Objet Ltd. has released 39 new digital materials for use with its Connex 3D multi-material printing systems. The materials are tougher than their predecessors. They also offer a wider range of shore scale values and are resistant to high temperatures.
Bruce Bradshaw, Objet's US marketing director, told us that the high-end Connex 3D printers print multiple digital materials, each a custom blend of two out of 17 possible base materials.
High-temperature materials are sometimes brittle, and strong materials are not always heat-resistant. Before, when you made a 3D-printed prototype, you had to make a tradeoff between strength and temperature resistance. With digital materials, you can take the best characteristics of each and combine them digitally, for example, to get a high-temperature-resistant material that's also strong.
New digital materials for Objet's Connex 3D printing systems offer improved toughness, a wider range of shore scale values, and resistance to high temperatures. They also come in new shades of gray. (Source: Objet)
Engineers now can include up to 14 digital materials with different properties -- rigidity, flexibility, opaqueness, transparency, ABS-like qualities, different color shades, and high-temperature resistance -- in the same model. This makes it possible to simulate very precise material properties that most realistically match the prototyping stage to the end product. (A video on the next page shows a classic car model printed with multi-material 3D printing technology.)
Blending materials on the fly lets the Connex system put certain combinations in specific areas of the model to get different values of a given material property, such as different shore values for a range of softness and flexibility. Engineers select the values they want, including shore values and tensile and tear strength. This could produce a rigid steering wheel with a soft cover.
Thanks, Nadine. Actually, it's more than visual resemblance: with different material properties in different parts of the model that more closely resemble the product, the model does a better job of simulating form, fit and especially function.
"Digital materials" is Objet's term. As Bradshaw is quoted as saying, they are combined digitally, meaning via computer--preprogrammed--during printing, versus making parts of a prototype separately, and mechanically combining them after printing. The point is that engineers can program the printer to print different material property combinations in different parts of the model, as Objet describes on the page at the link we gave in the article.
Objet has really done a great job pushing a variety of materials for their 3D printers, thus upping the utility of how they can be used. My question is what exactly makes a material "digital"? I get the ability to mix and tune the properties so that they can mimic more traditional materials. But how is that done in a digital fashion? Is there some sort of software algorithm that handles the finetuned mixing or is it a property in the material itself?
The grab bag of plastic and rubber materials featured in this new product slideshow are aimed at lighting applications or automotive uses. The rest are for a wide variety of industries, including aerospace, oil & gas, RF and radar, automotive, building materials, and more.
Many of the new adhesives we're featuring in this slideshow are for use in automotive and other transportation applications. The rest of these new products are for a wide variety of applications including aviation, aerospace, electrical motors, electronics, industrial, and semiconductors.
A Columbia University team working on molecular-scale nano-robots with moving parts has run into wear-and-tear issues. They've become the first team to observe in detail and quantify this process, and are devising coping strategies by observing how living cells prevent aging.
Many of the new materials on display at MD&M West were developed to be strong, tough replacements for metal parts in different kinds of medical equipment: IV poles, connectors for medical devices, medical device trays, and torque-applying instruments for orthopedic surgery. Others are made for close contact with patients.
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