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Stratasys on Monday launched the Objet500 Connex3, a multi-material color 3D printer that could have wide-reaching implications on the industry. Unlike some of the other recent advancements in 3D printing, however, this new machine is designed with manufacturing and supply chains in mind.
Specifically, Stratasys said machines like this will likely be used in the automotive, consumer and sporting goods industries. And to highlight that, the company took on Waterloo, Wisconsin-based Trex Bicycle as a beta tester. The company used the machine to create and test bike chain guards and handle bar grips ahead of full production runs.
Much like an inkjet printer, the new 3D printer from Stratasys uses cyan, magenta and yellow as base colors to make hundreds of other colors in the spectrum. Elsewhere, the system uses "triple-jetting" technology which utilizes three different materials. This is said to reduce the need for separate printing, assembly and painting and is expected to reduce the time it takes to bring a prototype to market by 50 percent according to Stratasys marketing manager Bruce Bradshaw.
It's expected to compete directly with the ProJet 5500X, a similar multi-material sprinter from rival 3D Systems. The Stratasys machine appears to have the edge as the ProJet 5500X can only print in black, white and some shades of grey. That may not be a huge limitation if a company is alright with waiting to add color until later in the manufacturing process, however.
The Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 will set you back around $330,000.