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Stratasys F170..F370

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Posted (edited) · Stratasys F170..F370

Yep, I know this is an ultimaker forum.  I'd be interested to know if there is anyone here with Stratasys F170, F270 or F370 experience as well as S5 experience. I have budget to purchase a Stratasys F370. The intend is to run small production quantities of electronic enclosures with simple/moderate detail. I envision some post print operation (sealer, UV protection, paint, etc) to finalize the print. 

 

The F370 is pricey (about 60K here in the USA), an alternative is to run multiple F170 or 5S printers to increase production volume - as long as the print quality is sufficient (or similar to F370) and reliability is high.

 

I know the F370 and 5S are very different printers in many respects, however, one cannot simply make a linear comparisson of price to determine the best printer for the job. Your thoughts and observations are most welcome.

Edited by TheRealJoost

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Posted · Stratasys F170..F370

In my opinion I would go for the S5 Pro Bundle. With the cost of one F370 you can buy two or three S5 and save money. 

Besides of having more flexibility and capacity in production you have a filament system capable of handling third party materials.

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Posted (edited) · Stratasys F170..F370

The print quality I saw so far from the F370 didn't impress me at all, considering the price of the machine. I'd order test parts printed on F370 and S5, as well as SLS/MJF printed parts before committing to buy a machine. Maybe just ordering SLS/MJF parts at an external supplier and not buying a printer would also be a viable option? 

Edited by P3D

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Posted · Stratasys F170..F370

Depending on what "small quantities" are, and on the variations in your models (all identical or not), you could also consider low-cost injection moulding in aluminum moulds. For example at companies like Protolabs, or maybe also Materialise. Then you have a more professional look and sturdier models without layer lines that can initiate cracks. Low volume production is their specialty. You can submit a design and get an online quote.  If you need only 10 parts, or if you need variations in models, this might not be worth it, but if you need 100 or 1000 identical parts, it might be?

 

If you want to buy a Stratasys machine, be sure to go to companies that have the same one in use, or go to schools or universities, and have a look at the quality and talk about their experiences. Collegues of mine do have a couple of Stratasys (but I don't know the types, it's in another campus), and they were not impressed with customer service and honesty: too much things weren't told by the representatives, about material costs, required maintenance and spare parts, required post-processing of the prints and the equipment needed for that, pricing (insane differences between their own sales people), ventilation requirements,... While print quality was okay, all this left a bad taste. This was 4 years ago, so I don't know how things have evolved. But anyway, be sure to inform yourself very well about those aspects before starting any negotiations, so that there are no hidden surprises.

 

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Posted · Stratasys F170..F370
6 hours ago, andrefccastro said:

In my opinion I would go for the S5 Pro Bundle. With the cost of one F370 you can buy two or three S5 and save money. 

Besides of having more flexibility and capacity in production you have a filament system capable of handling third party materials.

Thanks for the suggestion - adding on to what you mentioned; the S5 would be controllable from the macs we have, unlike the F370 which requires a PC running GrabCAD.  However, do you have experience with the S5 maintainability and reliability?  I have a few UM2+ machines (again a whole different beast of course) and had initially good experiences but as of late found the reliability and Ultimaker's response to provide customer service .... well, irritating.   Having 2, 3, machines that are all mediocre and require baby sitting is actually 2, 3 problems...

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Posted (edited) · Stratasys F170..F370
5 hours ago, P3D said:

The print quality I saw so far from the F370 didn't impress me at all, considering the price of the machine. I'd order test parts printed on F370 and S5, as well as SLS/MJF printed parts before committing to buy a machine. Maybe just ordering SLS/MJF parts at an external supplier and not buying a printer would also be a viable option? 

Can you share pictures of what you printed?  Where these complex parts, large parts anything in particular that you felt under the mark?   I like your suggestion to order test parts. Stratasys charged a couple of hundred bucks for 5 100x100mm rounded square shells, but printed on a Objet I think - perhaps worth the test money.  I have no access to an S5 sadly.  Continually purchasing 3D printed parts is not an economical viable option.

