Stratasys Dimension 1200es ABS Prototype 3D Printer
Kyle Maxey posted on May 30, 2014 |
Stratasys’ entry level printer is designed for professionals and educators.

First introduced in 2008, Stratasys' Dimension 1200es is an FDM based, entry-level printer aimed squarely at companies that want to introduce additive manufacturing to their prototyping and product design scheme.

Using proprietary ABSplus material, the Dimension 1200es is capable of building objects that are true to their CAD models.  It also features a display resolution that's ideal for most product prototyping jobs. Beyond geometric precision, Stratasys' ABSplus material offers a 40% improvement in tensile, impact and flexural strength over traditional ABS material.

Like many other Stratasys 3D printers, the Dimension 1200es' materials come packaged in cartridge format. In the case of the 1200es, each cartridge holds 923 cm3 (56.32 in.3) of material and costs roughly $260.

The Dimension 1200es also comes with two different options for support material. The first option, a breakaway support material, can be removed from any print by hand or with delicate tool work. The second option is a soluble support material.

While a Dimension system that supports breakaway material is less expensive than one that uses the soluble option, that price break comes at a cost. The soluble material system gently dissolves the support material away from a part, leaving even the most delicate components free of fractures that might occur with breakaway material.

There is one other key difference in the support material systems. To dissolve its support material, the 1200es soluble comes packaged with a circulating chemical bath that uses relatively environmentally friendly chemicals. Printed models are removed from their print base and deposited into a pre-heated solution. After several hours, all support materials are dissolved leaving only the ABSplus model intact.


The Dimension 1200es in Action:
According to Brian Hagerty, Senior Support Technician at Austin Community College's A&E CAD Department, the Dimension 1200es has been a valuable machine for introducing students to the world of prototyping, "One of the most valuable aspects of [the Dimension 1200es] is its ease of use. We typically process 20-25 large projects over the course of a 16 week semester.  As the only technician in charge of our machine, I appreciate being able to change materials, tips and other components in no time."

Beyond its ease of use, the 1200es has demonstrated that it's more than capable of producing functional prototypes that accurately represent the geometry of their original CAD models. Students have used the 1200es to produce a fully functional Howell V Twin Engine. Built using over 100 parts printed on the Dimension 1200es, the ACC Howell V Twin has been an excellent tool for teaching students GD&T, complex assemblies and digital manufacturing techniques. What's more, the 1200es was able to produce parts with such precision that the V Twin actually achieves compression through its strokes.

"For our purposes, the [Dimensions 1200es] has been an excellent intermediate tool that gives our students the ability to verify their designs before they begin machining them from metal," said Hagerty. "Holding a part in your hands and verifying its fit can be a reassuring and cost saving measure."

Though the 1200es has been instrumental in teaching students about complex assemblies, one of Brian's main concerns with the machine has been its intermittent failure to track material use. According to Brian the 1200es will sometimes continue to build models even when not feeding build or support material. In those situations the firmware controlling the 1200es' accounting of material continues to click toward zero even when no material is extruded.

Because Stratasys' cartridges rely on RFID tags to control how the printer and material work together sometimes the 1200es forces cartridges to be replaced even when ample material is still available. With material and support cartridges priced at $260, that waste can add up quickly.

Though the Dimension 1200es does face occasional mechanical issues, those problems are not uncommon in 3D printers extruding a plastic or polymer material. Setting aside those functional issues, the Dimension 1200es is a strong fit for educational environments or product design firms that want to ease their way into additive prototyping. For companies that need multi-material prints with high-resolution surface finishes, or who need end use parts, printers like Stratasys' Connex series may be a better option.


Quick Facts

Manufacturer: Stratasys

Model: Dimension 1200es

Material: ABSplus; Soluble or Breakaway support material

Color: 9 colors: Black, Blue, Yellow, Gray, Olive, Natural, Nectarine, Red

Build Envelope Options: 254 x 254 x 305 mm (10 x 10 x 12)

Layer Thickness: 0.33 mm (0.013 in.) or .254 mm (.010 in.)

Printer Dimensions: 838 x 737 x 1143 mm (33 x 29 x 45 in.)

Printer Weight: 148 kg (326 lbs.)

Recommended Uses: Functional Prototyping; Concept Modelling; Education

Primary Industries: Automotive; Aerospace; Consumer Electronics; Architectural Modelers; Tooling Manufacturers

Machine Price: $34,900


Who Should Use the Dimension 1200es:
The Dimension 1200es is best suited for companies looking to ease their way into AM prototyping. With its relatively low cost it's an excellent system for improving prototype turnaround time.

In addition to its use as an entry level AM machine, it's easy to use interface makes it an ideal tool for educating staff or students about AM technology.


Why Wouldn't You Use the Dimension 1200es:
Anyone looking for a 3D printer with the ability to produce end-use parts should shy away from the 1200es. Though its products are of relatively high quality they lack the surface finish of other Stratasys systems.

Additionally, many other 3D printing systems have much faster build and support removal speeds, making them more suitable for rapid prototyping needs.

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