state of the Art Office Friendly 3d Printers

By: Michael Schneider

'State of the art' Office friendly 3D Printers

The appearance of 3D Printers on the market somewhat in the early 1980's indicated of technological developments to come, for this pre-production scene.

Today, some compare the vast availability of these 3 dimensional printers to television shows such as 'Star trek' but others view the ability to enter a CAD 3-dimensional program in one end, and print a 3D model in the other - purely out of the 'Matrix' series of films.

Already some US television-shows feature these 3D printers and demonstrate their varied applications to a significant degree.

The main objective of using such a 3D printing systems is to shorten the production process and focus the decision process within the production process.

Rapid Prototyping as its called, allows the manufacturer to examine and evaluate a rapidly produced or rather printed model, way before the actual product enters 'real' production.
The advantage as its described is shortening the production process, and usually eliminating 'marketing' and technological production doubts before they start.
In journalistic terms this would be described as 'proofing' the article before its printed. In manufacturing terms its printing before actual production takes place.

These 3d printers have various applications ranging from medical to automotive to footwear but they all have a common link; enter a diagram - print a real product to decide on before production begins.

Imagine for a minute a sports shoe company like Nike or a cell phone company such as Nokia having to decide between a dozen mobile phones and or shoe designs, on an LCD monitor without seeing the real product. Such companies in the past have had to authorize a production run of millions of units only to halt production down the road due to unforeseen errors.

Production designers today have changed the whole process by using a 3D printer, allowing these companies to actually print a sports shoe or a mobile phone, plug electronics into it and immediately use the phone or shoe to see if the product is actually what they wanted or it needs alterations.
Its widely reported in the media that companies such as Objet Geometries LTD supply multinationals such as Addidas design & production centers with 3D printers that actively improve the production process and shorten the lead time necessary to expedite marketing plans and improve competitiveness.

There is no substitute to actually holding the mobile phone and using it, letting the marketing people involved examine it before starting production in the millions of units.

Even though some of the manufacturers of 3D printers claim their printer is 'office friendly' and that the model printed is really life like, the reality of the matter lies somewhere in between.

Some printers rely on producing these models with a sandy powder, glue, and an injection of colors from 2 dimensional printer cartridges. The finished result is a very poor finish on the models, very poor detail, and very breakable models. The whole office friendly ideal is hampered by the powder itself which tends to spread itself throughout the office environment covering the walls, ceilings, and clothing.

Furthermore these printers demand a secondary finishing process involving dipping the printed model in a bath of super glue, wearing rubber gloves & spectacles for protection. Not really an office friendly function by any standards!

Other 3D printer manufacturers such as www.2objet.com implement a different printing technology; Polyjet, allowing the printer to function in the same manor as a 2D inkjet printer bought down the road from your Office Depot store.

The models printed with their Eden series of 3D printers do not crack so easily and truly resemble the original shoe, mobile phone, or skull bone part. The Eden Objet 3D printers are differentiated from the rest of their competitors by being able to print in high resolution very thin model walls, in various resins and with a superb smooth finish. In fact the printed 3D models results are of such fine quality that the layman isn't able to tell the 3D printed model apart from the real production product.

In a real office environment having a very small foot print area and needing a printer which is technologically years ahead of its time the range of the 3D printers available from Objet presents the exceptional choice.



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