Since the infancy of the 3D printing revolution, the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) at Marshall University has been at the forefront of this emerging technology’s potential, providing entrepreneurs, small businesses and even Fortune 500 companies access to the latest prototyping and production equipment.
From RCBI’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centers in Huntington and South Charleston, clients can take advantage of several types of additive manufacturing (an industrial name for 3D printing) methods – everything from stereolithography using liquid resins to fused-deposition modeling of multiple polymers and even 3D printing with almost any metal using a process known as direct laser sintering.
RCBI has added a powerful new tool to its 3D printing arsenal: the Stratasys J850 3D Printing System. The J850 polyjet technology takes the versatility of 3D printing to new levels. Like other 3D printers, it can produce very complex geometries and create components with moving parts, eliminating the need for assembly.
But unlike conventional 3D printers that manufacture items in just one or two solid colors from a single material, the J850 prints in a spectrum of rainbow colors, producing gradients, fades and even translucents. And it prints in seven materials – including ones with both rigid and flexible properties – simultaneously. This versatility enables the J850 to simulate a variety of textures, everything from glass, acrylic and rubber to food, bones and even the look and feel of human skin.
The J850 is proving popular with clients across West Virginia. RCBI technicians and engineers have been busy the past few months helping entrepreneurs, small businesses and major manufacturers leverage the technology for rapid prototyping (the J850 can print up to 5 times faster than other 3D printers), architectural modeling, molds and a variety of end-use products.
A West Virginia manufacturer is using the J850 to produce life-like, to-scale models of its heavy equipment as part of its marketing campaign. An outdoor recreational company recently created a limited run of full-color, individually customized archery sights with the innovative technology. And Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia, a long-time RCBI client, is benefitting from the J850’s ability to produce assembly line fixtures that that are durable, transparent and color coded.
“RCBI offers not only the latest 3D printers but a highly skilled staff with more than 700 years of combined industry experience to help manufacturers of all types and sizes take advantage of our diverse portfolio of industrial technology,” said Charlotte Weber, RCBI director & CEO. “We deliver innovative solutions to your most difficult manufacturing challenges.”