By Jonathan Gourlay
Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
A few days ago, the people at Objet Geometries gave me a webinar on their new Connex500 3D printer. This form-and-function 3D printing system gives you 600 x 600 dpi resolution in the x and y axes, 0.6mm thin walls, and smooth surface finishes quickly — up to 20mm per hour in 30-micron layers. Good as all that is, it’s not the cool part.
The cool part is that you can create a part or an assembly with different materials properties in a single build — so no more gluing together separate parts to make a full model. Way cooler: you can create ad hoc composites by combining two different materials.
The key to the Connex500 is what Objet calls its new PolyJet Matrix technology. PolyJet Matrix technology works by jetting two modeling materials in preset combinations and giving you software control over the print-head nozzles in each print head. Through the software, you take charge of the mechanical properties of the materials you’re going to jet. Your control extends to what Objet calls “Digital Materials.”
Digital Material means that you can create new composites by simultaneously jetting two different materials. Objet offers seven standard materials for the Connex500. You can pick, choose, and then combine two of these materials, giving you a total of 21 Digital Material possibilities. And, yes, the Connex500 can print just one material if that suits your needs.
The Connex500 multimaterial 3D printer could really change the over-molding and double injection-molding design processes, particularly for companies designing and manufacturing automobiles, electronics, knobs and widgets, medical products, sporting goods, or even consumer products like toothbrushes. Also especially handy is its Mixed Tray capability. This lets you or multiple users create up to five models, each printed with different two-composite materials, at the same time. Using its available oversized materials cartridges, the Connex500 gives you about 72 hours of non-stop build capacity, so you can keep the shop running all weekend unattended.
The Connex500 with PolyJet Matrix technology makes its premiere at EuroMold 2007 in Frankfurt, December 5 through 8. I’m not sure when it makes its North American debut, but I can see from the exhibitor list that Objet Geometries will be at the SME’s Rapid 2008 exhibition in May.
So, if you’re not in Germany next week, you can learn more about the Connex500 and PolyJet Matrix technology from today’s Pick of the Week write-up. You can hit the links to download the brochure or get the full specifications while you’re there.
Features Editor, Desktop Engineering