At the Society of Manufacturing Engineers’ (SME) RAPID 2012 conference and exposition, four new 3D printers were announced by Objet, Mcor, envisionTEC and 3D Systems. These systems cover the whole gamut: tiny 3D printers to big parts and parts in full color to parts with advanced materials.
To kick start an exciting week at RAPID 2012, Objet opened with the announcement of its new Objet30 Pro 3D printer. With this news, Objet is showing the industry that it believes users want more options and more flexibility in a personal-class 3D printer.
The Objet30 Pro replaces its predecessor, Objet 30. These two printers are identical, with one big exception, the materials offered. The Objet30 Pro adds two advanced materials to the five previously offered — one clear and one high temperature.
On the Objet30 Pro, VeroClear makes clear and translucent parts; with the Objet High Temperature material parts have a heat deflection temperature of 149 °F at 66 psi. With an optional thermal post cure, the heat deflection temperature increases to 176 °F.
The five other materials include VeroWhitePlus, VeroBlue, VeroBlack, VeroGray and DurusWhite, which are all opaque materials that range from rigid to somewhat flexible for living hinges. Like all of its products, Objet 30 Pro uses the PolyJet technology, which is an ink-jet like process that deposits and solidifies photopolymers.
This 3D printer offers an 11.8 X 7.9 X 5.9-inch build volume with high resolution — 600 by 600 dpi and 0.0006 to 0.0011-inch layers.
Objet 30 Pro will start shipping in June of this year. For those that own Alaris30 or Objet30 3D printers, upgrades are available.
The next announcement came from a company that many don’t know, Mcor Technologies. Although the company has been around for a few years, it only recently started selling its 3D printer, the Matrix 300, in North America.
Mcor uses a lamination process that builds parts from ordinary, letter-size paper available at any Staples. For each slice, a nozzle deposits water-based adhesive in the area of the part’s cross-section. Then a fresh sheet of paper is laminated to the one below. After that, a knife precisely cuts the outline of the part.
For the existing Matrix 300, users can load any combination of colored paper to produce multi-color parts. But Mcor is taking this to the next level with the Mcor Iris, which the company states will produce photo-realistic, 3D printed parts. Early samples from their first test prints look quite promising.
What Iris will do is add a full-color offset printer to the architecture of the Matrix 300. This 2D printer will print only along the contours of each layer and it does so in a way that saturates the paper. After color printing, the sheet is then fed into the lamination process.
For the Iris, the dimensions of a standard sheet of letter-sized paper dictate part size and layer thickness.
The Iris will be available in the fourth quarter of this year, but pricing has not been announced. Mcor has stated that Iris will be offered in the company’s unique one-, two-, or three-year plans that give owners everything needed, including the 3D printer, to run unlimited parts. Users just supply the paper.
EnvisionTEC announced, but did not show, its new Perfactory Micro. It delayed this 3D printer’s debut until the big JCK jewelers show, which was apropos because this tiny system is ideal for jewelry making.
Like its entire product line, envisonTEC’s latest 3D printer uses DLP chips, like those found in a projector, to solidify photopolymers. But the Micro has one difference, it uses an LED light source to reduce operational costs.
This little desktop printer measures just 9 X 8 X 24 inches and weighs only 29 pounds. Simply connect it to a PC with a USB cable, and it’s ready to print high-resolution parts. In X and Y, the resolution is 820 dpi. In Z, the layer thickness is 0.001 inch.
This 3D printer is targeting jewelry applications, so it has a small build envelope of 1.6 x 1.2 x 3.9 inches.
Perfactory Micro lists for $14,999. That price includes a software bundle that has a $7,500 value.
The final announcement from RAPID was 3D Systems’ ProJet 7000, which is a larger version of the ProJet 6000 that was introduced eighteen months ago.
Please note that this 3D printer uses the laser-based stereolithography process, not the ink-jet like Multi-Jet Modeling process for other products that carry the ProJet name.
The ProJet 7000 has 15 X 15-inch build area and two options for depth, either 10 inches or 2 inches. For reference, the ProJet 6000 has a 10 X 10-inch build area with three depths: 10, 5 and 2 inches.
Like the 6000, the ProJet 7000 comes in three versions - - - the SD 7000, the HD 7000 and the MP 7000. The SD offers layer thicknesses of either 0.004 or 0.005 inch and a beam diameter of 0.005 inch. Both the HD and MP 7000 offer those specs and add the XHD mode that has a 0.002-inch layer thickness with a 0.003-inch beam diameter.
The difference between the latter two 3D printers is that the MP 7000 offers VisiJet e-Stone material for dental applications. All three will run the other five VisiJet materials that offer flexibility, toughness, color, clarity or high temperature resistance.
For further information and links to all the products featured in this episode, check out the news section in ENIGINEERING.com’s the 3D printer zone.