Hold on, there is another full color 3D printing option from Mimaki.
Japan-based Mimaki, well known makers of 2D color printers, especially very large ones, announced the 3DUJ-553 full color 3D printer, and we managed to get a close look at it.
The 3DUJ-553 is not a small machine, but does produce brilliantly colored prints using a resin process that seems somewhat reminiscent of Stratasys’ PolyJet process.
The device’s prime characteristic is its uncanny ability to properly reproduce accurate color, which has been an issue for virtually every other full color 3D printing system. The earliest 3D printer capable of full color, developed some years ago by ZCorp (since acquired by 3D Systems and now marketed as ProJet models) suffered from bland coloration because, according to Mimaki, the light would reflect off of the whitish material slightly under the surface. Meanwhile, their system avoids this by fully coloring the material.
The system uses inkjets to deposit UV-curable material as does the PolyJet system. Mimaki’s system also uses a roller to flatten each layer, which can be as small as 0.022mm.
The company claims to be able to hit 10M colors, “ 84% of the Fogra 39L color gamut and cover 90% of SWOP gamut”, which is quite impressive. The prints we handled were certainly very colorful, as you can see in the images here.
One way to think about it is that you can accurately reproduce almost any Pantone color.
One very interesting feature is the support material, which you can see here.
It’s actually water soluble, so you need only dunk your fresh print in a pail of plain water and wait for the supports to dissolve. This is quite different from the Stratasys system in which the support material is NOT water soluble and you must use a water jet to blast away the support material – often breaking delicate prints in the process. No such problem with the Mimaki machine.
Because Mimaki is a mature 2D printer company, they know a thing or two about making reliable production equipment. Their practices in that regard have transferred to the 3DUJ-553, and it is ready for production use.
For example, it can auto-detect clogged nozzles and perform auto-cleaning functions. It can also reprogram itself to handle minor clogs by having other nozzles fire extra times, for example.
Another “feature”, if I may call it that, is the cost of the system. The 3DUJ-553 itself is priced at a relatively modest €198,000 (USD$232,000), substantially less than their main competitor, the Stratasys J750.
Of even more interest was the price of their materials. One liter of their photopolymer resin is priced at only €158 (USD$185). This again is quite a bit less than Stratasys materials.
It seems that Mimaki is going after Stratasys customers based on pricing.
However, you cannot buy one of these machines quite yet. They intend on a worldwide January 2018 release, which will be sold through resellers.