By Anthony J. Lockwood
Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
A recent survey of additive fabrication (AF) service bureaus by Wohlers Associates asked the question "If you were going to add new AF technology, which would you most likely acquire?" Of the 19 technologies listed, the most popular response was PolyJet from Objet Geometries. Here’s a chart showing the results.
These results are fascinating because Objet is relatively new to the North American market, which it appears to be taking by storm. The survey also predates the company’s newest offering, a desktop 3D printer called the Alaris30, which just might intensify the market’s interest in Objet.
First, PolyJet 3D printing technology: Think ink jetting. The Alaris30 uses two printheads that move along a rail building up thin layers of materials. UV light cures the materials. The technology is fast for these sort of things, and it’s way accurate (0.1 – 0.2mm) and high res (600 x 600 dpi). Build materials are polymers that produce smooth finishes. A gel-like support material, removed by hand or with a water jet, lets you build complex geometries with thin walls. Parts are said to be strong enough for rapid tooling (for silicone), vacuum forming, and for form, fit, and function testing. You can run wires through your parts, paint them, drill holes in them, and things like that.
Now, desktop. Well, Objet also describes the Alaris30 as office-friendly. That’s more like it. The machine weighs 183 pounds and measures 32.28 x 24.4 x 23.22 inches. One of those small, rectangular office tables that collect all sorts of unsorted stuff is more than enough for it.
Still, office is key to getting the Alaris30 idea. This printer requires no special wiring or special facilities. Well, you’ll want a sink to wash off the support materials. Speaking of which, the messless materials come in sealed cartridges. The Alaris30 is also LAN – TCP/IP network-ready, and it comes with software to make converting CAD files to STLs easy.
Oh, and one more thing about office-friendly: The Alaris30 is priced at less than $40K.
You can get all the specs from today’s Pick of the Week write-up. There are links to videos, datasheets, and so forth. But the thing to take away is that the Alaris30 provides an office-sized and office-budgeted version of the high-accuracy, high-reliability, high-end Objet 3D printers that rapid prototyping and manufacturing service bureaus want for their high-productivity environments. That should intensify most anyone’s interest.
Thanks, Pal. — Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering Magazine