Exploring RAPID 2018 in Fort Worth, TX

By: James Barker
– May 7, 2018

Waking up at 3 A.M. isn’t something I like to do often. However, for this conference I was about to attend, it was worth the early rise! Caffeine is a must to get through a long day of walking around and being educated by all the different new and old manufacturers of 3D printers. If you have been around 3D printing, you know there are really two conferences that are above the rest; AMUG and RAPID. Here are some of the things that were announced that I believe are the most significant at RAPID.

Stratasys:

Stratasys didn’t disappoint this year in introducing a new carbon fiber 3D printer, material, and metal technology that will be coming in a year+. We are very familiar with the Nylon 12 Carbon Fiber reinforced material that Stratasys has. It is THE best Nylon 12 carbon fiber material on the market and there are a few factors as to why that is the case. One is that they are using longer strands of Carbon Fiber than the competitor along with 35% carbon fiber filled parts compared to 15%. Soluble support is huge for this material as well, along with 2 to 5 times faster printer speeds. Check out how One Wheel is using this printer to help with manufacturing their cool skateboard:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOojDgd7KVE

ANTERO 800 is the new material that Stratasys released recently. This material is being used in many amazing ways. Lockheed Martin/NASA/Stratasys/PADT collaborated in a very successful task to get flight approved hardware for one of the next missions to space. Below is the full story on this new and exciting ESD version of Antero 800 FDM material. Could your company also benefit from using this type of material? We would like to help!

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20180418-lockheed-martin-padt-stratasys-to-3d-print-over-100-parts-for-nasas-orion-capsule.html

Vero Magenta V and Vero Yellow V are the new Polyjet materials to help with getting more vibrant colors along with deeper red and brighter yellow. 500,000 color combinations can be achieved now with these 2 materials that have been improved upon. Absolutely beautiful parts can be made with a Stratasys J750 or J735.

Metal We have been asking (and have been asked) for metal for the longest time! When is Stratasys going to jump into the metal game? One of the main reasons why I went to RAPID this year was to see Stratasys Metal parts. They did not disappoint. As far as what density these metal parts are, the process for printing, and when a machine will be available, that is still the big unknown. One thing mentioned at the conference is that they are wanting to make metal 3D printing affordable to all with the ability to 3D print metal 80% cheaper than anything available right now. How this compares to what Desktop Metal, Mark Forged, HP, and others who proclaim to make metal parts cheaper than the Laser or Electron Beam options is yet to be known. Stratasys wants to be able to provide value to the metal market by focusing on areas that are lacking, which is Aluminum. Always good to have competition against the large companies of metal as it makes everyone get better at what they are doing. Read more about this machine and what Phil Reeves (VP of Strategic Consulting from Stratasys) has to say in an exclusive interview with TCT. Also below are a few pictures I took in the Stratasys booth of their metal parts that were on display.

www.tctmagazine.com/tct-events/3d-printing-at-rapid-tct/stratasys-metal-3d-printing/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Software was featured big time at RAPID because it unlocks the ability to 3D print amazing parts like this that was featured in the EOS booth. Lattice structures and topology optimized parts!

There were a lot of companies present at RAPID that highlighted where the industry is headed. Materials with vibrant color capabilities was one such area receiving a lot of attention. While competitors have introduced machines that are capable of printing in a wide variety of colors, they still fall short when compared to the Stratasys Polyjet offerings. Machines such as the J750 and J735 both offer a similar range of color compared to other companies on the market, but surpass them when it comes to material options, applications, and overall usability.

I enjoyed talking with all the major 3D printer manufactures at RAPID. One questions I would ask each of them is, what makes your system better than the competitors? I loved hearing the sales pitch about their machines and there was some great insight gained by asking this.At the end of the day, it all comes down to how you are wanting to use the 3D printer. At PADT we have many different 3D printers, and while we see and understand the appeal of the various different offerings on the market today, there is a reason why we continue to resell and support the brands we do. Let us know how we can help you out and any questions that you have with 3D printing.

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