Feb 2, 2016 | By Andre

Streamlining workflow in 3D printing can be a tricky thing to explain to designers new to the technology. Everything from file conversion, understanding non-manifold geometries, 3D print finishing and even painting are important factors when turning your digital dreams into physical reality. Fortunately, a partnership announcement at this year's Solidworks World 2016 brings 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys and software powerhouse Adobe Systems together in hopes to simplify the process so more time can be spent on creating, and less on the technical stuff. In fact, the news, which involves the enhanced Objet Connex3 3D printer and Stratasys's new Creative Colors Software (powered by Adobe's 3D Color Print Engine) operates under the premise of reducing the average 3D printing workflow from 7 steps to just 2.

Up until now, the workflow for creating full-color assembled prints dealt with conceptual model rendering, 3D model building, STL fixing and print preparation, 3D printing, post processing, painting and assembly. Now, according to Stratasys, the process only involves designing of the 3D file (with color and textures) and 3D printing. While I’m not entirely sure why they left conceptual model rendering and post-processing (supports cleanup for example) from the smaller list, the new approach certainly does yield a reduced design to 3D print process no matter how you slice it.

This new synergy in software provides an easy way to add color gradients, textures, and patterns to your 3D model while operating within Adobe Photoshop, an eco-system that just about every designer in world is already familiar with. Once happy with your newly colorized file, Photoshop automatically validates the design's geometries and repair structures (including wall thickness and closing holes in the design) before exporting over to Stratasys Creative Colors 3D printer software. Additionally, accurate and time-saving color previews take out all the guess work between what you see on screen and what you should expect with the 3D printed result.

For now, Creative Colors 3D is the only 3D printer software that benefits so closely from Adobe’s Color Management and the partnership is expected to increase designer demand for the high-end Connex3 3D printing systems. Dan Yalon, EVP Business Development, at Stratasys has suggested that “partnering with Adobe, a world leader in creative software products, aligns with Stratasys’ vision to make the color 3D printing experience as simple, powerful and rewarding as possible. The integration of Objet Connex3 with Stratasys Creative Colors Software and the resulting explosion of color possibilities is an important milestone in fulfilling this vision.”

I’ve always felt, since the release of the Objet Connex2 in 2012, that the Connex family of 3D printers produced some of the most impressive 3D prints I'd ever seen in person. The problem has always been, and this remains the case today, that these specific 3D printers are incredibly expensive to purchase and are subsequently out of reach to the average designer. Luckily, Stratasys has also just announced this new workflow is compatible with the Stratasys Direct Manufacturing parts-on-demand service. What this allows is for a designer to conveniently send any 3D print files straight from the comfort of Photoshop directly to print via a 3D printing service.

The Adobe side seems equally thrilled by the partnership and parts-on-demand now being offered directly through Photoshop. Adil Munshi, VP and GM of their Print and Publishing unit writes that “with today’s announcement, Adobe Photoshop CC users can now directly access Stratasys Objet Connex3 3D printers – whether locally or through Stratasys Direct Manufacturing - and easily produce their designs with gorgeous gradient color and fine details. The combination of Adobe’s unmatched color expertise with Stratasys’ multi-color, multi-material 3D printing is a true game-changer for the creative design industry.”

With the above in mind, a footnote to the announcement portion at Solidworks World 2016 is that Stratasys will subsequently retire the Connex1 (a 3D printer not capable of printing with high-end materials) and the Connex2 (their first multi-material polyjet system that didn’t have multicolor capabilities like the Connex3 does).

To me, this announcement pays further credence to the notion that 3D printing technology is getting better and easier every year. Whether you’re dealing with the highest level in terms of capabilities and output like with the Objet Connex3 or working with lower cost desktop machines, progress is being made all the time. This implementation of a shorter workflow from start to finish is an important step to getting more people interested and involved within the 3D printing landscape.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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