3D Software

Stratasys adds KeyShot software compatibility to fast-track the CMF 3D modelling process 

3D printer manufacturer Stratasys has updated its J55 and J8 Polyjet systems to provide compatibility with rendering technology developer Luxion’s KeyShot 3D modelling software

Using KeyShot, Stratasys estimates that its clients could be able to reduce their time spent on modelling Color, Material and Finish (CMF) 3D printed parts, from weeks down to a single day. In a beta test, design consultancy firm Priority Designs managed to utilize the software and a J55 system, to fabricate a unique bluetooth speaker with a new, more realistic wooden texture. 

“We developed this Bluetooth speaker model and used KeyShot to add all the textures like the speaker grill,” explained Erik Fickas, Senior Industrial Designer at Priority Designs. “Overnight, we had five different models, wood samples and different fabric samples. To rapid prototype a wood texture would have been a lot of work. It’s really incredible what we can do now.”

Luxion’s KeyShot 3D modelling software 

Based in California, USA, Luxion specializes in developing 3D rendering, animation and lighting technologies. The company’s suite of services includes a range of programs and consulting solutions, through which it aims to help clients precisely calculate the scattering of light in complex 3D environments. 

Currently, Luxion’s product portfolio comprises a virtual reality software called KeyVR, its VELUX Daylight Visualizer simulation tool and KeyShot interactive ray tracing program. The latter is essentially a rendering solution, that allows users to produce ultra high-resolution images, and when utilized within additive applications, to create highly accurate 3D models. 

The KeyShot software, which has already been adopted by 3D systems for its machines, includes a number of features that make it well-suited to 3D modelling tasks. For instance, the program comes pre-installed with a product model library for users to gain inspiration from, and a Denoise function, that reportedly allows clients to render up to 30 times faster. 

With the launch of the latest version of the program, KeyShot 10, Luxion has added a range of new features, as well as compatibility with Stratasys’ recently-launched J55 and J8 3D printers. 

Priority Designs were able to use the software and a J55 3D printer to fabricate several two-part clamshell bluetooth speakers (pictured). Photo via Stratasys.

Accelerating the CMF modelling process 

One of the most significant updates made in KeyShot version 10, is that it’s been made compatible with 3MF files, a more advanced alternative to the more common STL. Now that Stratasys has made its machines 3MF-friendly too, its clients can use the software to easily transfer more detailed information about their 3D model to their systems for printing. 

As opposed to STL files, the 3MF format enables users to store complex color and texture information, and mapping this data on KeyShot, allows them to simulate textures like fabric or wood. According to Stratasys, achieving this ‘CMF’ level of precision traditionally takes 1-3 weeks, but using KeyShot, its clients can now perform the same tasks within a single day. 

The KeyShot program enables clients to accelerate their design process, by initiating the CMF phase earlier, which helps them to bring new products to market faster. Additionally, by investing in the software, Stratasys users can now keep the modeling process entirely in-house, effectively reducing any potential risk of their intellectual property being lost. 

Given that Stratasys is also a member of the 3MF Consortium, a group that aims to establish a universal 3D printing specification, its adoption of the technology is to be expected. Now that two of the firm’s machines are compatible with 3MF though, it claims that only its ‘PANTONE-validated’ systems can “take full advantage” of the file’s capabilities. 

Priority Designs’ 3D printed speaker prototype

Priority Designs was provided with a beta version of Luxion’s software, with the aim of testing its capabilities in a time sensitive environment. The company’s clients work to tight deadlines, and their design prototypes often need to be changed at short notice, making it the ideal testing ground for Luxion’s software and Stratasys’ J55 machine. 

The Priority Designs team evaluated multiple models, but in order to test out the full capabilities of the J55 and its software, they came up with a two-part clamshell bluetooth speaker design. Using the 3MF file format, the team were able to go straight from KeyShot to GrabCAD without adding textures, which saved them a considerable amount of time. 

What’s more, Stratasys has also provided 3MF support for its SOLIDWORKS application, and this allowed the team to conceptualize their design, before adding more detailed CMF touches in KeyShot. The refined export functionality added by Luxion in its latest update, also streamlined the process by putting UV Unwrapping, baking and file packaging all into one step. 

Although the software is set to undergo further “significant enhancements” in 2021, Billy Rupe, a Prototype Specialist at Priority Designs, said that the process was already a huge timesaver. “Before, it would have taken us upwards of a week to model this part,” said Rupe. “With KeyShot and the J55, you send the file to print, and the next morning it’s done.”

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Featured image shows a stock image of someone using the KeyShot 3D modelling software. Photo via Stratasys.