A couple of years ago, I had quiet conversations about a possible color Connex 3Dprinter at an AMUG conference. The company known as Objet then, was experimenting with this idea. Today, Stratasys Ltd., a manufacturer of 3D printers and materials for personal use, prototyping, and production, announced the launch of the Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer, which, according to the company, is the first and only 3D printer to combine colors with multi-material 3D printing.
Answering a request for color from many engineers involved in product design, engineering and manufacturing processes, the Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer features a unique triple-jetting technology that combines droplets of three base materials to produce parts with virtually unlimited combinations of rigid, flexible, and transparent color materials as well as color digital materials – all in a single print run. This ability to achieve the characteristics of an assembled part without assembly or painting is a significant time-saver. It helps product manufacturers validate designs and make good decisions earlier before committing to manufacturing, and bring products to market faster.
“Stratasys’ goal is to help our customers revolutionize their design and manufacturing processes,” says Stratasys CEO David Reis. “I believe our new Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer will transform the way our customers design, engineer and manufacture new products. In general and with the Connex technology in particular, we will continue to push the envelope of what’s possible in a 3D world.”
Engineers at beta user Trek Bicycle in Waterloo, Wisconsin are using the Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer for assessment and testing of accessories like bike chain stay guards and handlebar grips prior to actual production. “The Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer changed the way we manufacture at Trek, augmenting our traditional, time-consuming CNC processes with fast, iterative and realistic prototyping and functional testing,” says Mike Zeigle, manager of Trek’s prototype development group.
“Now we produce bicycle parts that look and feel like production parts. We are particularly excited about 3D printing our models directly in color. This gives our designers the ability to graphically display color contact pressure map data on rider contact parts like seats and grips. We are also working on doing the same with FEA & CFD stress data on structural bike components,” adds Zeigle.
Three Primary Color Materials Combine to Create a Spectrum of Vibrant Colors. Similar to a 2D inkjet printer, three color materials – VeroCyan, VeroMagenta and VeroYellow – are combined to produce hundreds of vivid colors. These color materials join Stratasys’ extensive range of PolyJet photopolymer materials including digital materials, rigid, rubber-like, transparent, and high temperature materials to simulate standard and high temperature engineering plastics.
Flexible Materials in Color*
The Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer also features six palettes for new rubber-like Tango colors, ranging from opaque to transparent colors in various shore values to address markets such as automotive, consumer and sporting goods and fashion.*
“Since its introduction in 2007, the Objet Connex Multi-material 3D printing platform has paved the way for the development of advanced 3D printing materials with unique mechanical and thermal properties,” says Stratasys VP of product marketing and sales operations Igal Zeitun. “The Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer produces models and parts using photopolymers in vivid colors so you can create colorful models from investigating concepts to pre-production pilot runs.
“As the first true multi-purpose 3D printer, we believe the Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer is in a league of its own, enabling you to dream up a product in the morning, and hold it in your hands by the afternoon, with the exact intended color, material properties and surface finish.”
The Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer is based on proven Connex technology. Suitable for over-molding with Digital ABS and complex multi-material parts, the Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer is designed to enable designers, engineers and manufacturers to create models, molds and parts that match the characteristics of production parts. It 3D prints models and parts with the color, durability and surface finish of end products. This includes achieving excellent mechanical properties such as tensile strength, elongation at break, and multiple hardness shore values, which simulate high performance thermoplastics. It also allows overmolding using durable Digital ABS materials and introduces new Shore A values for Digital ABS, ranging from A27 to A95, a major advantage in manufacturing consumer products.
Featuring a large build envelope, the Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer is ideal for high capacity production. Print jobs can run with about 30kg of resin per cycle. True to the high resolutions available with PolyJet 3D printing technology, the Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer prints as fine as 16 micron layers for models with superior surface finish and ultra-fine detail.
The Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer is commercially available today.
*The Flexible Materials in Color are expected to be commercially available in Q2/2014.