Stratasys has launched a new FDM production 3D printer, the F900, as well as improvements to its prototyping printer, the J750 and a new J735, all wrapped up with new features for the GrabCAD 3D printer software.
Actually, the F900 is not so much a new printer as an updated version of the Fortus 900mc platform, which it appears to replace. The new printer is available in three different configurations, as the F900, the F900 AICS (Aircraft Interiors Certification Solution), and the F900 PRO. The basic F900 It has a build size of 914.4 x 609.6 x 914.4 mm, with the platen supporting two build zones for either small or large build sheets. It produces layers 0.508 thick within an accuracy of +/- .089 mm. It takes a variety of materials including Ultem, ASA, ABS and FDM Nylon 12. It comes with GrabCAD Print and Insight Software.
However, the genesis behind the F900 is really Stratasys’ development of its Aircraft Interiors Certification Solution, which was announced last June at the Paris Air Show. This meets stringent FAA and EASA certification requirements to ensure that the mechanical properties of each part would be highly repeatable so that every part meets the same standards. Stratasys had to modify both the hardware and the software of the Fortus 900mc to reach this standard and it’s this modification that forms the basis of the F900 so it makes sense that there would also be a version offered with the complete AICS software. The solution has been qualified under FAA oversight at the US National Center for Advanced Materials Performance (NCAMP), which itself is part of the National Institute of Aviation Research (NIAR) based at Wichita State University.
Paul Jonas, director of the Technology Development’s Special Programs at NIAR, explained the requirements: “The first part that you make has to be equivalent to the hundredth part, to the thousandth part, to the part you make ten years from now in order to be good enough to be certified for the FAA. And that’s what’s so powerful about the NCAMP process.” The standard also includes track and trace capability for each part, which is an essential element of aircraft maintenance.
The F900 PRO is said to be a production-grade system which can use the Ultem 9085 resin. It includes the features of the AICS version at least as far as the repeatability of the parts produced is concerned though without the specific traceability that’s used in the aerospace industry. The existing Fortus 900mc systems can be upgraded to the F900 specifications.
Stratasys has improved the existing J750 by adding a new vivid colour package, with highly accurate colour matching for over 500,000 colour combinations plus advanced clear with texture functionality. There’s a a new model, the J735, which also gains these features and is basically a cheaper version of the J750 but with a smaller build chamber of 350 x 350 x 200mm.
These PolyJet-driven systems are mainly designed for creating prototypes that look, feel and operate like finished products. They can cut the time needed to create prototypes as there’s no need for further painting or assembly. They can be used for design verification, functional performance testing and fit/form applications. Both of these printers can simulate parts with full colour and textures – ranging from rigid to flexible, transparent to opaque.
There are also two new materials, VeroYellowV and VeroMagentaV, available both on the J750 and J735 and the Connex3. These are said to produce enhanced red/orange/yellow colours with improved translucency that can be used for things like automotive lights and housing.
Stratasys has also improved its GrabCAD Print software. This can produce 3D prints from native CAD formats, including now VRML files, without the need to convert and fix STL files. GrabCAD can now also be used with the Connex3.
Finally, Stratasys is also working on a new software module for GrabCAD Print that’s designed specifically for the production of jigs, fixtures, and other manufacturing tooling and is looking for beta customers willing to test this. This Jigs and Fixtures for GrabCAD Print automates several complicated and time-consuming processing steps, such as automatically generating toolpath instructions, and eliminates the need for multiple programs within the workflow. It works with native CAD design and should make it easier for even inexperienced designers to produce jigs and fixtures relatively quickly without needing much training. It’s aimed at manufacturing engineers, tooling designers, and production managers, as well as service bureau programmers, executives, and owners. You can find more details here.