Resposes to questions on BPM's 3D Object Printer

From: Roger P. Orban (
Date: Tue Dec 05 1995 - 00:58:24 EET

Over the last month and a half there have been many questions relating
to BPM Technology and our 3D Object Printer. I have not had the time
to respond due to my travel schedule, and am now responding to these
inquiries. Below are my responses.

Patent Position of Various Desktop Jetting Systems
BPM Technology owns, not licenses the Masters Patent.

What is the Value of BPM’s 5 Axis Build Process
Our 5 axis build process provides the ability to build part with the
true curvature of the object as opposed to the stair stepping effect
from 2 1/2 axis processes. Our patented build process CAN (continuous
articulation to surface normals) allows us to build geometry to surface
normals. The benefits are:

    -Eliminates finishing steps to remove the stair step effect;
    -Provides part fidelity;
    -Reduces material waste.

Our 5 axis build process provides the ability to build parts without
extensive support structures. Our 3D Object Printer can build parts
such as a hollow cube and other objects as merely a skin around air.
The benefits are:
   -Efficient use of build material produces low cost models
    (approximately $1.00 per part);
   -Eliminates the time consuming removal of support structures and
   -Efficient use of build material provides for faster build times.

BPM 3D Object Printer Speed
One of our Product Development Objectives was that the average model
build overnight in our 10”x 8” x 6” build envelope. We have achieved
this objective for models of average complexity. An engineer can
execute the print command at the end of his work day, and can retrieve
his model first thing in the morning for a design review meeting.

We continue to work on increasing the speed of our 3D Object Printer,
and expect a significant increase in speed from existing technology by
this time next year.

Raster vs. Vector Build Process
Raster is not necessarily faster. BPM experimented with several raster
and vector prototypes before we came to the conclusion that the vector
build process offered greater value for precision, accuracy, and
extensibility for the future. The raster build process, which is and
always be a 2 1/2 axis build operation, requires that parts be built
solid. Raster uses more material, and therefore requires significant
numbers of jet heads to provide speed. Due to the number of heads
required in an array, trade-offs in feature and surface detail result.

In contrast, our 5 axis vector positioning allow for us to build
objects with the least amount of material required. With current
technology, we expect to achieve a significant increase in speed by
this time next year from software improvements alone. Our current
technology also allows us to increase the amount of material deposited
three-fold, which can provide upwards of a 250% increase in build rate.
Further, there is ongoing research on several 5 axis multiple head
configurations which will provide a quantum leap in build times.

.stl vs. Direct Slicing of CAD Geometry
In the last few days, several messages have been posted regarding
issues with .stl files. These issues, among others are the reason BPM
Technology has announced the development of printer interfaces for the
major CAD systems (Pro/Engineer will be available 4/96) that will take
NURBS databases for direct slicing, eliminating tesselation as an
interim step. In reference to comments that were made about the
difficulties of direct slicing of B-Rep models, we have been at work
for some time on these challenges and have overcome most of them.

Applications for Color 3D Object Printing
In keeping with our direction of our 3D Object Printer as the natural
evolution in communication of design intent, we are looking at several
applications for color object printing. For example, think about the
power of printing FEA results files with color contours and deformed
geometry for design review meetings to communicate design failures.

3D Fax Capability
BPM Technologies’ 3D Object Printer has an integral modem that provides
a 3D fax-like capability. In our market research, this functionality
was high on the wish list of Fortune 500 companies that work closely
with and rely on their suppliers/subcontractors for design content.

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