End-production using 3D printing, including objects made of multiple materials in one pass, is getting closer to reality as we saw on the exhibit floor at the recent Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show.
Rebensdorf showed off several of the objects on display that were created with the new multi-color, three-material Objet500 Connex3.
While it’s true that this machine is targeted at models and prototypes, like other Objet Connex printers, the things it’s creating are often fully functional objects that are only one or two steps away in form and function from volume production end-products. So I asked York what it would take to get to that next step. She answered by talking about both materials technology and printer technology. “There are 17,000 different kinds of plastic,” she said. “The Connex3 can make up to 500 of those.”
Of the three basic categories of plastic — thermoset, elastomeric, and thermoplastic — those 17,000 kinds fall into, Connex technology handles two: thermoset and elastomeric materials. Most plastic end-products are made of the third type, thermoplastic, used in Stratasys’s fused deposition modeling (FDM) machines, such as the Fortus 3D Production Systems, aimed at making end products. … (Read more)