Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Stratasys Introduces New PolyJet J850 Pro 3D Printer—With No Color!

ST Medical Devices

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Stratasys PolyJet systems have always had brilliant colors and been the tools of choice for many seeking prototypes. Now, with the Stratasys J850 Pro, the company is entering new territory by offering a J8 3D printer that’s affordable and doesn’t have color. This is kind of like if Ferrari went, “We have a new Ferrari: its $80,000 and doesn’t go faster than 80Km per hour.” Color has always been the defining characteristic and selling point of these printers, so this is a rather unexpected outcome of Stratasys segmentation strategy.

The Eden Prairie firm now has a J850 Prime, which has color, and this one. Then, there are the J700 for clear dental aligners, the J720 for color dental aligners and the J750 Digital Anatomy. You can just see the glint in the McKinsey guy’s eye as he pitches this. The printer profusion is confusing for customers. It’s also a bit paradoxical that Stratasys’s R&D and product development time is being spent in breaking the printer just right for every customer.

Essentially they’ve locked it for color and made it cheaper. Any value based price “inequalities” may make some customers unhappy. On the upside, a completely integrated, easy-to-use package for a particular segment will make it simpler to adopt it for production. Optimized systems and toolchains for one application will make training and operation easier, as well. From the point of view of Stratasys shareholders, this approach can get the company a lot of value and a lot more revenue. Unless, of course, people find out how to hack the cheaper versions to make them print full color.

The printer can jet seven materials at the same time and has the familiar 490 x 390 x 200mm build volume and standard materials, just no color capability. You can use the grayscale Vero materials: Vero Clear, Vero Ultraclear, Agilus, and Digital ABS. There’s a Super High Speed Mode that’s twice as fast as unspecified previous printers and at least there is a software upgrade path to the color version.

The company sees its usefulness in, “accurate simulation of textures, product labeling, shock absorption, fit and functional testing, over-molding, living hinges, injection molds, embedded sealing elements, parting lines simulation, structural mechanics and integrity, and see-through elements such as transparent materials for light guiding applications and micro-fluidics utilizations. These needs are common in industries such as consumer products and electronics, automotive, medical devices, service bureaus, and the education market.”

Shamir Shoham, Vice President of Design for Stratasys, noted:

“We’ve seen the value to customers of our PolyJet 3D printers – in throughput, accuracy, reliability, and multi-material capabilities – and are excited to have the J850 Pro now bring that value to our engineering customers, at an attractive price,”

Product Manager Ofer Libo contributed:

“The ability to easily create prototypes delivers great value to engineering teams in different stages of the development cycle, In addition, the J850 Pro’s multi-material capabilities and large throughput enables them to test different designs, textures, and material properties to accelerate time to market and precisely deliver on user needs.”

With the focus on textures, it makes me think, finally a PolyJet printer for the blind. Financially, this is a good play for the firm and will make sense for them. It allows the company to build out profit and attack new market segments. On the whole I’d like to see newer new printers.

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