For any 3D printing business looking to adopt full-color 3D printing, now is definitely a time to pay attention to all of the new 3D printing technologies on the horizon. The 2 main companies to watch in the full-color printing space right now are Mimaki and HP. For this particular post, we are going to focus on everything you need to know about the Mimaki 3DUJ-553 full-color 3D printer. We'll go into more detail about the HP Jet Fusion 500/300 full-color 3D printer in another post. Here is a quick outline of what we will be covering:
- Background on Current Full Color 3D Printing
- Overview of Mimaki and How it Works
- Quality of Parts Produced on the Mimaki 3DUJ-553
- Where it Fits in
Background on Current Full Color 3D Printing
For almost a decade 3D Systems Projet 660 (technology acquired from ZCorp) has been the industry standard for high resolution, full-color 3D printing and what the entire 3D printed figurine industry has used to produce product. While the Projet 660 is able to produce acceptable quality parts, it leaves much to be desired with reliability, consistency and quality. You can read more about the Projet 660 in some of our past blog posts:
- Comparison of current full color 3D printers
- How 3D printed figurines are printed on the Projet 660
- Why the Projet 660 is used for 3D printed figurines
Overview of Mimaki and How it Works
Mimaki is headquartered in Japan and was founded in 1975. The company has a long history in the wide format inkjet printing market. Traditionally, it’s 2D printers have been used to print large signs/graphics and print directly on different materials. See the GIF below to watch one of their 2D printers print a design on a skateboard deck:
In 2015, Mimaki announced they would enter the 3D printing market and in 2017 they gave a preview of their new full-color 3D printer at the International Sign Expo: the 3DUJ-553. The technology is based on jetting a UV-curable resin out of traditional inkjet heads. The basic process is:
- Resin is fired out of inkjet print heads and cured by a UV LED light
- Once it completes a layer, a roller flattens out the layer and the UV LED light is fired again
- After a layer is complete, the build platform moves down and the process repeats
*Dissolvable support materials are used in cases where a part has an overhang
See GIF and graphic below to better visualize the process:
While the technology has been slow to roll out, the 3D prints produced by the Mimaki 3DUJ-553 full-color 3D printer are truly stunning. In the next section, we’ll show a few examples of one of Twindom’s traditional sample 3D printed figurines printed on the Mimaki so you can better grasp the quality.
Quality of Parts Produced on the Mimaki 3DUJ-553
Given Mimaki’s long history in the 2D printing space, it should come as no surprise that they focused heavily on color quality. For reference, here is a 6-inch Twindom sample 3D printed figurine, printed on the 3D Systems Projet 660 (the primary printer used today to produce 3D printed figurines, see more in our 3D printed figurine gallery):
The layer height on the Projet 660 is ~100 microns and the resolution is 600 x 540 DPI. Below is the same 6 inch Twindom sample 3D file run on the Mimaki full-color 3D printer:
As you can from the above picture, the Mimaki has much more precise colors and a much higher resolution. The Mimaki has a few different print settings, but can go as low as a 22 micron layer height and achieve a resolution of 1270 DPI. Here are are a few more pictures of 3D prints run on the Mimaki:
4 inch, 5 inch, and 6 inch Twindom sample 3D printed figurines from the Mimaki full-color 3D printer:
9 inch Twindom sample from the Mimaki full-color 3D printer:
You’ll notice on the 9-inch just how much better the quality gets compared to what the current generation of Projet 660 full-color 3D printers can produce.
For those interested in the the specs of the Mimaki, here they are:
|Build Area (W × D × H)||20 x 20 x 12 inches (508 x 508 x 305 mm)|
|Max Build Weight||154.3 lbs (70 kg)|
|Color Range||More than 10 million|
|Print Mode / Resolution / Thickness||
Fast / 600 dpi / 42 micron
Standard / 800 dpi / 32 micron
High Quality 1270 dpi / 22 micron
You can also head over to Mimaki's website for more information.
Where it Fits in
Although, the Mimaki can produce very high quality parts, the major caveat is that the material is much more expensive compared to the material used for the Projet 660. This makes it cost prohibitive to 3D print at the larger sizes on the Mimaki full-color 3D printer. Until material prices come down, the Mimaki 3DUJ-553 full-color 3D printer will likely be limited to 3D printing only small, high resolution parts when it comes to the 3D printed figurine market. That said, because the resolution and color quality is so much higher on the Mimaki full-color 3D printer, it is possible that smaller prints from the Mimaki will replace midsize prints that were traditionally produced on the 3D Systems Projet 660. Only time will tell how Mimaki's new full color 3D printer gets adopted by 3D printing businesses, but it's one of the technologies that we at Twindom are watching closely.
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