Edited by TheRealJoost

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Posted (edited) · Stratasys F170..F370
2 hours ago, geert_2 said:

Depending on what "small quantities" are, and on the variations in your models (all identical or not), you could also consider low-cost injection moulding in aluminum moulds. For example at companies like Protolabs, or maybe also Materialise. Then you have a more professional look and sturdier models without layer lines that can initiate cracks. Low volume production is their specialty. You can submit a design and get an online quote.  If you need only 10 parts, or if you need variations in models, this might not be worth it, but if you need 100 or 1000 identical parts, it might be?

 

If you want to buy a Stratasys machine, be sure to go to companies that have the same one in use, or go to schools or universities, and have a look at the quality and talk about their experiences. Collegues of mine do have a couple of Stratasys (but I don't know the types, it's in another campus), and they were not impressed with customer service and honesty: too much things weren't told by the representatives, about material costs, required maintenance and spare parts, required post-processing of the prints and the equipment needed for that, pricing (insane differences between their own sales people), ventilation requirements,... While print quality was okay, all this left a bad taste. This was 4 years ago, so I don't know how things have evolved. But anyway, be sure to inform yourself very well about those aspects before starting any negotiations, so that there are no hidden surprises.

 

Injection moulding is of course the first thing we have gone after and still pursue. Cost of the (family) mould ranges between 25-45K depending on location and manufacturer. That does not include the expected trips to location to solve problems, fix the mould and shipping costs/delays (oversees if from China, takes a month and just shipping plastic parts means shipping a lot of air).

 

I have worked with injection moulding in the past quite often and absolutly hate the scene. We never had high quantities (up to 2000/year) of anything and I think that just is asking for problems. With high quanties, the moulding machines stay occupied and can be optimized to quality.

 

With the 3D printed part quality becoming better and better, I like to see if it is possible to stay away from injection moulding all together (again, low quantities, couple of hundred may be 1000/year). Eventually this is where we all would want to go and shed reliance on moulding companies - perhaps I am pushing it too early.

 

I have printed on much smaller model Stratasys and found the parts to be very acceptable, sadly I have no access to any of the F123 series. 

 

And on customer service; I hear ya. Already not impressed with Stratasys so far (UM customer service from the Netherlands wasn't too impressive either btw).  I will need to ask that sales guy to list out all the stuff needed beyond the printer itself. Plastic filament costs are an ongoing cost of course, but I did read that the head requires replacing after 1500 hours also (1500hrs is nothing, no?). I wonder what else is just 'normal' maintenance for these machines. So far the sales dept. isn't very forth coming.

 

All in all, I think it is quite difficult to pick a machine that is the best average to fit our problem domain. Thanks for your considerate answer!

Edited by TheRealJoost

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Posted · Stratasys F170..F370

I really understand your point because I work in the consumer good industry and know the reality of the injection moulding. Thats why we started the 3D printing office - mainly for prototypes - and know we are thinking about using CF filament for final parts due to the low volume per year.

My 2 Ultimaker 3 have more than 2000hrs and didn't replaced the head yet. There are some problems it's true (don't know the S5 model) but if it were me today, I would go for the Ultimaker again. If your F370 has problems you need to wait for the technician and with Ultimaker you can do it for yourself. For example, I don't ask for the re-seller's help because he is not very customer friendly. If you take care and plan your prints with common sense, the difference between two printer will pay up.

 

Regarding the print qualities, if I choose the proper core and settings I can achieve the same results as the F370. 

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Posted · Stratasys F170..F370

I just think about this: if you live in Belgium, the Netherlands or West Germany: we have an independant and quite good distributor of 3D-printers from various brands and various technologies: the company Trideus, in the province of Limburg, Belgium. It might be a good idea to go to such a distributor, have a look at their demo-prints, have a talk and ask prices. Since they have lots of brands, they are likely to give more honest info. For them it is not so much the brand that counts (they have almost all), but if the customer is satisfied enough to come back next time. So you are more likely to get the best solution for your situation than from a single brand seller.

 

Concerning prices for low-volume injection moulds (max 10000 pieces) in aluminum: I thought these started at around 2000 euro at Protolabs, depending on complexity and required surface quality? If you are going to run 1000 copies per year on a 3D-printer, it might cost a lot more: that is 4 per day (250 working days/year), and if each would require almost a day to print, you need 4 printers, plus people to handle them. But I have no experience with Protolabs, Materialise or similar companies, so I don't know their quality and service.

