3D Systems has introduced printers, services, and software that will change what engineers can do with 3D printing. These include a bigger and faster SLA (stereolithography) build volume, another printer that does multiple colors in plastic, one that prints plastic multi-material objects bigger and faster, ceramic 3D printing via the cloud, and a universal print driver. All debuted at the Euromold 2013 conference in Frankfurt, Germany.
The large-format ProX 950 is a production printer for aerospace, industrial, automotive, and medical devices. It has a build volume of 59 inch x 30 inch x 22 inch, almost 5 ft (1.5m) wide and big enough to print an entire car dashboard in one piece. It uses the company's Accura 25 and Accura CastPro materials, for parts usually made from polypropylene or ABS. Using 3D Systems' PolyRay print head technology, this machine also prints up to 10 times faster than the competition and prints extremely small parts with accuracy that the company claims rivals CNC processes.
Click on the image below to check out these printers and some of the objects they have created.
This multi-materials tire and wheel for a remote-controlled vehicle were printed with the new ProJet 5500X. (Source: 3D Systems)
Multi-materials printing just got faster and more accurate using 3D Systems' ProJet 5500X. The machine has an industrial-grade print head with a warranty of five years, which impressed me. It prints in the company's new VisiJet family of rigid white ABS-like, rigid clear PC-like, and flexible black rubber-like pure materials, as well as various intermediate tones and stiffness/flexibility ranges. Designed for rapid prototyping and some end-production parts, the printer can make a wide variety of shapes and sizes, with a net build volume of 21 inch x 15 inch x 11.8 inch.
3D Systems has achieved another real breakthrough with the ProJet 4500, which can print plastic parts with continuous bright colors, based on the company's ColorJet Printing technology. Aimed at engineers and other professionals making functional prototypes and concept models, the printer uses the company's rigid plastic VisiJet C4 Spectrum materials. Net build volume is 8 inch x 10 inch x 8 inch, and resolution is 600 dpi x 600 dpi.
Also in color are the ceramics that can be made with Figulo's ceramic 3D printing process via the cloud, also based on ColorJet. Last year, we told you about 3D Systems' purchase of Phenix Systems. Its PX machines use direct laser sintering with metal and ceramic materials to make final production parts for aerospace, automotive, and industrial tooling applications. Figulo, a recent purchase by 3D Systems, targets a different part of the user spectrum: architects, designers, artists, makers, and consumers. 3D Systems expects to integrate this capability into its Cubify and Quickparts cloud-based services, as well as use Figulo's ceramic expertise in a series of ceramic printers being developed for consumers, hobbyists, and artists.
Last, but by no means least, is the company's Geomagic Print universal printer driver. It makes files from almost any source, including any CAD system and several 3D application programs, and prints on all ProX and ProJet printers. The ProJet 5500X is the first machine to use it; the rest of these series' printers will be equipped with the driver during the first half of this year.
Yes on speed, I noted that the one machine was claiming a 10 X speed improvement over the competition. This is the kind of jump one hopes to see in the early part of the development curve-I can't wait to see what the next 5 years will bring.
We are just seeing the thin edge of the development wedge on speed, materials and size. Big fun for engineers.
Cadman-LT, I know the CNC tolerance-equivalence may be hard to believe, but this technology is going through rapid changes right now--kind of like sped up evolution--in the effort to make it feasible for production. The pace of change has changed.
Ann, thats really great and all the slide shows has fascinated me i really liked the idea of printing car dashboards with 3d printer plus the colour gun was an awsome idea and those colourfull cup saucers were the most cute one .I am really hoping and waiting to see how these 3d systems will change the printing world .
I wish I would have had one of these small home 3D printers the other day. My pipes busted and I needed some small PVC fittings. I drove all over trying to find them. Sure would have been nice to just stay at home and warm, download the file and print it out. Or even better, for local stores to have a printer and they can make you whatever fitting you need. Ahhhhh, one day.
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3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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