Two brothers develop product that expands possibilities for 3D printing
By David Little
Their two-man company, Dglass3D, or D3D for short, has developed a printer head that can replace factory-built printer heads currently installed in most 3D printers with a much more innovative and capable model.
The 3D manufacturing process is called additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. The process involves making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. It involves laying down successive layers of material.The limitation with current 3D printers is that print heads can only print two different materials or colors, explains Carl Douglass.“The print head that we have developed allows you to print at least four different colors or four different materials, and we developed this print head so that it’s adaptable to many of the thousand printers that are on the market today,’’ he said.“And it’s been pretty neat for us because we’ve had contacts from areas such as the U.K. and Italy for us to be an original equipment manufacturer supplier for those other printer manufacturers,’’ he said. “We will make and supply the head for these other printer manufacturers.’’3D printing technology is used in creating prototypes and has manufacturing applications in areas from architecture, construction, and industrial design to dental and medical industries, fashion and eyewear, as well as many other fields.The brothers began their endeavor from an initiative they started in January under Douglass Innovations. Their idea was to scan a person’s arm or leg and use 3D printing to create casts for the orthopedic industry for persons with broken limbs.“We realized through that process that the 3D printing technology that was out there was not sufficient for different materials. So that’s really what drove this idea on having this multi-style print head that we have,’’ said Carl.He said their new product solves current 3D print head limitations with a design that increases the amount of extruders available to a printer without decreasing the available build space, which is a common limitation of most multiple extruder heads.“Our design accommodates two extruders in the same space as one traditional extruder,’’ he said.In addition to their extruder head technology, Brian and Carl are also developing new polymers as feedstock for the filament that is used to create the objects in 3D printing. So far, they have had great success with several custom formulations.Carl is director of engineering at Prinsco, located at the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar. He is a registered engineer with more than 10 years of experience in the plastics industry. His background with new product development, rapid prototyping and materials testing drew him to the 3D printing industry.Brian, who recently moved from Colorado, has experience in both mechanical system diagnostics and metal fabrication.The brothers moved their location from Willmar to the home property west of Spicer where they have more shop space.Carl said it’s been neat to connect with many talented individuals and entrepreneurs in the area. The brothers hope to leverage much of that talent to make their products successful.“I think Willmar has a lot to be proud of,’’ he said.