Apr 5, 2016 | By Alec

If you happened to go online at all yesterday, it would have been almost impossible to miss news coming from the Stratasys HQ. For they have just unveiled their latest machine, the J750 3D printer – which they say could reinvent 3D printing all over again. A fast and high quality prototyping monster in every sense of the word, the J750 brings unprecedented high speed, high resolution development at your fingertips. It even offers up to six multi-material manufacturing options and countless colors to choose from, making the J750 everything a designer would dream a 3D printer can be. And in a beta testing program with the world’s premier smartphone case developer Otterbox, you can see just how amazing the capacities of the J750 really are.

If you happen to have a slightly unusual smartphone case, chances are it has come out of the minds of Otterbox. Based in Ft. Collins, Colorado, Otterbox is is a perfect example of a modern development company. They have quickly grown into the number one seller of smartphone cases, and produce millions of parts in factories in the U.S., China and Mexico every day. And as people are always replacing smartphones and cases, and with new smartphones appearing at a very high rate, development never stops at Otterbox. An initial concept is brought to production in less than eight weeks, so speed is of the essence.

That’s why Otterbox has always been open to adopting the latest technologies, and have been 3D printing since 2008, when they first started with a power 3D printer by ZCorp. Eventually, that stable of 3D printers began to expand, and include Stratasys PolyJet 3D printers as well. Thanks to its fine resolution, the wide range of materials (including rubber-like elastomers and translucent polymers), and the ability to mix materials and colors, PolyJet proved to be an excellent technology for smartphone case prototyping. Most importantly, it removed the need for painting and (often) assembly.

This dependency on PolyJet technology (and doubtlessly the high visibility of smartphone cases) led Stratasys to pick Otterbox as a Beta customer for the J750 3D printer before it was formally introduced to the market. The idea was, of course, to showcase how much this 3D printer can add to the workflow of product developers, and in that respect Stratasys thought of everything. As we reported yesterday, the J750 is perfect for this line of work. Its six-material capacity (plus additional support material), a 19.3in x 15.3in x7.9in build envelope and a 3D printing speed twice as high as offered by its predecessors all make the J750 3D printer very attractive indeed.

And then, of course, there’s the 14 micron resolution and the ability to accurately produce more than 360,000 different color shades. Combined with the new software platform that enables quick decisions, the importation of models from various platforms, and puts all material and color options at your fingertips, the J750 has been designed to make a prototype almost identical to the final product. Who wouldn’t want to be a Beta customer?

Unsurprisingly, the J750 was put to work as soon as it arrived at the otter-filled HQ of Otterbox in late 2015. Over the past few months, the in-house design teams quickly learned to work with the machine, and found that their development cycle was greatly sped up. A new smartphone case can be judged on look, feel and functionality within just 24 hours, during which up to twelve different prototypes with “feature location verification” qualities have been seen. These serve to precisely locate all model features, from volume and power buttons, to camera and speakers and so on. Once a model is defined, the prototypes can even be 3D printed in materials that mimic the final product materials so they can truly experience the product completely. On average, the company runs up to 1,000 prototypes a week.

And they certainly need that speed, because the Otterbox development cycle involves various functional groups throughout prototyping, so prototypes are also shared with packaging teams, for instance, during that eight week period. Nothing is left to chance. Every step of the development cycle therefore benefits from 3D printing, and even the molding department can use the J750’s ability to support so many materials. “Our main goal is to supply all the resources possible for the engineers to get their product onto the peg at the same time, if not before the device we’re making that product for launches,” said engineering technician supervisor Brycen Smith.

So far, the experience was excellent. Aside from greatly accelerating development, the Otterbox found that the machine gave them all the room their creativity could dream of. It unleashed a new wave of creative and confident development. “We’ve used 3D printers for years but nothing has come close to revolutionizing our design and ideation process the way the Stratasys J750 has,” said Smith “Stratasys allows us to innovate in ways we never thought possible and gives us the ability to create true product-matching prototypes and to cut down the time necessary to bring products to market.”

Most importantly, it does away with a lengthy production cycle that involved painting, masking, repainting, and so on. “We can’t hit eight weeks to market doing that. We might have 1,500 tools in production at one time, and to make one small change during tooling could affect every one of those tools.” Smith said, and now they won’t have to. “The J750 plays a huge role in that —not only from ideation and creation, but into our approval processes … really developing those new products, the new technologies, the new innovations OtterBox is known for. Without it, we’d be in a world of hurt. It’s huge. Cost savings — I couldn’t even quantify it in numbers, monetarily or in days. It’s huge savings all around.”

Of course Otterbox isn’t the only Beta client, but its story is quite telling about what the J750 brings to the table. Though Stratasys hasn’t revealed how many clients were involved, at least Laiki Entertainment is as well. This stop motion animation company will recently won a technical Oscar for their work in pioneering 3D printing in animation, and is already working on a new movie that will be completely 3D printed on the J750. Stratasys, it seems, really hit the nail on the head with this one. “We see this as a groundbreaking capability in technology that [reaches] the standard of what people always wanted 3D printing to do. They want it to be push button. They want it to be easy to adopt,” Roger Kelesoglu, director of global sales enablement at Stratasys, recently said. And it seems that’s exactly what the J750 3D printer is all about.


via: pddnet


Posted in 3D Printing Application



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