3D Systems is preparing to commercially release its Figure 4 Modular digital manufacturing solution next month. The Figure 4 Modular is part of the company’s Figure 4 platform along with the Figure 4 Standalone and the Figure 4 Production. In addition to announcing the upcoming general release, 3D Systems is also preparing to introduce five new 3D printing materials.
The Figure 4 platform is a breakthrough DLP 3D printing solution first introduced by 3D Systems in 2017. The production system is notable for its flexibility, scalability and high print quality. 3D Systems emphasizes that the technology is able to achieve print rates up to 100 mm/hour and boasts six sigma accuracy and repeatability, making it suitable for end-use production.
A modular system for scalable production
As mentioned, the Figure 4 platform consists of three models, the Figure 4 Standalone, Modular and Production. The Figure 4 Standalone, a single engine solution for low-volume production and rapid prototyping, has already seen adoption in a number of industries. For instance, Oklahoma-based AM company Rapid Application Group (RAG) recently installed the Standalone system to improve turnaround times for clients in the aerospace, defense, healthcare, motor sports and oil and gas sectors.
The Figure 4 Modular—to become available this June—offers a cost effective, highly automated and scalable 3D printing solution. The modular system can be equipped with optional features including automated materials handling and centralized post-processing. With the Figure 4 Modular, businesses can integrate up to 24 print engines for highly scalable manufacturing.
Notably, each Figure 4 Modular engine can be programmed to simultaneously run different materials and jobs thanks to 3D Systems’ Controller software. 3D Sprint, which powers the Figure 4 system, generates optimal part positioning and build supports before the Controller tool programs the various jobs. The system also works with 3D Connect, allowing remote services via 3D Connect Service and notifying users if an alert condition is detected.
The Figure 4 Modular system starts at $49,900, which includes a controller and single printer engine. The base system can be upgraded with additional engines as well as job management and queuing, material delivery and centralized post-processing operations.
Figure 4 Modular in the field
Despite its general release being scheduled for this June, a number of 3D Systems customers are already utilizing the Figure 4 Modular system, including French sporting goods manufacturer Decathalon, Wisconsin-based service bureau Midwest Prototyping and product design firm D&K Engineering.
“By incorporating the Figure 4 Modular into our design and development cycle, we have the potential for much higher productivity with a wider variety of material choices,” said Julien Guillen, AM leader at Decathalon. “For example, using an existing desktop SLA solution, it would take 29 hours to produce our tensile test for material validation. With the Figure 4 Modular using the Figure 4 TOUGH-GRY 10 material, we were able to print the same quantity in 90 minutes—more than 19X faster. With features like automated material feed and job management, we are able to improve productivity and reduce costs associated with labor.”
Midwest Prototyping, for its part, has benefitted from the use of the Figure 4 TOUGH-GRY 15 material and the Figure 4 Modular system to produce high fidelity parts with same-day delivery. The company says its clients have been satisfied with the rapid production times and part quality.
Chris Nicoll, prototype lab manager at D&K Engineering, commented on the Figure 4 Modular system, saying: “Many of our engineers have commented ‘this looks as good as a molded part’ due to the excellent model conformity, surface finish, and physical properties. We can instantaneously create prototype parts, and small quantities of production parts, with injection-molded quality. The Figure 4 Modular is replacing other traditional technologies we currently use, decreasing our development cycle, shortening time-to-market, and dramatically increasing our productivity to better serve our customers.”
Five new materials
3D Systems is also announcing five new materials for DLP and SLS 3D printing, further expanding its portfolio of printable plastics. The materials, the first of which is available immediately and the rest which are to be released over the coming months, are:
- Figure 4 FLEX-BLK 10: a flexible material for printing durable propylene-like black parts. The material is ideals for printing functional prototypes and assemblies, master patterns for RTV/silicone molding, short-run production and marketing models.
- Figure 4 TOUGH-BLK 20: to become available in Q3 2019, the material is an ABS-like black material with high UV stability and high accuracy.
- Figure 4 MED-AMB 10 and Figure 4 MED-WHT 10: to become available in Q3 2019, the materials are a transparent amber and white biocompatible materials that can be sterilized to meet ISO 10993-5 and ISO 10993-10 standards. The materials are suitable for general medical use and high temperature applications.
- Figure 4 HI-TEMP-AMB 250: to become available in Q4 2019, the material is a thermally resistant material (HDT > 250°C) ideal for design verification testing, motor enclosures and low pressure molding and tooling with transparency for flow visualization.
“The newest additions to our plastic 3D printing portfolio demonstrate our commitment to driving the adoption of digital manufacturing,” said Vyomesh Joshi, President and CEO of 3D Systems. “With the industry’s first, truly scalable plastic production platform and our robust selection of materials, 3D Systems enables customers to rethink manufacturing and realize improved agility, reduced complexity, and lower overall total cost of operation.”