Stratasys Unveils New Pro 3D Printer Series at SOLIDWORKS World
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on February 09, 2017 |

SOLIDWORKS World 2017 is coming to a close, but not without a few big stories from Dassault Systèmes’ largest trade show. Among the announcements made at the event are a new series of fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printers from Stratasys. The new F123 Series is meant to be a made up of modern 3D printers suited for the connected workplace.

The F123 Series was developed with input from Stratasys surveys, which suggested that ease of use, accessibility and material choice were some of the features most important for widespread adoption of 3D printing when it comes to rapid prototyping for workgroups. To address this, the company has integrated a touchscreen into the printers that allows for the management of most operations, and also made it possible to work with the printers remotely across a computer network. As with most modern printers, the print progress can be monitored from portable devices. Material installation and replacement are also meant to be fast and easy.
The F123 Series is available in three sizes—F170, F270 and F370—with build volumes ranging from 10 to 14 in(25.4 to 35.56 cm) and can use four different materials in 10 colors, including PLA, ASA, ABS and PC-ABS. With a GrabCAD Print Add-In for SOLIDWORKS, it’s possible for users to estimate parts for a number of Stratasys machines, including this new series, without leaving SOLIDWORKS.
The exterior design has BMW written all over it. This is because the aesthetic of the printers was achieved with the help of Designworks, a BMW Group company. The result is a sleek silver case with black and blue accents. The colors coat a 1/8-in aluminum exterior.

As Zehavit Reisin, vice president and head of rapid prototyping solutions at Stratasys, said of the new series, “Today there is a vast market opportunity in product prototyping that we feel is not being addressed by current 3D printing systems. The launch of the StratasysF123 Series targets those product design workgroups, industrial designers, engineers, students and educators who demand a professional-quality rapid prototyping solution that is simple to use, produces reliable, engineering-quality results, integrates perfectly within an office or lab setting and is affordable to own and operate. As the company that invented FDM, Stratasys brings a rich pedigree to the F123 Series, providing our customers with an optimal balance between usability and high performance.”

The F123 Series seems to be designed as an upgrade to the Stratasys uPrint as an entry into 3D printing for newer users. For this reason, a touchscreen and easy material management could decrease the learning curve and make it possible to jump into 3D printing a bit more quickly than Stratasys’ more industrial machines. With a price tag below $20,000, according to 3D Printing Industry (3DPI), the F170 is pricier than MakerBot printers and less expensive than the Fortus and Dimension machines.

It also means that there is a trade off in terms of openness to the user and material options. With only four materials, users are limited to their filament choices and would need to move up to the industrial machines for expanded options. However, with the introduction of PLA to Stratasys machines, users can print in a draft mode that is almost 100 percent faster than the Dimension and Fortus 250mc. Even without the draft mode, 3DPI suggests that the F123 Series is 49 percent faster than those machines’ performance of 0.91 in³/hr.

The F123 printers also feature Stratasys’ patented sealed print chamber, necessary for even and consistent printing, without delamination from the print bed. The F123 also brings 15 new patents to the company, including water-soluble plastic and breakaway supports, which many see as necessary for 3D printing complex, hollow and moving parts with FDM. In that way, Stratasys may be adding to its own innovation capacity at the expense of other FDM manufacturers, a topic we will cover in an upcoming article on the open-source movement.

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