Added Scientific Limited – 3D/Additive Manufacturing

Business for Added Scientific is easier thanks to Meteor Inkjet printhead drive electronics: its customers now have a wide variety of printhead choice, resulting in lower costs and increased value for money in research and development.

Key Facts

Added Scientific Limited (ASL) is a world leader in the formulation and characterisation of functional inks used for 2D and 3D multimaterial printing.

Facilities include:

  • 3-axis jetting development system with 3nm resolution, recirculating material capability and complete environmental control
  • Internally developed binder jetting platforms based on LP50 architecture to enable powder and binder development
  • Dropwatcher for high-speed analysis of both droplet formation and dispersal
  • Multiple Industrial DLP & binder jetting printers

The Challenge

As an independent, technology-agnostic research company, it is important that Added Scientific Limited (ASL) can review any printhead on the market without having to worry whether it can drive it and without incurring high costs.

Dr Craig Sturgess, JPT research manager at Added Scientific explains: “To help our clients implement a 3D printing solution, we look at what equipment and printheads are available on the market. We find a lot of the time the printhead type can be the deciding factor whether the project goes ahead. The challenge we faced was that commercial material jetting printers are limited to a single head architecture, restricting our ability to run different printhead types. We needed to know we could test different printheads without limitation: this would give us the ability to review any printhead on the market quickly and easily without increasing the budget.”

The Solution

ASL learned that Meteor Inkjet electronics are designed to drive virtually any digital inkjet printhead and decided to integrate Meteor’s drive electronics and dropwatching system into its printing platforms. The company began by implementing Meteor drive electronics and MetDrop waveform software with four printheads: Xaar 1003, Xaar 1201, Dimatix StarFire and Dimatix Q-Class printheads.

The Dimatix StarFire and Xaar 1201 printheads are mounted on ASL’s dropwatcher and drop waveform tuning system. To run the dropwatcher, ASL uses MetDrop because of its easy-to-use interface.

The Dimatix Q-Class and Xaar 1003 printheads are integrated into ASL’s 3D platform. The Xaar 1003 printhead and the Meteor drive electronics are mounted on an Aerotech platform, a very precise positioning system working at 3nm resolution with submicron repeatability to build features around 5 or 6μm in size.

Fast response
When ASL found it needed support, the team at Meteor was quick to respond. Craig explains: “The Meteor software is packed with lots of features, some of which we didn’t require, for example, textile, ceramic and wide-format printing-specific features. The team answered our questions quickly and helped us to select aspects of the software
we required.”

Craig continues: “I visited the Meteor facility because we had some issues with our printing platform and its processes. We were able to set up the platform and work it through with them. It was great to be able to meet the engineering team at Meteor to see their labs and go through our application together to complete the development of our platform. I’ve found Meteor to be really easy to work with – they’ve been really helpful and cooperative. The Meteor team is very knowledgable, even when the questions we raised were not related directly to their systems.”

The Result

Since Meteor electronics are compatible with all leading industrial digital inkjet printheads, ASL can now offer its customers a wide variety of printhead choice.

“We no longer have to worry about how to drive a printhead and how much the development costs would be. This had sometimes been a barrier in the past because of project budget constraints. Now we know we can buy a board from Meteor and within a couple of hours of receiving the driver cards the printhead can be up and running. The result is we can now offer our clients a fast and cost-effective solution that we know will work right first time.”

Further benefits
Implementing Meteor drive electronics has also opened up new opportunities for the company: to meet the growing demand for using new high- viscosity inks, ASL has developed a multi-head platform using Xaar printheads and Meteor’s drive electronics. A modular system, the printheads can easily be accessed and replaced if ASL needs to change to a different printhead type.

Craig comments: “The good thing about Meteor electronics is, we can use different types of printheads on the same printing platform. One type of printhead may be great for high-viscosity inks, but if there’s a need for a lower-viscosity ink set, then we can swap out the original printhead selection and install a printhead to deal with the lower viscosity requirements.”

About Added Scientific Limited

Added Scientific Ltd is a UK-based contract research company providing technical consultancy, problem-solving and lab-based services in the field of Additive Manufacturing / 3D printing. The team includes experts in polymer, metallic and multi-material 2D and 3D printing, with expertise in material jetting, photo-polymerisation and powder-based technologies, alongside design optimisation, simulation and modelling capability. The team supports organisations wanting to explore the implementation of additive manufacturing and digital printing for the production of their products, and hardware and materials vendors wanting to develop and commercialise their own printing materials and systems.

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