The Projet 3D printers are a successful range of 3D printers from 3D systems using a print head to print fine detail and building up layers, cured using UV light.
The latest in this range are the Projet 3500 series printers recently launched by 3D systems. These are ideal for both prototyping and 3D printing usable parts where precision is important.
As such 3D systems will be marketing the new range to high tech industries such as aerospace and medical industries that requires parts made within very precise tolerances.
The Projet 3500 launch is being made alongside the launch of 9 new Visijet materials by 3D Systems which will compliment the existing range and allow for 3D printing in a wide variety of materials including plastics, tough resin and wax.
The most economical Visijet materials are those plastics for use in working models which can then be tested but tougher materials including Procast plastic and Prowax are available for making precision parts for use in for example aeroplanes and medical instruments.
There are also two materials made specifically for use in dentistry. The Dentcast can make Dental Wax Ups for use in producing crowns and Stoneplast can make dental models to speed up the production of dentures and similar in dental labs where it is possible to start with digital data taken from a patients mouth.
As well as the main Visijet materials, support materials are also available to use with the Projet printers that are dissolvable but support fine and delicate structures during printing that may be unable to support themselves until the entire structure is complete. This greatly increases the geometric possibilities for creating parts and allows them to be created using the minimum material and weight: this is vital when producing parts for use in aerospace.
The main focus of the 3500 range though is to make use of these printers simpler than ever so that designers can use them themselves with no need for specialist technicians. As such the 3500 range has a simple intuitive touch screen control panel that makes it easy to run and maintain the printer including restocking or switching materials.
Though the Projet 3500 will remain primarily used for 3D printing within testing and prototyping the introduction of tougher materials for use in usable parts shows how 3D Systems expect use of these printers to develop for creating parts with a level of detail impracticable for traditional techniques on low production runs.
With aerospace especially, where a company may make thousands of different parts each with a production run of a few hundred at any time, using 3D printers like the Projet 3500s makes sense. There is also the fact that compared to machining building up a part means that far less materials can be used, this means far less weight and also cost savings. Boeing in their Dreamliners used 3D printing to make thousands of small parts each of which they were able to cut the weight of, on average by around a third.