MIT alumni start-up PrintFoam Announces High-Throughput Foam 3D Printer

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AM Chronicle Editor

Building upon its background in foam 3D printing resins, PrintFoam aims to go big with revolutionary large-format hardware.

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In a world of 3D printed homes and furniture, the need for lightweight structured materials has never been greater. That’s where PrintFoam comes in – it’s a start-up company that specializes in 3D printing resins that make foam parts.

PrintFoam’s proprietary resins have been around for a couple of years now and have demonstrated amazing performance boosts in many applications where you might expect to find traditional foam solutions. Seeing these developments, other 3D printing companies have started to take notice. But to date, existing printing platforms have been too slow to bring this unique resin technology into exciting new markets.

We realized it would be possible to produce plywood sized sheets of 3D printed foam in a matter of minutes.

Matthew Pearlson

PrintFoam aims to change that and is pushing the field further by announcing the development of the first printer hardware that specializes in the industrial-scale printing of foams.

According to Mathew Pearlson, principal and co-founder of Print Foam, the ah-ha moment came when he realized the need to skip traditional vat-based printing techniques popularized by companies such as FormLabs, Carbon, and Desktop Metal. “By using a combination of novel optical patterning techniques, along with ditching a standard vat printing process, we realized it would be possible to produce plywood sized sheets of 3D printed foam in a matter of minutes.”

Everyone in the field is attempting to mimic the behavior of traditional foams using plastic lattices…the computer is screaming at the engineer to stop what they’re doing and use a foam for the application.

David Walker

By speeding up their production times from hours to minutes, PrintFoam is able enter a plethora of new markets previously inaccessible with large, architecturally sized panels.

“It really is remarkable, and I haven’t seen anything like it,” says Dr. David Walker – Co-Founder of Azul 3D and the Executive Chairperson of the Photopolymer Additive Manufacturing Alliance. “Everyone in the field is attempting to mimic the behavior of traditional foams using plastic lattices produced by computational models. These models keep telling engineers to generate lattices with smaller struts and smaller unit-cells…In essence, the computer is screaming at the engineer to stop what they’re doing and use a foam for the application. As a community, we haven’t been listening and acting on this.”

Engineered from the ground up to meet the needs of its customers, the new system is expected to disrupt manufacturing with a scale and speed that matters. According to Pearlson, “The new PrintFoam system extends our ability to provide comprehensive solutions to our customers who are looking for ways to print a lot of material quickly without sacrificing resolution.” The technology is in limited beta-access right now, but the venture is actively accepting a limited number of new partnerships. PrintFoam is already working with customers to explore novel approaches to noise mitigation, carbon sequestration, concrete construction, and more.

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