Stratasys J55 prints outstanding colour gradients, clearly showing stress points on your FEA models

Article by Stefan Bullock updated April 8, 2021


The Stratasys J55 printer brings expanded capabilities to the Polyjet desktop series of office friendly printers.

Learn more by reading TechTalk: Javelin’s Professional Services team impressed with Stratasys J55 3D printer for product development.

Gradient Colours on your 3D Prints

One of the most notable benefits of using the J55 is the ease of applying gradient colours to your prints. Colour application no longer needs to be complicated through external rendering software like Photoshop; you can integrate directly between SOLIDWORKS and GrabCAD Print in just a few easy steps.

Finite element analysis (FEA) is a common method of stress analysis that is easily done through SOLIDWORKS simulations. SOLIDWORKS gives a variety of results, most notably the max stress and the areas in which the max stress localizes. We use these indicators to refine our geometry and materials until we find a satisfactory solution.

As we all know, clear communication between technical and non-technical staff is essential to maintaining a cohesive work environment among multidisciplinary teams, especially when bringing a product to market through engineering, production, marketing, and sales. The Stratasys J55 integrates seamlessly with SOLIDWORKS to help bring FEA models to physical reality in a more meaningful way. Let’s take a closer look at how easily this is done.

FEA Simulation bracket

FEA Simulation bracket

FEA Simulation

First let’s set up a quick and easy FEA simulation in SOLIDWORKS. Here we have a bracket that is slightly asymmetrical and is loaded evenly on both sides, which should make for an interesting FEA result. In this case, we made simple constraints and loading types and chose a material that will allow reasonable stress.

simulation results on bracket

FEA simulation example

The simulation results are shown here. On the right, we see the scale of stresses we’re working with. On the left, we have a coloured map of the stress across the surface of our part.

Let’s now take this analysis one step further to see how easily the J55 printer integrates with SOLIDWORKS when exporting and printing this model, which will be used as a communication and learning tool.

The easiest way to export a model like this is to right click on the result and choose “Save As.” This allows us to select the VRML file (*.wrl) option for saving.

Print with GrabCAD

Next, we can directly drop this file into GrabCAD print and select the J55 as our printer. The colour-mapped file drops right into the system with its coloured mesh map applied automatically.

Our next step is choosing an appropriate print orientation and parameters for printing.

preparing file for 3D printing

Model in GrabCAD Print

For this model, we will apply a matte finish, scale down to a handheld size, and begin printing.

Three hours later, we have our printed model. After a quick three-minute power wash, we have a usable model in hand.

This type of visual representation using colour gradients was not easy to do in the past; through integration with .wrl files through GrabCAD print and the J55’s full colour capabilities, it’s now possible with just a few clicks.

Download the Realism 3D Printing Guide to learn more about colour 3D printing with the Stratasys J55 3D printer 

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Stefan Bullock

Stefan is a Print Services Applications Specialist on Javelin's Additive Professional Services team.