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A Guide to Material Jetting in Additive Manufacturing.

Introduction to Material Jetting in 3D Printing

Companies use various equipment to create 3D printed items. The machinery may vary in build, complexity and function depending on the manufacturer. Most industrial-grade material jetting printers contain fundamental parts such as a building panel, resin-holding compartments, model-support structures, inkjet print heads and UV curing light.

Material jetting, referred to as M-Jet in this article for transiency, utilizes an inkjet-style printer head to systematically extrude thin strips of a photopolymer onto a build platform to create 3D printed objects using a drop-on-demand approach. The M-Jet 3D printers then expose each photopolymer layer to ultraviolet (UV) light for curing, which helps the model solidify. Curing also gives the parts a superior mechanical advantage in resilience and strength to optimize their dependability.

Material jetting, a cutting-edge 3D printing technology, stands out for its remarkable accuracy and the ability to create parts with intricate geometries and detailed features. This process involves the deposition of droplets of liquid resin or photopolymers onto a build platform layer by layer, similar to inkjet printing. This printing process enables the fabrication of complex objects with diverse characteristics. For instance, manufacturers can utilize materials with varying mechanical properties or colors within the same object, enhancing design flexibility and functionality. However, like other 3D printing technologies, material jetting typically requires support structures during the printing process to uphold overhanging features and maintain the integrity of the part, which necessitates a post-processing step to remove these supports.

In additive manufacturing, there are three main types of material jetting technologies, including Drop-On Demand, NanoParticle Jetting and PolyJet. In this article, we will be looking into the PolyJet technique, examining its advantages, disadvantages and uses.


What is PolyJet Technology?

PolyJet is a rapid prototyping technique that can achieve microscopic detailing resolutions to produce parts with highly complex geometries. The mechanism also allows designers to build functional products with appealing aesthetics and smooth finishes, minimizing post-processing costs. Additionally, it helps manufacturers maximize productivity by accelerating production turnarounds to meet supply chain needs. Sculpteo’s online 3D printing service is offring Polyjet technology for your projects !

Steps in PolyJet Material Jetting

Depending on the equipment, there are numerous ways to approach additive manufacturing. Many workflow processes follow typical industry-standard procedures to create the final component. Here is a breakdown of the production flow, that can be adapted to 3D Printing with Polyjet material jetting. 

Creating a 3D Model

First, the process begins with engineers using computer-aided design (CAD) software to sketch a 3D model for the object. In this following article, you can find a list of all the best CAD softwares we recommend. The technology gives specialists access to machine learning systems that can propagate remarkable graphic and conceptualization flexibilities. As a result, it lets teams create mock-ups with high design accuracies to ensure they replicate the final product specifications and requirements in detail. 

STL File Creation and Transfer

After creating the 3D models, manufacturers convert the CAD files into an additive manufacturing file (AMF) format known as the standard tessellation language (STL). It is the most commonly used file format in rapid prototyping. An STL file describes the surface geometries of an object using tessellation and triangulation concepts. At this stage, experts can adjust delineation parameters like edges, vertices and polygons before importing the data onto a slicer program. The application then slices the parts into 2D layers and transforms them into a G-code file that 3D printers can decipher.

Before printing your 3D Files, make sure you apply the recommended design guidelines, in order to avoid these common mistakes.


Sculpteo Studio

Here is our Sculpteo Studio team at work !


Component Production

At this point, experts prep the equipment by selecting the desired photopolymers, orienting models, setting temperature, appropriating support structures and levelling the build platform. With everything set, they load the photopolymers, binder and other consumables into the resin-holding container for heating. Finally, they upload the G-code file to the M-Jet 3D printer, kicking off production.

As mentioned earlier, PolyJet printers contain parts like an actualization chamber, resin-holding compartment, inkjet print heads and UV curing light. During production, the Material Jetting machines print out a 3D component layer by layer, according to the set specifications in the G-code file.

Here’s how they print parts:

  • First, the material jetting 3D printer heats the photosensitive resin to an optimum temperature to achieve a viscosity suitable for extrusion.
  • Next, the inkjet printer head rapidly discharges the hot liquid resin onto the printing slate systematically in ultra-thin layers.
  • Immediately after, ultraviolet light passes over each layer to harden the liquid resin and keep the print from warping or deforming.

As production progresses, engineers may regularly monitor temperature levels, UV light exposure and resin consumption to minimize waste and optimize resource use. It is a repetitive layering and curing cycle that ends with a fully functional end product. Usually, multi-jet printers use the X, Y and Z 3D printing positioning system to deposit photopolymers on a build platform. The mechanism helps experts increase precision and turnaround speed.

Post Production

In the final step of the process, skilled technicians detach the gel-like support structures from the printed component by hand, using heat or a solvent. Although the Material Jetting 3D printing machines produce ready-to-use objects with smooth finishes that don’t necessarily need a lot of post-processing, sometimes experts can polish the final product to achieve higher aesthetic qualities.

