3D printer creates full-color, multiple material prototypes in a single print run
The latest enterprise-grade 3D printer from Stratasys, the J750 model, is reportedly the first that can print objects with photorealistic color accuracy. In addition, like other premium printers from the same company, it can also print in multiple materials to produce parts that are hard or soft, opaque or transparent, for some rather impressive results.
The printer makes use of proprietary "Polyjet" technology, which Stratasys describes as the 3D analogous of inkjet printing. Tiny droplets of a photo-sensitive polymer are dropped on the tray and then illuminated to harden them on the spot. If the shape of the object is complex, including for instance a sudden overhang, the 3D design software automatically adds printed, water-soluble supports that can be easily washed away later.
The J750 is not the first Polyjet printer from Stratasys, but it is the first that can print in five colors – cyan, magenta, yellow, black and white – instead of just three. The addition of white in particular means the printer can now use the CMYK process to derive a broad spectrum of 360,000 accurate color shades. Indeed, the printer can even recreate color gradients and complex patterns such as wood grain, plaid, and so on.
Past 3D printers could also build in color, but print quality and color accuracy would suffer in the process. The J750, on the other hand, can create high-quality prints thanks to an horizontal resolution of 600 dpi and a vertical resolution up to an impressive 1,800 dpi (just 14 microns, or 0.00055 inches, per layer).
What's more, the printer can create composite materials by mixing two or more polymers right in the tray, and changing the polymer's characteristics from rigid to flexible, and from opaque to transparent, all in the same print, depending on what is needed.
Build volume is 490 x 390 x 200 mm (19.3 x 15.35 x 7.9 in), and the internal cabinet has room enough for a generous total 152 kg (335 lb) of printing material, which should last for quite a few prints.
The Stratasys J750 is currently being showcased at this year's Annual Manufacturing User Group conference in St. Louis, Missouri, which runs until April 7. The printer is already available for sale, and although Stratasys does not disclose its pricing, it's not likely to be hobbyist-friendly – probably running in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You can take a closer look in the promotional video below.