The ProJet 3500 HDMax
Kyle Maxey posted on May 02, 2014 |

As the flagship model of 3DSystems' 3500 line of 3D printers, the ProJet 3500 HDMax is a versatile workhorse capable of creating functional prototypes and wax models that can be used for investment casting.

First released in late 2012, the ProJet 3500 HDMax is 3D Systems' answer for professionals who want to create functional prototypes or wax models that are ready to move toward investment casting. Armed with 3DSystems' MultiJet Printing technology, the 3500 HDMax can process seven of 3DSystems' plastic VisiJet materials and a support material.

Most notable among the ProJet 3500 HDMax's materials is its VisiJet Procast castable plastic. Primarily a urethane acrylate polymer, the material can produce intricate, yet delicate models and delivers excellent direct microcasting performance for small items. Procast is well suited to the medical, dental and jewelry industries.

In addition to its relatively wide range of materials, the 3500 HDMax boasts a high speed print mode and features the largest build volume among 3DSystems' 3500 series of printers. These attributes allow the 3500 HD Max to maximize throughput with minimal downtime, even for projects that require rapid iteration and prototypes.

Wisconsin's Turbine Technologies (TT) has used the ProJet3500 HDMax extensively in its redesign of turbine engines. By replacing the time consuming process of hand carving each of its casting patterns with a 3D printed ProCast model, TT has saved thousands of dollars and now iterates their designs more rapidly. TT's engineers have found that moving a component from CAD to printing and then directly to casting ensures the accuracy of a part is spot on.

 

The ProJet in Action
According to Wojciech Wawrzyniak of Williams 3D, one of the best features of the 3500 HDMax is the printer's ability to produce functional prototypes that can undergo a number of different post-processing operations. Whether it be metal plating, adding screws or simply applying color, the 3500 can deliver a level of realism that gives anyone on or outside a product design team an accurate view of a product.

Wojciech also commented on print quality, stating that while the ProJet isn't capable of delivering end-use parts directly from the machine, its print resolution was among the best he's seen. "The material stepping on the HDMax is nearly invisible. And as a whole the systems materials have a better finish than Objet's." Given that level of finish, the ProJet 3500 HDMax may be an excellent printer for anyone working in an environment where prototypes need to be delivered quickly and with excellent realism.

Watchmaker Citizen has been utilizing their 3500 HDMax to improve the design of their assembly jigs. As you might imagine, putting together a timepiece is an intricate process. Watchmakers often build jigs that allow them to fit components together with as little fumbling as possible.

In the past, these jigs have been a one size fits all affair because they are difficult to produce. With the ProJet 3500, however, jigs can be built in CAD, allowing Citizen to build and test new, faster assembly techniques for each product.

If there was one complaint Wojciech had about his experience with his ProJet 3500 HDMax it was that "while [3D Systems'] machine maintenance was adequate, its material delivery service is hopeless." Having to order materials four or more weeks out, 3D Systems' service bureaus could be improved, particularly in Australia and Asia.

 

Quick Facts

Manufacturer: 3D Systems

Model: ProJet 3500 HDMax

Material: VisiJet® Crystal; VisiJet® M3 Black; VisiJet® Navy VisiJet® Procast; (investment casting) VisiJet® Proplast; VisiJet® Techplast; VisiJet® X;

VisiJet® S300 (Support)

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; Investment Casting Models

Primary Industries: Automotive, Aerospace, Medical, Packaging, Industrial Design; Jewelry; Dental

Machine Price: $70 - $90k Depending on configuration.

 

Who Should Use the ProJet 3500 HD Max:
The 3500 HDMax is an excellent tool for prototyping parts in a variety of materials, or for product development teams that need to print plastic parts for direct investment casting.

Given the 3500 HDMax's relatively large print volume nearly any user, regardless of industry, can expect high resolution models from this machine.

 

Why Wouldn't You Use the ProJet 3500 HD Max:
Not all users require the high resolution and large build volume that the Project offers. These features come at a high price, so your team can only justify this machine if you need to iterate quickly through a series of high quality prototypes.

The machine also comes equipped with 3D Systems' Print 3D app that allows users to control what jobs are being processed, monitor current print activity and double check material levels, all from a tablet or smartphone. Print technicians and engineers can use this added feature to maximize their machine's productivity by being alerted exactly when a print is finished or if a machine requires more material.

Complementing the ProJet 3500 HDMax's abilities is 3D Systems' 5-year print head warranty that is maintained by the company's network of authorized partners.

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