Objet Geometries

There are two leading 3D rapid prototyping companies that make systems which use inkjet printheads: Objet Geometries and ZCorporation (others exist but these are the two that are the most noticeable).

Objet Geometries uses a unique UV-curing of specially formulated materials jetted from Ricoh piezo printheads. The Objet Geometries system is quite sophisticated, as you would expect in the high tech area of Israel. Their RP models include the Eden250, Eden500V and other 3D printers.

FLAAR is interested in 3D rapid prototyping because of our Hellmuth family background in architecture (look at HOK.com), as well as over 40 years working in the fields of architectural history and pre-Columbian pyramids, temples, and palaces of Mesoamerica. FLAAR is a world leader in evaluations and reviews of UV-curing wide-format inkjet printers, so everything together in our background made sense to develop expertise in 3D rapid prototyping.

As a first step we have begun attending the key events in rapid prototyping, such as RAPID. There are also several key companies exhibiting at SIGGRAPH. Plus you can usually find one exhibit of Z Corp color 3D rapid prototypers at FESPA, Viscom Spain, and some other European trade shows (not as frequently at US signage trade shows, so not often at SGIA or ISA).

Our second step was to begin to visit the headquarters of 3D rapid prototyper manufacturers, such as that of Objet Geometries. We were in Israel to visit NUR Macroprinters. This is the type of UV-cured flatbed wide-format inkjet printer that can print directly onto lenticular lenses, for use with HumanEyes 3D images.

We are considering also studying other non-printing 3D rapid prototypers, such as selective laser sintering (3D systems), or fused deposition modeling (Dimension and Stratasys). We are also interested in CNC routers. But our university lacks this equipment, so until we can partner with another university, we are proceeding slowly, and sticking with our own expertise, namely the use of inkjet printheads (the FLAAR websites on large format inkjet printers are read by over one million people a year).

RAPID 3D Dimension

So at present we are focusing our interest on Objet Geometries and Z Corporation, to evaluate which process has the most promise for architectural firms for models (as well as for GIS models of topography). If using printheads and 3-D printing can provide the solutions we seek, we will stick with promoting this technology. But if not, we will move into evaluating selective laser sintering (SLS), stereolithography SLA), fused deposition modeling (FDM) and comparable alternative rapid prototyping technologies as well.

But we start with Objet Geometries and their PolyJet technology. If this turns out to be the optimum way to do architectural models and recreating archaeological artifacts, we will report this in our final reviews. We need to undertake a lot more research and studies, and need to create our own samples first.

It took several years to become the de-facto resource on UV-cured wide-format inkjet printers, so we expect it will take us several more years to learn enough on 3D rapid prototypers, but we have a deep personal and professional interest in all digital imaging technologies that can be applied to archaeology (architectural history and artifacts) and which can assist museums in recreating past civilizations.



First posted May 28, 2007.

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