The ProJet® ColorJet™ Printing System is based on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's patented 3DP® Technology (3D Printing). This 3D Printing process involves:
- Importing a solid 3D modeling file into the 3DPrint Software
- Setting up your files to print in the 3DPrint Software
- Printing the part
- Drying the part, emptying the build bed, and removal of excess PXL Core material
- Cleaning and servicing the printer
- (Optional) Applying post-processing materials to the printed part
To start, the 3DPrint Software takes a three-dimensional design file, (3DPrint is compatible with most 3D modeling software files) and converts it into cross-sections, or layers, that are between 0.0035" - 0.004" (0.089 - 0.102 mm) thick. Before printing, 3DPrint evaluates the part geometry and checks if there are enough materials in the printer to print the number of layers required to build the part. If there are, the printer then prints each layer, one after the other, from the bottom of the part to the top. If not, 3DPrint will prompt you to add Core, to add binder, or to change a print head before it will start the print job.
During printing, binder is first applied with a higher saturation to the edges of the part, creating a strong “shell” for the part exterior. In a color printer, this shell will contain the colors. Next, an infrastructure that works like strong scaffolding is created for the part walls, which are also built with a higher saturation of binder for added strength. The remaining interior areas are printed with a lower binder saturation, which gives the part its stability. See the illustration below.
When the part is finished printing, the user empties the Build Bed of most of the excess Core material around and on the part by vacuuming with the integrated vacuum system. This “coarse cleaning” returns the Core to the Feeder for reuse. After coarse cleaning, the part is ready to be removed from the printer and undergo “fine cleaning”. Fine cleaning consists of blowing off the remaining Core material using compressed air and brushing the part to loosen any Core that adheres. Fine cleaning is easily accomplished in the separate Core Recycling Unit, or in a printer equipped with a Post Processing Unit.
You can evaluate the part as it is, or you can choose to post-process the part with infiltration products to give it additional strength and durability. With the finished part in your hands, you can start improving or modifying your design within the same day, and usually within hours.