I previously wrote about 3D printing, and given the recent advances in this technology, it is time I update that article. Since then, the leader in 3D print technology, Objet, has introduced two important product lines. The first is a series of affordable desktop 3D printers, and the second is a new line of printing materials.
Objet’s new desktop line is called the “Objet Desktop Family.” The base model of this family, the Objet24 Personal 3D Printer, starts at just $19,900. This printer opens the door for smaller shops to get involved with this new technology. (The cost of this printer could very well be offset by the savings in time and money on the first project!)
The second leap in technology involves new materials. Objet just came out with three new molding materials. The first is a material designed to simulate ABS-grade engineering plastics, allowing prototypes to withstand high temperatures and have the toughness of those made of standard ABS material. This will permit a prototype to be tested in the environment that the final product will have to endure. The second material is a transparent plastic. This near-colorless plastic will allow for the prototyping of things like lights, headlamps, eyeglasses, and even glassware. The third material is a new VeroWhitePlus. Originally released only for the desktop line of printers, Objet now offers this material for all its lines. VeroWhitePlus is a very rigid, glossy, white material that is ideal for a wide range of fit and form testing. This material is a prime candidate for post-finishing options.
It is developments like these that will keep 3D printing on the upswing in the custom manufacturing markets. The combination of a more cost-effective printer and a wider array of materials will allow the technology to grow into markets that originally had no use for 3D printing. So the question is, when will you adopt 3D printing into your business routine?
Author: John Mehl