The Versatile Fortus 400 3D Printer
Kyle Maxey posted on March 28, 2014 |
The Fortus 400 is a professional grade printer for prototyping, tooling and short-run manufacturing.

Stratasys' Fortus 400 is a Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printer that offers a wide palette of materials to produce some of the most mechanically stable and accurate prototypes possible with additive manufacturing.

With two build volume options (1400in.3 or 3584in.3), the Fortus 400 can produce large models that can be used for functional testing, tooling and end-use applications. When set to its highest resolution print mode, the Fortus 400 will produce parts with a 0.005in layer thickness, providing a realism and feel that's almost indistinguishable from an injection-molded component.

While the Fortus 400 has excellent top-end performance, if you need to speed an early stage prototype through to production, the machine's layer thickness settings can be toggled to decrease build time without sacrificing geometric accuracy. The machine's nine material options lend engineers the ability to create concept models using anything from simple ABS to ULTEM 9085, a fire-retardant material with well-rounded thermal, mechanical and chemical properties.

The Fortus 400 in Action

The Fortus 400 has been used to create everything from jigs and fixtures to components that will be used in NASA's next generation of lunar rovers.

Key to the 400's versatility is its FDM printing technology.  The FDM process melts layers of plastic filament past their glass-transition point, laying them down along precisely controlled tool paths.

Leveraging over 25 years of experience with FDM, Stratasys has created an extensive range of materials (see below) that can all be utilized in a single system. That makes the Fortus 400 an extremely versatile addition to almost any product design cycle.

According to Wojciech Wawrzyniak, who operates a Fortus 400 for Williams3D, "The Fortus 400 produces some of the most rigid and solid mechanical parts available through additive manufacturing." Beyond their performance, Wojciech also noted that components coming off the Fortus 400 require less finishing than components from other machines – meaning high-fidelity, great looking parts are quicker to produce.

Although the Fortus 400 is extremely useful it does have a few drawbacks. Unlike Stratasys' Objet line of printers, the Fortus 400 can't blend materials to create unique composites. Instead, designers must choose a single material for their print and then run and create multi-material assemblies during post processing.

Like the Objet Connex3, however, the Fortus 400 has a large material reservoir, allowing the printer to complete very large jobs without the need for supervision or mid-job material changes. When materials do need to be changed, the Fortus 400's material cartridges are easily swapped and can be recycled through a Stratasys supported program.

All in all, the Fortus 400 is one of the most complete additive manufacturing solutions on the market. It offers a large build volume, a wide range of materials and Stratasys' large network of materials and maintenance vendors.

Quick Facts

Manufacturer: Stratasys

Model: Fortus 400

Material: ABS-ESD7; ABSi; ABS-M30; ABS-M30i; FDM Nylon 12; PC; PC-ABS; PC-ISO; PPSF; ULTEM 9085

Color: Based on Material

Build Envelope Options: 355 x 254 x 254 mm (14 x 10 x 10 in.) or 406 x 355 x 406 mm (16 x 14 x 16 in.)

Layer Thickness: 0.330 mm (0.013 in.); 0.254 mm (0.010 in.);
0.178 mm (0.007 in.); 0.127 mm (0.005 in.)

Axis Resolution: X-axis: 600 dpi; Y-axis: 600 dpi; Z-axis: 1600 dpi

Printer Dimensions: 1281 x 896 x 1962 mm (50.5 x 35.5 x 77.3 in.)

Printer Weight: 786 kg (1,511 lbs.)

Recommended Uses: Prototyping; Hands-on Product Performance Reviews; Short-Run Manufacturing; Tooling

Primary Industries: Automotive, Aerospace, Medical, Packaging, Industrial Design

Machine Price: $185,000


Who Should Use the Fortus 400:

Engineers and designers who need to create prototypes that accurately simulate the thermal and mechanical properties seen in end-use parts will appreciate the Fortus 400's range of materials. Additionally, the Fortus 400 can produce large, functional prototypes, manufacturing tools and some end-use components.


Why Wouldn't You Use the Fortus 400:

Designers looking to create smaller parts that need not meet industry standards might find that the Fortus 400's potential and price point exceed their needs. In addition, those looking to create multi-material assemblies in a single print run will be disappointed by the Fortus 400's use of a single material per job.

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