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Monday, January 11, 2010

3D desktop printer line expands

$20,000 for a desktop printer that builds your prototype

This is a slightly off-beat story, but 3D printers that use plastic to build up a 3D structure are an interesting development, particularly with potential in the future to team that with printable and plastic electronics to build a complete system at the desktop. Then the idea of open source hardware becomes very interesting.
At the moment, a year after introducing what has become the world’s best-selling 3D printer — the Dimension uPrint — Stratasys of Minneapolis says it has expanded the product line with the uPrint Plus – an enhanced version with lots of new features – while still keeping the price under $20,000.
Like the Dimension uPrint personal 3D printer, the uPrint Plus has a small footprint for true desktop use, 25 x 26 in (635 x 660 mm). uPrint Plus can print in eight colors of Stratasys ABSplus material, making it easier for designers to differentiate individual assembly components and better depict their product. The printer has a build envelope of 8 x 8 x 6 in (203 x 203 x 152 mm) – 33 percent more volume than the uPrint, enabling larger models. uPrint Plus offers two resolution settings – 0.010 in (0.254 mm) and 0.013 in (0.330 mm) – to give users additional print options.
uPrint Plus also features two support-material enhancements that reduce material consumption and modeling time. The first, Smart Supports, is a software enhancement that reduces material usage by 40 percent, cutting costs. The second, SR-30, is an improved soluble support material that dissolves 69 percent faster, to speed the modeling process. Smart Supports are available for both uPrint and uPrint Plus.
“When the uPrint was introduced one year ago, it quickly became the best-selling 3D printer worldwide, with 1,000 units sold in the first 9 months,” says Dimension Product Manager Mary Stanley. “Based on its success and customer requests for expanded features, the uPrint Plus was created. Now designers, engineers and architects have expanded options for building models based on proven FDM technology.”
uPrint Plus material colors include red, blue, olive, black, dark gray, nectarine, fluorescent yellow, and ivory. The new 3D printer will be available for shipment in March through Stratasys resellers.
According to Wohlers Report 2009, Stratasys supplied 43 percent of all additive fabrication systems installed worldwide in 2008, making it the unit market leader for the seventh consecutive year. Stratasys patented and owns the process known as FDM. This process creates functional prototypes and manufactured goods directly from any 3D CAD program, using high-performance industrial thermoplastics. The company holds more than 250 granted or pending additive fabrication patents globally. Stratasys products are used in the aerospace, defense, automotive, medical, business & industrial equipment, education, architecture, and consumer-product industries.

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