Stratasys has announced that they have created a 3D printer that can use multiple materials, and print in full color. It is able to create hard, soft and flexible objects using a variety of different polymers, and can create them in a rainbow of colors. The trick, they say, was their triple-jetting technology that combines small drops of three base materials, which helps to reduce the need for painting and separate runs.
Being able to create something that can basically be packaged and sold right after printing is going to be a huge time saver for companies. Think of all the items that are sold today that are currently manufactured, and then painted in a process that takes at least two steps. Everything from the bodies of vehicles to clock faces require these steps, and if this printer is as effective as the company says, this could put an end to it.
Stratasys CEO, David Reis, said “I believe our new Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D printer will transform the way our customers design, engineer and manufacture new products.”
One of the early testers of this printer is the bike maker, Trek Bicycle in Waterloo, Wisconsin. They are using the printer for testing and assessment of accessories such as bike chain stay guards and handlebar grips. Mike Zeigle, manager of Trek’s prototype development group, said “Now we produce bicycle parts that look and feel like product parts. We are particularly excited about 3D printing our models directly in color.”
The printer can even print transparent colors for even greater flexibility. This is quite a leap forward for the 3D printing industry.