Depending on the complexity and scope of operations, manufacturing products using M-Jet equipment can take hours, days or even months to complete. Why, then, should industrialists consider it? Let us look at the advantages and disadvantages of material jetting technology.


Pros of Material Jetting

  • Dynamic innovation freedom
    M-Jet technology enables manufacturers to integrate complex design geometries into end-user products to improve functionality. It leverages AI systems to create prototypes and rapidly run simulations to enhance performance analysis and product development. Thanks to its multiple printheads, it allows designers and engineers to create hybrid mock-ups and print products by combining multiple photopolymers of various colours, textures and tensile tolerances.
  • Efficient resource use
    M-Jet machines use a drop-on-demand approach to discharge photopolymer droplets from their printheads. The mechanism follows preset calibrations in the G-code file to appropriately regulate resin emission, which helps minimize resource waste in production cycles.
  • High dimensional precision
    Material jetting offers an accuracy resolution of up to 14 microns, allowing engineers to achieve thorough depth in detail when producing an item. The final products often come out as ready-to-use items with aesthetically smooth finishes. 
  • Financially sound
    Compared to most manufacturing techniques, material jetting offers higher economies of scale. It consumes less energy, and industrialists can produce items with intricate layouts for a fraction of the cost it would take traditional methods.

desk with sculpteo samples

Drawbacks in Material Jetting

  • Purchasing M-Jet machinery can be costly.
  • Resins often degrade over time because they are photosensitive and have a limited shelf life.
  • So far, multi-jet 3D printers produce items that exhibit relative brittleness and strength mechanical properties. The manufacturing method may be unsuitable for fabricating parts with high technical requirements.

Industrial Uses of Material Jetting Technology

Many industries are adopting rapid prototyping mechanisms into their production flows to cut operational costs, improve efficiency and scale innovation. The approach supports numerous market segments, including automotive, electronics, consumer goods, medical development, and clothing manufacturers. It enables professionals to create ABS-like prototypes, ergonomic tooling, biocompatible surgical guides and realistic prototypes that closely resemble finished products.

Material Jetting technology allows experts in the healthcare industry to manufacture functional products like implants, mobility aids and prosthetics for their clients. It also lets engineers create feasible architectural models for construction projects such as interlocking structures, robotics prototypes and machine tooling. Additionally, specialists in the automotive and aerospace industries use it to design and produce cars, bikes and aircraft with bespoke aerodynamic capabilities.

M-Jet is suitable for manufacturing numerous products with diverse design and performance complexities. Companies can leverage the rapidly evolving industrial process to streamline operational efficiencies and produce high-quality products with significant competitive advantages.

Where to find Material Jetting Services

Sculpteo offers PolyJet material jetting services that businesses may use to facilitate proof-of-concept prototyping and actualization. With just a few clicks on our website, clients can make a quote to order the production of multiple items, including limited-edition products. Corporations can consult with one of our experts, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us for counseling.

Our 3D printing technology supports numerous document formats, allowing professionals to upload 3D files directly for processing. After uploading the file, our system may suggest improvements to your design. It will also be possible to emulate the desired materials and finishes. Then, our team will print your parts in our factory, using sophisticated industrial-grade 3D printers.

Sculpteo has over ten years of expertise in facilitating industrial 3D printing operations. Our factory is ISO 9001 certified, and our team consists of highly-skilled specialists who can provide counseling throughout the duration of the process. Additionally, our procedures are REACH-compliant, and we use environmentally safe resins to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during production. Enterprises can work with us to achieve sustainable business practices while delivering quality products and services to their customers. 

Are your looking for a Polyjet Material Jetting 3D printing service?

Working with an online resin 3D printing service like Sculpteo will offer you many benefits. First of all, you won’t have to deal with your own 3D printer. You just have to upload your model, choose your technology and 3D printing materials, and it will only take a few steps to get your instant 3D printing quote. We will take care of all the details for you and ship your parts once they are ready. Our 3D printing experts can help with your 3D printing project. Contact us for any question!

Another notable 3D printing method, binder jetting, shares similarities with material jetting but operates with different materials and processes. In binder jetting, a binder is selectively deposited onto a bed of powder material layer by layer to bind the particles together, forming the desired object. This technology offers benefits such as faster printing speeds and the ability to work with a wider range of materials, including metals and ceramics. However, parts produced through binder jetting may exhibit different mechanical properties and opportunities compared to those fabricated through other printing methods like Polyjet, selective laser sintering (SLS) or fused deposition modeling (FDM). Nonetheless, ongoing advancements in binder jetting, such as the integration of nanoparticle jetting (NJP) and improvements in material formulations, continue to expand its capabilities and applicability across various industries, particularly in tooling, prototyping, and low-volume production.

If you feel like you need some help designing your 3D file, you can contact our design studio, Sculpteo Studio.

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