 

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Posted · Stratasys F170..F370
2 hours ago, andrefccastro said:

I really understand your point because I work in the consumer good industry and know the reality of the injection moulding. Thats why we started the 3D printing office - mainly for prototypes - and know we are thinking about using CF filament for final parts due to the low volume per year.

My 2 Ultimaker 3 have more than 2000hrs and didn't replaced the head yet. There are some problems it's true (don't know the S5 model) but if it were me today, I would go for the Ultimaker again. If your F370 has problems you need to wait for the technician and with Ultimaker you can do it for yourself. For example, I don't ask for the re-seller's help because he is not very customer friendly. If you take care and plan your prints with common sense, the difference between two printer will pay up.

Repairing/doing maintenance ourselves is very attractive to me - being an engineer and all (though it is not necessarily good business practise). We are a small start up so costs to matter. Stratasys quoted us USD 4000/year for maintenance (excluding the tool head). Thats a UM3 on an annual basis!

 

Quote

Regarding the print qualities, if I choose the proper core and settings I can achieve the same results as the F370. 

That is quite a statement!  Do you have example pix to share? We had the Stratasys boys over this morning and they pulled example parts from their suitcase like no tomorrow, all most excellent quality. Some with a surface finish which made it impossible to tell it was a 3D printed part. I have never seen anything like this from UM printers but would love to be corrected. A realistic annual maintenance cost for any of the F123 series printers is 5000/year (service  + tool head). Plastic feed is $3.60/cubic inch. This is not cheap but from the quality I have seen this morning, it might be justified.

 

We got Stratasys to test print our design so that'll tell how well the end result will look. Now I want to set up a comparisson with a 5S, hopefully we can arrange this in the USA somewhere.

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Posted · Stratasys F170..F370
1 hour ago, geert_2 said:

I just think about this: if you live in Belgium, the Netherlands or West Germany: we have an independant and quite good distributor of 3D-printers from various brands and various technologies: the company Trideus,

As mentioned, I am in the USA - everything works in silos here 🙂

 

Quote

Concerning prices for low-volume injection moulds (max 10000 pieces) in aluminum: I thought these started at around 2000 euro at Protolabs, depending on complexity and required surface quality? If you are going to run 1000 copies per year on a 3D-printer, it might cost a lot more: that is 4 per day (250 working days/year), and if each would require almost a day to print, you need 4 printers, plus people to handle them. But I have no experience with Protolabs, Materialise or similar companies, so I don't know their quality and service.

I would love to meet your tool maker!  The lowest quote we've received was 8000 bucks from an unknown shop in China.  It is hard to just think a mould costs "just 2000", all depends on the complexities, number of parts and what not else...  And yes, we have that spreadsheet with tool costs, material costs, shipping costs, risks weighing one thing vs another. Like I said, it is not a straight forward decision.

 

Using easy math; our designs could print on an Stratasys about 20 complete systems/week keeping the machine 90% occupied. So just a 1000 parts per year - that is enough to get us going. If we're requiring more, injection moulding is next (or a second printer) and this printer can then operate for pure prototypes of specialty one-offs. 

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Posted · Stratasys F170..F370
5 hours ago, TheRealJoost said:

 However, do you have experience with the S5 maintainability and reliability?

My S5 has been running everyday since March of 2019, I'm gonna guess and say roughly 16 hrs. a day, and no real problems to speak of (I tightened the motor belts).  Every once and a while the nozzle will plug up, and I'm guessing that's from dust.  What I don't like about the F123 is that the second extruder can only run their support material (according to our local strat dealer), so a dual color print is out of the picture. 

 

I have the pro bundle on order, which should solve most dust, temp, and humidity issues. 

 

The cost of print for the ultimaker will be cheaper, considering you don't have to stick to strat's filament.

 

BTW, I print a control panel for an end use product, and a few other items.  Cost of injection molding is cost prohibitive for us.

 

If you need to print ABS regularly, the strat might be better because of the actively heated chamber, but with the Ultimaker's air manager that might solve those problems too.

