Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
As I sit here in Dallas, it's over 100 degrees for the 24th straight day. But I'm thinking about Minnesota in early February 1996 when it had been a 100 degrees cooler for days on end. Stratasys was unveiling its next generation Genesis system, and this was my first live meeting with 3D prototyping. I was smitten, even before they took me to lunch. The neat thing about Genesis was that it could produce ABS conceptual models strong enough for functional prototypes in some applications. Short runs of production or custom production-grade parts? Well, what we now call direct digital manufacturing was future's promise.
3D printing technology has exceeded many of its promises since then, but it is, in many ways, still a world of promises. The stereotype is that you use affordable, easy to operate machines to make concept and functional models. And you use more costly systems with robust control software to manage the machine and manufacture parts directly from digital models. Stratasys broke with this stereotype the other day and introduced what it calls a “cross-over system.”
The new Fortus 250mc Production 3D Printer is designed to deliver concept and functional prototypes as well as direct digital manufactured parts. What this thing is said to do is combine the ease of use of the Stratasys Dimension line of 3D prototyping systems with the control software used in its Fortus line. That software is key.
The software, called Insight, automatically prepares your STL part file for 3D printing so, like using a Dimension, you don't have to think much about it. But Insight also let's you do a Ross Perot: You can get under its hood and set control parameters for the Fortus additive build process " part strength and precision, throughput, efficiency, and so forth. So, the promise here is flexibility. If you sometimes need a quick concept or functional model, but now find yourself wanting or needing production parts -- say jigs or fixtures -- out of your 3D printer, the Fortus 250mc seems to cover both worlds.
The Fortus 250mc, as with its Fortus line namesakes, is based on FDM technology, Stratasys's additive manufacturing process. It has a roomy build envelope and doesn t take up much office space.
You can learn more about the Fortus 250mc and download its specs from today's Pick of the Week write-up. Oh, and a spokesperson for company tells me that pricing starts at around $45,000 in the US, which, considering its flexibility, sounds like the Fortus 250mc might be a promising idea to look into.
Thanks, pal. -- Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering
Read today's Pick of the Week write-up.
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