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Resource Guide

Highly realistic 3D printed modeling benefits design, health care and education.

J850 ebook
Designers, educators and the medical community arguably share a common desire: to find better tools that help them solve their challenges in a more creative, nimble and cost-effective way.

Additive manufacturing, widely known as 3D printing, can be one of those tools. It can make the impossible possible with the ability to manufacture complex parts not achievable with traditional processes. The additive process can create models, prototypes, tools and some finished products faster and with fewer constraints. Some 3D printing processes that include color and multiple materials are capable of producing results with lifelike realism.

Although a 3D printer won’t solve all of the world’s problems, the right printer can radically change the design process, ultimately resulting in in better products. It can bring about more effective medical tools. And it can foster new, insightful research.

In the rest of this eBook, we’ll look at how 3D printing with highly realistic models benefits consumer product design, medical outcomes and education, and one 3D printer that helps make it all happen.
J850 ebook

Creating better products, faster.

Consumer products make up a significant portion of the world’s economic trade volume. Put another way, almost everything you touch on a daily basis, from a toothbrush to the shoes on your feet, falls under the umbrella of a consumer product.

Highly realistic prototypes make for better, faster designs.

The design department within the Adidas Group is constantly refining the design of its sports shoes, requiring highly realistic models with multiple materials. Thanks to in-house 3D printing, these models can now be produced at a much faster pace. Designers can refine their design multiple times, quickly detect and eliminate errors and reach the final design in days or weeks versus months.

Before adopting 3D printing, the Adidas Group relied on technicians to hand-build models and functional prototypes using specialized tools. 3D printers now run around the clock, reducing the need for costly labor.

The combination of speed, realism and accuracy enables the Adidas Group to build and evaluate models in just several days, compared to their previously lengthy mold-making process. This helps the design team meet their goals and ultimately create a better product in less time.

In much the same way, Thermos Company relies on realistic prototypes 3D printed with multiple materials to deliver products faster and for less cost.

To capture all the necessary requirements and arrive at the right design, Thermos needs to continually iterate and refine its designs, making multiple prototypes. It used to outsource this work but with turnaround time taking three to five days per design, Thermos decided to purchase several 3D printers. The result? Thermos cut the prototyping process down to hours instead of days and did so at about one fifth the cost of outsourcing.

Beyond the time and cost savings, 3D printing helps Thermos make better products.

Designs are quickly changed and parts re-printed to achieve the optimal configuration. The process is also easy to use and doesn’t require additional, highly trained personnel. According to Thermos, the process is simple enough for inexperienced engineers to use.

Versatile 3D printers give Adidas and Thermos the agility to excel in a competitive marketplace, through faster product design, development and validation.

Improving medical outcomes and economics.

As 3D printing technology evolves, its use in the medical field continues to grow. Medical device manufacturers, hospitals, doctors, medical researchers and educators can all benefit.

Rapid prototyping and product development.

Rapid prototyping and product development are key areas where 3D printing helps medical device manufacturers. In-house 3D printing produces prototypes much more quickly and usually for less cost than traditional manufacturing methods, particularly when it replaces outsourcing. This speeds up the entire development process because designs can be changed and parts re-printed quickly. This iterative but fast feedback loop gets products to clinical trial and to market faster.

Anatomical models for surgery prep and education.

Scanning technology such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) lets doctors visualize a patient’s anatomy. 3D printing is the natural extension of this scanning technology, providing the ability to create anatomical models in intricate detail. These models can then be used for surgical preparation and training as well as educational aids for medical students.

E-Book Chapter 26Perhaps the most remarkable example of this application involves modeling a patient’s specific anatomy, including pathology. This allows doctors to study the best approach, prior to surgery, resulting in shorter operating times and better post-operative results.

3D printed models are also helpful in training doctors on medical procedures and new device testing. Training models can mimic the look and feel of living tissue and can integrate instructional elements, such as labels or contrasting colors. These models can be produced on demand, avoiding the challenges associated with cadaver storage and availability.

Surgical guides, prosthetics and orthotics.

