The Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology has installed what it says is the world's most advanced 3D printer.
CCAT's Advanced Manufacturing Center in East Hartford exists to help companies in this state stay ahead of global trends. Its director, Bob Torrani, said, "We help the small manufacturers be more productive with their processes. We take a job they're doing today, look at it with advanced technology, and give them back a solution that makes them more competitive."
The center has been using additive manufacturing or 3D printers for some time, but it's just installed the latest ProJet 5500x machine from South Carolina-based 3D Systems. "What's unique about this is the size of the part you can make," said Torrani. "Most of the printers are pretty small. This one has a 21-inch workspace, so you can make rather large parts. Also the resolution of the materials - you can deposit down to a thousandth of an inch."
Most 3D printers can build using only one type of plastic or metal. This machine is capable of building objects using four different materials simultaneously, so it can build complex parts and models.
Torrani said, "You can literally grow a car with rubber tires, a white plastic body, a black roof, and a clear windshield -- all in one build."
This particular printer has only been on the market for the last six months, and CCAT partnered with Cromwell-based office equipment and services company ACT Group to bring it to the center.