On the first day of the 2018 edition of the TCT Show in Birmingham, Stratasys and Shapeways a New York-based 3D printing marketplace, announced a partnership to expand full-color, multi-material 3D printing.
3D Printing Industry sat down with Greg Kress, CEO of Shapeways, and Pat Carey, Senior Vice President of Sales North America for Stratasys, to find out more on how the Stratasys J750 3D printer and Shapeways’ platform will help designers reach an advanced level of additive manufacturing.
3D Printing Industry: What prompted this Stratasys and Shapeways collaboration?
Greg Kress: We’re collaborating in a new go-to-market strategy where Shapeways is looking for the best technology and the most innovative materials which has led us to the J750. We’re bringing this system to our community base of over one million people so that all types of designers and makers can access the technology for advanced additive manufacturing.
One of our customers is Biologic Models, who take DNA strands, proteins, and things of that nature and visualize them and 3D prints them for medical use. From the models printed on the J750 you can see that this is a really interesting application that delivers a finished good for our customers. I see this as a technology that gets us very very close to a finished product.
Biological 3D printed models such as this which accurately depict color, shape, and structures can help medical professionals understand the complexity of the human anatomy.
3D Printing Industry: Is the partnership focused particularly on medical applications?
Greg Kress: We’re opened minded to all sectors. Shapeways is fundamentally looking at designers, entrepreneurs, hobbyists, innovators; but we want to just be able to give them access to technology that they would not be able to buy themselves. What were looking for is anyone with an idea that they want to bring to life.
Pat Carey: It’s the same view on the Stratasys side. We sell a lot of J750’s within the North American region and i’ve seen what manufacturers can do with them. I kept thinking ‘I wish more designers and start-ups had access to this system.’ Shapeways, in my view, is really serving that market, which led us to get together to increase the output of this technology – they don’t necessarily need the printer, they just need to access what it does.
3D Printing Industry: What kind of companies in North America are using the J750?
Pat Carey: The demand for the J750 is all over, including Europe, but in North America I have noticed that the system is being used by large creative firms. So, for consumer products and goods like packaging, to new product development as well as artists, medical schools, and scientists. It’s amazing technology but it’s very expensive, which is why this partnership is necessary.
3D Printing Industry: What do think about the current standard of color 3D printing?
Pat Carey: I think there is room for improvement. There are different types of color printing for additive manufacturing but we differ as we print at the voxel level while people today are printing color on the outside.This is important as 3D models are becoming more translucent. We are continuing to work on the quality of our vivid colors and the durability of our materials which is challenging as 3D printing moves prototyping to tooling and end-use parts and models.
I’d like to get our resins a little more stable in the near future but that’s part of the fun of 3D printing; there’s always ways to improve or new developments within the technology that can help you do that.
Greg Kress: That’s why this partnership is exciting. I think the road maps for Shapeways and the roadmaps for Stratasys is very much aligned. The ultimate goal is to find ways to get his technology in the hands of as many people as possible verses in the past where only large manufacturers have been the recipient. We have taken on the responsibility of enabling designers to create higher quality 3D models and prototypes.
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Featured image shows Pat Carey Senior Vice President Sales at Stratasys and Greg Kress CEO of Shapeways holding a 3D printed biological model manufactured on the J750. Photo by Tia Vialva.