Additive manufacturing is also an optimal solution for prosthetics, orthotics and surgical guides because it’s easily tailored to the individual’s specific needs. This makes treatment more precise, resulting in fewer post-operative complications and faster recovery. 3D printed prosthetic devices cost a fraction of typical solutions, in part because of the lower costs associated with additive manufacturing. They are personalized to the individual’s needs and in the case of growing children, replaced with new devices, as needed, for much less than traditional solutions.

Laboratory tools, jigs and fixtures.

Using 3D printed manufacturing tools like jigs, fixtures and other production aids streamlines the work process and helps shorten the product development cycle. Lab tools in the form of pipet racks, gel combs and other small parts can often be 3D printed for a fraction of the cost of what medical suppliers charge. They can also be tailored to the specific job needs making them a more versatile option.

J850 ebook

Increasing knowledge and understanding.

The engine of innovation.

Research is the fuel that powers development of the innovative products and services we enjoy today. Universities and higher educational institutions perform a significant portion of the research that forms the basis of these advances. In the U.S., 31% of the total research (applied and basic) is performed by universities, including 56% of basic research.

Research institutions need the best tools, resources and technology available, and 3D printing is a key tool that gives the educational community the power to innovate.

Empowering minds and educating for real world applications.

The University of Virginia is recognized as a leader in aerospace studies because of its commitment to hands-on learning. The school started with one 3D printer and has since acquired several, sufficient to establish a rapid prototyping lab. The university makes the lab easily accessible, which draws attention from students both inside and outside the engineering program.

The creation of the 3D printing lab made it possible for a collaboration with leading aerospace engine manufacturer, Rolls Royce, resulting in a $2 million grant. Rolls Royce has high praise for UVA graduates’ ability to understand crucial design concepts and knowledge of how to correct design errors. According to UVA professors, the 3D printer plays a big role in teaching students smart design.

From UVA’s perspective, the value of 3D printing in an academic setting is that it teaches students to design and build for real world applications. Access to 3D printers gives students the ability to bring their designs to life, see how they work and understand if they meet design goals and solve problems. As a result, the students are better prepared to enter the workforce, equipped with the skills to tackle the challenges faced by industry.

Singularity University uses 3D printing to empower students to develop knowledge aimed at solving some of the biggest global challenges. The university’s mission is to expose students to cutting-edge technologies.

Singularity University uses 3D printers to elevate the students’ typical learning model from just thinking and writing to actually putting their ideas into tangible form. The 3D printer lets students hold their ideas in their hands.

According to Singularity faculty, driving students’ creativity is the greatest value this technology provides.

Pushing the boundaries of research and understanding.

The Anthropological Institute of the University of Zurich (UZH) uses 3D printing to advance its research and understanding of human evolution. One example is its use of 3D modeling and 3D printing to enhance the investigation of Neanderthal brain evolution.

An important tool in anthropological study is the ability to accurately replicate fossils. They are too fragile to be handled frequently and too valuable to risk damage or destruction from repeated examination. The ability to scan the fossils and reproduce accurate models for reconstruction and study using 3D printing is an invaluable tool for UZH researchers.

3D printing also lets archeologists study fossils in new ways. Using scanning technology, researchers digitally slice fossil bones, obtaining imagery and data invisible to the eye. This information is used to create 3D models of the interior bone structure.

The accuracy and fine details that are possible with 3D printing, combined with the ability to scale fossil reproductions up or down as needed let UZH researchers find answers to questions and push the level of knowledge and understanding in archeological study.

How the Stratasys J850 fits.

More than just an effective tool

It’s clear that 3D printing makes innovation possible. The decision then becomes not if you should invest in 3D printing, but rather which 3D printer will best serve your needs.

3D printing isn’t new and there are many printers capable of colored models. But only the Stratasys J850™ has the unmatched realism many projects demand.

Perhaps the best way to understand how the J850 can benefit you is to see how its breakthrough technology offers real solutions, using scenarios from the medical, educational and consumer product industries. What follows is a series of challenges these industries typically face and how the J850 addresses those problems.


Filmmakers, like LAIKA, that specialize in stopmotion animation and special effects rely on tools that can rapidly turn ideas and sketches into realistic physical models and props. Existing forms of powder-based 3D printing lack the capacity for color or the color is limited and inconsistent. Textures are coarse and material characteristics change with variation in humidity. Post-processing is also lengthy and messy.