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Posted (edited) · Stratasys F170..F370
9 hours ago, TheRealJoost said:

We had the Stratasys boys over this morning and they pulled example parts from their suitcase like no tomorrow, all most excellent quality. Some with a surface finish which made it impossible to tell it was a 3D printed part. I have never seen anything like this from UM printers but would love to be corrected. A realistic annual maintenance cost for any of the F123 series printers is 5000/year (service  + tool head). Plastic feed is $3.60/cubic inch. This is not cheap but from the quality I have seen this morning, it might be justified.

 

Don't ever believe those sales people unless the part is printed before your eyes, with the exact machine you will get, using the exact material you'll be printing with. You never know what kind of post-processing they did, and what machine they really printed the parts with - and you probably don't want to print with a 0,15mm Nozzle at 0,06mm layer height, as then your parts are gonna take forever.

 

Once again I have to stress that you should do a very, very thorough comparison between buying a 3D printer and letting someone else print your parts. Get some quotes, put some test parts on 3Dhubs and see what prices you get with different print technologies for the amount of parts you want to be manufacturing, and then calculate if buying a printer is really worth it. 

Edited by P3D

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Posted · Stratasys F170..F370
2 hours ago, P3D said:

 

Don't ever believe those sales people unless the part is printed before your eyes, with the exact machine you will get, using the exact material you'll be printing with. You never know what kind of post-processing they did, and what machine they really printed the parts with - and you probably don't want to print with a 0,15mm Nozzle at 0,06mm layer height, as then your parts are gonna take forever.

 

That's the point! 
From what I have seen in additive manufacturing trade fairs in comparison to what I have orders to part suppliers, those parts are always worked and printed under special conditions for commercial and marketing purposes.

An S5 Pro Bundle will minor most of the issues that you may have with temperatures, humidity and filaments moisture. Also, since it changes the filament automatically you can plan the production for a whole week and just set alarms to remove the parts once they finished. Also remember that you are able to use other filament brands which is helpful in case you face a stock rupture as I did.

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Posted · Stratasys F170..F370

Interesting thread! 

Few things have caught my eye though. @andrefccastro, you mentioned you don't ask your reseller because you don't consider them friendly. That is not really how we intent our partners/resellers to be perceived. Would you care to elaborate via a DM about your encounter? Perhaps there is something we can do to help. 

 

@TheRealJoost, I also read you mentioned you didn't find the customer support too impressive. Could I ask you about your encounter too (via a DM)? If there are any areas on which we can improve, we would love to hear about it. 

 

2 hours ago, P3D said:

Don't ever believe those sales people unless the part is printed before your eyes, with the exact machine you will get, using the exact material you'll be printing with. You never know what kind of post-processing they did, and what machine they really printed the parts with - and you probably don't want to print with a 0,15mm Nozzle at 0,06mm layer height, as then your parts are gonna take forever.

 

I also thought about this. Such a part has only one goal, and that is to convince you about the capabilities of their printer. It's very unlikely they'll bring a print with flaws, even if it means printing a part 10 times over to finally get it. Best rule of thumb would be to see a part being printed with your configuration and see what quality comes out.

 

Another thing to consider; for the price of a F170 you can probably get more than one Ultimaker S5 / Pro Bundle. Which means a higher uptime, you can print multiple parts at once, or when a machine would break down it won't be the only operational one you have that is breaking down. 

 

I've also seen mention of the materials available, to give you an indication please visit this page and use the filter above to get an idea about which filaments you can effortlessly use on an Ultimaker. We have a collaboration with each of these partners and for the materials shown on that page we have created print profiles tailored to an Ultimaker S5 / S3. More materials are being added almost weekly. 

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Posted · Stratasys F170..F370
4 hours ago, andrefccastro said:

 

That's the point! 
From what I have seen in additive manufacturing trade fairs in comparison to what I have orders to part suppliers, those parts are always worked and printed under special conditions for commercial and marketing purposes.

I hear ya and completely agree - that is why I requested them to print one of our designs at their local facility. I intend to be there to see them do it.  

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Posted (edited) · Stratasys F170..F370
7 hours ago, P3D said:

 

Don't ever believe those sales people unless the part is printed before your eyes, with the exact machine you will get, using the exact material you'll be printing with. You never know what kind of post-processing they did, and what machine they really printed the parts with - and you probably don't want to print with a 0,15mm Nozzle at 0,06mm layer height, as then your parts are gonna take forever.

