The world’s first color multi-material 3D printer is being released by Stratasys for the low price tag of only $330,000. 3D printing was a big topic this year at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), but most of the focus has shifted from commercial printers to consumer products. However, the new Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer is bringing in a new technology for manufacturers.
Objet500 is the first and only 3D printer that is able to combine colors with multi-material printing ability. The printer features a unique triple-jetting technology, allowing it to combine droplets of three base materials to produce parts with virtually unlimited combinations of rigid, flexible and transparent color materials as well as color digital materials. “This ability to achieve the characteristics of an assembled part without assembly or painting is a significant time-saver,” Stratasys said. “It helps product manufacturers validate designs and make good decisions earlier before committing to manufacturing, and bring products to market faster.”
Trek Bicycle in Waterloo, Wisconsin used the Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer to build accessories like bike chain stay guards and handlebar grips. They were also able to print a multi-colored bike helmet. Trek Bicycle used the 3D printer as a way to assess and test out these bicycle accessories before bringing them to actual production. “The Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer changed the way we manufacture at Trek, augmenting our traditional, time-consuming CNC processes with fast, iterative and realistic prototyping and functional testing,” said Mike Zeigle, manager of Trek’s prototype development group.
“Now we produce bicycle parts that look and feel like production parts. We are particularly excited about 3D printing our models directly in color. This gives our designers the ability to graphically display color contact pressure map data on rider contact parts like seats and grips. We are also working on doing the same with FEA & CFD stress data on structural bike components.” Objet500 features six palettes for rubber-like Tango colors, which can range anywhere from opaque to transparent colors. Stratasys said this flexible colored material could be used in a variety of markets, including automotive, consumer and sporting goods.
“As the first true multi-purpose 3D printer, we believe the Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer is in a league of its own, enabling you to dream up a product in the morning, and hold it in your hands by the afternoon, with the exact intended color, material properties and surface finish,” Stratasys VP of product marketing and sales operations Igal Zeitun said.