PolyJet 3D Printing Guide

Introduction to PolyJet 3D Printing:

PolyJet is one of the 3D printing technologies similar to that of an InkJet printer. It can print precise geometries at a lightning speed at a greater resolution. But the difference is that in spite of printing ink on paper, PolyJet prints layers one after the other to form a part.

What is PolyJet 3D Printing?

PolyJet is a 3D printing technology in which highly accurate parts are built by thousands of photopolymer drops jetted by print head onto the build plate and simultaneously cured with a UV light.

It is highly distinct when compared to other 3D printing technologies for its scope of multiplex printers, which are able to build a single part or an object using multiple materials at once.

PolyJet is a 3D printing technology in which highly accurate parts are built by thousands of photopolymer  drops jetted by print head  onto the build plate and simultaneously cured with a UV light.

This technique is exceptionally perfect for additive manufacturing and production of parts within a short time.

Here is an interesting thing to know about why it is absolute for prototyping complex geometries, it’s because the printers used in this technique can print the layers more precisely to 0.1mm and that makes the part’s surface much smoother and thinner. 

History of PolyJet 3D Printing Technology:

In 2000, ObJet-Geometries, a brand of stratasys invented the technique of PolyJet 3D printing. A Large number of patents were held and then the venture proved successful for further development of the technology.

ObJet-Geometries merged with a leading additive manufacturing 3D printing company called Stratasys in the year 2011 and now the products are expanded to MJ solutions on a large scale. Even today, Stratasys puts forward the same name as PolyJet for their printers.

MJ and PolyJet belong to the same kind of printing technology but they still exist with two contrasting names.

After the detachment of two companies the fundamental working principle remained the same in their devices. The type of support structures is the major difference found between these two leading giants.

Now, let’s move ahead and have a look at the features, working process, benefits, and its applications in different sectors which makes PolyJet 3D printing technology unique from other 3D printing technologies.

How Does a PolyJet 3D Printer Work?

A PolyJet 3D printer has similar anatomical structure and a basic working principle similar to MJ(Material Jetting) 3D printer.

The apparatus consists of a print head for Jetting, a material container filled with liquid photopolymer, UV light emerger which cures the photopolymer, a build plate, and finally an elevator at the bottom which monitors the vertical movement of the build plate.

Now, the first and very important step is to let the liquid photopolymer attain the desired viscosity by supplying heat to the material container which consists of photopolymer resin.

When the operator inserts the 3D CAD(Computer-Aided Design) into the printer, the printer’s head starts to spray the ink or the liquid photopolymer in the form of droplets onto the build platform. As soon as the ink is sprayed onto the build plate, immediately UV light is flashed towards the small droplets to solidify them to the desired layers.

Since PolyJet 3D printers consist of multiple print heads, many parts with different 3D CAD can be printed altogether at a time. 

Polyjet 3d printing process
Fig: PolyJet 3D Printing process

When the initial layer is printed, the build tray moves vertically one layer downward with the help of the elevator. Eventually, a gel-like material is Jetted out, which is nothing but the support material, specially designed to sustain the complicated geometries. The process is continued till the complete prototype or model is printed. 

Unlike other support structures built in different 3D printing technologies, the support  structure built in PolyJet 3D printing technique can be effortlessing removed with water and by hand or in a water bath.

Here is one more quite interesting thing to know about this technology is that the printers here use a support material which is composed with polyethylene, glycerine and propylene that makes it easily removable from print plate, whereas in other 3D printers like MultiJet use paraffin wax to make support material which eventually becomes complicated to separate the part from the build tray. 

Post-curing is not that necessary, because the printed 3D part is ready to remove from the build tray without much effort.

A wide variety of materials are being used by PolyJet 3D printers, in which even bio-resins are amongst them.

Applications of PolyJet 3D Printing:

Many different companies have recognised the caliber of PolyJet 3D printers and hence, these are used vastly in many sectors to increase their production and flow of work. 

PolyJet printers are widely famous for Jetting highly precise parts within a matter of hours. Thus, it is exceptionally suitable for the production of realistic prototypes.The printers used in this technique have an unique ability to Jet different materials altogether at a time and this once again saves the time.

PolyJet 3D printing technology is applicable to produce many products such as implants, overmolding, robotic prototyping and so on.

PolyJet 3D printers are widely used in dental industries. When a dentist scans a patient’s mouth with a digital reader called a wand in which a 3D image of the teeth and gums is created, then this CAD is inserted into the printer’s software. Finally, a duplicate copy of teeth is printed in the form of output. 

A PolyJet printer prints prototypes by which one can feel and approve it to be the final product.PolyJet makes all these processes faster and precise at each and every point.

Benefits of PolyJet 3D Printing Technology:

  • It is a rapid prototyping technology and hence can build multiple parts in a matter of hours.
  • Builds prototypes with low-cost materials.
  • Printers have the ability to combine different materials at once.
  • Thin layers give smooth finishing, complex geometries, fine features and details of a prototype.
  • The support material is effortlessly removable by hand when opposed to SLA.
  • It is trouble-free to clean the support structure without spoiling the part.
  • Colorful cosmetic parts can be manufactured.
Gunaseelan Murugesan
Author | Website

Experienced Project Engineer with a demonstrated history of working in the field of Product Design & Development industry in Mechanical Engineering. Skilled in 3D Printing and Re engineering Technologies with CATIA V5 , Materials Science, Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Mimics, ANSYS Workbench and Casting Simulation software. Strong engineering professional with a Master’s Degree focused in Industrial Metallurgy from PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore.

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