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Stratasys F170..F370

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Posted · Stratasys F170..F370

Its a new year now, and there hasn't been any more discussion on this thread, but I thought that I would add my comments.... found this while browsing to see what people are saying about the S5 Material Handler.


I'm at a small US university, and we have 3 Stratasys products (Connex 500 $280K, Objet30 $34K, and a UprintPlus $25K in 2009... a forerunner to the F123 series), and we just got a UM S5 in July.  We have about 6 3D printers total, including a Leapfrog Creatr (mixed feelings, not working now), a Robo 3DR1 (Excellent single nozzle machine, but we wore it out!), and a Craftbot 3 dual nozzle (reasonable) Here are my thoughts:


Print Quality:  I think our Uprint+ from Stratasys has overall better quality than an optimized print from the S5, but not by much, except on the undersides of complex objects.  The Uprint+ still shines there, because they have optimized the support/overhang printing for the ABS/Dissolvable support that the Uprint+ uses.  The heated chamber does help the Uprint+, in my opinion.  After doing considerable tweaking on a profile, the UM S5 does just about as well on the top side.  The Connex 500 and Objet 30 use a polyjet process, and are totally different..... their print quaity is great, but most polyjet materials are very brittle, and degrade in sunshine, and with time.... probably not relavant to this discussion.  I based my print quality on a 1.75 inch diameter, .25" thick 'coin' with raised lettering and graphics on both sides, as simple objects are easy to print well for both.


Maintenance:  We had to pay a yearly maintenance contract for our Uprint+, and they were fairly quick about coming out, but it was still about $3500 to $4000 per year, and now it has been end of-lifed by Stratasys, and has worn out belts (not currently working).  However, when it worked,  it worked well most of the time.  We did have some clogged tip problems, and a few other broken items over the 9 or so years.  On the other Stratasys machines however, the customer support wasn't good (we stopped using the Objet 30 after we got the Connex, because material costs were less), we have had many service calls for the Connex 500, including one over the holidays.  After our initial purchase/service contracts expired, we have been paying as we go, as the service contracts started at about $17K per year for the Connex.  Figure minimum of $6500 per visit.


Material costs:  We use our machines at our small university, for student use, classroom use, research use, and occasionally, a print job for someone off campus.  For the Connex 500 we charge about $11.60/cubic inch, for the Uprint+, we charge about $7.80/cubic inch (Stratasys has lowered their material costs for education, so our numbers might be a little high now, but there are other costs....), for the UM S5 we charge about $2.80/Cubic inch for basic materials which is more than actual filament costs.    We are mostly trying to just do a little better than breaking even, we also charge labor for non-student jobs.  Of course we can only purchase Stratasys materials directly, but I do feel that their FDM filament is high quality.  RIght now we are only using UM filament on the S5, which also seems to be high quality.  I like the much wider materials selection available for the non-stratasys machines.


Other costs:  We needed modeling bases for the Uprint+, and reused them many times even though they were said to be single use.  The Uprint+ typically used as much support as model material per build job, and was the same cost, and was dissolved out in a heated tank/machine purchased from Stratasys....plus we had to purchase their solvent to mix with water, and had to replace tips periodically.  Our Ultimaker is new, so we haven't replaced anything yet, and the PVA filament we got with it dissolves in water.


Overall:  We are not a production enviroment, but for our department, I don't plan on buying any more Stratasys machines (even though I still like them better than 3D Systems), because of their high initial cost, high maintaince costs, closed and limited material selection.  We plan to purchase the material and air handlers for the S5, and expect to use it for many years.  I did like the simplicity "point, click, print" for the Uprint+ Catalyst software, as Cura crashes more than I like, and is still quite buggy  and requires too much tweaking of profiles (ver 4.4) in my opinion.  We were given a non-functioning Uprint machine, and hope to get our Uprint+ functioning again, and will use it as long as is reasonable, as it has it's place.  I don't plan on spending much more on it, just using parts from the other machine.  If it was working, I would offer to print a part, but it's not at the moment.


This post grew much longer than I expected, but hope it helps!  FDM 3D printing has really gotten much better over the past 10 years.  I see Ultimaker where Stratasys was 10 years ago.... hopefully they won't make the same mistakes.  take care!



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Posted · Stratasys F170..F370
3 hours ago, orangepeel said:

This post grew much longer than I expected, but hope it helps!  FDM 3D printing has really gotten much better over the past 10 years.  I see Ultimaker where Stratasys was 10 years ago.... hopefully they won't make the same mistakes.  take care!

Yes thanks @orangepeel, I am starting to get a much clearer picture of Stratasys after all the discussion above. Additionally, I have spoken to a local engineer who uses Stratasys and other brand printers in the bio industry. He was not too pleased with the Stratasys printers he has (I forgot the specific models but they are pre F123 series). He mentioned the same maintenance costs as you listed and said that one could expect the Stratasys printers to be off line fairly regularly i.e. some failure for which the maintenance crew needs to come out. 


We also were able to get Stratasys to print our enclosures and the results were most surprising. Supposedly printed on one of their F123 series, they look bubbly and zitty as if heavily under extruded. Certainly not what the sales visit showed!  I wondered why they even bothered to send it to us.  Haven't gotten anything back from local UM yet. They do not appear to be set up to handle this type of customer service; slow and we have to pay a bit for the demo (I don't care for the money but it all feels a bit flimsy). Now if the UM comes through with better results, I cannot justify paying 5x more for a Strat printer - in particular in light of the issues you discuss also.


Will see, hopefully the UM prints come in soon.

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Posted · Stratasys F170..F370

@TheRealJoost Did you ever email the America's inbox? Let's shorten the chase here. I am an Application Engineer for Ultimaker that helps companies in Canada, the United States, Mexico and South America. If your request was made it would go to a reseller or me. Let me know what I can help, what material, and what you are after. I forgot what your company makes and what you;d be printing. As you are aware, many factors to consider on a print from surface quality  for visual prototypes to large and robust applications for robot arm end effectors, custom vise jaws or even prototypes. It is really going to be up to your own preference for what you are willing to pay for or what time you are willing to spend adjusting base profiles for your own needs. We do pride ourselves on having many profiles to get you started, that is why the software is free. You are open to try it now with a myriad of printers out there. Many, many companies, use Cura or the Curaengine in their own products. DM me or just email me at l.rodriguez@ultimaker . I am located in Kansas City.

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