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World's First Multi-Color, Multi-Polymer 3D Printer Unveiled 85

Posted by samzenpus
from the look-at-all-the-colors dept.
Lucas123 writes "Stratysis today announced it will be shipping this year a printer that can use hundreds of colors and polymers to create production-grade or prototype objects without the need for assembly. Previously, manufacturers could print multi-colored parts using many different materials and assemble them after completion. Stratasis' Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer features a triple-jet printer head that combines droplets of three base materials to produce parts with virtually unlimited combinations of rigid, flexible and transparent color materials in a single print run."
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World's First Multi-Color, Multi-Polymer 3D Printer Unveiled

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  • Is "Stratasys" really so difficult to write?

  • Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cold fjord (826450) on Monday January 27, 2014 @04:26PM (#46084513)

    This is great news for prototyping! Hopefully it will help kindle innovation, new companies, new industries, manufacturing, and the economy. Let the innovation commence.

    I would think it could be pretty handy for various scientific uses as well.

    • It will also kill off the entire replacement parts industry. Cars, washing machines, fridges, etc, etc.

      Not that I'm complaining, but it's not always an easy transition.

      • Re:Nice (Score:5, Funny)

        by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday January 27, 2014 @04:34PM (#46084605) Homepage Journal

        It will also kill off the entire replacement parts industry. Cars, washing machines, fridges, etc, etc.

        Riiiiiiight... because when I need a new tie-rod end in my truck, a shitty plastic one will be just as good as the cast metal part it's replacing.

        In local news tonight, tragedy struck when a moron who replaced metal parts of his vehicle with 3D printed, plastic ones caused an 18-car pile up on the interstate...

        Shit, I'd rather people keep making guns with 'em.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Riiiiiiight... because when I need a new tie-rod end in my truck, a shitty plastic one will be just as good as the cast metal part it's replacing.

          We already have 3d printers which can print metal. It's only a matter of time before they are in the hands of many consumers.

          • Riiiiiiight... because when I need a new tie-rod end in my truck, a shitty plastic one will be just as good as the cast metal part it's replacing.

            We already have 3d printers which can print metal. It's only a matter of time before they are in the hands of many consumers.

            Don't get me wrong, I'm enamored with the idea of never having to buy an actual part again myself, but I just don't see it happening anytime soon, for a number of reasons, most of which involve direct government interference into your life.

            Imagine the legal nightmare that will occur the first time a 3D printed car part fails, and someone is injured or killed as a result.

            • by Immerman (2627577)

              What nightmare? Some idiot uses a 3D printer to create structural components not up to spec, they fail. He gets charged with either criminal recklessness or suicide, as appropriate. News at 11. Jerry-rigged automotive repairs are hardly anything new.

              Meanwhile in the responsible world high end 3D printers will make custom parts for cars/rockets/etc that can't readily be made any other way, and they'll be subjected to all the usual fitness tests before actually being used somewhere that puts human lives on

              • What nightmare?

                I can tell you're not a lawyer. Probably not a busy-body, either.

                Let me answer your question with a question: To date, not one person has been killed or harmed by a 3D printed gun; so why are busy-bodies and politicians already trying to regulate the 3D printing of guns?

                Meanwhile in the responsible world high end 3D printers will make custom parts for cars/rockets/etc that can't readily be made any other way, and they'll be subjected to all the usual fitness tests before actually being used somewhere that puts human lives on the line.

                I don't disagree; hell, if I had one that's precisely what I'd be using it for - prototyping designs before I risk my ass in the full-sized version. I just recognize that, in a population this size, there will be people out there with nothin

                • Kind of the same reason that people want to regulate the sale of guns more than the sale of metal in general. Guns only kill things; that is their stated purpose. But there are many positive and constructive uses of other tools. In particular, this 3d printer.

            • I see this more for car dealers,mechanics,distributors rather than home owners. You will still need raw materials. Home owners don't like keeping boxes of screws.

              No you will take your car in and they will print parts you need. You want new gizmo they print it and ship it.

              The first thing I see being mass produced will be gaskets ,washers, prints etc. Which are generally a massive waste in cost of materials, etc

          • All of the printers I've seen are based on sintering powdered metal into a single larger piece of metal. My understanding of the process is that sintered parts are no-where near the strength of a solid piece of metal. Also, engineered metals used in performance components are selected for the specific capabilities of the alloy. Printing your tie-rod ends from a generic metal is likely t result in a sub-standard part that fails far more quickly than you would otherwise expect.

