Star Product... Mimaki 3DUJ-2207

Simon Eccles
Wednesday, June 29, 2022

New model offers ‘unique capabilities’ to wide variety of markets

What does it do?
The Mimaki 3DUJ-2207 is a compact, photo-realistic 3D printer with full-colour modelling capabilities. It uses UV-cured resins and can print anything that fits in a 203x203x76mm space. Priced at £34,995, it is intended as an “office-friendly” affordable entry-level follow-up to Mimaki’s original 2018 3DUJ-553 3D printer, which remains on sale at £180,000.

The new model uses different hardware and is based on Mimaki’s popular UJF family of small-format 2D flatbed UV printers. Mimaki also sells the single-colour, very large-format 3DGD-1800 (essentially a rebadge of the Massivit 1800), and the small-format (210x200x195mm) 3DFF-222 for mono printing of jigs to hold blanks in small flatbeds.

When was it launched and what markets is it aimed at?
It has been available in the UK since the spring and was first shown at the Sign & Digital UK show in March. It is targeted at design, medical, education and figure/gaming sectors. “Due to its unique capabilities, it has potential in a wide variety of markets, including those that existing 2D print providers operate in, as well as the wealth of possibilities within existing 3D sectors,” says Duncan Jefferies, head of marketing and business development at Hybrid Services, Mimaki’s UK distributor.

How does it work?
Operation is similar to the small UJF series flatbeds, except that it builds up the 3D shapes in a series of layers, UV-LED curing each one, then applying a roller that flattens the surface. The bed is then lowered slightly and the next layer is printed on top. The bed has a greater range of movement in the Z (height) direction than the 2D printers. There’s an optional deodoriser for use during printing. It prints thin (28 micron) layers of UV curable ink, along with water-soluble support material. The X-Y resolution is up to 1,200dpi, with a droplet size of 4pl. Variable dot technology allows fine detail, gradients and flesh tones to be reproduced. The finished prints are slightly rough, giving a flat appearance to colours, but this can be reduced by spraying on a clear or matt lacquer.

Support structures (to prevent collapse during printing) are printed using water-soluble ink. These are removed by washing after printing, typically in an ultrasonic water bath.

Mimaki claims that it can reproduce ten million colours, with ICC profiling for accuracy. The coloured resins are transparent and are printed as a thin shell around the main body, which uses white resin. There is also a clear ink that can mix with the colours to give tints. The inkset is the same as the larger 3DUJ-553, although this also has a “Pure Clear 3D” ink option that’s so far unique.

3D printing uses different front end software to 2D, obviously. Mimaki includes its 3D Link software for laying out work on the bed, estimating build time and ink usage/costings, and altering colour settings. The Mimaki Printer Driver sends the job to the printer. Additionally, 3D data correction software (Mimaki 3D Print Prep Pro) is recommended to process 3D files prior to printing – this is available on subscription. STL, OBJ, VRML, PLY and 3MF file formats are supported.

What’s the difference against the 3DUJ-553?
“The main differences between the 2207 and the original model 3DUJ-553 are the build area and price, with the larger model offering 508x508x305mm space,” says Jefferies. The 3DUJ-553 also has a high-definition mode for 19 micron layers. It’s also five to six times faster.

What’s the USP?
“The 3DUJ-2207 is the first 3D printer to provide the capability to create 3D models in 10,000,000 colours at an attainable price,” says Jefferies.

How fast is it?
Speed depends on the total volume being built – it makes sense to gang up multiple objects. Jefferies says Mimaki’s sample kit of eight objects, featuring an array of techniques, takes just under 43 hours when all printed together.

How easy is it to use?
Use and maintenance is easy, says Jefferies. “The real difference comes in file creation. Currently, authoring or scanning and preparing 3D models for print is nothing like the simplicity of capturing an image and outputting onto a 2D printer – even when considering unique challenges such as printing direct to objects or onto textile for example.” Mimaki’s 3D Print Prep Pro is used for pre-flighting and adjustment of 3D files for printing.

Sales and support
The 3DUJ-2207 is available exclusively from Hybrid Services at £34,995. This includes a one-year warranty, layout and driver software, and a stand. Inks cost between £99 and
£225/litre depending on function. The first installations reached UK customers in May.

Specifications
Process Piezo inkjet (two heads) with UV-cured resins for structure, colour and support
Print resolution X-Y 1,200dpi
Layer thickness 28microns
Inks CMYK, white, clear, support
Ink bottles 1litre
Modelling area 203×203×76mm
Curing UV-LED
3D file formats SSTL, OBJ, VRML, PLY, 3MF
Software Mimaki 3D Link, Printer Driver
Interface Gigabit Ethernet
Power supply Single-phase 110/220V
Dimensions 1,355×1,290×856mm (WxDxH)
Price £34,995
Contact Hybrid Services 01270 501900 / www.hybridservices.co.uk

Alternative
There are expensive £100,000+ industrial models from 3D Systems, Stratasys and Mimaki itself, intended for full-time industrial use. These use either inkjets to build up UV-cured resin layers or powder deposition, where inkjet are used to spray a binding fluid onto layers of powder.

Inkjet systems can be high resolution with thinner layers to produce quite smooth results. The powder deposition systems tend to make rougher objects, though they can be sanded/bead-blasted and lacquered to smooth them off. The liquid polymer 3D stereolithography process produces the smoothest surfaces and finest detail, but is unsuited to multiple colours.

There are also very low-cost colour hobbyist products, which are slower and with a much lower vertical resolution than the Mimaki 3DUJ-2207. All the ones we’ve found use modified extrusion printers, where spool-fed plastic filaments are heated and extruded through a moving nozzle head to build up layers.
Examples would be the XYZ Printing Da Vinci Color filament/inkjet printer, offering a build volume up to 200x200x150mm and 100-400micron layer steps, for around £2,100, and the recently introduced Da Vinci Mini for £1,200, with a build volume of 130x130x130mm.

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