3D Systems Announces General Availability of Figure 4 Modular Digital Light Printing (DLP) Production Solution

Company also announces five new DLP and selective laser sintering (SLS) production materials.

3D Systems has announced June 2019 general availability of its Figure 4 Modular, as well as five new materials that will roll out over the coming months and will extend the company’s production workflows.

The Figure 4 platform is a production system with configurations designed to allow customers to grow as their needs and businesses require. Figure 4 Modular is a digital light printing (DLP) production solution capable of producing parts with high surface quality and fidelity, according to the company. 3D Systems says the Figure 4 platform helps accelerate time-to-market with up to 100 mm/hr production and six sigma accuracy and repeatability. It includes three models:

  • Figure 4 Standalone is suited for small design shops and original equipment manufacturers.
  • Figure 4 Modular provides customers with an upgradable direct 3D production solution that can include automated materials-handling and centralized post-processing. Manufacturers can scale Figure 4 Modular as their production needs expand—up to 24 print engines. Powered by 3D Sprint software, each engine can run different materials and jobs simultaneously as part of a single line. With a cost of entry starting at $49,900—including controller and single printer engine—and automation options that include job management and queuing, material delivery, and centralized post-processing, manufacturers can reduce demand on manufacturing resources and lower total cost of operation, according to the company. Additionally, it is 3D Connect-capable, allowing remote services via 3D Connect Service that automatically notifies 3D Systems’ service team when an alert condition occurs. Figure 4 Modular is planned for general availability in June 2019.
  • Figure 4 Production is a customizable and automated tool-less manufacturing solution that packages the design flexibility of additive manufacturing in configurable, in-line production modules. Automated material delivery and integrated post-processing are intended to reduce labor requirements, increase productivity and lower total cost of operation. 

Figure 4 Modular Enabling Scale for Digital Manufacturers

According to a 3D Systems press release, Decathalon (a global sporting goods manufacturer based in France), Midwest Prototyping (a Wisconsin-based service bureau) and D&K Engineering (a product design and contract manufacturer based in San Diego) have experienced great success with the printer.

“At Decathlon, we’re proud to design and produce innovative sporting goods for our customers globally in order to make sports accessible,” said Julien Guillen, AM leader, Decathlon. “By incorporating the Figure 4 Modular into our design and development cycle, we have the potential for much higher productivity with a wider variety of material choices. For example, using an existing desktop SLA solution, it would take 29 hours to produce our tensile test for material validation. With the Figure 4 Modular using the Figure 4 TOUGH-GRY 10 material, we were able to print the same quantity in 90 minutes – more than 19X faster. With features like automated material feed and job management, we are able to improve productivity and reduce costs associated with labor.”  

“The combination of Figure 4 Modular and the Figure 4 TOUGH-GRY 15 material allows us to produce very accurate, high fidelity parts in a matter of hours as compared to overnight with traditional processes,” said Steve Grundahl, president and CEO, Midwest Prototyping. “With its automated material feed and job management, Figure 4 Modular is very easy to use, and one of the fastest technologies we have in-house. We can now build high fidelity parts with superior surface quality, and offer same-day delivery of parts with different materials. Our customers have been very happy with the part quality we delivered.”

“The quality of the final parts we are able to produce using the Figure 4 Modular is excellent,” said Chris Nicoll, prototype lab manager, D&K Engineering. “Many of our engineers have commented ‘this looks as good as a molded part’ due to the excellent model conformity, surface finish, and physical properties. We can instantaneously create prototype parts, and small quantities of production parts, with injection-molded quality. The Figure 4 Modular is replacing other traditional technologies we currently use, decreasing our development cycle, shortening time-to-market, and dramatically increasing our productivity to better serve our customers.”

Figure 4 FLEX-BLK 10 material. Image courtesy of 3D Systems.

Figure 4 FLEX-BLK 10 material. Image courtesy of 3D Systems.

New Materials Pave the Way for New Applications

3D Systems has also announced new DLP and SLS materials.

Figure 4 FLEX-BLK 10, a flexible material for the production of exceptionally durable propylene-like black parts, is available now. It is suited to printing functional assemblies and prototypes, master patterns for RTV/silicone molding, short-run production, and concept and marketing models.

3D Systems plans to release these additional Figure 4 materials:

  • Figure 4 TOUGH-BLK 20 (anticipated availability Q3 2019) – an ABS-like black material with UV stability and high accuracy for production applications.
  • Figure 4 MED-AMB 10 and Figure 4 MED-WHT 10 (anticipated availability Q3 2019) – a transparent amber and a white biocompatible material that is sterilizable and capable of meeting ISO 10993-5 and ISO 10993-10, suitable for use in general medical applications requiring translucency, sterilization, and/or thermal resistance, as well as consumer high temperature applications where rigid function are desirable with transparency or white color properties.
  • Figure 4 HI-TEMP-AMB 250 (anticipated availability Q4 2019) – a very high thermal-resistant material (HDT > 250C) for design verification testing, motor enclosures, and low pressure molding/tooling with transparency for flow visualization.

“The newest additions to our plastic 3D printing portfolio demonstrate our commitment to driving the adoption of digital manufacturing,” said Vyomesh Joshi, president and CEO, 3D Systems. “With the industry’s first, truly scalable plastic production platform and our robust selection of materials, 3D Systems enables customers to rethink manufacturing and realize improved agility, reduced complexity, and lower overall total cost of operation.”

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

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