            This isn't to say that there

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              All of the printers I've seen are based on sintering powdered metal into a single larger piece of metal. My understanding of the process is that sintered parts are no-where near the strength of a solid piece of metal.

              I've read up on this a bit, I'm by no means an expert but I have a broad overview of the situation. In short, it is this: Forged metal is by far the strongest thing you can get your hands on, but sintered metal is stronger than mere cast metal. This assumes that all else is equal, that is to say, that you're using the same alloy. However, many parts are made out of alloys selected for cost, and not for optimal function. Which leads us to our next point.

              Printing your tie-rod ends from a generic metal is likely t result in a sub-standard part that fails far more quickly than you would otherwise expect.

              What do you mean by "a generic metal"? Seems like most

        • Most cars are more plastic than metal.

          • Most cars are more plastic than metal.

            Not the important parts.

            • Most cars are more plastic than metal.

              Not the important parts.

              On the other hand, having ridden one down from factory to near-junkyard, I can tell you which parts get harder to find replacements for over the years.

              The "go" parts tend to be pretty generic, and in modern cars with everything packed in tight and assembled by machine, the expensive component of the repair is generally the labor. The "pretty" parts, on the other hand, are changed often on a yearly basis and even something as basic as rubber window trim gets hard to find after a decade when the original has

              • by 0123456 (636235)

                Indeed. When I scrapped one of my cars some years ago, the metal parts were worth far less than the taillights. which were specific to the convertible version and unavailable new from the manufacturer.

              • Most cars are more plastic than metal.

                Not the important parts.

                On the other hand, having ridden one down from factory to near-junkyard, I can tell you which parts get harder to find replacements for over the years.

                The "go" parts tend to be pretty generic, and in modern cars with everything packed in tight and assembled by machine, the expensive component of the repair is generally the labor. The "pretty" parts, on the other hand, are changed often on a yearly basis and even something as basic as rubber window trim gets hard to find after a decade when the original has rotted out. Much less stuff like taillight lenses. So if you could print up a an exact replacement without having to scour junkyards, it would be great.

                You had me at "rubber window trim." Damn but that stuff is hard to find for obscure vintage vehicles.

        • by mjwx (966435)

          It will also kill off the entire replacement parts industry. Cars, washing machines, fridges, etc, etc.

          Riiiiiiight... because when I need a new tie-rod end in my truck, a shitty plastic one will be just as good as the cast metal part it's replacing.

          How about replacing the bumper or any other part of the plastic bodywork?

          Self repair of small dings and scrapes could become a real possibility. Not to mention the possibility of self designed cosmetic bodykits (although I admit how garish a huge wing on the back of a Toyota Yaris looks).

          • Not to mention the possibility of self designed cosmetic bodykits (although I admit how garish a huge wing on the back of a Toyota Yaris looks).

            You realize the idea of every teenager out there having the ability to 'custom design' a bodykit for their rice rocket does not make me feel any better about this, right?

            Have you ever seen what a 17-year-old considers tasteful?

            • by mjwx (966435)

              Not to mention the possibility of self designed cosmetic bodykits (although I admit how garish a huge wing on the back of a Toyota Yaris looks).

              You realize the idea of every teenager out there having the ability to 'custom design' a bodykit for their rice rocket does not make me feel any better about this, right?

              Have you ever seen what a 17-year-old considers tasteful?

              As a fan of JDM cars, I assure you I've seen greater horrors than you in that regard :)

              • As a fan of JDM cars, I assure you I've seen greater horrors than you in that regard :)

                As the former owner of a JDM Corolla I built when I was in high school, I highly doubt it.

                The high-compression engine was cool, but the body... geez, what was I thinking???

      • I think you make a good point there. Of course there is the flip side in which it may be possible to keep big ticket items in service longer since replacement parts could be less of an issue. It could be a boon to people doing restoration or maintenance work on older equipment, but it may also eat into sales of new equipment.

        And then there is the impact on logistics. If more fabrication of parts can be done locally it will likely reduce the total volume of shipping, for at least some part of the supply c

      • by vlad30 (44644)

        It will also kill off the entire replacement parts industry. Cars, washing machines, fridges, etc, etc.

        Not that I'm complaining, but it's not always an easy transition.

        Not Likely however it may make it more efficient and able to produce parts for a longer time. It was explained once to me that when a manufacturer makes parts they estimate how many spares they will require for the future, manufacture them, then store them. The storage cost is incrementally added to each part hence why they are so expensive. 3D printing would go some way to eliminate the storage problem but it would not eliminate need for special materials used by the manufacturer or the precise specs whic

      • The machine costs $330K, and doesn't print sturdy electrical conductors - it will be awhile before something like this will beat the $5 washing machine part ordered from Amazon.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The reason cheaper 3D printers can't use colours isn't technical, it's because doing so violates patents unless they pay a fortune to license it.

