You don’t have to look too hard at our website to realize that we’re big fans of Stratasys. I have even more reason to be grateful to Stratasys since my friends Jesse Roitenberg (Stratasys) and Gina Scala (Allegheny Educational – our Stratasys, and just about everything else cool, reseller) brought their Mobile Showroom to SUNY New Paltz on Friday, April 30.
Since nobody has gone to any trade shows for a while, this is a pretty awesome idea. The visit was very timely for a couple of reasons. First, it’s the end of a real kidney stone of a school year for everyone in higher education. Second, because of COVID, we’re not going anywhere, and nobody is coming here. Bottom line, WE’RE KIND OF BORED!
Looking over their mobile showroom, it’s clear that Stratasys has been busy. The cleverest display was their new F770 FDM (https://www.stratasys.com/3d-printers/f770) printer. This is a large–scale printer with a 39.4” x 24” x 24” build volume, similar in size to the massive Fortus 900 while being much more affordable and geared towards lower
temperature materials like ABS and ASA. There was no way this beast would fit in the trailer, so they built the front façade and door of the printer into a trailer wall with a photograph showing the interior of the printer. I’ve always said that your build volume can never be big enough, but this is getting pretty close. I want one, although we may have to use it for an office when we’re not printing.
This was also our first look at the J55 printer launched last year. This is a much more compact polyjet printer than our J735 while still retaining full pantone color capability. The quality of the prints are amazing and I can see the small size and lower cost of this printer, relative to the J750/J735, bringing this technology to a wider variety of companies and educational institutions. From a tech–geek point of view, what’s really unusual about this printer is that it’s not cartesian – the build plate is like an old-fashioned LP turntable (for those of you old enough to remember them) that rotates under a stationary print head. That innovation probably made the small size possible, but I’m sure it created a lot of issues involving how angular velocity changes with radius. Help, I’m getting flashbacks from general physics!
They were also showing off the Origin One printer, a vat-style photopolymerization printer startup that Stratasys recently acquired. Like with a lot of printers of this type, the part quality and precision are impressive. Somewhat unusual for Stratasys, this printer is also designed to be open source with industry heavy hitters like BASF, or presumably anyone else who wants to formulate a resin, supplying the materials. Kat, Aaron and I have debated a lot about this type of 3D printing. Apart from Dungeons and Dragons characters, there are clear use cases in specific industries like dentistry, but the printer is being marketed for high-throughput final-use parts. I’m sure there will be some good use cases, but these materials are very different than typical engineering plastics like ABS and polycarbonate with well understood properties. You also only get break away supports, which does take some of the fun out of 3D printing.
They also had a nice display of parts from Statasys Direct, both metal and polymer. The overall takeaway is that Stratasys is working pretty hard to dominate in the manufacturing of polymer printers across all technologies and can print anything.
If you get a chance to visit the Stratasys Mobile Showroom, do it. Marketing at its best is both educational and fun – and this is both. Just one criticism, a tour should have t-shirts.
Keep On Printing!