It was a few months ago that 3D systems made its huge raft of product announcements at both CES and Euromold.
One of the most interesting devices the 3D printer manufacturer launched was the ProJet 1200: While many of the new products are either in the high-end professional, large build volume or the entry level, consumer/prosumer category, the ProJet 1200 sat between the two.
It’s essentially a small scale SLA machine that’s bench-top sized (it’s about the size of a coffee machine) and it focused on producing super high resolution parts using a, for now at least, limited number of materials.
Whether it’s intended for use in the jewellery market or the medical field, the ProJet’s form factor and materials are going after the detail cast product market. That could be lost wax patterns for jewellery or for dental crowns or pretty much anything else that required intricate models.
The build chamber measures only 43 x 27 x 180mm and it’ll build at around 14mm per hour. Interestingly the machine uses DLP chips (that Envisiontec made it’s name with) and that gives you fine resolution (equivalent of 585dpi in print terminology) in 0.03 mm layers.
Key is, of course, the material. At present, only namely VisiJet FTX Green is the only material available. It’s a photopolymer with zero ash burn out, designed for casting.
What’s interesting is that this more appliance than many 3D printers. Load up the material cartridges, load up the data. Print. Remove. Move into manufacture. Yes, the material is proprietary. Yes, it’s probably more expensive than other 3D printers in the same price bracket (in terms of material cost), but that would be missing the point.
This is a specialist device, aimed at a very special set of needs rather than specific industry.
If you’re working in the dental or jewellery field, you don’t make your money by tinkering with a 3D printer. You make it with good design (whether that’s aesthetic in the case of jewellery or patient suitability in the medical side) and quick turn around.
What I like about this is that it’s a small, nimble product that can find a home in quite a few industries and workshops.
While 3D Systems are clearly going after the jewellery and dental markets, there’s a tonne of other folks that could use something that makes small wax patterns for casting.
If 3D Systems use its knowledge and capability in terms of photo-curable materials and expand out the material offerings, its potential grows with it.