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Freeformer industrial 3D printer creates complex items in batches, can combine soft and hard parts

Regular 3D printers (from pens to desktop models) debut quite frequently these days, but a new machine named Freeformer was created with industrial-grade manufacturing in mind. The device was designed by German company ARBURG and employs a proprietary process called ARBURG Plastic Freeforming or -- we swear this acronym's not a typo -- AKF. It takes 3D CAD data and uses it to make functional parts out of liquid plastic without the need for molds. The Freeformer has a stationary nozzle that relies on piezo technology to spray plastic in layers on a moving platform, and it does so until the entire shape is done. Unlike many other 3D printers, though, this one can create geometrically complicated items with a combination of soft and hard materials. Not only that, but it can produce these in small batches, too. The first Freeformer units will be available commercially early next year, but we bet they won't be included in anyone's list of affordable 3D printing machines. Folks in Germany, however, can check it out at the K Trade Fair in Düsseldorf, where it'll remain on display until October 23rd.