3D Systems today introduced its latest system for 3D printing investment casting wax patterns: the ProJet MJP 2500 IC. The newly launched system, which follows on the company’s existing ProJet MJP 2500W machine, enables manufacturers to produce wax patterns more rapidly and at a lower cost than traditional manufacturing processes.
Though additive manufacturing is often positioned as an alternative to injection molding and investment casting (it can be!), the technology should instead be considered alongside these existing processes. As 3D Systems has shown, 3D printing can actually be leveraged to improve the age-old casting process, bringing it into the digital age.
To give a more concrete idea as to the benefits of 3D printing wax patterns for casting, Mueller Additive Manufacturing Solutions conducted a comparison test between a pattern tool for a mechanical cam and the same part’s pattern that was 3D printed. In the end, the traditionally made part cost upwards of $6,000, while the 3D printed pattern cost under $25. There were also significant time savings involved.
The new ProJet MJP 2500 IC, based on 3D Systems’ MultiJet Printing technology, has been designed for low volume production of metal cast components and covers the production process from initial designs to production.
More than just time and cost benefits, 3D Systems says its MJP process can actually create better, more complex patterns for casting. That is, users can exploit the design freedom offered by 3D printing, along with topology optimization, lightweighting and part consolidation, in their casted components.
“The wax patterns produced on the ProJet MJP 2500 IC are incredible,” commented Al Hinchey, 3D print manager at Invest Cast, Inc. “We are able to produce parts that were previously not able to be produced using traditional wax injection molding. Additionally, the part quality, surface finish and accuracy have allowed us to move more of our production to this product. Finally, the complexity of parts that we can now produce has enabled new functionality that we can offer our customers.”
The ProJet MJP 2500 IC is accompanied by 3D Systems’ 3D Sprint software platform, which simplifies the pattern design process and uses its VisiJet M2 ICast material, made from 100% real wax. The material, which possesses the same melt and burn-out characteristics as traditional casting waxes, can be easily integrated into existing foundry workflows.
“In keeping with 3D Systems’ strategy of transforming manufacturing with optimized additive manufacturing solutions, we developed the ProJet MJP 2500 IC to improve both the economics and functionality of investment casting patterns and the resulting parts,” said Mike Stanicek, Vice President of plastics product management at 3D Systems. “The ProJet MJP 2500 IC not only eliminates the need for injection molded tools, it could potentially increase the casted part functionality while reducing part weight, both critical factors for improving part efficiency.
“This also means that service foundries can now charge a premium for parts produced in days instead of weeks. The ProJet MJP 2500 IC is a genuine game-changer for all industries that use investment casting.”
The new wax 3D printer has the same build volume as the ProJet MJP 2500W (295 x 211 x 142 mm). The machine also boasts a volumetric print speed up to 205 cm3/hour and is well suited for small to medium size patterns. Applications for the ProJet MJP 2500 IC include bridge manufacturing, custom metal parts, multiple version testing and more.