The Stratasys J850 Solution: With over 500,000 colors and the ability to print in multiple textures, all in a single print, the J850 stands alone. This type of 3D printing technology available on the J-series printers is LAIKA’s choice for the realism their industry demands.

Consistent, reliable color gives designers and rapid prototyping managers the ability to create models in virtually unlimited shades without concern for variation due to ambient conditions associated with powder-based processes. And GrabCAD Print™ software makes it easy to go from CAD model to 3D printed part. This eliminates the STL file conversion process, a valuable time saver for stop-motion animators who create enough models to support over a million different facial expressions. Finally, postprocessing with soluble support is a clean, hands-off, time-saving process.


Automotive manufacturers use 3D printing technology to prototype interior panels and consoles. Some auto makers have used an SLS process, which provides single-color, single-material output. But for the full visual effect, these kinds of prototypes require post-processing to add color and soft-touch textures, to give designers an accurate representation of their design in a fullscale mockup.

The Stratasys J850 Solution:Texture maps that simulate wood grain, dials, LCD displays and any other desired image or pattern are produced in one print operation, in any color. The multimaterial capability of the Stratasys J850 also lets designers incorporate various surface treatments to simulate soft textures and leather, without the need for post-processing.

The ability to create prototypes with full color, simulated leather and soft materials, including woodgrain or other texture mapping right out of the printer, saves time and labor. When the goal of rapid prototyping is to reduce development time, the J850 accelerates that process by eliminating secondary operations. It gives designers the ability to turn their vision into tangible results, quickly and with incredible realism. This enables faster creative decisions and ultimately accelerates time to market.


A surgeon’s skills rely on practice and hands-on training for mastery of existing and new surgical procedures. However, traditional training methods don’t provide sufficient opportunities with anatomically-realistic tools to gain this proficiency in a low-risk environment. Current 3D printing technology is capable of producing anatomical models, but this technology is limited because it doesn’t offer flexible, tissue-like materials that reproduce the organs with realistic pathology and detail.

The Stratasys J850 Solution: Realistic, 3D printed anatomical training models with colored, flexible materials and hollow channels and chambers that realistically simulate actual human tissue. Faster print times reduce the time to print the models.

Anatomical models 3D printed in realistic, detailed, multi-textural materials let physicians learn and train with models that more closely replicate human tissue. It allows them to practice multiple times in a realistic but no-risk setting. This enables research hospitals to maximize learning resources and helps training surgeons become proficient on delicate and state-of-the art procedures.

Other 3D printing technologies produce colored models, but not with variable flexibility and the option for clear, translucent or opaque characteristics in the same model. With some 3D printers, the color is not consistent and the amount of post-processing is time-consuming and/or messy, or involves hazardous materials.


A consumer products designer needs realistic and convincing concept models and prototypes to win the customer’s approval and support for the design. She needs several models, each with different characteristics to aid the customer’s decision. The rapid prototyping manager needs to produce them in a time and cost-efficient way. Existing 3D printers offer color but some lack consistency and produce fragile models with a rough surface finish. Making several different variations of a model is also time consuming, particularly if only one version of the model can be produced at a time.

The Stratasys J850 solution:

Seven-material capacity minimizes material changes and enables the creation of models with incredible realism, including multimaterial printing. High-speed print modes increase the rate of production and depending on model size, several different variations can be printed in a single production run.

The capacity to load seven materials into the printer means the prototyping manager can load the materials he typically uses most, minimizing the need for changes when printing a variety of models. When a change is needed, larger-capacity 4 kg material cartridges result in less waste, saving time and material. This capability, combined with the generous tray size of the J850, allows him to make several different models with unique qualities in a single print job, creating prototypes faster and helping meet product development targets.

Prototyping consumer packaging is a perfect fit for the texture-mapping capability of the J850. The ability to add labels on models and print multiple iterations simultaneously lets designers make decisions more quickly and get products to market faster.


Universities need cutting-edge technology like 3D printing for research purposes and to attract top academic talent. This need is often shared across multiple departments, each with different goals and objectives. The result is often piecemeal acquisition by multiple departments of different types of technology with different learning requirements, limiting use and widespread adoption.

The Stratasys J850 Solution:Full-color, multimaterial versatility to service creative needs from art to science and the easy-to-use functionality that accommodates new and experienced users of 3D printing.

