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What Is PolyJet 3D Printing?

Updated: Dec 9, 2020


The rapid prototyping industry is growing quickly, and there are new kinds of technology all the time. One of the newest types of 3D printers is called PolyJet, and it is made by a company called Objet in Israel. Basic Operation PolyJet printers, like many 3D printers, work by building up models one layer at a time. This is called additive manufacturing. A moving set of heads sprays out fine droplets of photopolymer liquid at the right positions in each layer. The droplets are then hardened almost instantaneously by an ultra-violet lamp. This results in a model with high precision and accuracy, with very little "stair-stepping" on the vertical axis because the layers are so thin. Materials There are many kinds of materials that can be used with these printers. One of the most popular ones is called VeroWhite FullCure830. It is a rigid, opaque white material that is nearly as strong as common plastics. There are also other colors, both opaque and transparent, offered, as well as rubber-like materials using the name Tango. Strengths The strengths include fine details, quick printing, and smooth surfaces that can easily be sanded, painted or drilled. These features allow the models to be used for form, fit, and light functional testing. Tiny moveable features are possible, such as wheels and gears, which is something that other processes may not do as well. A painted PolyJet model looks great, which is useful for marketing presentations. The models can also be used in a variety of other applications, including mold making and vacuum forming. Weaknesses One of the biggest drawbacks is its low temperature resistance. If the ambient temperature exceeds 130 degrees Fahrenheit, the model can start to warp. This makes it a poor candidate for outdoor and automotive usage. However, indoor usage with light to medium loads placed on the models should work fine. For higher-temperature applications, an ABS plastic using the FDM process is a better choice. Comparison With Stereolithography Stereolithography (or SLA) remains one of the most popular forms of rapid prototyping. It actually uses a process that is very similar to PolyJet. They both use photopolymer liquids for the models. However, stereolithography uses lasers to cure the material rather than ultra-violet lamps. Both processes result in similar levels of precision and accuracy, but PolyJet typically creates a surface that is smoother right out of the printer. Pricing Pricing for PolyJet models varies greatly, depending on which company does the printing. This means that it can cost more or less than stereolithography models. Small models can be purchased from rapid prototyping houses for as little as $15 but larger models can easily be in the hundreds of dollars. The best thing to do is shop around by getting quotes from a few places to find the lowest price. Make sure to check the lead times required by these companies too. Conclusion PolyJet printing has many great advantages, but make sure you know the strengths and weaknesses of the various forms of 3D printing before you make a decision on how to have your parts made.

Nicholas Swezey is the owner of FastProtos.com, which offers PolyJet 3D Printing at reduced prices.



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