Mcor Technologies Matrix 3D printer – more affordable 3D printing
Imagine a world where you can design your own furniture, bring your invention from a sketch to physical reality or even produce an exact model of yourself, all done quickly and cheaply. Irish firm Mcor Technologies is making this a reality with their 3D printing technology. In order to transform an idea of your product into the physical reality, an important part of the process is the prototype. However, this is an expensive process when most of the 3D printing technologies on the market are being used. Only large businesses can afford to invest and many universities can’t afford to run this equipment for their students.
Aside from the complex and costly machinery needed to translate a design from computer graphics to a physical object, the constant supply of plastic material required and the laser cutting technology adds to this expense. Mcor Technologies has found a way by using A4 paper, to give smaller businesses, and even individuals, an access to this design technology.
In 2005, MacCormack and his brother Fintan carried out intensive market research and came away with their unique solution – the Mcor Matrix. It is the only 3D printer in the world that can use A4 paper in order to make 3D objects.
“We didn’t just want it to be affordable, we wanted it to be eco-friendly. In order to build up a solid 3D model, each layer of paper must be glued together and we formulated a water-based adhesive to act as the adhesive,” says Deirdre MacCormack, the third co-founder of Mcor Technologies.
The Matrix printer takes sheets of A4 paper and it takes a 3D design from a desktop design program, assembling it with usage of biodegradable glue. It uses a water-based PVA adhesive to laminate sheets of paper and then cuts them with a fine, tungsten-carbide blade, building up solid structures one sheet at a time. The completed parts can be hardened and sanded and if you want colored parts, just feed the machine colored paper. The maximum build volume is 297mm x 210mm x 150mm.
People from Mcor Technologies state that the Matrix can use new or recycled paper and that the operating costs of the Matrix are 50 times less than with existing rapid prototyping machines. The cost of the build material is around €0.01 per cubic centimeter and the finished product is said to have a consistency similar to that of carved wood.
This 3D modeling technology will find its use in many different places. In particular, this technology has huge relevance to architects and design firms, but one application that displays its versatility is in the field of dentistry. Storage of the models is not a problem, even for existing models, because they can be fully recycled.
For now, the target markets for Mcor Technologies will primarily be universities and educational, commercial, engineering and medical dental applications. The future 3D printing will be available even in our homes. As the computer evolved from huge machines that filled rooms and required several people to operate them to the contemporary ones, the 3D printer is finally ready to become more affordable and mainstream. The Matrix is currently on sale in Ireland and the UK and will be rolled out globally in 2010.