ProJet CJP 860Pro
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on May 04, 2016 |
860Pro 3D printer is a full-color 3D printer designed for realistic-looking models.

The ProJet ColorJet Printing (CJP) line is the result of 3D Systems’ 2012 acquisition of Z Corporation, the MIT spinout responsible for the invention of this full-color 3D printing technology. Outside of the rise of desktop 3D printing, 3D Systems’ CJP technology may have played one of the most important roles in bringing 3D printing technology into the spotlight of mainstream society. The ability to 3D print full-color objects lends itself to a number of eye-catching consumer applications, particularly 3D-printed selfies. The ProJet CJP 860Pro 3D printer is the largest and highest-resolution 3D printer in the CJP line.  

The ProJet 860Pro is 3D Systems’ largest CJP 3D printer. (Image courtesy of 3D Systems.)

Featuring five printheads, the ProJet 860Pro has a large build volume of 508 mm x 381 mm x 229 mm (20 in x 15 in x 9 in) and is capable of 3D printing at a rate of 5 to 15 mm per hour (0.2 to 0.6 in per hour). This system has a resolution of 600 x 540 DPI and is capable of producing layer thicknesses as fine as 0.1 mm (0.004 in). It should be noted that, though it has the largest capacity of any CJP 3D printer, it is not the fastest, which would be the ProJet 660Pro. A full CMYK color palette allows the ProJet 860Pro to produce detailed, full-color models for a variety of applications, such as large architectural models, sculptures, medical models and industrial molds and castings. Due to the large volume of the machine, businesses that wish to produce large quantities of 3D-printed consumer products, such as full-color selfies and figurines, might also consider this machine. 

WhiteClouds is a 3D printing service bureau that operates a number of ProJet 660Pros, ProJet 4500s, and a ProJet 860Pro. "At WhiteClouds, we have two 860 printers as part of our long line of printers," said Joey Skinner, COO at WhiteClouds. "The printer's extra-large print bed allows us to handle the larger prints which we often need, and it is provides very similar quality to the 660 printers. In addition, it uses the same consumables which is nice, and although it is a little slower, it is a go-to for those times when you need a large print."

How the ProJet 860Pro Works

The binder jetting process on which the ProJet 860Pro relies sees a water-based liquid bonding agent deposited onto a plaster-based powder material on the machine’s powder bed. In the case of the 860Pro, clear and color binder is sprayed from 1,520 different jets with each layer, after which a roller pushes a new layer of plaster powder onto the print bed. Because the binder only fuses the material used in the printed object, the surrounding powder acts as a support, allowing for the 3D printing of complex objects. 

After the print job has been completed, the excess powder is vacuumed up for reuse in subsequent print tasks. The print itself is cleaned up with an airbrush in a separate cleaning station, incorporated into some of the CJP machines, but sold separately with the 860Pro. The print is then placed into an infiltrant bath that fills in the object’s microscopic pores, sealing its surface and improving its color saturation and mechanical properties. 

The infiltrants available for applying finishes to CJP prints include (1) the standard ColorBond material, described above, as well as (2) StrengthMax, an epoxy designed for further improving the tensile strength, flexural strength and flexibility of prints; (3) an ecofriendly Salt Water Cure material for strengthening monochromatic prints and (4) a wax infiltrant for creating a quick and smooth finish. Despite the ability to use these infiltrants, prints made with the 860Pro can’t withstand physical stress. Ceramic-like, these prints are typically used for aesthetic purposes. Given the relatively low cost of lower-end CJP systems, service providers will often supply full-color prints at reasonable prices. 

The ProJet 860Pro in Action 

In order to create a vibrant art installation for a corporate space in New York City, marketing agency Sparks looked to the city itself. To fill the 24-ft-long wall, the agency decided to create a large-scale replica of Manhattan. With technologies like CNC milling falling short of the desired output and timeline, the firm then turned to 3D Systems’ Quickparts manufacturing service division

Each panel was 3D-printed on the ProJet 860Pro 3D printer. (Image courtesy of 3D Systems.) 

Sparks’ client Vick Art Advisors led the design process, finding an existing model of the city at A map of the skyline at night was subsequently mapped on top of the 3D model to create the look the firm was after. After the art consulting agency redesigned about 90 percent of the model for 3D printing, the model was broken up into 15- by 15-in tiles. Due the large size of the pieces, the resulting 28 tiles had to be 3D printed on the ProJet 860Pro. In the interest of time, Quickparts leveraged their facilities in France and Massachusetts to produce the segments as quickly as possible. The panels were then shipped overnight to the Sparks team, who assembled the display before shipping the entire project to the corporate space, where the piece was ultimately hung.

The Manhattan skyline was broken down into 28 panels for 3D printing on the large ProJet 860Pro 3D printer. (Image courtesy of 3D Systems.)

Manufacturer: 3D Systems

Model: ProJet 860Pro

Material: VisiJet PXL

Build Envelope: 508 mm x 381 mm x 229 mm (20 x 15 x 9 in)

Layer Thickness: 100 microns (.004 in)

Printer Dimensions: 1190 mm x 1160 mm x 1620 mm (47 x 46 x 68 in)

Printer Weight: 363 kg (800 lb)

Recommended Uses: Architectural models, sculptures and other full-color prototypes and displays.

Machine Price: $113,900

Who Should Use the ProJet 860Pro:

Those that need to produce large and vibrant full-color models should turn to the ProJet 860Pro, as this is the largest and highest-resolution full-color 3D printer currently on the market. Batch production of full-color objects, such as 3D-printed selfies and figurines, can also be performed with this machine.

Why You Wouldn't Use the ProJet 860Pro:

3D Systems’ CJP technology is ideal for full-color models and therefore should not be used to 3D print functional objects. The materials will degrade over long periods of time or when exposed to the elements and cannot withstand heavy use. Those wishing to perform smaller CJP production jobs may consider one of 3D Systems’ smaller machines.

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