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Ewloe, United Kingdom
Writing, tweeting, debating and occasionally getting a little over-excited about 3D Printing. But always aiming to keep it real!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

An Incremental Improvement Maybe, but a Good One.


One of the latest developments on the materials front for 3D printing has come from Stratasys in the form of its soluble release for support materials for polycarbonate builds: SR-100. Until now, the WaterWorks soluble support material has only been available for the ABS materials for the FDM printing process, restricting the use of polycarbonate — a material with more durable mechanical properties.

Soluble support materials permit automated part removal from the supporting structure, eliminating hand tools and breakages, as well as a finer layer thickness (higher resolution) with the highly robust PC material. I am reliably informed that this is really good news for engineers on the ground in terms of improved application, turn around times and productivity — or as it was put to me, “this is what I needed, it makes FDM an easy choice”.
So, not a huge breakthrough per se — I’m sure, like me, you hear the comments about incremental developments not being very exciting, and I can empathise with that. But, at the end of the day, it is these incremental changes that will eventually lead to a sea change in the way that things are made. Stratasys has obviously been listening to client feedback, always a good thing, and I have no doubt there is a lot more to come from this company. 

2 comments:

  1. As a user of the Stratasys equipment, I have not been able to use the Polycarb material due to the need to manually remove supports. With this soluble support material I will have to rethink building Polycarb parts, they will be much easier now.

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  2. I dare say this isn't the great development it should be...at least not yet! At the very least, it needs an incremental improvement in Polycarbonate's availability on Stratasys machines.

    Stratasys currently doesn't offer PC on their Dimension models, and it's not even offered on the entry-level models in the Fortus line.

    Even with soluble-support capability, your engineer friend probably won't find it "easy" convincing the company to pay for a Fortus 360mc, the first model that currently supports PC.

    I hope Stratasys will extend PC capability to the Fortus 250mc (or an equivalent entry). Then it'll be an excellent incentive for buyers to step up to a Fortus when contemplating a Dimension. Otherwise PC might remain inaccessible to users, despite soluble support.

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