Stratasys Ltd., a manufacturer of 3-D printers and materials for personal use, prototyping and production, has announced the launch of the ground-breaking Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3-D Printer, the first and only 3-D printer to combine colors with a variety of photopolymer 3-D printed materials.
A potential game-changer for product design, engineering and manufacturing processes, the Objet500 Connex3 features a unique triple-jetting technology that combines droplets of three base materials to produce parts with virtually unlimited combinations of rigid, flexible, and transparent color materials as well as color digital materials—all in a single print run. This ability to achieve the characteristics of an assembled part without assembly or painting is a significant time-saver. It helps product manufacturers validate designs and make good decisions earlier before committing to manufacturing, and bring products to market faster.
"Stratasys' goal is to help our customers revolutionize their design and manufacturing processes," says Stratasys CEO David Reis. "I believe our new Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer will transform the way our customers design, engineer and manufacture new products. In general and with the Connex technology in particular, we will continue to push the envelope of what's possible in a 3-D world."
Engineers at beta user Trek Bicycle in Waterloo, Wisc., are using the Objet500 Connex3 for assessment and testing of accessories like bike chain stay guards and handlebar grips prior to actual production. "The Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer changed the way we manufacture at Trek, augmenting our traditional, time-consuming CNC processes with fast, iterative and realistic prototyping and functional testing," says Mike Zeigle, manager of Trek's prototype development group.
"Now we produce bicycle parts that look and feel like production parts. We are particularly excited about 3-D printing our models directly in color. This gives our designers the ability to graphically display color contact pressure map data on rider contact parts like seats and grips. We are also working on doing the same with FEA and CFD stress data on structural bike components," adds Zeigle.
Similar to a 2-D inkjet printer, three color materials—VeroCyan, VeroMagenta and VeroYellow—are combined to produce hundreds of vivid colors. These color materials join Stratasys' extensive range of PolyJet photopolymer materials including digital materials, rigid, rubber-like, transparent, and high temperature materials to simulate standard and high temperature engineering plastics.
Another first: Flexible materials in color
The Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer also features six palettes for new rubber-like Tango colors, ranging from opaque to transparent colors in various shore values to address markets such as automotive, consumer and sporting goods and fashion. The Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer is commercially available now and is sold through Stratasys' extensive worldwide reseller network.
The Objet500 Connex3 is based on proven Connex technology. Ideal for over-molding with Digital ABS and complex multi-material parts, the Objet500 Connex3 is designed to enable designers, engineers and manufacturers to create models, molds and parts that match the characteristics of production parts. It 3D prints models and parts with the color, durability and surface finish of end products. This includes achieving excellent mechanical properties such as tensile strength, elongation at break, and multiple hardness shore values, which simulate high performance thermoplastics. It also allows overmolding using durable Digital ABS materials and introduces new Shore A values for Digital ABS, ranging from A27 to A95, a major advantage in manufacturing consumer products.
Featuring a large build envelope, the Objet500 Connex3 can run print jobs with about 30 kg of resin per cycle, and prints as fine as 16 micron layers.