In Short: Latest Advances in 3D Printing

Todd Grimm covers improvements to established 3D printing products: four new systems, three new materials and one big announcement.


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3D Systems Corporation
For the improvements, I¦ll start with 3D Systems, which has been quite busy launching new machines and materials over the past year. To close out the calendar, it launched a new system and a new material for its ProJet 3500 line, which uses Multi-Jet Modeling (MJM). So, we are talking about jetting, just like a 2D inkjet printer, but with photopolymers and in three dimensions.

What they rolled out was the ProJet 3500 Max with two models: the HDMax for plastics and the CPXMax for wax patterns.

These two machines are distinguishable from the eight ProJet 3500s launched in May by the redesigned exterior and a new tablet-like, touchscreen control panel.

But more importantly, the ProJet 3500 Max has high-resolution printing without a decrease in available build size. So, you can print parts in any resolution as big as 11.8 x 7.3 x 8.0 inches. Like the other 3500s, Max has four modes ranging from 375 x 375 dpi to 750 x 750 and 0.0006 to 0.0012-inch layers.

And in the very cool category, you can drive these 3D printers from a tablet or smartphone with the remote control app.

HDMax can use the full line-up of VisiJet plastic materials, including the brand new VisiJet X. According to the company, VisiJet X has the look, feel and performance of ABS plastic. VisiJet X is also compatible with all other ProJet 3500s that print plastic parts.

 

EOS GmbH
EOS had a slew of announcements covering software, materials and machines. I¦m just going to take a look at the two new materials and updated machine in its portfolio for laser-sintering of thermoplastics. You¦ll have to check out their website for the rest of the news.

Both of the new materials are polyamides, that¦s nylon to the layman.

PrimePart PLUS¦s advantage is the reuse mix rate. Instead of the typical 50% ratio of virgin material, it needs only 35% new material mixed with what has come out of the laser sintering machine. That reduces waste while having mechanical properties only slightly lower than similar polyamides.

PA 1101 · PA stands for polyamide · is a PA11, which is significant because laser-sintering has been dominated by PA12s. Versus 12, PA 11 has higher elongation at break and better impact resistance.

But that¦s¦ not what EOS is touting. What it is highlighting is that PA11 is based on renewable resources · presumably because it is is derived from vegetable oil.

You can put these new materials in the new FORMIGA P 110, the successor to the FORMIGA P 100 that has been a low-cost laser-sintering alternative for a number of years.

So, what¦re the improvements? You¦ll find under the hood stuff that improves process stability, reproducibility and throughput. For example, it adds two layer thickness alternatives to the P 100s 0.004-inch style: 0.002 for detail and 0.005 for speed.

EOS labels this as a "compact-class" machine, which means a smaller build envelope · 7.9 x 9.8 x 13.0 inches · and a smaller physical size that will slip through a standard doorway. So, no need to tear out a wall to get it installed.

 

Mcor Technologies
Rounding out my list of improvements is Mcor Technologies, which offers a 3D printing lamination process using letter-sized paper. Mcor¦s systems glue one sheet to the next and cut the layer profile with a tungsten-carbide knife.

At EuroMold, it showed the previously announced Matrix 300+. Its improvements are up to three times the speed of its predecessor with higher quality. For speed, it¦s offering a new draft mode with 0.007-inch layers in addition to the 0.004-inch layers of the presentation mode. It also has new software that reduces both build and weeding time ·weeding is their term for removing the surrounding paper from a 3D-printed part.

For quality, it