Classic baseball bats are made of 50 year old Pennsylvanian northern white ash - a wood that's hard, strong and durable. Also popular today are the bats made of aluminum or aluminum/graphite or titanium alloys that are both light and strong. In any case, there's a good reason why these materials are used. Although it may not necessarily look it, the ABS-like Digital Material in this video is put under considerable stress. The bat features a very thin neck towards the handle end, supporting a heavy weight at the contact end – which all goes to produce a strong 'pendulum' effect into every swing.
Add to that the fact that some of the objects we were hitting here were very hard upon contact. The impact in the case of the 3D printed ball was strong enough to jar my hands lose from the bat and leave me in considerable (but thankfully only temporary) pain. All in all, I think the bat performed better than I expected.
This material, which functionally performs like ABS-grade engineering plastics, is groundbreaking when you consider that it starts out as a liquid resin that's jetted from an inkjet print head, hardened by UV light!
So what's the big deal then? Why not use a technology that simply extrudes real ABS? The answer, of course, is that most product designers and engineers require versatility when it comes to their rapid prototyping needs. Objet's inkjet-based 3D printing technology combines ultra-fine 16 micron layer resolution; a range of almost 70 different 3D printing materials; and can combine 2 very different materials in 14 different ways (!) within any given model. There is no other technology that can combine these levels of accuracy, material versatility, visual product realism and functional engineering plastic simulation within a single machine.
All that means of course is that we'll just have to up the ante for our next experimentation! Stay tuned.
More blog posts and videos on the ABS-like Digital Material: