Advanced Tek logo
close
Linkedin logo

Ask a 3D Printing Expert: Why should I invest in 3D printing technology now when it’s just going to change tomorrow?

June 5, 2024 News

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, where advancements often come at breakneck speed, some innovations quietly persist, steadily making their mark over time. One such innovation is Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printing, a cornerstone of additive manufacturing technology pioneered by Stratasys founder Scott Crump in the late 1980s. While FDM may not grab headlines like the latest gadgets or AI breakthroughs, its enduring reliability and subtle evolution speak volumes about its significance. 

At the heart of FDM lies a simple yet effective process: melting thermoplastic filaments and layering them to create 3D objects. This core principle has remained largely unchanged since its inception, with FDM machines from companies like Stratasys demonstrating remarkable longevity. It’s not uncommon to find Stratasys printers in the field that have faithfully served for over 15 years, a testament to their reliability and robustness. 

What sets Stratasys apart in the world of FDM 3D printing is its commitment to advancing not only the machinery but also the materials used in the process. Stratasys ensures incredibly easy access to advanced materials, without the need for advanced experience to print effectively. Their machines feature fully temperature-controlled build areas surrounded by high-quality insulation and rigid steel frames, creating an environment for consistently depositing filament precisely where it’s needed. While a meticulously designed machine is a great start, it’s the thousands of hours of materials testing that ensure reliability and consistency. 

Stratasys now offers a wide range of Validated 3rd Party Materials on top of their already wide range of Preferred materials, ensuring compatibility and reliability with their printers. These Validated materials include the likes of Kimya PC-FR, known for its flame-resistance and impact rating; ULTEM™, valued for its high temperature and chemical resistance, along with excellent mechanical properties; and Victrex AM™ 200 LMPAEK™, an ULTEM-like material compatible with soluble support. 

However, some clients hesitate to invest in true industrial FDM machines due to concerns that ‘something new’ will render existing versions of the technology obsolete. This fear is understandable in a fast-paced tech world, but FDM has proven to be a reliable workhorse that continues to evolve without rendering older machines obsolete. Investing in FDM is not like constantly upgrading home computers; it’s about acquiring a technology that has stood the test of time and continues to shape the future of manufacturing. We’re seeing more advancements in materials, more so than the technology itself. 

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a big step forward in very recent news with the new Stratasys F3300. A ground-up redesign of FDM with over 25 new patents – all aimed at high accuracy, quick time-to-part, and nearly non-stop production. The F3300 deserves a blog post all on its own, but as a little taste, it has over 420 sensors to know exactly what’s going on inside, auto-swappable redundant material extruders, and large actively-dried material bays. 

Keep on printing my friends! 

_____

John CrouthamelMeet John Crouthamel

John works as a business development representative at AdvancedTek, where he assists clients in Iowa in discovering the unexplored possibilities of additive manufacturing. Despite being in the 3D printing industry for only a couple of years, he has spent over a decade working in manufacturing settings and enjoys utilizing his problem-solving skills, much like an engineer.

Outside of work John enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, riding his motorcycles, and tinkering with anything motorized.

_____

Have your own question for our 3D printing experts? Submit it below and you may see it used in a future ‘Ask a 3D Printing Expert’ edition!

Posted by Heather Adams