PolyJet technology uses resins that are dispensed onto a build tray in very small droplets and cured between passes with ultraviolet light in order to create a 3D shape or shapes. PolyJet 3D printers use this process to create parts with a high level of detail and realism because they can print in multiple materials/colors at once and at a higher resolution than other print technology like Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF). Stratasys PolyJet machines can blend anywhere from two to six resins in order to obtain features like soft touch points and full range of color in a single printed part. This makes the technology very attractive for multiple industries when needing to create realistic prototypes and tactile end-use-parts. In this blog article, we highlight some of the most common blends of these composite or "digital" materials and how they are made.
Getting to Know the Base Materials
First, it is important to understand that base materials are "mixed” to create composite digital materials. Almost all PolyJet digital materials are a blend of a flexible material (such as Agilus30) and a rigid material (such as a Vero resin or combination of resins).
Agilus is the name given to the flexible resins that are used to mimic rubber or to add soft-touch finishes to parts. This photopolymer is ideal for advanced design verification and rapid prototyping, as well as applications such as wearables, jigs and fixtures and many others.
Vero is the name given to the rigid family of resins ranging from clear to colored and on its own can be used for anything from static models to light jigs and fixtures. These photopolymers are well-known for being used to create smooth, strong parts and prototypes that are as close as they can be to the final product. The Vero family is extensive, and each material has different properties and functions.Combining Agilus + Vero
One of the most common digital materials is a mixture of Vero and Agilus resins. By mixing these two materials, you can have control over how hard or soft you would like certain areas of your part to be. This is great to simulate things like buttons or over-molding. You can also print color over Agilus, but you do not get the same control over hard and soft. So, the more color you add, the more rigid your part will be.
For injection molding purposes, Digital ABS provides great strength and heat resistance as well as a great surface finish. It uses two resins, one high strength and one with high heat resistance. When these resins are printed together, you can achieve a part with similar mechanical properties to ABS. This is great for prototyping injection molding tools where surface finish is a priority. It can also be used for hinges or snap fits where strength and durability are needed.
On the Stratasys J750 and Stratasys J850 3D printers, you can blend up to six materials to achieve a full gamut of colors. This allows designers and engineers to apply colors to the part as it’s printing, which cuts down on post-processing and painting time. There are even PANTONE-validated color options that make communication from design to part even easier. To achieve these colors, Stratasys uses a mix of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black and White resins. These resins are dispensed in different amounts to achieve more than 500,000 different colors on the fly. This simply cannot be done with any other additive technology without the use of custom materials.
PolyJet technology has advanced rapidly over the years. And with the addition of full-color and other digital materials, the possibilities for creation are endless. Make sure to follow our blog for any of the latest updates on PolyJet or any of the other technologies we offer.
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