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Polyjet 3D Printing Explained: Everything You Need to Know

Looking for highly-detailed parts with a smooth finish? Learn all about what PolyJet printing can and can't do.

PolyJet printing – also known as material jetting – is an additive manufacturing technology capable of creating parts with a distinct smooth surface finish.

The printer creates layers as thin as 16 microns - significantly thinner than many other 3D printing technologies. This level of detail and precision allows for complex geometries, intricate details, and a rich variety of colors.

One of the key advantages of PolyJet printing is its ability to print with multiple materials simultaneously, creating objects with varying material properties or colors. The result is spectacular-looking parts used by various industries.

How Polyjet Works

PolyJet was first introduced in the late 1990s by Objet Geometries, an Israeli company that later merged with Stratasys. Since its initial development, PolyJet technology has continued to evolve, with advances in materials, print resolution, and multi-material capabilities.

At first glance, a PolyJet printing machine might look like a heavy-duty version of your office printer. PolyJet uses inkjet-like print heads to deposit droplets of liquid photopolymer resin on a build tray. These droplets are then cured with UV light, solidifying the material and creating a part layer by layer.

A Polyjet printer.

Applications of PolyJet

Polyjet is particularly useful for creating prototypes, models, and small-scale production runs. Some of the common applications:

Product design: Creating models and prototypes of new products to test and refine designs before moving to production.

Medical and dental: PolyJet is used to create models of teeth, bones, and organs for medical and dental applications. It can also be used to create surgical guides and other illustrative tools.

Aerospace: The technology can create models of aircraft parts and other components for testing and development.

Education: PolyJet is used to teach students through detailed visual models for a variety of subjects.

This part, designed by Siemens Energy and produced by Makerverse, is a cosmetic prototype used to demonstrate gas flows and temperatures. Read more about this part in this use case.

Advantage and Disadvantages of PolyJet

PolyJet offers several advantages compared to other manufacturing technologies.

High level of detail and accuracy: PolyJet can create parts with a high level of detail and accuracy, with layers as thin as 16 microns.

Wide range of materials: It can use a variety of photopolymer resins, including flexible, rigid, and transparent materials, allowing for parts with different material properties and colors.

Printing multiple materials at once: PolyJet uses multiple print heads with different materials, creating objects with a mix of properties or colors.

Smooth surface finish: It produces parts with a smooth surface finish, reducing the need for post-processing.

Speed: This technology can produce parts relatively quickly, making it ideal for rapid prototyping and small-scale production runs.

However, there some disadvantages to consider. These include:

Higher cost: PolyJet printing can be more expensive than other 3D printing technologies, making it less accessible to some users.

Limited material properties: If you need a part built to withstand difficult conditions, such as a high temperates, then PolyJet isn’t an ideal technology.

Not suitable for large-scale production: PolyJet is ideal for rapid prototyping and small-scale production runs. However, it is not always suitable for large-scale production due to its slower printing speed compared to other technologies.

Cost of PolyJet

The cost of using PolyJet technology varies depending on several factors, such as the size and complexity of the part, the material used, and the number of parts produced. PolyJet tends to be more expensive than other 3D printing technologies, such as FDM.

When deciding whether to use PolyJet, consider the specific needs of the project and whether the benefits of PolyJet outweigh the higher cost. For example, let’s say project requires a high level of detail or a specific material not available with other technologies. In that case, PolyJet may be the most cost-effective option.

Materials Used in PolyJet

PolyJet uses photopolymer resins, liquid materials that harden when exposed to UV light. Several types of photopolymer resins are available, each with its own characteristics and properties. These include:

Standard resins: Standard resins are the most common type of photopolymer resin. They are available in various colors and have a smooth surface finish.

Flexible resins: Flexible resins are bendable and rubber-like, making them suitable for applications such as prototyping and testing flexible parts.

Bio-compatible resins: Bio-compatible resins are designed for use in medical applications, such as dental and orthopedic devices

PolyJet vs. Other 3D Printing Technologies

When deciding on a manufacturing technology to use for your part, it’s essential to consider the specific benefits of each technology. Here’s how PolyJet stacks up to some of the most popular 3D printing technologies.

FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) is one of the most popular 3D printing technologies, as it is relatively inexpensive and easy to use. FDM works by melting and extruding thermoplastic material, layer by layer, to create a 3D object. While FDM can produce parts quickly and with a large build size, it doesn’t offer the same level of detail and accuracy as PolyJet.

MJF (Multi Jet Fusion) is another 3D printing technology gaining popularity. MJF works by laying down a layer of powder material and then fusing it with a liquid agent. This process allows for parts with complex geometries and precise details.

SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) uses a laser to sinter or fuse powder materials to create a 3D object. SLS can produce parts with a high level of accuracy and detail, and can use a wide range of materials. However, PolyJet is capable of even more detail.

Get Started with PolyJet

PolyJet 3D printing technology offers many advantages, namely high accuracy and the ability to print multiple materials at once. The technology continues to evolve, so expect to see even more advancements.

Are you ready to get a PolyJet part in your hands? Use the MakerVerse platform to produce your part at the highest quality levels. Just upload your design file and choose the technology of your choice. With our vetted supply chain, you’ll get the full capabilities of PolyJet combined with the expertise of our team to help see your project through.

Ready to get started? Upload your design and get a quote.

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