Stratasys announced a new member to their J8 series of full color 3D printers, the J826.
The new device follows on from the previous J850 and J835, both of which use their well-known PolyJet process and materials. Like the J850 and J835, the new J826 will also provide PANTONE validated color.
I’ve been able to inspect print samples from these machines and they are unbelievably realistic, and in some cases you cannot even determine they are a 3D print until you pick them up. I’m particularly impressed by the transparent material, VeroUltraClear.
How is it that Stratasys managed to lower the cost on the J826, which is said to be about half the price of previous J8 units? It seems the major difference is the build volume.
While the J850 has a build volume of 490 x 390 x 200 mm, and the J835 has a build volume of 350 x 350 x 200 mm, the new J826’s build volume is a smaller 255 x 252 x 200 mm, or about one-third the volume of the J850.
The smaller build volume makes for a smaller frame and thus the cost of the equipment can be somewhat lower. However, I’m still a bit puzzled as the rest of the machine component-wise should be similar to the more expensive units. What else has Stratasys done under the hood to reduce the cost of the machine?
Nevertheless, the lower price should allow for many more organizations to make use of the powerful full-color capabilities of the J8 series. In particular, educational institutions may have an easier time purchasing the J826, as they normally have constrained budgets.
The build volume on the J850 and J835 are quite large, and typically they would be used to produce many objects in a single print job; small run production, as it were. But if your application does not need to do “production”, then perhaps the J826 is the machine for you.
The J826 could open the market in other ways, such as for color prototyping. While those in 3D printing often think “prototyping” is to determine if mechanical parts can fit together or are sufficiently strong, there is another kind of prototyping: visual.
When you have a highly realistic representation of an object you can clearly see how it looks from all angles. This is a need in several industries, such as eyewear, fashion, footwear and other visually-oriented disciplines. This is why the PANTONE validated color is an important aspect: it means the prototype will literally be the exact colors of the production units.
We’re not certain of the exact price of the new J826, but it’s likely still over US$100K; full color 3D printing is an expensive proposition, even if Stratasys has reduced the price by half. They say they will ship the machine by May 2020.