New Stratasys J850 helps plastic part manufacturer to expand
Versatility, quality and speed. These are key reasons that plastic component manufacturer Industrial Plastic Fabrications Limited (IPFL) chose the Stratasys J850 Pro to expand its business.
IPFL has been building plastic parts to order since 1969. It is used by companies in sectors as diverse as medical, aerospace, defence, automotive and TV/ film. It was an early adopter of additive manufacturing, buying its first Polyjet machine 20 years ago. Following a recent expansion, it has added a Stratasys J850 Pro to its roster of 3D printers, bringing the total of its machines to seven.
Deciding to invest
Adam Bloomfield, 3D print manager at IPFL, explains why it decided to invest in a new Polyjet machine: “With the J850, we now have more Polyjet materials open to us, and we can load up to seven at once into the machines.
“Not only does this give customers more versatility, but it also means we can keep the machine running for longer without having to stop to change materials. That reduces both the time it takes for us to get the printed part back to the customer and its overall price.”
Polyjet technology is excellent for prototyping, with IPFL using it for parts such as seals, gaskets and rubber stops, along with enclosures. Adam continues, “Say we need to help design a new case for nurses to help them carry a tablet around.
“We could go through several iterations of the design in just a few weeks, with the parts we produce all excellent for fast testing in the prototype cycle. Once we have agreed on the finished part, it can be released to the injection moulding team for production.
Multi-material and soft parts
“We love Polyjet because of its support for multi-materials, along with its ability to produce both rigid and flexible parts. If you need low Shore hardness, Polyjet is for you.
“By combining a soft material with rigid materials, we can produce excellent overmoulds and soft touch handles, which makes a huge difference when you are designing a new product and want to give a sense of what the final piece will be like, with both looks and touch.
“Lots of people don’t realise how soft you can go with Polyjet. The Agilus material is great for this, and with the J850, we now have the ability to produce parts in this material in clear, black and white, plus we can add greyscales as well. We think this will be perfect for making soft-touch overmoulds for medical prototypes.”
As a company that has a huge amount of combined experience in both traditional and additive manufacturing, IPFL has a front-row seat on the fast-pace of changes in the industry. “Polyjet technology has vastly improved over the years. It has an excellent surface finish and some parts can now rival those produced by traditional methods,” says Adam.
“When we started offering additive manufacturing as an option, people thought we were joking when we said they could have their part the next day when they were used to waiting for weeks. Some parts still need to be made in the traditional manner, but that number is decreasing all the time. For many of our customers, additive manufacturing is now the natural starting point.”
Excellent Laser Lines service
Adam is satisfied with his choice of partner in Laser Lines. “The team has been excellent in supporting us,” he says. “I called up an engineer last week with a technical query, and he was on site the next day helping us to resolve it. I think that speed of response speaks for itself. We find the Laser Lines team to be quick, efficient and knowledgeable when it comes to 3D printing and we are very happy.
“The J850 we have bought from Laser Lines enables us to be more competitive and lets us offer an even better service for our customers. We are finding it hugely rewarding using it to help our customers realise their designs.”