3D printers compared: A sampling

3D printers compared

Company nameSolidscapeMcor TechnologiesStratasys/HPZ Corp.Objet 3D Systems3D Systems
Product lineSolidscape 3D Wax PrintersMatrix 300Dimension, uPrint, uPrint Plus, DesignJet 3DZPrinter 650Objet24, Objet30 Bits from Bytes, BotMillV-Flash, ProJet
TechnologyTwo wax ink-jet processes: Drop on demand and smooth curvature printingPaper-basedFuse deposition modelingInkjet 3D printing Polyjet matrix resin-based ink jet printingPlastic jet printingFilm transfer imaging
How it worksTwo materials are jetted simultaneously to produce layers that form the 3D object.Builds 3D object by alternating layers of ordinary printer paper and adhesive; tungsten carbide blade automatically cuts away excess material that is removed using fingers or tweezers; waste material also supports the object as it's being built. Melts ABS plastic fillament and applies the melted material using an extrusion head to build up the 3D object in layers. The melted layers fuse together as they are added. A thin layer of powder is spread across the surface area; inkjet print heads then deposit a liquid that binds the powder, creating the layers that form the 3D object. The powder layers provide support for the object. Printer jets a liquid resin and uses a UV light to cure it.Melts and extrudes filament layers of plastic that fuse together as they cool.Applies layers of resin, which cures using UV light emitted from a modified digital light processing (DLP) slide projector.
Primary attributes of the technologyVery precise, high-quality surface finish; wax melts away easily for mold creation.Green technology: Waste paper is recyclable and water-soluble glue is eco-friendly. Offers smooth finish without sanding or other post-processing.Durable ABS plastic, good surface finish.Full color printing, relatively fast with low operating cost.Can use a range of materials from rubber-like material to polyprolylene-like material or blends. Can have rigid or soft material in the same part.Fast, affordable, color, ABS material relatively strong. Excellent quality, smooth surface finish
Application(s)Models used to make castings for jewelry making or other parts that require a high-precision surface finish.Architectural renderings, medical, dental models.Building design models and prototypes for visualization or testing. Production of one-off or very limited production run parts.Building design models and prototypes; some custom, one-off or low-volume manufacturing. Suitable for concept models and some functional testing. Prototypes for fit form and function verification. Dental, automotive, medical, consumer electronics/consumer goods, industrial manufacturing.Education, hobby, do-it-yourself.Building design models and prototypes for visualization or testing.
Max. printable area6 x 6 x 4 inches10.6 x 7.5 x 5.9 inches8 x 6 x 6 inches10 x 15 x 8 inches 8 x 12 x 6 inches9 x 10.75 x 8.25 inches6.75 x 9 x 8 inches
Color supportNoCan use any color paper; can vary color in an object by using different colors in the paper stack.8 colors on uPrint Plus. Ivory only for uPrint. DesignJet 3D supports 9 colors. One color per print job.Can produce full-color parts; multiple colors per print job.NoSupports a wide variety of different colors but allows only one per extruder or print head. Can make a two-color part.Supports up to 6 colors, one with an increased build speed, one color per part.
Build materialWax compoundPaperABS plasticMix of plaster or gypsum-like ingredients with some polymer addedAcrylic-based photopolymer resinABS, polylactic acid (PLA)Proprietary material
Support materialWax compound with lower melting point than build materialPaperWater-soluble plasticObject supported by layers of reusable waste powder surrounding the objectA gel-like material that can be washed away with warm waterPLA and soluble, translucent PLASame as build material
Post-processingCompleted object inserted into a warm liquid solution that dissolves the support material (melting point 122 degrees F) without melting the build material (melting point 212 degrees F).Very short. Excess paper can be pulled away with fingers.Finished object must be transferred to a warm water bath that dissolves the support material. The system requires a water feed and drain. Total post processing time: About 2 hours.Object inserted into special station where a technician uses a small air gun is used to remove excess powder, a fine brush to finish. The object may then be soaked in a clear resin or glue solution to add strength and brighten the finish. Uses high pressure water to wash away residue. Typically takes less than 10 minutes.Remove supporting material by breaking off or soaking in warm water for 48 hours. Requires light sanding.Wash and remove supports.
Price $30,000 to $55,000 Subscription price $16,000 per year including unlimited adhesive and carbon blade consumables. Users provide the paper. $25,000 to $33,000; DesignJet 12,500 to 16,200 Euros (approx. $16,000 to $21,060) Monochrome starts at $15,000; color starts at $25,000 Starts at $19,000 $1,300 for a build-your-own 3D printer kit; $3,900 fully assembled $9,900 to $14,500
Sources: Vendor websites; Computerworld reporting
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