Zortrax patents self-levelling technology actively used in their successful M200 3D printer

Posted by Jacqui Adams on

Taken from 3Ders.

By Andre

Zortrax, the manufacturer of the M200 desktop 3D printer may not be a household name just yet, but the Polish 3D printer manufacturer has been steadily gaining market share in the low-cost FDM printer game for some time. In fact, ever since their successful Kickstarter campaign in 2013, their critically acclaimed flagship 3D printer has been increasing its foothold in the industry to such a degree that they tripled their annual sales in 2015.

It now seems that the company is steadfast at keeping their innovations secure after officially announcing a bed-levelling patent that has been in the works for two years.

The system in question revolves around the idea of automatic print surface levelling accomplished by automatically and precisely measuring 3-base points on the platform with an electrical sensor connected to the 3D printers extrusion nozzle. Zortrax president Rafal Tomasiak notes that most desktop 3D printers on the market today rely on self-levelling methods and that calibration errors using this approach can lead to machine damage and poor quality prints.

As someone that has fought long and hard over the years levelling a variety of 3D printers out there, I couldn’t agree more with the assessment that an automated process is of utmost importance for the technology to it its stride within the mainstream. This being said, a lot of other 3D printer manufacturers on the market today (Makerbot’s 5th Gen units and Afinia’s H800 series for example) have self-levelling out of the box already.

But, since the company plans to move forward with a next generation machine in the near future, there is no harm in trying to limit the competition from nipping away at company secrets from right under their noses.

As their CEO puts it, “The biggest advantage of the invention patented by Zortrax is the ability to very accurately calibrate the working of printers, this also reduces the risk of tearing the print platform. The patented system is already used in the M200 series of 3D printers and will also be implemented in future models of 3D printers, Zortrax is working on.”

Their efforts to secure their IP is another example in a growing trend of 3D printer firms that are applying for patents to ensure a strong technology portfolio as the industry matures. Already with revenue of over 38 million (the result of the sale of 5.5 thousand M200 3D printers) and a net profit of 8 million, the company is considering going public by entering the Warsaw Stock Exchange in the not-too-distant future. For that to take place, keeping its secrets away from the open-source community is of unfortunate importance (as was evidenced by what famously transpired prior to the Makerbot acquisition a few years back).

So what does this all mean for the average consumer? In the short term, probably very little. The company will continue to support and expand on its product line and likely innovate further as growth continues. Self-levelling is just about certainly going to be a mainstay in every next-generation 3D printer going forward for the reasons listed above. Zortrax is just doing its job in making sure they retain some credit for their contribution.

Finish article here.

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