When most people think of 3D printing, they usually picture some sort of permanent material being laid down on a print bed, sintered by a laser, or cured by an energy source. Most don’t think of a machine that prints using different types of wax.
Solidscape, a subsidiary of Stratasys, specializes in just that: 3D printing wax. The company offers several different 3D printers, all of which are capable of printing in extremely high resolution, fabricating objects with finishes resembling that of traditional injection molding. In fact, Solidscape is known within the industry for these high quality machines, with their line of wax-based 3D printers. But the question arises… why would you want to print in wax?
The answer is quite simple, and not surprising at all. Printing in wax allows for the creation of molds that can then be used in the manufacturing of end-use products. The process of lost-wax casting is often used by jewelers and parts manufacturers. It allows for the creation of products with any material that can be melted down and casted. The high precision of Solidscape’s 3D printers provides the perfect solution for individuals and companies looking to produce small or large quantities of an object without the high costs of traditional injection molding.
Solidscape offers three primary models of 3D printers. They range in price from $24,650 for the 3Z Studio, going up to as much as $55,000 for the latest, greatest MAX2.
In talking with the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Solidscape, Bill Dahl, he made it clear that all three of these printers are of the utmost quality and in fact the qualities the three machines offer are all equal. The only differences between the different models are the print speeds and maximum build sizes. The 3Z Studio for example only provides a maximum Z-axis height of 2 inches. Dahl also told us that the 3Z Studio prints with about half the speed of the next model, the 3Z Pro (priced at $45,650), and about 1/3 the speed of the MAX2.
The way in which these printers work is that they print objects in a way similar to how FDM machines print in plastic. However, between each layer there is a milling tool which makes sure that the layers are perfectly even and level. In addition to this, the printers have an onboard monitoring and recovery system, which is constantly making sure the object is printing how it should be. If for one reason or another a flaw is detected, the milling feature allows for quick and easy recovery, to ensure the object still remains perfect. This feature also allows for the recovery of a project, if for example the power goes out in the workshop. The printers are also capable of printing different types of wax, including a dissolvable wax that can easily be used for support during the printing process and then simply removed in a liquid solution afterwards.
Solidscape offers some great options for companies and individuals looking to advance their manufacturing techniques while saving time and money over traditional injection molding. Their machines will be on display at EuroMold at the end of this month in Germany.
Dahl tells us, however, that those attending EuroMold will be in for quite a surprise, as the company has a rather large announcement to make and demonstration to showcase.
“We are always in constant development,” Dahl tells 3DPrint.com. “We will be showing, at the upcoming EuroMold, a new software, and it will be the first time all of Europe will have a chance to see the MAX2. We have a new disruptive manufacturing process we are going to be sharing as well as demonstrating. We will be showing this really disruptive process, in that it is going to cut a lot of steps and get people to a higher volume manufacturing. Quicker, cheaper, making of parts.”
This is as much information as Dahl was able to share with us at the time, but from the excitement in his voice, I could tell it will be a rather surprising advancement in manufacturing techniques. Solidscape has a tremendous history of advancing the manufacturing process for small to large scale businesses, so it will certainly be interesting to see what the company has up their sleeves for EuroMold.
What do you think this announcement will be? Have you used Solidscape 3D printers in the past? Discuss in the Solidscape forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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