Back in 2009, Blueprinter first came up with a novel idea about how a 3D printer should work. And it seems that idea has come to fruition as Blueprinter has begun production in volume and are shipping printers all over Europe.
In 2007, when Frederik Tjellesen and Anders Hartmann were writing a master's thesis, the pair were looking for an interesting case. The two men put together separate lists of five suggested topics, and as it worked out, both lists included '3D printing.' As the pair were already familiar with the market and had worked in prototyping, they focused on competing with existing professional 3D printing technologies. They wanted "something smarter and cheaper which maintained the quality required by professionals."
They call the process they came up with SHS (Selective Heat Sintering), and it marked the beginning of the Blueprinter project.
Hartmann, the co-founder of Blueprinter, along with his co-founder and senior engineer, Tjellesen, designed their SHS technology which uses a thermal printhead to apply heat on layers of thermoplastic powder in the Blueprinter's build chamber, to be inexpensive and high quality. The Blueprinter is capable of "free forming" complex geometries with a minimum wall thickness of 1 mm. The pair say their device boasts a build chamber which is 200 x 160 x 140mm, can print 2-3 mm an hour and uses a thermoplastic powder optimized to work with their SHS technology.
"Since 2009, everything has been about getting the Blueprinter to work consistently and transform it into the product we knew it could become," says Neils Appel, CEO of Blueprinter. "Blueprinter is no longer just a development house. With the launch of the Blueprinter, it's a business."
Appel says Blueprinter already has resellers (primarily in Europe) and is now starting to recruit resellers outside Europe.
"This is an important milestone for Blueprinter, and we can definitely feel an increase in demand. Customers are talking to each other and the word is spreading," Appel said.
"In the beginning of the Blueprinter project I'd never imagined that we would sit in a big office with a large number of colleagues around us," Hartmann said from Blueprinter's offices in Copenhagen. "At the time it seemed completely unrealistic."
The pair say one key to the efficacy of their machine is that working with it generates very little waste by creating output with their re-usable powder. The cake-based powder construction method of the Blueprinter also has the added advantage of providing support for all elements of a design which, in practice, means designers don't need to add or remove supports elements for final printing.