different materials, and the 370 allows for the additional high-impact engineering
The key selling point is that it uncomplicates 3D printing for typical users. At the
time, we wrote “no special expertise in 3D printing should be necessary, due to a
streamlined design and Stratasys Insight software, allowing nearly any CAD file to be
used, and GrabCAD Print, which eliminates wasting precious time on file conversion
and STL prep.”
“A teammate gave me a three-minute tutorial and I was printing. The printer is
goof-proof,” said an NED reviewer.
With more than two dozen printers to manage, it’s crucial that the different models
don’t require complex vendor training and certification.
Sears does say once training is over, using any of the machines every day “becomes
second-nature to them, so when you bring a new one in, they’re really excited to learn
and come on board with it.”
Sears agrees the F370 “is extremely easy to use and very robust” and has been
deployed at Ford plants to make tooling set-up and try-out pieces, small fixtures,
gages, and other industrial materials that may wear out.
Ford has even used additive to challenge the traditional sand molds that are used
to create parts for exhaust systems. Getting the right size and form happens much
faster this way.
“Instead of changing tooling, engineers send us four or five designs, and we do
the testing all in parallel,” Sears says. The material cost is also about $200.
“It is enabling us to meet our aggressive timelines,” Sears says.
Teaching from the Top down
Ford has the luxury of having high-tech research labs and testing out several
different methods and machines. Some companies just need one killer use case,
so Stratasys has taken its strategy of scaling down the Fortus 450 to the 350 and
done the same for the F123 Series by launching the F120 this past month. The cost
is $11,999, so about a third less than the F370. The desktop printer uses fewer
materials (ABS, ASA and SR30) but comes with separate large filament containers
that allow 250 hours, 10. 5 days, of continuous printing.
No one would need that now, so it’s more about not having to change out the material, though maybe an automated system could be developed in the future to truly
take advantage of the near endless extrusion flow.
The machine, which will be delivered in July, has been tested for more than 1,000
hours and Stratasys says is three times faster than competitive systems and creates
reliable, accurate, and repeatable end-use parts.
The F120 also has the benefit of the intuitive touchscreen and software to allow
trainees to immediately start using it and for shared work groups to access jobs
remotely and iterate quicker.
And it’s affordable enough for schools, which has Gina Scala, director of global
“There’s a huge skills gap with what employers need and what schools are preparing
students for,” Scala says. “This printer, which is 40% less than the F170, allows us
to get that into more places.”
Nothing can keep cars from
getting out the door, so we have
to be very careful that this is not
perceived as a distraction, but
will enhance the business.”
– Harold Sears
Ford’s additive manufacturing technical leader
She is confident the industrial tool will produce the same quality as those coming
out of large companies’ R&D labs or a service bureau, but with a lot less stress.
“The focus now can be on teaching and learning, not tinkering and fixing,” Scala
says. “It’s really about empowering the next generation of designers, engineers, and
Along with the F120, Stratasys has made its V650 Flex Stereolithography 3D Printer
publicly available. Their service bureau arm, Stratasys Direct has used the machine for
about five years, and it has been one of the companies best kept secrets.
The system has a 20x20x23 in. build volume and has made more than 150,000
parts over 75,000 hours of use.
“It’s not the sexiest machine out there, but it was very purpose built,” Carey says.
The laser that draws the part from the resin moves at 1,000 inch/sec, while Carey
says the next closest competitor is about 400-500 inch/sec.
“If you look at any industry as they grow and commoditize, usually an industry leader
emerges that focuses more on the customer than on a proprietary platform,” Carey
says. “When you focus on the customer, you focus on transferring expertise.”
To that end, even Stratasys has learned something new with the V650. It has an open
vat configuration, making the materials open source, a definite change in strategy—and
one that is critical for customers like Ford.
“I don’t want to be locked into [proprietary] material,” Ford's Carey says. “I should
be able to use any material I want.”
And Stratasys appears to be listening and learning. And that is the real secret to any
manufacturer staying on top: “You’ve got to focus on helping the customer get their job
done and getting it done quickly,” Carey concludes.
The purpose-built V650 Flex Stereolithography 3D Printer doubles the laser speed of its