Industrial Plastic Fabrication (IPF) was demonstrating an Objet Geometries Connex500 multi-material 3D printing system at the TCT 2009 exhibition. This machine enables CAD data to be converted into physical components formed from two different grades of polymer. With the machine's capability to build with materials ranging from soft (27 Shore A hardness) to hard (95 Shore A hardness) elastomer-type materials through to 'rigid' clear and white or coloured opaque materials, customers can obtain the equivalent of co-moulded injection moulded parts both rapidly and cost-effectively. Furthermore, the machine can create a wide variety of 'Digital Materials' - composite materials consisting of two FullCure model materials integrated in specific concentrations and structures to provide the desired mechanical properties.
Components built using the Connex500 will not have the same physical characteristics as injection moulded components, in particular with regard to longevity, but they could still provide valuable insight for engineers working on machine designs that could benefit from novel co-moulded or over-moulded components.
Alternatively, machine builders might find it helpful to have parts built on the Connex500 such that they can view one component (built with an opaque material) inside another (built with a transparent material). And even if the engineer finds this of limited value, it might help in explaining a feature to a customer or supplier in the form of a presentation model.
Aside from the Connex500, IPF was also demonstrating its extensive capabilities in plastic machining, forming and fabrication/assembly - all of which is supported by full 3D CAD/CAM software and expertise, as well as a strong focus on customer service.