In our previous blog article, we covered some quick and easy ways to reduce print time and costs on your Stratasys FDM machines. If you're a PolyJet user, don't worry! We've got you covered and in this article, we'll look over the top five ways to reduce your 3D printing costs with your machines, in no particular order.
1. Choosing the Right Material
New to the J8 series is a new material with its own print setting. DraftGrey was introduced as a low-cost option for customers looking to create a large number of models that do not need realistic colors or textures. This is a perfect material for early stage form models. It comes in at half the price of normal PolyJet resins. DraftGrey can be printed on its own at normal layer heights and can serve as a lower cost option for early stage models before utilizing more expensive materials for a full-color application. Loading a J850 or J835 machine completely with DraftGrey gains you access to Super High Speed (SHS) mode. This mode prints at 55 microns (0.002 in) which is more than double the previous higher resolution. This allows you to dramatically cut down on print times and is best suited to get a large amount of models (or a very large model) out as quickly as possible. The picture below is a great example of using DraftGrey (shown far left) as an early stage model and utilizing the J850’s 7 different materials creating models all the way up to a full CMF model with articulating features (shown far right).
2. Limiting Your Z- Height
PolyJet technology is a printing process in which a thermoset resin is dispensed layer by layer and cured with UV light as it prints. This process results in super high-quality, fully cured resin parts right off of the machine. These machines typically print at either a 14 or 28 micron layer height which is five to ten times smaller than the finest layer height on an FDM machine. Positioning your parts strategically in your PolyJet machine can help you save costs. Printing time in the X-axis is shorter than in the Y and Z axis, so it is recommended that you place your part's smallest dimension along the Z-axis. By simply orienting your part to limit the amount of layers needed to print it, you can dramatically cut down on print times. You can also choose to split your parts rather than working around its height.
3. Part Placement of Your Prints
Because PolyJet machines print at such a fine resolution, print times can be longer compared to a print technology like FDM. So, optimizing your orientation is important in keeping your print times down. The first way to do this is trying to reduce the overall height of your part off the tray. The build area lowers after each layer which is the longest movement in the entire process. So, reducing these lowering steps can greatly reduce your print times.
As you can see in this diagram, the PolyJet printer prints on tracks down the tray. So, you can imagine the print head moving from left to right down each track as the print goes on. So, if your part can fit in line with one of these tracks (preferably starting with the top most track), it limits the amount of tracks the printer has to run per layer and increases print speed. The part oriented across two tracks prints up in almost two hours, but by placing it across only one track, that print time gets cut down to 56 minutes!
4. Keep it Clean
Having a clean PolyJet machine is essential to saving costs! Stratasys PolyJet machines include a manual that guides you through the cleaning process for your machine. Following this schedule and cleaning the excess resin from areas of the machine is essential to saving money down the line. The main area to clean after each print will be around the print head. A good tip is to have a small shop vacuum that can help you easily clean up particles of support material that can cause a malfunction in the printer. Taking care of your PolyJet machine every time you finish a job can help you avoid the risk of extra wear and tear, which could be a huge expense in the long run.
5. Make Your Materials Last Longer
Protecting your materials and trying to store them under the best conditions is what helps you achieve high quality parts. In times of extended shutdowns, or simply long hiatuses between prints, it’s imperative to store material properly. Each material has their storage indications and you should always pay attention to those, but there are some general rules we recommend you follow to take proper care of your materials like storing them in airtight bags and storing your canister vertically.
PolyJet technology allows users to create full-color, realistic CMF models faster than any outside model shop or design firm 100% in-house. Even with the initial time and cost savings, by using the right materials and setting your part up in the most optimal way can increase these savings even more.
At TriMech we offer a full Design for Additive Manufacturing training course to help you get the most efficient parts in as little time as possible. Check out the description and reach out to your Territory Sales Manager to sign up.