This 3D Printer Can Produce Hard and Soft Parts Simultaneously

3D printers are a dime-a-dozen these days, but every so often something special comes along. Like this thing: an industrial printer made by Arburg that can create products containing both hard and soft parts at the same time.

Called Freeformer, the device uses a technique called Plastic Freeforming to take 3D CAD data and make parts out of liquid plastic, without the need for molds. To do that, it uses a stationary nozzle to spray plastic onto a moving platform. The platform's shifted to gradually build up layers of material and—depending on how the piezo-controlled nozzle is used—the deposited material can either be hard or soft.

Capable of producing items in small batches, the first Freeformer units will be on sale early next year. In the meantime, the device is currently on display at K Trade Fair in Düsseldorf until 23 October. [Arburg via Engadget]