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Slideshow: 3D Systems Changes What Engineers Can Do With 3D Printing

This multi-materials tire and wheel for a remote-controlled vehicle were printed with the new ProJet 5500X. <br> (Source: 3D Systems)

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.

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.

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