The versatility of the Stratasys J850 eliminates the need for multiple forms of technology and the requirement to learn how to use each of them. It simplifies the process of obtaining, using and maintaining these assets. It’s also a perfect solution for establishing multi-disciplinary centers that service diverse departments within the university. Rather than purchase and support multiple technologies to cater to various departmental needs, Stratasys J850 technology leverages the investment with the capability to support multiple departments, maximizing use and lowering cost.

These are just a few examples of how the J850 3D printer offers solutions to real problems and creates opportunities for improving the status quo in design, medical care and education.

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Reinventing Invention case study.

To create our favorite products, a team of designers, engineers and marketers go through countless design iterations, striving to build something consumers will covet, identify with, and use daily. From the light switch to the mobile phone, every desirable product results from inspiration, hard work and collaboration.

The team at Synergy, a product development company in Netanya, Israel, relies on the J750, the predecessor to the J850 printer, to transform bright ideas into viably manufacturable, marketable products.

“The first time the entrepreneur sees his idea and feels it in his hands, is a crucial moment. We need to give him the most realistic prototype possible,” said CEO Michael Librus. Dream designs can be rendered onscreen quickly, but functional prototypes can take weeks of investment in labor and outsourcing – especially when products have complex designs and diverse materials. Design ideas are embraced, refined or abandoned based on the look and feel of a prototype. So to hasten and sharpen that crucial decision-making, Synergy depends on the Stratasys J750 3D printer.

The Stratasys J750 played a key role in Synergy’s redesign of a keypad for an emergency-response system used in the automotive aftermarket industry. The project meant producing multiple designs for the panel, which mounts above the rearview mirror, to test which would best fit the car’s interior and pass ergonomic and mechanical testing. Each iteration included soft-touch buttons, backlighting, graphics, a housing and internal connections to the electronic panel.

Before the Stratasys J750, Prototyping Manager Omer Gassner would have tapped several vendors to create a single keypad panel prototype: CNC machining and water printing for the body, casting for the light pipes, sanding for smoothness and then silicone engraving and additional printing for the buttons. It would have taken ten days to two weeks to create, at a cost of $700 per unit. With the J750 it took just hours and cost $200 per unit.

Tamar Fleisher, Synergy art director, said clients appreciate the realism and responsiveness that the technology adds to product development. “Now our customers can make instant decisions about the ergonomics of a product – about the touch and feel – as well as test how it fits into its environment,” Fleisher said. “The ability to simulate light transfer on the panel meant my client could decide about every detail of the design. And if a design change was needed I could go to my computer, make the design change and print it in a matter of hours.”

Leveraging the technology for optimal benefit.

The versatile capabilities of the J850 printer let users do what they do best in a more time and cost-efficient way. More significantly perhaps, it provides a platform to develop new solutions, better products and inspired research by the designers, educators and doctors who use it.

Consider the scenario of a consumer electronics company that designs and manufactures portable earbuds. Achieving the best earbuds design happens much faster by leveraging the J850’s Super High Speed print mode and DraftGrey™ material to quickly produce multiple concept models in a single print. Then, the best ideas can be refined with CMF models to mimic the final product by 3D printing them using the J850’s multicolor, multimaterial capability.

This has a positive impact on multiple departments and the overall product development process. For example, the engineering, design and rapid prototyping departments benefit from the quick feedback loop made possible through multiple prototypes produced in-house and overnight. This shortens the development cycle and gets new products into customers’ hands more quickly.

The marketing department uses the hyper-realistic prototypes to communicate more effectively in promotional efforts and for user feedback on concept models for future products. Focus groups get to see and touch models that are virtually identical to final production parts in the way they look and feel.

Manufacturing takes advantage of the 3D printer to create specialized jigs, fixtures and other manufacturing aids quickly, with the ability to adapt and change tooling as the product design evolves. Tools are “stored” digitally and printed as needed, saving on storage space.

With this kind of broad-based application, the justification for a 3D printer like the Stratasys J850 gets easier because more departments benefit. In many cases, a 3D printer is purchased for one or two specific purposes. However, owners consistently report that once in-house 3D printing is adopted, it’s used for a wider range of purposes, as people see and leverage its potential.