Meet the OCEAN 3D Printer: Azul3D’s Game-Changer with 300 mm per Hour Printing Speed

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Azul 3D has a LAKE 3D printer and now the firm has expanded with the Ocean. The OCEAN has an 812 mm x 812 mm build area and is meant to be a true production machine. The OCEAN uses 72 μm high-resolution DLP and the company’s own High Area Rapid Printing (HARP) technology. HARP allows for more thermal control and less heat during curing with the interface layer continuously flowing oil layer and a glass screen. Despite this flowing oil layer, it remains flat, enabling the company to achieve better material properties. HARP allows for bigger parts and continuous production. The company states that the build speed of the OCEAN is 300 mm per hour.

“Our strategy is to empower the future of digital manufacturing. The OCEAN platform is a new-to-industry capability, with the opportunity to enable new high-volume products and supply chains,” said Azul 3D CEO John Hartner.

Along with the new printer, the company announced a partnership with Dr. Devin Roach of Oregon State University. Roach is the Director of the Versatile Additive Manufacturing Lab at Oregon State (VAMOS). He is an ex-Sandia researcher who is exploring functionalized surfaces, energy harvesting, AI, and more. Together with Azul 3D, he is investigating functional coatings on 3D printed surfaces to enable more high-performance end-use parts. Some of the materials they are examining are carbon-sorbent materials developed at Oregon State by the Nyman research group. These materials could allow for carbon capture from the air, for example. While this is a nascent area, it could lead to the creation of very compact, complex carbon capture devices with additive manufacturing.

Another application they are exploring is filters and membranes for water treatment, which is an area I’m very excited about. Singapore-based Nano Sun has already developed a water treatment technology with 3D printing that is used at scale. At Nano Sun, they create optimized filtration membranes with hydrophilic effects that can be used for wastewater or brackish water treatment. These membranes can be adapted and quickly printed for replacement. Clean drinking water is a huge issue for many countries worldwide, and scalable water treatment solutions will be in high demand globally. Many firms worldwide are investigating filtration and membranes, but this area is one I’m closely watching. Specific industrial filtration solutions are also worth exploring, and 3D printed solutions will be important to consider there as well.

The OCEAN seems to be a highly productive printer that may take vat polymerization to new areas. In jewelry and dental applications, vat polymerization has led to millions of parts being produced daily. Anywhere highly customizable geometries need to be smooth and precise, DLP and its related technologies have prevailed. Azul is hoping that its new machine will delight engineers and business people alike, inspiring more 3D printing applications that are useful, cost-effective, and large. Functionalized surfaces and higher-performing resin formulations could give Azul an edge. New chemistries have made vat polymerization parts much more resistant to the outside world and more useful. By exploring new types of surface treatment and behavior, Azul could unlock completely new ways of implementing 3D printing for new industries or applications. The company is unique in pushing its HARP technology, but it will have to be like a salmon swimming upstream. This is difficult work, but if it manages to capture and focus on the right applications, the company could find areas where it alone has an unprecedented advantage.

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