Figure 4 – the material selection is the secret sauce

Figure 4 material selection

A 3D printer is only as good as the materials it can use. As a customer you want a versatile printer that can handle as many needs as possible. With the innovative 3D printing platform Figure 4, and the latest materials release, 3D Systems surpasses the expectations we normally put on a 3D printer.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Figure 4, it is a scalable 3D printer platform that can grow with your production needs. You can start with a standalone printer, and, along the road, expand with more print engines, automated parts handling and more. The 3D printer is based on DLP technology (Digital Light Processing), which in short means that it cures individual layers much faster than SLA, stereolithography. Resolution and surface finish are generally better than other 3D printing technologies.

Made for production

If you want to use your 3D printer for volume production, the Figure 4 is an ideal solution. It is up to ten times faster than other SLA/DLP based printers. Due to patented technology, the 3D printer also allows for creating parts with thinner walls and minimized support. This is rare compared to other SLA and DLP printers, where support material issues are quite common.

Looking at applications, the Figure 4 can cater to many industrial needs, both in prototyping and for end-use parts. Let’s go through some of the most important applications and properties you can get out of the Figure 4 3D printing platform.

High temperature applications

High temp plastics are used for applications requiring high heat resistance. With the Figure 4, you can print parts with a heat deflection temperature of over 300 °C at both low and high stress (HDT at 0.455 and 1.82 MPa). Parts are well suited for the testing of high temperature components in applications including HVAC, consumer appliances, motor enclosures, stators, molds and the like. The good thing is, it does not require a secondary thermal post-cure.

Toughness and strength

ABS, a staple in the manufacturing world, is known for its strength and durability. With the Figure 4, you can print with ABS-like materials with long-term environmental stability for fast high performance prototyping and production applications where lifecycle stability is critical and mechanical properties fit. With production-grade indoor and outdoor environmental stability, mechanical properties, color, opacity, dimensions will not change over time with exposure to daylight. The material is ideal for strong functional parts in automotive and consumer electronics, for form, fit and function testing, as well as durable assemblies and snap fits.

Biocompatibility

Surgical drill guides, splints and medical applications that need to be biocompatible are all possible to 3D print with the Figure 4. The healthcare industry is also one of the fastest growing industry verticals and today many hospitals and medtech research facilities have their own inhouse 3D printing services. Printed parts can be sterilized by autoclave and have a thermal resistance over 100 °Celsius. Parts are also resistant to humidity and moisture.

Moulding for prototyping and end-use parts

There’s more to injection moulding and silicone moulding than large series and expensive tools. With the Figure 4, you can now 3D print sacrificial tools for casting silicone in any durometer. Once the silicone is cooled, just crack the tool open and use your part. The tools can withstand high temperatures and has both a high tensile modulus and low elongation at break. Silicone casting is something we at PLM Group get a lot of requests for, especially in healthcare, when there is a need for one-offs or low volume production.

While this is just a selection of application areas, 3D Systems has an ambitious road map for material releases in the near future. To get an overview of the current material portfolio for the Figure 4, please click here >>