Stratasys 3D Printers on FIRST Choice

Disclaimer: I work for Stratasys and played a major role in getting these 3D printers approved for FIRST Choice. My words here are my own and in no way represent Stratasys.

I know there are a few threads where these printers are discussed already, I wanted to separate this information to ensure it is read by teams interested in the Stratasys printers on FIRST Choice. First off, I am excited that these printers are on FIRST Choice! As a student in the program back in 2010, I dreamed of having a Stratasys printer, but a lot has changed since 2010 and there is a lot more competition on the market. I hope that this donation spurs the Stratasys leadership team to work with FIRST more in the future and perhaps donate some more affordable printers and materials. As someone knowledgeable in Stratasys 3D printers, I wanted to point out a few key points that may be missed by teams.

  • There is no included soluble support removal tank, the supports are still breakaway, so the system still functions without issue. I attempted to find a supplier willing to donate 50 support removal tanks but could not find a supplier able to commit to manufacturing 50 for donation purposes. The suppliers that were willing to offer discounts (and therefore may do so for teams/EDU) are Oryx Additive and Omegasonics.
  • Materials are expensive if you purchase directly from Stratasys. I’ve seen some unique solutions to lower the cost around Ebay and elsewhere on the internet, the enterprising team should be able to find a solution for lower-cost materials. However be aware that doing this may invalidate the warranty mentioned below.
  • The system comes with a 1-year warranty, meaning any issues in the first year are covered by Stratasys.
  • You’ll notice there is a lack of reselling guidelines on the FIRST Choice page, if you can’t afford the materials another great option would be to resell the printer as a way to raise funds for your team. I know my team discussed doing this!
  • The Fortus250mc and Dimension 1200es SST are almost identical, the biggest difference is the software used between the two. Both printers can use GrabCAD Print but the Fortus250mc can also use Insight to prepare files, which offers some additional flexibility to your slice settings. That being said, do not expect to have access to all slice settings like you would with low-cost desktop models on the market as we have tuned our slice settings to work reliably and repeatedly for every model printed.

Finally, we are working with the FIRST Tech Challenge team Iron Gears from Minnesota to host a virtual tour of our North American Subsidiary Headquarters (NASH) on December 2nd. Colton and I (both FIRST Alumni at Stratasys) will be detailing all Stratasys solutions (FDM, PolyJet, P3, SAF and SLA) with the support of other Stratasys engineers. Be sure to tune into the Iron Gears youtube channel from 5-7pm CST on December 2nd if you’re interested in learning more.

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Thank you for addressing this.

Also, a massive thank you (and others at Stratasys) for the donation and organizing it. I know how hard and time consuming it can be. Genuinely, this is great stuff and amazing support for the program.

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[quote=“ehochstein, post:1, topic:397595”] another great option would be to resell the printer as a way to raise funds for your team.
[/quote]
Do bear in mind folks, this thing is the size of a fridge, and the shipping chain is already struggling. I would recommend reaching out to local makerspaces, who might better fit the need this type of printer fills, and who can possibly pick it up and take it away themselves.
@ehochstein, any gotchas to this suggestion?

Stratasys is also donating the initial transportation and shipping costs for each printer, so I would suggest having the printer shipped directly to the makerspace if this is the case. The printers are very heavy and I think palletized, so re-shipping will be expensive unless you can get a group of people and a pickup truck locally. The system itself weighs just under 500 pounds, you can find these specs and more under the “Resources for FIRST Teams” on the FIRST Choice page.

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Great, great post. I dig the honesty and straightforwardness, and the context you’ve provided re: this donation has helped greatly. Hopefully this puts to bed some of the arguing over the ethics of reselling the thing, if you can’t afford to run it.

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I’m curious about this. So obviously running non-approved materials voids the warranty.

Does the machine make this easy (enough) to run unapproved materials though? Ive seen some machines in the past that use chips to ensure you are only using the proper filament (and even verify there is filament left in order to keep you from refilling a spool).

Stratasys uses RFID chips in their cartridges, I noticed some ways around that while searching google/ebay for current system resell value.

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So would messing with that be a GOOD idea or a BAD idea?

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Hi Evan,

I want to say thank you for making this donation possible! When I first saw this I figured you had some involvement.

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That’s another question, how much time do we have between when we know if we got it and when we would need to put in a shipping address? Is this the same system as normal FC parts?

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I love to pull things apart and understand them, one of the first things I did when I started working at Stratasys was put some 3rd party glow-in-the-dark filament in the printer for Halloween!

That being said, I think it is important to understand the consequences of using non-approved filament, it could cause some parts to break (or break faster than normal) or other unintended results. Stratasys produces and sells filament so that we can sell the quality we expect. Over the past number of years 3rd party filament has gotten much more consistent and reliable, so I wouldn’t be as concerned putting 3rd party filament in my printer but there is still a risk.

This is a great question! Stratasys is handling the shipping on the printers, so they will be working with FIRST to identify where the printers should be shipped. As of today, Stratasys does not have a deadline on when they would need the shipping details but I would expect that they want to ship by the end of the year. That being said I can anecdotally say that the EDU team is a pretty flexible team to work with.

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