The design team at FATHOM decided to put the Objet500 Connex3, a multi-purpose 3D printing production system that can print in an array of colors and materials, to the test. The team created custom electronic enclosure assemblies to be built exclusively on the Connex3 for speakers and headphones.
Vivid color 3D printing is just one of the capabilities available on the Objet500 Connex3. It can print prototypes in a range of material options as well, including rigid, flexible, clear, and durable. This 3D printing production system can speed up every stage in the product development cycle—from concept modeling to functional prototypes to true-to-life models during the product launch, and every step in between.
According to industrial designer, Veronica De La Rosa, “our design team has been designing several consumer electronics; two blue tooth speakers and a set of over the ear headphones. The goal of these projects is to demonstrate to our clients how they can leverage the different technologies and applications offered at FATHOM throughout a product’s development process.”
The electronics’ design decided to use the Connex3 to test out potential color combinations. The system opens up the possibilities of being creative with color in the electronics market. Said Veronica, “In our initial renderings of our designs, we settled on conventional colors (mostly black and various grays). But once we started experimenting with the Connex3 color palette in our render engine, we realized that there were some really great color opportunities to take advantage of — we were really surprised to see how close the 3D printed models resembled the renderings. It’s exciting to see the Connex3 turn the act of 3D printing into something that resembles more of an analog process.”
Continued Veronica, “The Connex3 is a really comprehensive tool for designers and engineers to use throughout the entire product development cycle. In the initial conceptual phase, designers and engineers can use it to print out monochromatic models to focus on evaluation of form, proportion, and ergonomics. Further in the design process, designers can print out more diagrammatic models where parts in the model can be color coded to represent different information. For example, structural analysis can be printed directly onto models informing designers of potential structural failures.
Printing color can produce final color models faster than painting and finishing prints. For marketing purposes, final CAD files can be printed and undergo model finishing for more realistic looking models. With the ability to print Digital ABS with over-molding, designers can create models that not only test the look of their designs but also the functionality.
Just as 3D printing sped up the prototyping process for engineers and industrial designers, time to market is faster now that colors are available to creative teams early in the design process. Models can be printed in different colors and presented to focus groups to validate design decisions early in the process.
In addition, the Connex 3 can also simulate different colored materials. For example, models can be printed in different colored durometers simulating colored over-molds. Designers can also experiment with light transmittance and create different layering and lighting effects.
When exporting the CAD files to the 3D printer, Veronica worked in Rhino and used layers to organize the geometries in the files. During the modeling process, she created layers based on her CAD process. Then, when it came time to print the files, she saved a version just for printing and created layers for each of the colors she chose to use.
Then, she moved all the parts of the same material in the model to their respective layers, which let her easily select the same material parts within the model. After that, she exported all the same colored objects at the same time as one STL. She repeated this for all the colors in her model. This way when the STLs was imported into Objet Studio, FATHOM production engineers could easily assign a color to the specified, exported STL group.