In fact, it is this ability to be used in actual occupational settings that spurred our interest at YouthQuest. We want promising cadets to be able to get real-world experience related to real-world occupational opportunities. The ProJet 1200 is a serious step in that direction. The more I experiment with the ProJet 1200, the more I've come to believe that this little printer has the power to bring significant returns on the investment in the right setting. For us, it will be enough if using the Projet 1200 encourages a cadet to pursue further education in art or as a dental technician.
The Physical Print Platform
It's a very SMALL printer. The footprint is just 9" x 9" with a height of 14". 3D Systems rightly compares its size to that of a coffee maker!
|ProJet 1200 vs. Coffee Maker (Image 3d Systems)|
It is QUIET. In fact, very quiet. There is no X-Y printjet motion. The only sound comes from the Z-axis motor and it moves in just 30 micron layers. That is just 0.0012 inches!
It is FAST. The micro-SLA process creates an entire layer at a time. So, print time is NOT related to volume. It is directly related to height.
There are two chambers in the ProJet 1200. The left side is the print chamber. And, the right side is used for curing the prints.
You do NOT want to peak inside either chamber while printing and curing is going on. I do wish, however, that there was a window of protective material that would allow us to see the progress of the print as print failures have consequences beyond normal FDM printers. (More on that later.)
The Print Quality
Only one word does the ProJet 1200 justice when describing the quality and that is AWESOME!
With multiple prints behind me, I can assure you that the promo picture on the Cubify site genuinely represents what I am able to achieve.
|Project Print (green) and ring cast from the print|
Unfortunately, the images I have taken with my phone don't measure up to the quality of the prints. But, at the risk of embarrassing myself, I'm posting several. The last image includes a quarter to provide some scale. These prints are SMALL and SMOOTH!
|Waffle Surface Ball inside a Waffle Surface Ball|
|Rings with "E" and "G" embossed.|
|Experimental Earring in Clear (One Strand Failed)|
The following are my favorites so far. The one on the right is sitting on the quarter. Click on the image to see it at full size. The leaves are incredibly thin on the pendant to the left and the features incredibly sharp in the 'charm" on the right. The supports you see were selected manually and were all that were used. I think the leaves would be even cleaner had more side supports been applied.
|Leaf Pendant and Spiral Charm with supports|
Even the lack of sharp focus doesn't mask the sharpness of the ProJet prints.
What makes the Projet 1200 such a versatile printer is the growing family of VisiJet FTX materials dedicated to difference tasks. I've only had access to the Green and Clear. But, those only whet my appetite for all the others.
- VisiJet FTX Green - Dental and general casting
- VisiJet FTX Cast - Wax and plastic hybrid for lost wax Precious metal casting.
- VisiJet FTX Gray - High detail prototypes & figures
- VisiJet FTX Clear -Tough end objects that can be used in production products.
- VisiJet FTX Gold - Samples to show how print appears cast in gold.
- VisiJet FTX Silver - Samples to show how print appears cast in silver.
Warnings & General Observations
Don't buy this printer if you do not like to read directions. The ProJet 1200 may be small; but, it is no toy. Care must be taken when handling the materials and the printed parts before they are cured. In a future post we'll cover some of the precautions and "best practices". We will also communicate how we learned the hard way to take the time to read the setup instructions.
Once the material tray is in place, do NOT move the printer at all. (And... Yes, I did... costing me a lot of lost time cleaning the inside of the printer. Very scary.)
Failures, potentially, have greater consequences than with FDM printers. I've had three support failures causing a buildup in the bottom of the material trays. At $48 a tray, it's wise to learn the proper support strategy real fast. I have a call into support to see if the trays can be rescued. But, I don't think so. User error is costly with this printer.
The other issue is that we may have to go through dealers for supplies. I have not found a direct link to materials on either the Cubify or 3DSCentral sites. Again, I'm looking into this.
The issue, it seems, is that the ProJet 1200 is a new category of 3D micro-SLA 3D printers that falls into a gap between consumer and professional. I suspect the market demographics will sort it out over time; but, for now, finding materials is a bit confusing.
I LOVE this printer. It may not be my own; but, I feel privileged to be able to explore ways to add it to our curriculum. It is EXACTLY what I envisioned when I first started on my 3D Printing journey seeking solutions for my artist daughter. Using Moment of Inspiration, creating takes minutes compared to days with manual techniques. The next step is to explore casting for our 3D ThinkLink Lab and the cadets we serve. This little printer expands how we can serve them with realistic occupational opportunities. And, THAT is VERY cool!
In a future article we'll cover some of the mistakes we've made as we get acquainted with this printer and the consequences, as we come to understand them. In the meantime, feel free t contact me directly if you are interested in investing in the ProJet 1200. I don't sell them; but, I am more than happy to share what little experience we have with it so far.