This week at RAPID+TCT 2018, 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD) is showcasing its portfolio of industry-leading solutions that are helping manufacturers move from prototyping to production and realize competitive advantages. One such platform designed for production is Figure 4 Production and Figure 4 Standalone. 3D Systems claims this is the fastest, most accurate 3D printing technology available. Recently released data on Figure 4 Production highlights part print speeds up to 65 mm/hr, with prototyping speeds of up to 100 mm/hr. The Figure 4 platform delivers part accuracy and repeatability, with Six Sigma repeatability (Cpk > 2) across all materials. The combination of speed and accuracy complemented by a light-based UV curing process that takes minutes versus hours with heat-based curing processes, yields the world’s fastest additive manufacturing throughput and time-to-part.
Figure 4 enables high-speed digital molding, a process that complements traditional production methods, providing manufacturers the accuracy, reliability, repeatability and uptime of traditional molding, producing parts without the costs and time-consuming aspects of tooling. Digital molding is completely scalable, and with the high surface quality available on Figure 4, excels at fine part texturing. In comparison to conventional manufacturing, part texturing is essentially free and applicable to any surface no matter the shape.
In addition to supporting long- and short-run batches, high-speed digital molding allows different parts to be produced in the same batch. This gives manufacturers the ability to quickly iterate a design or manufacture end-use parts without regard to a minimum order quantity.
At RAPID+TCT 2018, 3D Systems is announcing more than 30 materials for Figure 4 Production including:
• Figure 4 RGD-BLK 10 is a durable material for rigid, load bearing applications, as well as production parts for automotive and durable goods applications.
• Figure 4 RGD-GRY 10 is a high-speed material for rapid design iterations providing up to 100 mm/hr build speed.
• Figure 4 RGD-GRY 15 is a strong, rigid material for production applications.
• Figure 4 ELAST-BLK is an elastomeric black material ideal for iteration and design verification of flexible parts.
• Figure 4 JCST-GRN is castable green material optimized for investment casting of jewelry patterns.
Figure 4 Production is compatible with 3D Systems’ entire portfolio of NextDent resins to facilitate full customization of dental devices, as well as an Orthodontic Tooling resin. Figure 4 Production customers also have the option of collaborating with 3D Systems’ engineers to create unique resins specifically designed for their application. Custom configuration pricing offers both low Total Cost of Operation (TCO) and low per part cost.
General availability for Figure 4 Standalone is planned for Q3 2018 and will be priced below $25,000. Manufacturers interested in Figure 4 Production can collaborate with the company’s Production Printer Team to configure a solution customized to their business needs.
“At Rapid+TCT, 3D Systems continues to deliver on its promise to ‘Make 3D Production Real.’ We are showcasing key print technologies and supporting materials, giving designers and manufacturers a migration path from entry level additive manufacturing solutions to full, automated configurations that support Industry 4.0,” said Vyomesh Joshi, president and chief executive officer, 3D Systems. “This is only made possible by the decades of accumulated expertise our engineers and scientists bring to the industry. It is through their knowledge and passion that 3D Systems is helping organizations redefine their design, manufacturing and supply chain models.”
Revolutionizing plastics production
For manufacturers needing to produce larger parts with good durability and finishing, there’s the ProX SLS 6100. The next-generation printing platform enables customers to seamlessly scale from functional prototyping to low volume functional production parts. By combining the printer, new materials, software and cloud-based services, this new solution addresses the majority of the plastic prototyping and production needs of the automotive, durable goods, and healthcare industries as well as satisfying specific needs for aerospace interior cabin parts. The ProX SLS 6100 also delivers larger parts and is aggressively priced. 3D Systems offers a strong portfolio of Nylon materials to complement this new selective laser sintering printer:
• Six materials in Nylon 11 and Nylon 12 including white, black, aluminum-filled, and glass-filled to serve a variety of aerospace, automotive and medical applications for both prototyping and production;
• DuraForm PA has USP Class VI as well as FDA certification for food safety, and DuraForm FR1200 is FAR compliant to meet aerospace regulations on flame retardancy.
The ProX SLS 6100 solution incorporates production-grade materials, 3D Sprint software, and 3D Connect capability for cloud-based monitoring services to address prototyping and production needs. The complete solution of materials, technology and software combined with a competitive initial purchase price delivers a 20% lower TCO over similar printers. The ProX SLS 6100 is available as part of a complete turn-key solution for less than $300,000.
For companies looking for an entry-level industrial 3D printing solution, 3D Systems is announcing late May 2018 planned general availability of the FabPro 1000, for low-volume small part prototyping and production. The FabPro 1000 – which includes the company’s 3D Sprint software – creates precise, high-quality parts at up to three-times-faster throughput compared to competing systems. The entry-level industrial printer is launching with three new materials:
• FabPro Tough BLK is a durable plastic material for producing black parts for functional prototyping and production parts.
• FabPro Proto GRY is a fast, general purpose plastic material ideally suited for industrial applications.
• FabPro JewelCast GRN is a green material ideal for small, finely featured jewelry master patterns and for gypsum investment casting applications.
The FabPro 1000 completed beta testing to positive reviews. Scott Young, engineering manager, Bastech, Inc. commented, “The FabPro 1000’s speed allowed me to build parts and finish them in the same day, and the surface quality rivals what I’ve seen with other technologies. Changing materials was also easy compared to other systems – it is as simple as replacing the print tray and adding a new material.”
Improved quality control for metal parts
In addition to its 3D printing solutions for Plastics, 3D Systems offers a full-line of solutions for metal additive manufacturing. The company is launching DMP Monitoring, which equips users with a toolset for enhanced quality control for its Direct Metal Printing technology. DMP Monitoring gives technicians real-time data collection and analysis to optimize build parameters and produce higher quality parts. Over time, this reduces waste, improves productivity, and lowers TCO. Additionally, the approach will archive photos and images to support process traceability and documentation for highly regulated industries such as aerospace and healthcare.
3D Systems developed DMP Monitoring based on expertise gained from producing more than 500,000 metal parts annually in its global Customer Innovation Centers. The toolset combines DMP Vision and DMP Meltpool to capture images of the powder bed and the meltpool to highlight areas of interest for further exploration. DMP Monitoring is currently available for 3D Systems’ ProX DMP 320 printers. It will be included with the company’s DMP 8500 Factory Solution when it becomes generally available later in 2018.
Streamlined workflow for organic design
Software is an important component of 3D Systems’ solutions that helps manufacturers redefine their workflows and move from prototyping to production. At RAPID+TCT 2018, 3D Systems will demonstrate the recently announced integration between leading 3D scanner manufacturer Artec and Geomagic Freeform. Artec scanners can now be ordered with Geomagic Freeform software, which features a rich set of organic 3D engineering hybrid modeling tools. Designers can scan models and textures directly into Freeform to complete their design, streamlining the workflow and facilitating the design of orthopedic and prosthetic devices as well as innovative consumer products, original artwork and jewelry with fine, intricate details.
Visitors to the 3D Systems booth (#1204) at RAPID+TCT 2018 can see this expertise in action through 3D Systems’ portfolio of end-to-end solutions, and the benefits of its On Demand Manufacturing outsourcing services.