(Phys.org) —An announcement of a multicolor 3D printer capable of automating the creation of complex prototypes with different material properties was made this week by 3D printer manufacturer, Stratasys. Of interest to industrial designers and manufacturers, the Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer, as it is called, makes it possible for any combinations of rigid, flexible, transparent and digital materials – in a single print run. Removing the need for separate assembly and painting, the machine is being promoted as a significant time-saver. A Stratasys manager told the BBC that the printer will help industrial designers reduce the time it takes to bring prototypes to market by 50 percent. The BBC also said the printer will cost about $330,000.
Stratasys, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Rehovot, Israel, referred in its press release to triple-jetting technology, which combines droplets of three base materials to produce parts with combinations of rigid, flexible, and transparent color materials as well as color digital materials. Emphasizing the time factor, Stratasys VP of product marketing and sales operations Igal Zeitun said you dream up a product in the morning and hold it in your hands by the afternoon, with the exact intended color, material properties and surface finish.
Also translating this into a work scenario, the company illustrated what, for example, this means for a company designing swim goggles. Once you have an initial design for a pair of goggles, you can, in one print run, print the goggles in color, and that is including the tinted lenses, along with the flexible parts. Then you can tweak your design, 3D-print another pair, try them on, and tweak the design again. The benefit is very timely product realism that can validate designs, to support decision making earlier in the product lifecycle, before committing to production.
A number of palettes for colors, from opaque to transparent colors in various shore values, address different markets such as automotive, consumer and sporting goods and fashion. The Objet500 Connex3 is compatible with:Windows 7 64-bit or Windows 8 64-bit. Stratasys' latest industrial 3D printer was unveiled at SolidWorks World in San Diego, California. According to the company, the Objet500 Connex3 is available now and "Flexible Materials in Color" are to be available in Q2.
Jim Woodcock, writing in TCT Magazine, said, "the fact that soft, hard and opaque areas can be build in a single part – with color—is truly something exciting."
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More information: investors.stratasys.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=821134