Inkbit, a startup out of MIT, is working to bring all of the benefits of 3-D printing to a slew of products that have never been printed before — and it is aiming to do so at volumes that would radically disrupt production processes in a variety of industries.
The company is accomplishing this by pairing its multi-material inkjet 3-D printer with machine-vision and machine-learning systems. The vision system comprehensively scans each layer of the object as it is being printed to correct errors in real-time, while the machine-learning system uses that information to predict the warping behavior of materials and make more accurate final products.
That idea unlocks a range of applications for Inkbit’s machine. The company says it can print more flexible materials much more accurately than other printers. If an object, including a computer chip or other electronic component, is placed on the print area, the machine can precisely print materials around it. And when an object is complete, the machine keeps a digital replica that can be used for quality assurance.