Dan Mishek is no newcomer to the world of rapid prototyping and 3D printing! His rapid prototyping service bureau, VistaTek has been around since 1996, at the very start of the 3D printing curve. 15 years later and his company has over 30 employees, and yes, wait for it, not a single stereo-lithography 3D printer!
According to Dan, the idea that every service bureau needs a stereo-lithography 3D printer is like, well, every fish needing a bicycle (he uses the gold standard analogy, but I prefer the fish/bicycle thing).
As he states in this eye-opening article in Product Design & Development, from the years 2006 to 2010, VistaTek phased out all 5 of their stereo-lithography 3D printers and replaced them with Objet 3D printers. In the same time period they also expanded their customer base from 1200 to 1800. Coincidence? I think not.
According to Dan, the use of Objet's revolutionary inkjet-based multi-material 3D printers has provided VistaTek with many advantages including:
- Lower overheads (Objet printers are less expensive to acquire, run and maintain)
- Exponential increase in 3D printing material range and versatility - including the ability to jet 2 materials simultaneously to produce composite materials and the ability to mix different material properties in a single printed part (see the fantastic Objet printed art model in the photo for example - courtesy of Neri Oxman.)
- Comparable or better part quality to stereo-lithography (both in terms of model surface smoothness and detail accuracy)
- Ability to create parts with both rubber-like material elements and rigid material elements - seamlessly and in a single build (A capability that is unique to Objet)
- True product realism! (i.e. models that look, feel and function closer to the real end-product than any other technology available)
Dan's article is an important read for any service bureau concerned with remaining competitive in today's business environment and determined to place only the very best quality prototypes in the hands of their customers.