3D Printing

3D printer accelerates product design, cuts costs

29th April 2020
Mick Elliott

Time to market and costs weigh heavily on the minds of design engineers and industrial designers. To accelerate product development Stratasys has introduced the J55 3D Printer to create fast, full-colour design realism at about a third of the price of enterprise-class PolyJet printers, and in a smaller format so it sits comfortably in offices, design studios or classrooms.

The printer’s versatility means it can produce multiple numbers of a specific product, or multiple versions of different products. It includes high fidelity and five simultaneously printed materials that enable nearly 500,000 colours, PANTONE Validation, realistic textures and transparency in one printed part. Set-up is easy, and remote monitoring means print jobs can be managed from home.

Says Gina Scala, Director of Marketing, Global Education at Stratasys, “What’s in a designer’s mind can be produced a few hours later.”

A patented rotating build platform with a fixed print head is designed to maximise reliability and simplify maintenance.

The technology also means greater output from a small footprint while also eliminating most sound – “it’s about as quiet as a home refrigerator,” says the company. ProAero filtration technology delivers odour-free operation, the J55 can be situated anywhere.

Helping make the J55 easy for designers, Stratasys is also prioritising simplifying workflow. Fully supported by GrabCAD Print software, the printer deliver a smooth import of common CAD files including SOLIDWORKS, CATIA, PTC Creo, Siemens NX, and Inventor and the latest 3MF file format, a significant improvement over traditional STL, OBJ, and VRML files.

And for the first time, Stratasys is also adding support for 3MF color workflow with KeyShot®3D rendering software from Luxion a capability now in beta and planned for late 2020.

The J55 3D Printer features a maximum build volume size of 1,340 cubic inches (22 litres) and takes up 4.6 sq. ft. (0.43 m2) of floor space. The five-material capacity (plus support material) means operators can load their most frequently used resins and avoid downtime associated with material changeovers.

The J55 is expected to ship in July 2020 and orders are being taken now.

Tony Guard, Beta customer and Director of Innovation and Industrial Design at Cincinnati-based Kinetic Vision, “There is no way to validate 2D designs without a realistic 3D model, it’s simply not possible,” The 175-employee company develops products for startups to Fortune 50 companies in industries ranging from consumer electronics and packaged goods to aerospace and medical.

Kinetic Vision has been deemed an “essential business” and has been open through the pandemic, but with few people in the office to get a new technology up and running.

Guard said they got the J55 set up with a single employee and only remote support from Stratasys.

“My jaw dropped when I saw what the machine could do,” he said. “We can validate products faster with form, colour, finish, graphics, everything. We can offer our clients tangible 3D-printed models that represent a final retail product, faster than we ever could before. I’d love the J55 to be our secret strategic advantage, but I don’t think it will be a secret for long.”

Tim Greene, a research director for 3D printing at global research firm IDC, said it’s clear that the product design process needs to change for today’s world, where disruption is always around the corner. “We know that the risk and time involved with traditional prototyping simply doesn’t work anymore, yet there’s no room for compromise on design,” he said. “Designers can and should do a lot more prototyping in-house, from initial concept modeling to highly realistic final prototypes. It’s just been a matter of bringing enterprise quality to a design shop’s price point and workspace. And now we’re there."



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