Stratasys New F123 Series
Stratasys has been consistent over the last 12 months with a string of product launches including CAD-to-print, full colour, multi-material prototyping, and large-format 3D Demonstrators that literally flip additive manufacturing (AM) on its head. We’re only a month into 2017 and the AM colossus is showing no signs of putting the brakes on innovation with the launch of a new series of machines aimed at addressing the needs of the office-based, prototyping market from concept validation to functional performance testing.
Launched at the annual SOLIDWORKS World event, which is taking place in Los Angeles this week, the new FDM-based F123 Series has been built from the ground up for office, lab and classroom environments with Designworks, a BMW Group Company and features 15 new Stratasys patents in its design. Aimed at professional users, the series, which consists of F170, F270 and F370 machines, is designed to make professional rapid prototyping more productive for design workgroups.
A report by Gartner in October stated that, as 3D printer machine sales increase over the next four years, “prototyping will remain the primary enterprise use”. The application area is a one of the most fertile for the industry with the potential for businesses to save significant levels of capital and time during the development of a new product. Design workgroups are a major part of that process and according to a recent Stratasys survey, top priorities on their list are accessibility, ease of use and material choices, all of which the company hopes to address in this latest release.
“Today there is a vast market opportunity in product prototyping that we feel is not being addressed by current 3D printing systems,” Zehavit Reisin, Vice President, Head of Rapid Prototyping Solutions, Stratasys explained. “The launch of the Stratasys F123 Series targets these product design workgroups, industrial designers, engineers, students and educators who demand a professional quality rapid prototyping solution that’s simple to use, produces reliable, engineering-quality results, integrates perfectly within an office or lab setting, and is affordable to own and operate.”
Motorcycle helmets tested for design validation.
Though aimed at the pro user market, usability is key and Stratasys claims the machine can be used by virtually anyone, regardless of 3D printing experience, to build durable and accurate prototypes. The machines are sleek, freestanding units available in three different build sizes ranging from 10 to 14 inches. Functions are performed using a touch screen but can also be done remotely from any networked computer in a shared office environment or monitored via mobile. The machine series also accepts up to four material types, PLA, ASA, ABS and PC-ABS, available in 10 colours to support a wide range of modes and applications.
“Our inspiration for the design of the Stratasys F123 Series was advanced robotics. Just as robotic tools of the future will adapt to their envisioned usage environment, we worked with Stratasys to create a look, feel and ergonomic design for the F123 Series that would offer expertly crafted user interactions,” said Andre de Salis, Creative Director, Designworks which helped design the machine’s exterior. “The Stratasys F123’s striking metal cladding expresses the performance, durability and refinement of the 3D printer to bring a new level of excitement and accessibility to professional 3D printing.”
The F123 Series is described as an “end-to-end rapid prototyping solution”, which allows users to start with fast and economic draft models and move through the design cycle to verify form and functionality using production-grade materials for strong and repeatable parts. Having a machine like this readily available within a design team, give product developers the ability to work through all of the necessary stages of product substantiation to shorten lead times and reduce costs before moving onto full scale production.
Stepper assembly prototype alongside final product.
“It’s pretty powerful having this much capability in a single system that sits right in our work space. We’ve tried lower-end 3D printers in the past, and to be honest, they’re dimensionally inaccurate. The Stratasys F370 matches the CAD input every time with accurate, high quality prototypes,” said Jesse Hahne, Partner, Center for Advanced Design. “The key for us to fast-track product development is getting physical samples in front of our customers as soon as possible. With our new Stratasys F370, we’re able to get brand new iterations in a matter of hours. This rapid prototyping solution has truly become a member of our team.”
The series is supported by Stratasys Insight and GrabCAD Print design-to-print software, which was launched last May to simplify file conversion and STL preparation by giving users the ability to print directly from CAD. Stratasys acquired GrabCAD, the world’s largest community of mechanical engineers, back in 2014 and has since been working hard to enhance its software offering to streamline the 3D printing process. Connected by the cloud, the compatibility of GrabCAD means that anyone on the design team can schedule and monitor prints. In addition to this, as a long-time member of the SOLIDWORKS Partner Programme, Stratasys has announced a GrabCAD Print Add-In for SOLIDWORKS. Providing greater access to the SOLIDWORKS professional user-base, the Add-Inn allows users to estimate and print parts for a range of Stratasys machines, including the F123 Series, without leaving the SOLIDWORKS environment.
Stratasys F123 Series will start shipping worldwide in March with prices starting at around $20,000 for the F170 model.