Award-winning American 3D printer OEM 3D Systems has announced the general availability of its Figure 4 Modular scalable 3D printing solution, as well as the release of five new materials. Revealed at RAPID+TCT, the Figure 4 Modular will be made available in June 2019, with an entry cost of $49,900 (including controller and single printer engine), whereas the materials will be rolled out over the next few months by the company, with the aim of extending its production workflows.
The Figure 4 Platform
3D Systems’ Figure 4 Modular is a scalable and semi-automated digital light printing (DLP) 3D printing solution that can be tailored to the customers needs. The system can range from a single print engine machine, to a fully automated system, reportedly capable of producing up to 10,000 parts per month. The scale of the Figure 4 can expand up to 24 or more print engines with integration of centralized post-processing, automated materials-handling, job management and queuing. Each engine is capable of processing a different material and printing job simultaneously using 3D Systems’ 3D Sprint software, as part of a single production line.
The Figure 4 Modular forms the core of 3D Systems’ Figure 4 platform, consisting of two other products: the Figure 4 Standalone, a single engine solution, and the Figure 4 Production, a tool-less manufacturing solution that provides automated material delivery and integrated post-processing.
Expanding the Figure 4 material portfolio
Furthermore, the company has announced the immediate availability of a new material in its Figure 4 line – the Figure 4 FLEX-BLK 10. The new material has flexible and durable properties, designed to be used in functional assemblies and prototypes, master patterns for RTV/silicone molding, short-run production, and concept and marketing models.
Figure 4 FLEX-BLK 10 is the first of five new Figure materials from 3D Systems designed for DLP and SLS 3D printing, released with the aim of expanding the company’s plastic 3D printing solution portfolio. The other four will be released throughout 2019, and consists of the Figure 4 TOUGH-BLK 20 for production applications, the Figure 4 MED-AMB 10 and Figure 4 MED-WHT 10 for the medical industry and the Figure 4 HI-TEMP-AMB 250, designed for use cases requiring high thermal resistance.
“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.”
Accelerating time to market with Figure 4 Modular
3D Systems has demonstrated the capabilities of the Figure 4 Modular by providing examples of three different companies that have employed the 3D printer: Decathalon, a global sporting goods manufacturer based in France, has used the Figure 4 Modular to reportedly create parts 19x faster than existing SLA solutions. Julien Guillen, AM leader at Decathalon, explains “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”.
Wisconsin-based service bureau Midwest Prototyping on the other hand has been able to offer same-day delivery of parts with different materials, and D&K Engineering, a product design and contract manufacturer based in San Diego, CA, has achieved a shorter time-to-market employing the Figure 4 Modular.
“The quality of the final parts we are able to produce using the Figure 4 Modular is excellent,” said Chris Nicoll, prototype lab manager, DK 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.”
“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.”
3D Systems on demand manufacturing
Decathalon, Midwest Prototyping and D&K Engineering join a host of other companies that have utilized the Figure 4 platform to improve their production capabilities.
ACS Custom, a UK-based customized ear protection and in-ear devices producer, reported an 80% reduction of associated labor costs and a 50% decrease in materials consumption after acquiring two Figure 4 Standalone models.
Also using a Figure 4 Standalone 3D printer, Rapid Application Group, an additive manufacturing firm based in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, was able to “double its capacity while reducing its time-to-print process by nearly 90% – from seven hours to 45 minutes or less,” according to a 3D Systems spokesperson.
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Featured image shows the Figure 4 Modular. Photo via 3D Systems.