for additive manufacturing (although everyday language is always a bit fluid and changing) – this refers to any technology where materials are added to nothing bit by bit until a desired part or shape is manufactured as opposed to classic manufacturing techniques like milling where materials are removed from a standard block of material to leave the desired part. This has both advantages and disadvantages but most importantly it allows for a variety of complex shapes that couldn’t easily be milled and it allows to easily design and create objects without having to put too much thought into manufacturing – important applications are thus both lightweight designs or complex mechanisms as well as prototyping and giving the ability for artists to create prettymuch any shape they like. And while unlike often imagined 3D-printing is more complicated then writing up a file and pressing the print-button, it has allowed amateurs and hobbyists to have their own designs manufactured – from scratch – and wth a bit of skill you can quite easily turn prettymuch any 3d model of anything into an actual object to play around with.
The most common and well known 3D-printers are known as extruders – these are the kinds of printers you can typically buy in a hardware store, the technology is simple, you have a hot nozzle (typically above 200°C up to 300°C) that melts the plastic being printed. Several stepper motors move the nozzle relative to the buildplate and the printed part thereon while pushing material usually provided in form of spooled up filament trough the nozzle. The material deposits and cools down on the buildplate or on top of already printed material and so layer by layer, potentially using removable support structures a 3-dimensional shape is created from plastic. Common prices for printers range from 300$ to 5000$ depending on precision, speed and other features and printobs depending on quality and service range between 0.2$/cm³and 2$/cm³. A few changes and innovations can be made to that concept and there is certainly potential to work on but it is not our current focus of development.
There are however other methods of 3D-printing, apart from a lot of very specific applications one popular though expensive method in larger industry is known as selective laser melting. Here the material is supplied as a fine powder – this powder gets deposited in thin layers and after each layer one or several lasers are moved over the material while being turned on and off in order to melt the powder into a solid part at some points but not others. Thus layer by layer a 3-dimensional part can be created embedded in material powder while the walls around the powder move upwards. This has a few advantages – depending on material it can mean you don’t need support structures on complex parts as the powder or a thin film of adhesive around the powder supports the weight. This method also allows for a wide range of materials including most notably metals like aluminum, titanium, and steel as well as plastics that are difficult to print with extruders. They can also do a lot more detail, usually having a resolution of less then 0.1mm and a smallest possible feature size of down to 0.2mm while common nozzle diameters for extruders range around 0.4mm with a practical feature size of 0.8mm or 0.4mm in extreme cases. These types of laser based printers do however have the disadvantage of being rather expensive (at least for personal standards ranging between 100000$ and 1000000$ and quite slow, often needing up to a full week just to fill their buildspace. This makes not only the machine itself expensive but also the printjobs as companies operating them want to pay them off and among other reasons the slow printing process means each print has to be more expensive. Printjobs usually price above 10$/cm³ going up to 100$/cm³ depending on material and quality. Both methods usually have a maximum buildspace somewhere between 150mmx150mmx150mm and 300mmx300mmx300mm with some rare very expensive exceptions of large scale industrial printers.
There are a few other more rare methods of 3D-printing but these two are currently the most interesting for us.
Current Development: The SmartMelter
Currently we are developing a new type of powder based metal printer. The working principle is completely new but most similar to the laser melting printers mentioned above – it is not just a form printer where you still have to melt the metal/sand in an oven making it less efficient and limiting geometry, neither is it a ‚welding extruder‘ with low surface quality and precision but a full on powder based precision metal printer. The exact principles are still kept secret but the result is to have something comparable to a laser melting printer, capable of printing the same materials, including aluminum, steel and titanium with at least comparable if not identical quality and precision but at much greater speed with a less costly machine and more geometric freedom as it does not need any support structures even for metals. We use neither a laser nor an electron beam for heating/welding the powder but a completely new method thought up from scratch after an unbiased physics-based evaluation for the most efficient method to use. There are a few other new features setting it aside from previous laser melters but this one is the most fundamental change to the principle. Also, unlike with previews laser melting printers in addition to experience and common sense setting up the laser, here live measurements and numeric calculations will be used to regulate the melting process as well as correct thermal expansion settling and tension in advance.
The first design will have a buildspace of 400mmx400mmx400mm which it can fill in less then 2 days (the Z-axis can be limited so that prints smaller then the maximum buildspace can be finished in less then 1 day). It will initially print everyday aluminum – strong enough for basic mechanical tasks, with the high thermal conductivity of aluminum and the look and feel of metal it would mostly be useful for basic prototyping and customized high service area heat exchangers as well as decorative items and small models. It would then be adapted for aerospace grade aluminum (strong enough for advanced mechanical parts), stainless steel and finally titanium. Prices will range from 0.5$/cm³ to 10$/cm³, again depending on material and quality.
