Stratasys offers one of the leading machines for full color 3D printing, and now they are making more friendly for prototyping.
The J750, on which we’ve written extensively in the past, is a very intriguing machine. It’s one of the very few machines that can reproduce highly accurate full color textures on 3D printed parts. It’s an evolution of the Objet PolyJet technology, which permitted mixing resins on the fly to create new materials. This mixing process was adapted to include the ability to mix base colors for creation of “any” color.
Thus the J750 could 3D print startlingly realistic 3D prints in a way that almost no other full color 3D printers could achieve.
As a result of this capability a niche set of manufacturers began to use the J750 for 3D printing visual prototypes. Some manufacturers, whose products depend strongly on visual appearance, are very interested in color 3D printing. One example is Otterbox, the well-known maker of cases. While cases provide some function, much of the salability of those products depends on the color and texture of each item. This requires prototyping of a visual nature. There are many manufacturers in this position.
However, some prototyping does require functional aspects in addition to visual, and Stratasys has taken an interesting step to combining the two forms of prototyping together in a new materials announcement.
Two new materials have been created for the J750:
- Agilus30 rubber-like material
- Digital ABS Plus engineering-grade material
I find this announcement very interesting, because it extends the capabilities of the J750 from primarily visual prototyping to limited functional prototyping. Imagine a manufacturer with a visual-dependent product that also requires some minor function, like a snap-close cover, or a folding cover, or perhaps a grippy surface element.
Those are now all possible with the J750 thanks to these new materials.
I suspect that Stratasys has been listening carefully to their clients and prospects in this case, and perhaps they’ve been hearing a need to do more of this type of functional prototyping in addition to visual prototyping. One of their clients, Neil Oately, Head of Design and Development, McLaren Racing, said:
The superior tear resistance of the Agilus30 enables us to include highly flexible articulated interconnections within unit construction rigid mountings which we could not do previously.
Good for Stratasys, and good for those making full color prototypes, too.