RAPID+TCT was last week in Detroit and there were a lot of manufacturers, large and small, showcasing their advancements in the additive world. RAPID is one of the largest additive manufacturing conferences in the US and has been running for the last 30 years. At this show, many manufacturers announce their new technologies, so it’s usually an exciting show. This was my first RAPID and I was excited to see what all the big manufacturers were showing off as well as to see some of the more emerging technologies like bioprinting. Below are some of my highlights from the show.
MakerBot Launches Their Specialty PETG Material
The MakerBot Method is MakerBot’s most recent 3D performance printer, designed to fill the gap between smaller desktop 3D printers and industrial printing systems. One of the biggest technology features on the Method is a circulating heated chamber and dry-sealed material bays.
When Method was launched, MakerBot provided several precision materials, but let users know they would be rolling out specialty materials in the future. At RAPID, MakerBot announced that their specialty PETG material for the Method is now available. PETG combines high strength and durability with chemical and moisture resistance and has excellent mechanical properties. It’s a great material for parts that need to be durable. PETG is used for parts designed for applications such as functional prototypes, jigs and fixtures and end-use parts.
New Releases From Stratasys
This year Stratasys has launched several 3D printers, exciting new features for existing ones and were showing them all off at RAPID.
The Stratasys F120
The newest member of the F123 family, the F120 bench-top FDM 3D printer was on display. The F120 comes in the same build size and increasing material volume as the rest of the F123 family 3D printers, but at a lower price point. One difference of the F120 is that the printing chamber has been separated from the material bays and is now a standalone part that can sit on a bench or sturdy desktop. The F120 has a wide range of desired materials including ABS, ASA and SR-30 hands-free dissolvable support. All available immediately to ensure you will be able to start producing the models you need as soon as your printer is ready to run. The F120 will be ready for shipping in July 2019.
The V650 Flex
The V650 Flex 3D printer is here to add game-changing advances in speed, accuracy and reliability to the established capacities of Stereolithography. This technology consists of building parts with precision, using a UV laser that cures and solidifies thin layers of a photo-reactive resin. The V650 Flex will allow engineers to create prototypes with smooth surfaces, master patterns, large concept models and investment casting patterns more quickly and precisely than ever. Stratasys has partnered with DSM to configure pre-qualified and fine-tuned a four-strong range of resins specifically to maximize the productivity, reliability and efficiency of the V650 Flex 3D printer.
3D Printing in PANTONE
In addition to the new 3D printers, Stratasys was showing off their J750 and J735 PolyJet’s which are the world’s first and only PANTONE-validated 3D printers. How cool is that? This is a great advancement for manufacturers around the world, as they will be able to match their prototype colors with 100% specificity. The J750/J735 are famous for being able to create prototypes that require a wider range of colors and realism. With this new ability, these printers will be able to print in more than 500,000 colors and will match creativity with color accuracy.
New FDM Materials
Stratasys announced a new partnership with Solvay, a company that specializes in the production of advanced materials and specialty chemicals. As part of the partnership, Solvay will use Stratasys expertise to develop materials aligned with the company’s quality and performance benchmarks. The partners will share an authorized partner materials roadmap to guide Solvay’s selection and development of materials for Stratasys FDM printers. This goal is for this partnership is to bring more new high-performance polymers for the Stratasys F900 FDM 3D printer faster.
“Stratasys is committed to expanding our portfolio of advanced, specialized materials for high-performance FDM printers – enabling manufacturers to readily use 3D printing for production applications,” said Rich Garrity, President, Americas, for Stratasys. “By combining our expertise with Solvay, customers can make use of a broad range of high-performance applications – all while maintaining the level of quality and reliability expected from Stratasys high-performance FDM consumables.”
Desktop Metal Announced the Launch of Fab Flow™
Desktop Metal announced its new Workflow Management System and was giving live demonstrations at their booth. As it was explained, Fab Flow is a fully-integrated prototype ordering and management system for internal additive fabrication shops. Basically, it makes the process more digital. As it says on their website “FabFlow moves job tracking out of spreadsheets and emails into one centralized platform – streamlining workflows and giving your shop a professional interface."
In addition to a new product release, one of TriMech’s solution partners, Desktop Metal, was voted the winner of the People Choice award this year. According to RAPID, the award “recognizes exhibits for being interactive, technically and aesthetically impressive, and visually appealing and engaging.” Congratulations to the Desktop Metal Team!
3D Printing in Hospitals Makes Huge Advancements
One of my personal favorites during the show was being able to see how 3D printing is helping to make huge advancements in hospitals and the medical field. Many hospitals use 3D printing for custom surgical guides and models. This allows surgeons to get a better understanding of how they would like to operate, as well as giving patients peace of mind in knowing that their surgery has been practiced many times. There are also printers now that are able to print with human cells, allowing for the potential of 3D printed organs as well as other actual body parts. Additive technologies are still in its infancy in the medical world and it will be very interesting to see what advancements are made.
These were all the things I took notice of while I was out on the floor. The show did a good job creating their own summaries of each day’s events and you can see them all here: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4.