3D Systems Corp. is trying to get its ProJet 1500 line of personal 3D color printer (which we have discussed before) into the hands of more business users, and it is marketing the 3D printers as a staple for a wider variety of quick-turn prototyping applications.
With user feedback highlighting the desire for faster prototyping solutions, 3D Systems went back to the drawing board to develop a fast-print material specifically for the ProJet 1500 line. The new Zoom translucent material is being offered alongside the five color material options that were already available for the ProJet 1500.
"Sometimes engineers need a part fast, and they don’t care about color as much as speed," Cathy Lewis, 3D Systems' vice president of global marketing, told us.
The company was able to boost performance by exploring a process that takes some of the opaqueness out of the traditional ProJet printing material and replaces it with a more transparent property, allowing for an accelerated fusion process.
The Zoom translucent material can accelerate print performance on the ProJet 1500 by as much as 50 percent.
On average, ProJet 1500 jobs using the Zoom material will print up to 50 percent faster than those using the traditional color choices, Lewis said. The color materials print at a benchmark of around a half-inch per hour, but the Zoom substance will print at eight-tenths of an inch per hour -- and the time savings can have dramatic impact for engineers looking to fast track the building of a prototype for a design review.
"By nature, the design process is iterative, and there’s usually a lot of issues with a first design," Lewis said. "Half of the time, engineers know the design isn't perfect -- they just need something to show others. This lets them take the first or second draft during the iterative process, get something printed faster, then puts them in a better position to move on and print with the other materials in full color once it's evolved."
Zoom is best suited for fast-turn, first-draft takes on a prototype, she said, but the material has the same structural properties as the traditional color materials, so its use case isn’t limited.
Lewis said 3D Systems developed Zoom specifically for the ProJet 1500 model and doesn't have plans to offer it on its other 3D printers. However, it hasn't ruled out doing so at a later date.