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Look Ma—No Hands!

Look Ma—No Hands!

With the introduction of a $24,900 machine last year, Dimension Co. was looking to bring rapid prototyping to the masses. Now, they want to make things easier for engineers, says Dimension ( VP and General Manager Jonathan Cobb, explaining the reason the company is introducing a $34,900 machine to the market this year.

Unveiled here at the design show this week, the primary difference in the new, higher-priced machine lies in the fact that it uses a water-soluble material to form the supports for a part. Instead of someone having to manually remove these supports which involves prying or pulling the material off by hand, the part can simply be dunked in a water-based bath. Voila! The supports simply dissolve.

Cobb reports that though the existing model is selling well (four times as many units last year as the $60K machines that parent company Stratosys moved), engineers were looking for the convenience and reliability of, well, an ink jet printer. "They don't want to muck around with the supports.It's a time-consuming effort for engineers, whose time could better be spent designing parts to begin with," says Cobb.

Dimension hopes that the machine will spur additional sales of its rapid prototyping equipment, which is catching on in the market. Cobb says key markets include academia and design services, though more OEMs are beginning to show interest. That's no surprise. Wouldn't every design team like a rapid prototyping machine in the back hall at their disposal?

Low-cost rapid prototyping machines have been monostrously successful with design engineers, says Dimension.

Part separators simply disolve with Dimension's newest rapid prototyping machine. In conventional systems, engineers need to remove the separators manually (shown in brown in part at right).
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