Burned by some slippery salesguy before have you? (grin). I know they are putting their best stuff on the table, it always printed like that right out of the gate, and the printer never failed. Yep, seen all that. But the prints were impressive and (according to what was said) done on the printer we're interested in. We did talk about layer heights, nozzle sizes and print speed and differences between various print outs were fairly easy to see. Some parts had repetition marks (as if a driver/bed had a bit of oscillation) but most look good. Now I just have to vefiry how much of their story was fake 😉

 

Quote

Once again I have to stress that you should do a very, very thorough comparison between buying a 3D printer and letting someone else print your parts. Get some quotes, put some test parts on 3Dhubs and see what prices you get with different print technologies for the amount of parts you want to be manufacturing, and then calculate if buying a printer is really worth it. 

Agreed, I am doing due dilligence now - this thread is part of it!

Edited by TheRealJoost

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Posted (edited) · Stratasys F170..F370
4 hours ago, SandervG said:

 

@TheRealJoost, I also read you mentioned you didn't find the customer support too impressive. Could I ask you about your encounter too (via a DM)? If there are any areas on which we can improve, we would love to hear about it. 

Just look me up on a recent request for a gear.... I also DMed you at the time .... crickets. Customer service being all over a high value discussion (such as these) and not caring for a low value question is a bad sign for getting real help when you need it in my experience. 

 

Quote

I also thought about this. Such a part has only one goal, and that is to convince you about the capabilities of their printer. It's very unlikely they'll bring a print with flaws, even if it means printing a part 10 times over to finally get it. Best rule of thumb would be to see a part being printed with your configuration and see what quality comes out.

Of course they show the best side of their butt at these sales calls. Thats why I requested them to print one of our designs. I like to do the same with the S5 - where can I get a test print done in the USA?

 

The first priority is to get prints that are close to the finished product. Some post processing is fine (including sending the parts of to a spray painter). The prints I have seen from the S5 (pictures, youtubes, not hold in hand) look fine for a printer in its price range but are not what I saw from Stratasys. I am attracted to the points brought up above on having more then 1 printer and doing maintenance ourself - I need convincing on that quality aspect.

 

Quote

I've also seen mention of the materials available, to give you an indication please visit this page and use the filter above to get an idea about which filaments you can effortlessly use on an Ultimaker. We have a collaboration with each of these partners and for the materials shown on that page we have created print profiles tailored to an Ultimaker S5 / S3. More materials are being added almost weekly. 

I am well aware of the material assortment. I generally print with colorfabb and have good results with it. We have very boring needs (so a large assortment of filaments is not necessarily interesting to us); we only print electronic enclosures - at the moment only indoors but would like an outdoors solution also. Is there an ASA like material that is UM compatible (i.e. ABS + UV protection)

Edited by TheRealJoost

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Posted · Stratasys F170..F370
53 minutes ago, TheRealJoost said:

Just look me up on a recent request for a gear.... I also DMed you at the time .... crickets. Customer service being all over a high value discussion (such as these) and not caring for a low value question is a bad sign for getting real help when you need it in my experience. 

 

Of course they show the best side of their butt at these sales calls. Thats why I requested them to print one of our designs. I like to do the same with the S5 - where can I get a test print done in the USA?

 

 

Hi Joost, thank you for your response. 

I don't remember seeing that message and apologies if it went unanswered. I also organize the tradeshows we attend, so it's not uncommon that I'll be traveling, or pretty busy organizing such an event. But that should not be an excuse. Have you also tried any of the other 'official' channels? I mean, it's important that when you knock, someone answers. But it's also important to knock at the right door. The community would not be the immediate right door in this case but I think I should be able to help. I'll send you a contact to our team in the US via a DM who will be able to follow up and send you a printed part upon your request. 

 

As far as materials, could this be something for you? https://marketplace.ultimaker.com/app/cura/materials/filamentive/Filamentive_ASA_2019

 

You can find other options via: https://marketplace.ultimaker.com/app/cura/materials?filter=uV

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Posted · Stratasys F170..F370
39 minutes ago, SandervG said:

 

Hi Joost, thank you for your response. 

