The ProJet 7000 Series Expands AM’s Reach with Advanced Materials and an SLA Process

The ProJet 7000 HD expands AM’s applications with a suite of advanced materials and a reliable SLA printing process.

Since its release in 2012, 3D Systems’ 7000-Series has redefined the speed at which high-quality parts are produced. Using an SLA process the 7000-Series creates models by curing a vat of photopolymer resin via pulses of ultraviolet laser light. As each layer of a model is cured it rises out of its resin bath until the model is complete.

Unlike FDM modelling which fuses layers of plastic together through an extrusion method, SLA is regarded as a higher resolution, faster approach to rapid prototyping. With that being said SLA does give way to FDM printing when it comes to strength as FDM models can be manipulated the same way a finished part might be without fear of breaking.

Beyond its SLA process the ProJet 7000 comes in three separate models, each of which expands the system’s ability to process materials. While all systems in the 7000 line are capable of processing VisiJet Tough, Flex, Clear, Black, Impact and HiTemp resins the 7000 SD lacks the ability to build in either e-Stone or Jewel materials. To process 3D Systems’ Jewel material, which is used in the casting of high detail jewelry, an upgrade to the 7000 HD is required. Finally, if dental applications fall into your portfolio the 7000 MP is the only model that will print in e-Stone, which is optimized for orthodontic modeling.

While the ProJet 7000 series does come in three separate models, they all share the same layer accuracy: 0.025mm-0.05mm (0.001-0.002in) per inch of part dimension and a rather large 380 x 380 x 250 mm (15 x 15 x 10 in.) build volume. Where the machines differ is in their layer resolutions. While each system can print in HD (0.125mm) and UHD (0.100mm) modes, the 7000 SD lacks the ability to print in XHD which drops the layer step to between 0.075mm and 0.050mm.


The ProJet in Action:

Although the ProJet 7000 Series can fill a variety of industrial uses, one application in particular highlights the ProJet’s real potential: since 1998 F1 champions Lotus have used 3D printing to innovate the aerodynamics of their racers.

According to Dirk de Beer, Lotus’ Head of Aerodynamics, “Once the [aero] team got their 3D Systems machine, they began using it to develop component prototypes with a size-fit function. The use of solid imaging technology then gradually expanded from rapid prototyping to wind tunnel model manufacturing”. Confident that the 7000’s SLA products would accurately depict its aero engineers’ CAD designs the Lotus team started evaluating 3D printed scale models of it auto bodies. After initial tests Lotus’ engineers confirmed that their confidence in the 7000’s accuracy was well placed and the team undertook a rapid expansion of aerodynamic tests, the likes of which would not have been possible with previous model construction techniques. “The more ideas we can compare and evaluate, the more successful we will be on the track,” said Dirk.

Beyond its aerodynamics, testing the 7000-series also offers Lotus the ability to generate accurate casting patterns for their gearboxes and suspension systems. What’s more, because of the nature of additive manufacturing Lotus’ design team has been able to experiment with novel component geometries, innovating automotive design at a breakneck pace.

Though the 7000-Series is a fully capable AM production unit, one could argue that its most valuable assets are its materials. Below is a list of the properties associated with each of its materials.


Quick Facts

Manufacturer: 3D Systems

Model: ProJet 7000 HD

Material:  8 Materials: VisiJet SL Flex; VisiJet SL Tough; VisiJet SL Clear; VisiJet SL Black; VisiJet SL Impact; VisiJet SL HiTemp; VisiJet SL e-Stone; VisiJet SL Jewel

Color: Depends on Material

Build Envelope: 15 x 15 x 10 in (380 x 380 x 250 mm)

Layer Thickness: 0.125 mm, 0.125 mm layers

Axis Resolution

Printer Dimensions: 73.5 x 38.5 x 81.5 in (1860 x 982 x 2070 mm)

Printer Weight: 363 kg (800 lb)

Recommended Uses: Rapid Prototyping; Jewelry Casting Patterns; Fit & Function Tests; Snap fit Assemblies

Primary Industries: Automotive; Aerospace; Medicine; Jewelry; Product Development; Dental; Electronics

Machine Price: $345,000


Who Should Use the ProJet 7000 HD:
Anyone interested in highly detailed prototypes will find that the 7000 line will provide excellent detail particularly for performance applications like wind tunnel analysis or medical prototyping. With a wide range of materials, the 7000 line has a wide application portfolio and can be used to design anything your imagination can conjure.


Why Wouldn’t You Use the ProJet 7000 HD:
Smaller companies with a smaller AM budget might consider opting for a machine that’s less expensive than the ProJet 7000. Additionally, those interested in producing parts that will need to undergo stress analysis should shy away from an SLA machine, as the parts it produces are more brittle than FDM.