Stratasys unveils triple material 3D printers, thermoplastics for outdoor products

One printer can mix three thermoplastics to create new materials for printing

exterior outlet

Stratasys Ltd. has introduced two new multi-material 3D printers that allow up to three thermoplastic materials to be combined to manufacture products.

The new Objet500 Connex and Objet500 Connex2 Multi-material 3D printers feature a triple-jetting technology that can combine thermoplastics or even mix multiple material droplets to form new digital materials such as digital ABS, which is more durable than traditional acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).

The 3D printers can build a part up to 19.3 in. x 15.4 in. x 7.9 in. or a mixed tray of smaller parts.

objet500 connex1 with mixed tray Statasys

The Objet500 Connex1 Multi-material 3D Printer improves throughput by doubling material capacity and increasing unattended run time.

The Objet500 Connex1 and Connex2 can produce parts from a three materials chosen among a large variety offered by Stratasys. That allows users to create assemblies with components formed from three different materials or produce components that contain both rigid and flexible materials, such as Stratasys' rubber-like Tango and rigid Vero materials.

A larger material cabinet contains eight cartridges, allowing for more unattended run time and fewer material changeovers than earlier models. Hot swapping -- reloading material and support cartridges while the 3D printer is operating -- allows for continuous part production.

The Objet500 Connex2 differs from the Connex1 in that it has all the capabilities plus the ability to combine droplets from two base materials to produce new "Digital Materials."

Digital ABS, for example, is the most durable material available for the Stratasys PolyJet process and is often used to produce mold cores and cavities for short-run injection molding. With more than 100 material choices, Connex2 users can produce a variety of rigid or clear components or combine Digital ABS with pure Tango for strong over-molded handles and grips.

Stratasys Ltd. today also announced a new thermoplastic material option for its line of industrial 3D printers that resists fading in sunlight.

Stratasys' new acrylonitrile styrene acrylate (ASA) thermo polymer filament is resistant to fading in UV light conditions, the company said.

The new ASA material is being pitched as a replacement for ABS filament, which is a common material used by fused deposition modeling (FSM) 3D printers.

The new filament can be used with the company's FSM 3D printers to create production prototypes, manufacturing tools and finished goods.

Because of the filament's durability, the new material can be used to manufacture products for the automotive, electronics, commercial, sporting goods and construction industries.

Applications include jigs and fixtures, electrical boxes, recreational vehicles and outdoor tools

"As 3D printing becomes a more mainstream production process, and parts are used for a longer period of time and in diverse environments, UV resistance becomes a must-have feature," Brendan Dillon, product manager for Stratasys, said in a statement. "Once customers use ASA, they may not go back to ABS."

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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