I don't remember seeing that message and apologies if it went unanswered. I also organize the tradeshows we attend, so it's not uncommon that I'll be traveling, or pretty busy organizing such an event. But that should not be an excuse. Have you also tried any of the other 'official' channels? I mean, it's important that when you knock, someone answers. But it's also important to knock at the right door. The community would not be the immediate right door in this case but I think I should be able to help. I'll send you a contact to our team in the US via a DM who will be able to follow up and send you a printed part upon your request. 

Yes I did knock on what I considered the right doors first, the community was my last resort. GR5 was most helpful and I finally got hold of a USA support person. By that time I had alternate spare parts coming in and the UM proposed solution to purchase and install an entirely new feeder motor + gear was not attractive to me. In part because of the prospect to have to do that on possibly all UM2+ we have. Now that whole lot will be retired and I won't bother with it anylonger.

 

Long ago I learned that great products do not create great customer partnerships, its great customer service that does. 

 

Quote

Oh nice, thanks for those references, will check that out.

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Posted · Stratasys F170..F370

I couldn't agree with you more, and apologies if we dropped the ball at that point. You should have 2 email addresses in your inbox which you can use. If you are willing to share your email address via DM, I could also ask him to reach out to you if you prefer. 

 

Let me know if you have any further questions that we can help with,

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Posted (edited) · Stratasys F170..F370

Maybe you could consider this: make a test design that includes all your typical problem areas. For example: long flat bars (do they bend?), thin pilars (smooth, stable?), steep overhangs, small holes (size?), smooth curves (layer lines?), fine text, watermarks, sharp corners (ringing, rounded?), thin plates, or whatever else is typical for your designs. But keep it relatively small so it prints fast enough.

 

And then have that test model printed at: (1) the printers best quality, (2) default quality (well balanced between speed and quality), and (3) fastest draft quality. Of course, offer to pay for these models and time.

 

When someone comes to me in the laboratory to have something designed and printed, the first thing I do, is show them the *limitations*: what it can not do. As in the test models below. And only then I show a couple of prints that went very well, and some average prints. So they get a balanced view, they have realistic expectations, and they know what post-processing will probably be required. No surprises. It would be better if sales people also did this (some do, but not all).

 

Concerning demos: I recommend seeing the whole workflow, from slicing, preparation of the machine, printing itself, post-processing (removing supports, cleaning bits), and cleaning the machine (some liquid resin printers take half an hour daily to clean). You don't need the sales guy standing there all day, you could offer to walk along with the operator printing the demo models. That guy might even appreciate the chat. If the sales rep refuses, you should ask: why not, what is there to hide?

 

overhangtest3d2.thumb.jpg.cce0c68dd80397238dbedab94ea364c7.jpg

 

DSCN5603b.thumb.jpg.83c20560cfab90d56590243bc6015f12.jpg

 

Edit 2019-12-16: added photo below:

image.thumb.png.7275d9cf19f9e8da73bd600958b55bd9.png

 

 

 

Edited by geert_2

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Posted · Stratasys F170..F370

@geert_2 Thanks Geert, appreciate your comments and recommendations. The test model you've got there looks like a good test - is it available somewhere?  Can you tell us what we're looking at in the printed results? It seems you have a different layer height between the left and right models but I cannot tell for certain. Which was this printed on, a 5S?

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Posted · Stratasys F170..F370

The cones were printed on my UM2 printers (orange on printer nr.1, white on printer nr.2), several years ago. As far as I remember, they all have 0.1mm layer height, but they may have been printed at different speeds, flows and temperatures (I don't remember). The main goal at that time was to see the effect of using a dummy tower (=the square tower) to increase cooling time of fine details. Otherwise the hot nozzle stays on top of the model, so it can not cool down and solidify.

 

I have the other model printed as well, but I don't have photos. I will see next week (too dark here now).

 

STL-files: (the cone is named "pilaartest" here). Print them alone for the hardest test. But if you would want to test the cone with a dummy tower for comparison, then load the dummy next to the cone, and scale its height so that it is just a few layers higher than the cone.

 

overhangtest3d.stl

pilaartest1.stl

dummy_tower_10x10x30mm.stl

 

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Posted · Stratasys F170..F370
21 hours ago, geert_2 said:

STL-files: (the cone is named "pilaartest" here). Print them alone for the hardest test. But if you would want to test the cone with a dummy tower for comparison, then load the dummy next to the cone, and scale its height so that it is just a few layers higher than the cone.

Thanks Geert!

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