During yesterday’s press conference at the San Diego Convention Center Stratasys publicly revealed what many had speculated about for months: a vastly improved color 3D printer. It’s called the Objet 500 Connex3. The name follows the pattern of the previous “Connex”, which referred to the technology of dynamically mixing two different types of materials in one print operation. The “old” Connex technology is now referred to as “Connex2”, for two materials.
But first let’s back up to understand where Stratasys is coming from. The machine’s “predecessor” is the Objet Connex series, which included Objet’s PolyJet technology. This is a special print head that can mix two different input resins in precise ratios. In other words, you could, for example, print in 100% hard with 0% soft material, or 70% hard and 30% soft, etc. Stratasys refers to resins capable of being mixed in this way as “digital materials”.
The new machine adds a third material with similar ratio mixing capability. Now we have a situation where not two, but three heads can mix in 14 ratios. This manifests in a kind of “triangular color palette” with nine ratios possible between any two heads. The triangular palette thus has 45 possible colors. With the accompanying newly announced digital color materials, the combinations of three result in some ten possible triangular palettes, as you can see above.
So, the new Connex3 unit is not a full, RGB-color 3D printer. But it can indeed print many colors. While this could be considered a limitation, we don’t believe you should think about it in that way. You see, all 3D printers exhibit various limitations. They may be in terms of material properties available, ability to print particular geometries or simply the size of the print. Every 3D print is ultimately a compromise.
But the Connex3 technology just removed quite a few limitations.
More info to come.