When it comes to jewelry 3D printing, one of the first companies that comes to mind is EnvisionTEC. While the company offers a lot more than just jewelry printers, it remains one of the oldest and most prolific manufacturers when it comes to digital light processing (DLP) technology and specialized printers for the jewelry and dental industries. Last year was a huge one for the 15-year-old company, which introduced five new printers in 2016 in addition to upgrading several of their already-existing ones.
While none of EnvisionTEC’s newly released 3D printers failed to impress, one of the most notable was the Micro Plus cDLM jewelry printer, which was first introduced in June at the JCK Las Vegas trade show. The high-speed printer is the first to use EnvisionTEC’s patented new technology, continuous digital light manufacturing (cDLM), which has had jewelers excitedly awaiting the printer’s shipping release. cDLM technology relies on a build plate with continuous motion in the Z axis, allowing users to 3D print objects at unprecedented speed without sacrificing detail, quality or accuracy in the X and Y axes.
The Micro Plus cDLM began shipping over the holidays, and according to EnvisionTEC Chief Operating Officer John Hartner, demand has been high for the desktop printer. The response is unsurprising, as the jewelry industry is one that relies on fast turnaround while maintaining impeccable design quality – not an easy task. Custom and made-to-order jewelry, in particular, requires jewelers to deliver quickly.
“Typically, a customer develops a design with a jeweler and comes back to the store a day or two later to see a 3D printed model and place an order,” said Bill Letwin, EnvisionTEC’s jewelry channel specialist. “But sometimes, jewelers lose the sale during that wait, which makes the ability to quickly print the model a game changer.”
It’s a competitive market, and the speed of the Micro Plus cDLM gives jewelers that much more of an edge over their competitors. The printer is capable of printing a typical engagement ring with high accuracy and excellent surface finish in EnvisionTEC’s QView material in less than 15 minutes – meaning that a customer can develop, finalize and purchase a design in one trip. For harried individuals in the midst of planning a wedding or other special event, that’s a dream come true.
“Our new technology literally prints a ring while the customer has a cup of coffee,” Letwin said. “We have a lot of special order jewelers who have placed orders for that reason, but we’ve also seen a lot of interest from jewelry manufacturers who see the ability to shorten their design cycle times and simply work more efficiently.”
Speed isn’t the only benefit the Micro Plus cDLM offers, either. EnvisionTEC’s new cDLM technology sets itself apart from other 3D printing technologies by using a layer of oxygen as a separation layer, meaning that the part doesn’t need to be peeled off the exposure tray for each layer. That’s an attractive feature for several reasons, including less wear on the tray and reduced consumable use. In addition, fewer supports are needed, allowing for more design freedom as well as quicker cleanup.
“Without having to peel up each layer and have all those supports, it also opens designers up to create finer more complex geometries,” Letwin said.
The Micro Plus cDLM, which features a build envelope of 1.8 x 1.1 x 2.95 inches (45.4 x 28.5 x 75 mm), also prints with PIC100 C, a variation of EnvisionTEC’s popular PIC100 resin developed specifically for the Micro Plus. The original PIC100 has been a favorite of jewelry manufacturers for years, thanks to its high detail and superb burnout properties, and the optimized C version offers even higher resolution for finely detailed designs such as micro pave and filigree.
The Micro Plus cDLM is only the first in what EnvisionTEC expects to be a series of high-speed 3D printers using cDLM technology. For more information, or for a price quote, contact EnvisionTEC here. Learn more about cDLM technology below:
Discuss in the EnvisionTEC forum at 3DPB.com.
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