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3D Printer Face Off: Stratasys v. Objet v. 3D Systems v. EnvisionTec

3D Printer Face Off: Stratasys v. Objet v. 3D Systems v. EnvisionTec

3D Printer Face Off: Stratasys v. Objet v. 3D Systems v. EnvisionTec

Yes, another 3D printer thread. My company is looking to purchase one (maybe two?!) which can support our product development team. I have had sales reps present from the 2 big guys (Stratasys and 3D systems) plus a smaller company, EnvisionTEC. I'm writing an extensive post for anyone who has to do such a search in the future. In addition, if anybody has anything to contribute about their experiences with these printers, please add to the conversation.

My group's needs:
1. Thin Wall (.08 mm or less), semi flexible, semi transparent materials.
2. We make plastic food packaging (think small beverage mixing powders), so FDA compliant materials would be a super bonus.
3. Also capable of 3d printing molds for vacuum thermo forming.
4. Non-toxic materials, low waste/maintenance.
5. approximately a 300 mm L X 300 mm W X 150 mm H build window is ideal.
6. Capable of holding water at a temperature of 200 degrees F.

My impressions so far from the Sales Reps:
3D Systems: HD3500 Pro, ~$60,000
Pros: The models they created with their printer came out well. The parts are accurate representations and very smooth. They were able to clearly print the recycling symbol and number on the bottom of my sample design. The printer build envelope is adequate and the support material is paraffin wax. Clean up is supposedly a melt in an oven and bath in an ultrasonic cleaner (I'm skeptical the clean up is that easy).
Cons: Could not print clear or translucent parts. Parts could not be used in thermo forming (max recommended temperature was 130 C). This sales rep seemed unmotivated to make a sale. He did not bring any additional parts to show off the machine's capabilities; he only brought the 3 parts I sent him. His knowledge of the tech was very basic and had to get back to me on a lot of questions he is probably asked frequently (ie. Does the printer need a dedicated computer? What about ventilation around the machine? etc.).

Stratasys/Objet: Eden 260 and Fortus 360/400, ~$160,000 and $100,000/$140,000, respectively
Pros: Fortus models are dimensionally accurate, Eden parts printed accurately and clearly. Although the Fortus could not print find detail very well (the recycling symbols on the models I sent are illegible) the Eden printed the text very clearly. I was very impressed with the clear resin the Eden could print in. The Fortus models can withstand my temperature requirements, but are not water tight out of the machine; however, you can seal the parts with epoxy after printing. The Eden parts are water tight out of the machine, but would not do well at the higher temperature requirements we have. The Fortus is excellent at printing thermo form molds; the models are naturally porous so we do not need to run air lines through the models. The sales reps even had thermo forms of our cups made from the models I sent and I was extremely impressed with the results. These sales guys came with a vision of how we could use their technology and thus the presentation was very helpful in our decision.
Cons: The cleanup of the Eden parts has me concerned (water blasting the material away in a tank?), plus the maintenance and waste that comes with owning this printer. The waste can be uncurred, toxic material that has to sit in the sun for UV exposure to cure before its disposal. The FDM support material also looks like it is frustrating to deal with...and the parts can't even hold water. I think this dual printer option gives us a great combination for printing our parts, but could require the most work to obtain "good" parts. Printed layers on the models is obvious with both printers.

Envision Tec SLA printers, ~$60,000
Will update when the sales guy visits on Wednesday, 5/20.

Does anyone else have experience with these printers?

RE: 3D Printer Face Off: Stratasys v. Objet v. 3D Systems v. EnvisionTec


Since these are layered techniques, they will not be very good in holding water / fluids for a long duration. For such applications the RP parts are painted, which is a common practice. Secondly these parts might not withstand temperatures of your requirement. For transparent parts, there are RP machines which uses resins as materials (I think 3D Systems are the manufacturers).

In the past I have used RP’s made out of plastic (FDM) & resin parts, both are good in terms of form and fitment.

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