When Words Fail, Show Me

The vibrant color output of Stratasys’ unique J55 printer is worth a look. Realism at a reasonable price will improve your product development processes with rapid, iterative 3D printed designs to show your designers, operators and suppliers. 

Research

  • Material jetting (PolyJet brand) technology capable of five materials plus support material makes up to 500,000 Pantone-validated colors possible
  • Multiple durometers throughout the print enable realistic models
  • Novel, rotating platform with stationery printheads results in a quiet printer and detailed surface finish
  • Beta customers successfully installed the J55 without requiring on-site technical support
  • Well-suited for in-house use by designers and engineers; a viable alternative to external model shops
  • List price: $99,000; Available to order now; Shipments expected in July 2020

Insights

I participated in Stratasys’ global dealer event, Impact 2020, held in Florida before the pandemic reared its ugly head. The J55 was available for the dealers and few analysts present to see it operating.

What sets the Stratasys J55 apart – aside from the vibrant colors, surface detail and variable durometer materials of its output – is the printer’s design. Enclosed in just 4.6 square feet of floor space is a fixed printhead unit and rotating platform. The result is a unique, quiet, odorless 3D printer that is well-suited to an office environment.

J55 Build Area

J55 build platform under safe UV light

Source: Stratasys

As with Stratasys’ J850 printer, the J55’s printhead jets and blends up to five colors plus a dissolvable support material. Yet the printhead does not go back and forth but is fixed in place. The desired material is jetted onto a continuously rotating platform that moves down as the build progresses. 

The J55’s proprietary software controls the jetting process, which is particularly important because of the varying speeds inherent in the rotating platform’s design. The speed toward the center of the platform is slower than at the outer edge. The software compensates by timing the individual printhead nozzles. A non-printable, wedge-shaped segment provides a buffer that also contributes to the detailed prints. I am quite impressed with the color and surface finish of samples produced on the J55.

Stratasys’ novel design has been engineered for low setup and operation costs. Indeed, several beta customers received and set up the J55 without a technician on-site due to the pandemic. Its ease of operation is especially beneficial for offices with multiple designers sharing the printer.

The J55 will be of great interest to designers, marketers and suppliers for two reasons. First, new models can be rapidly and iteratively made in-house as designs evolve. Users can show realistic results to anyone involved in the product development process. Second, the cost and time delays encountered when using an external model shop may be eliminated. 

With a $99,000 list price, about half the list price of a J826 3D printer, the J55 has a relatively low investment for the ability to have a quiet and productive full-color 3D printer in the office. Rapid, iterative designs are possible, whether created by one designer or several. The samples can be shown to marketing, operations and supplier personnel, enabling the creation and refinement of design ideas faster than previously.

Tony Guard, Director of Innovation and Industrial Design at beta tester Kinetic Vision, said “We can create a ‘looks like’ product with color breaks, transparency, graphics and texture without having to create individual parts or internal geometry. That means we can reduce effort and test/learn faster.” In other words, the J55 fulfills the need to “show me” what you have in mind.

Advice

  • Evaluate the J55 for your product development requirements by testing the output with typical examples of your work and determining whether the color, hardness, and detail meet your requirements
  • Quantify the benefit of faster time to market and revenue by comparing the time to market for designs created on the J55 with your current product development process
  • Compare the J55’s investment and operating costs with your current costs and time to market with the cost, delays and lower revision frequency experienced with an external model shop
  • If unable to acquire a J55, employ a print service bureau to produce the parts until you have confidence in the cost and quality as well as the product development benefits of having a full-color 3D printer in the office

Let us help you look outside the box – Whether you are a user who is learning about 3D printing, someone evaluating an investment in additive manufacturing or a vendor developing new products and services, we are here to assist you. Schedule an insight inquiry call now at https://calendly.com/pete-basiliere