3d Printing 101(c) – What is VisiJet ®?
VisiJet® is a composite-type plastic proprietary to the 3D Systems ProJet® line of 3d printers. Earlier-generation 3d printers which might use ABS or polylactic acid (“PLA”) use what is known as additive or Fused Deposition Modeling techniques: i.e., the print head must deposit melted plastic onto something beneath it which, in the event there is free space existing “underneath” a part surface, requires using extra material to built support legs. Composite machines operate differently in that the build volume is at all times occupied by loose composite material and the print head essentially glues the loose build material together in the shape of the part. Because all portions of parts made in this fashion are supported by either fused or loose build material underneath, the machine uses less build material overall. Composite-type machines are also typically faster than additive machines and can achieve higher part feature resolutions.
VisiJet® C4 Spectrum Core is 3d Systems’® latest proprietary composite build material. Utilized in the ProJet® 4500, VisiJet® is used as a powder, unlike thermoplastics such as ABS and PLA which are typically consumed as filaments. VisiJet is white and can be left translucent or dyed, by its binder substance, “pixel-by-pixel” into nearly one million colors.
Composite parts, including those made in VisiJet®, are strong and relatively inflexible. VisiJet® parts are rather chemically inert, though will absorb water over time and should be kept as dry as possible. The VisiJet® binder materials themselves can be irritating, but their presence in finished parts would not be considered very dangerous lest one burn the parts and deliberately inhale the fumes. VisiJet® parts melt between 150-230°C (305°F-446°F), have a flexural strength yield of 24.4 MPa, and have a yield strain of 3.6%. It is about as “stiff” as PLA, much less so than ABS, and slightly weaker than both PLA and ABS overall despite its higher tolerance for high temperatures.
The VisiJet® is appropriate for many 3d prototyping situations particularly those prioritizing superficial features. While not as classically durable as some thermoplastics, VisiJet® parts can be made quickly with fine detail and in a wide array of colors. The composite printing process is bereft of printing base temperature and other considerations when using additive modeling and, generally, parts made from VisiJet® are typically cheaper.