About The Founder
My name is Julian Danzer, 21 years from Germany, I study aerospace engineering at University Stuttgart, but long before then, in fact my whole life I have been not only fascinated with technology but also with understanding how it works, understanding the physics behind it and furthermore fully comprehending the reasons behind it, for example why certain values correlate in physics – or why certain solutions are more ideal then others for specific applications in technology. As such I have also always enjoyed coming up with completely innovative ideas, facing problems from scratch and only using existing solutions as a vague guideline and not a fixed goal. Admittedly, most of the ideas that I came up with when I was 12 are flawed but the thought process is the same – and while I mostly selftaught or selfderived physics during school (the official physics curriculum was always rather slow and narrow), I now have the university level physics knowledge to correctly assess my ideas and I decided that some of them are worth realizing and shouldn’t be stored away at the back of my mind until I eventually work for a company that may have some kind of use for it decades from now – so I decided to literally start from scratch and try to realize them myself while taking a slow phase in my studies. I have experience with different types of 3D-printers and other computer controlled / CNC based manufacturing technologies from university, school science groups as well as 3D-printing at home. There are plenty worthwhile ideas to try out but a new type of 3D-printer was the simplest and safest to start with a relatively small budget.
While the SmartMelter is still in development we offer high precision plastic 3D-printing using a normal extruder and the knowhow and experience to not only use a 3D-printer well but also see problems errors and imprecisions coming and correct them in advance. This is mostly to support the development of the SmartMelter and buying plastic printspace during the development will also give you the same amount of SmartMelter aluminum printspace once it is in business as a thankyou for helping it’s development.
We also offer advice as well as mechanical 3D design and analysis on a fair case by case negotiation basis – most simple questions and advice are free and you will not be expected to pay anything before clearly agreeing to do so.
Currently Available Materials
Standard 3D-printing plastic – not incredibly strong but not too weak either so you can make some basic mechanical parts from it. It’s also not brittle and tears rather then shattering or splintering and is (relatively) safe to use for health/food/drink related items. Available in white, black, and metallic gray. The white version can also easily be painted. Due to coloring additives the gray and black version tend to turn out in slightly less quality.
Translucent 3D-printable material. The material itself is almost fully transparent but due to the printing process the object itself will usually be a blurry kind of translucent, only very thin walls may turn out actually transparent. It is still quite useful for objects that can be illuminated with LED’s or small lamp screens or very thin windows in models. It can also be easily painted over and if applied in a thin layer will still be somewhat translucent. It is also slightly stronger then PLA but a lot more brittle and can break into surprisingly sharp edges. Of all the currently available materials it tends to result in the highest precision and quality prints due to it’s stiffness.
Carbon Fiber Enhanced PETG
The strongest currently available material. While 3D-printable fiber enhanced filaments are far from fully utilizing the strength of carbon fiber they are still a lot stronger then the usual filaments, not only but especially perpendicular to the Z-axis. It’s about twice as strong as PLA and a bit more brittle but much less so then PET. It is only available in black but much more easily paintable then the black PLA. It is also slightly more heat resistant. However compared to the other available materials precision and print quality is slightly lower and the surface will always be slightly rough.
The current design of the website is very basic and that is for a good reason – security – even with fully developed programming skills it is often more wise to revert to putting together official, well tested and reliable resources rather then building anything from scratch when it comes to security sensitive software. A 3D-printing service includes online payment, private data and massive mostly blackboxed file uploads, so getting this website into a truly advanced state is more of a long term goal.
Privacy And Illegal Objects
Under normal circumstances we guarantee for the privacy of your print – the 3D file you send will be printed out put in a package and sent to you and will not be published, given on to 3rd parties or used for anything else. However please keep in mind that some objects are simply illegal. Weapons and other such illegal objects will NOT be printed and in extreme cases an attempt to have a weapon or illegal object printed through this service will be reported to the police, this is the only exception to the privacy mentioned above. Even if you yourself own a weapons license or are under any other special exception allowed to own or handle certain illegal objects this does not change anything.
Don’t worry too much though – we can tell a toy from an actual weapon so you can still print the former.
Timeline – Optimistic Internal Goals
—- waiting for funding —-
Timeline – Pessimistic Public Goals
—- waiting for funding —-
Name and Logo
When looking for a name and logo for my first startup I wanted to go with something general (ideally not including the word ‚print‘) and not too generic. As a bit of a math nerd I liked the idea of taking a special number and changing it’s name a bit (since you can’t just take an existing word and use it). But unlike googol (a one followed by 100 zeroes and the basis to another well known company name) I wanted to go with something slightly more interesting then just a really really large number. So I just used infinity – or rather the smallest infinity there is. Yes in pure theoretical mathematics, there is not just infinity, there are actually different types of infinity that can be formally defined, reasoned over and operated with – though to explain them in simplification, an example would do. Aleph 0 is the number of natural numbers – all of them. That is technically less then the number of real numbers – but it’s still infinite. It is named and written as א from the Hebrew alphabet (aleph/alef) since basically mathematicians had at this point run out of Greek letters to use (like Pi / π). So I changed it to Alyph (just like googol was changed to make a certain other company name) and changed the symbol up to be simplified and made only of straight lines and clean contrasts – see the website header above.
You can e-mail any questions to email@example.com or questions specifically about technology to firstname.lastname@example.org