  • Two, TWO 3D Printer Slashvertisements, ah ah ah...

  • Ok, that thing looks awesome, but it's also the size of a small car. What's the price point? $100k? more? I don't see this thing being useful to anyone but large conglomerates.

    • It will trickle down...

      • It will trickle down...

        After it melts.

        In practice, it will probably be hard to get hold of in places that aren't already wealthy.

        • No no no no no no... If wealthy people can get it, then you WILL benefit. It's the law, I believe. That's why we all work hard at enabling them to hoard more.

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      Ok, that thing looks awesome, but it's also the size of a small car. What's the price point? $100k? more? I don't see this thing being useful to anyone but large conglomerates.

      A few weeks ago, I took a photo of a Cray-1, which cost millions of dollars and isn't much smaller than a small car, on my Android tablet, which cost hundreds of dollars and fits in my pocket. I then ran supercomputer benchmarks on my tablet, and turns out it's several times faster than the Cray.

      When technology is allowed to progress without interference, what's expensive today will be in everyone's garage in two or three decades.

      • Sometimes:

        When technology is allowed to progress without interference, what's expensive today will be in everyone's garage in two or three decades.

        Other times, it stagnates... Manned Space Travel, the internal combustion engine (remarkably unchanged since the 1800s steam engine, and precious little improvement from computer controlled fuel injection), electrical power generation, flying machines, so much potential for improvement and increased adoption - but so little actual progress in the last 50 years. Sometimes it's market forces, sometimes the market pounds away as hard as it can and still can't make a 10x improvement in 50 years (batt

      • by locopuyo (1433631)
        Are you sure about that? I haven't seen a Cray in anyone's garage.
    • The list price is £200,000 which doesn't seem to cover shipping and installation etc so it could be anything up to £250,000 so that's about $330-415,000.

      Yeah.
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Monday January 27, 2014 @04:55PM (#46084909) Homepage

    I would love to see the insides of this thing. The biggest problem I see is that the mixing process requires you to push all the plastic out of the extruder and prime it again with the new filaments. That would waste a lot of plastic at each color change. So if you printed something with multiple colors per layer, it would waste a lot lot of plastic.

    Does anyone have any more details?

    • You know all the variables though, you can figure out when to change the color so that when it gets through the extruder to the head is exactly when you wanted to change colors anyway. You might have to eject a bit if you don't want any mixing, but the waste could be quite close to zero if they did things right. On the other hand, the pictures and videos they show do not make it look cheap, it's entirely possible that they just say "you're spending $50,000 on the printer and you're worried about $10 worth

      • The rep-rap I saw working wasn't anywhere near as smart as you describe - it had 2 colors and basically wasted a bunch of whatever it was working with at each change. It was also finicky as hell about ambient room temperatures, etc. and ultimately got returned for refund.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is an Objet machine, for which Stratasys is only the US reseller, not the manufacturer. This line of machines is resin based, not FDM. They've already been able to blend two different materials by dithering individual dots at 600DPI. You could for example blend a rubber and an ABS-style material to get intermediate mechanical properties. Really neat stuff.

    • by Liquidape (260782)

      It's not an extruder FDM. The Objet series are basically ink jets that print UV curable resins layer by layer.

    • by compro01 (777531)

      No, this isn't filament. It's an advanced stereolithographic resin system. It's kinda like a 3D inkjet printer.

  • Now I can print me up a gun in color! Yee ha! (Translation for Brits: colour. You're welcome.)
  • When it comes to 3d printing, the big news will be the printer that can mix different METALS and plastics.

    Frankly, plastics don't have the valuable electrical properties that we need for truly innovative design.

    Show me a printer that can actually print itself - complete with electric motors and wires - rather than one that can print 'the non-electrical parts of itself'.

    THAT would be impressive.

    • by slew (2918)

      Frankly, plastics don't have the valuable electrical properties that we need for truly innovative design.

      I think you need to think outside the box a bit. It doesn't have to be metal (although metal has some useful properties other than electrical)... Some plastics can be conductive, and certain conductive materials can be embedded into plastics and integrated into the 3d printing process...

      Here's an example [plosone.org] of using electro-conductive carbon black in the 3d printing process...

  • Nice bike helmet, but I won't be wearing a 3D printed helmet unless it passes all the same tests that all bike helmets in America pass.

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