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Resources3D Printing DesignPolyJet vs. Multijet: Differences and Comparisons
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PolyJet vs. Multijet: Differences and Comparisons

Learn about the differences between these two 3D printing technologies.

Xomety X
By Team Xometry
July 15, 2022
 9 min read
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PolyJet printing and Multijet printing (MJP) are both forms of additive manufacturing (AM) that build parts through the deposition and curing of UV-reactive photopolymers. In both methods, one printing head deposits the support material, while one or more other print heads deposit photopolymer droplets to build the actual part. While these two processes are similar, there are three main differences between PolyJet vs. Multijet: the materials used for printing, the build process, and the post-processing methods. Polyjet's multiple print heads allow the use of multiple materials in a single job, while Multijet's two heads restrict it to one material per part. 

Both technologies use photopolymers. But, aside from the rigid and rubber-like photopolymers, PolyJet also uses “digital materials,” which are materials composed of multiple PolyJet photopolymers. The support material must be removed after the print deposition step for both methods. In the Polyjet process, it is removed using a water jet and a chemical dip. In contrast, the support material is melted away from the final part in the Multijet process. 

While both PolyJet and MJP systems can be expensive, they can both simplify rapid prototyping and handle small to medium production runs. In this article, we dive deeper into the comparisons between PolyJet and Multijet and the differences between them, to help you understand which system is best for your project.

PolyJet Definition and Comparison to Multijet

PolyJet printing was developed in 2000 by Objet Geometries. The technology was acquired by Stratasys, which has since owned PolyJet’s trademark rights. Polyjet works based on the same general concept as an inkjet printer. It deposits tiny droplets of photopolymers in pre-programmed locations to form successive 2D layers of the planned part. A UV light then solidifies the droplets to set the shape of each layer. PolyJet can deposit layers as thin as 16 micrometers, depending on the model of printer, part geometry, and materials used. 

No matter how accurately it is deposited, the photopolymer deposited to form the actual part is not dimensionally stable until it is cured. To enhance dimensional accuracy and provide a frame for the photopolymer to stick to until it is cured, support materials are laid down at the same time as the main polymer part. These materials are completely eliminated from the final part. Two types of support materials are used with the Polyjet process: matte and glossy. Matte-finish supports encapsulate the entire part and help ensure dimensional accuracy. Glossy supports are used where overhangs and other complex geometry are present. Completed parts are finished by washing them with a water jet and soaking them in a chemical bath to remove the support materials.

PolyJet can be considered a similar process to multijet. One difference is that PolyJet can print parts composed of several different materials in one job. The build process and post-processing methods also differ.

What Are the Advantages of PolyJet Compared to Multijet?

Listed below are the advantages of PolyJet vs. Multijet:

  • Parts composed of several different materials can be printed in one job using PolyJet.
  • PolyJet-printed parts can maintain their material properties after post-processing.

What Are the Disadvantages of PolyJet Compared to Multijet?

Listed below are the disadvantages of PolyJet with respect to Multijet:

  1. PolyJet has reduced surface quality in areas where support material is used.
  2. PolyJet-printed parts have inaccurate printing at sharp edges leading to these edges becoming rounded.

Multijet Definition and Comparison to PolyJet

Multijet printing is a proprietary form of 3D printing created by the company 3D Systems. MJP works like an inkjet printer. The printing head creates successive layers of the part by dispensing droplets of either UV-curable photopolymers or casting waxes. Multijet can achieve resolutions and layer thicknesses similar to those of Polyjet printing - as small as 16 micrometers. Unlike the PolyJet process, however, the MJP technology cannot print multiple materials simultaneously.

Support structures for Multijet-printed parts are composed of paraffin wax. When parts are completed, they are placed in an oven to melt the wax away. This makes post-processing much easier compared to PolyJet. 

What Are the Advantages of Multijet Compared to PolyJet?

An advantage of Multijet over PolyJet is in its post-processing. Multijet effortlessly completes post-processing by placing completed parts in an oven for support material to melt away.

What Are the Disadvantages of Multijet Compared to PolyJet?

Listed below are the disadvantages of Multijet compared to PolyJet:

  1. Limitations in the aesthetics of parts exist in Multijet-printed parts due to single-color and single-material print jobs.
  2. Multijet-printed parts tend to have altered material properties as a result of post-processing.

Comparison Table Between PolyJet and Multijet

The table below compares the attributes of  PolyJet and Multijet:

AttributePolyJetMultijet
Attribute

Uses photopolymer

PolyJet

Yes

Multijet

Yes

Attribute

Prints composite material parts

PolyJet

Yes

Multijet

No

Attribute

Easy postprocessing

PolyJet

No

Multijet

Yes

Attribute

Used for functional prototypes 

PolyJet

Yes

Multijet

Yes

Attribute

Used for small-to-medium production volumes

PolyJet

No

Multijet

Yes

Attribute

Need for support materials

PolyJet

Yes

Multijet

Yes

Attribute

Can form complex and detailed geometries

PolyJet

Yes

Multijet

Yes

Attribute

Costly

PolyJet

Yes

Multijet

Yes

Table. PolyJet vs. Multijet Comparison

Both PolyJet and Multijet is capable of printing complex and detailed parts - parts that wouldn’t be manufacturable using traditional methods. While the two processes are quite similar, two of the three main differences are the materials used for printing and the ease of post-processing. PolyJet can print composite parts in one job but requires more  post-processing methods than Multijet printed parts.

PolyJet vs. Multijet: Technology Comparison

PolyJet and Multijet systems use similar technologies and processes. Both use UV-sensitive photopolymers and a UV curing system. While not significantly different, the two methods differ in the number of print heads present in the system. PolyJet can have two or more heads, while Multijet can have a maximum of two.

PolyJet vs. Multijet: Material Comparison

In PolyJet systems, multiple materials can be combined into a single raw material with characteristics from all its constituent materials. These composite materials are called “digital materials.” They enable the printing of a single part with different material properties in one build.

Materials used in Multijet systems are photopolymers. Multijet-printed parts are necessarily a single color and are composed of a single material. If composite materials are needed, whether for aesthetics or functional reasons, PolyJet may be the better option.

PolyJet vs. Multijet: Product Applications Comparison

PolyJet and Multijet both produce exceptionally detailed and functional prototypes and parts. This level of detail makes PolyJet and Multijet ideal at every step of the design process. PolyJet and Multijet-printed parts are commonly found in the dental and medical industries where they are used to create dental molds for crowns and braces.

PolyJet vs. Multijet: Print Volume Comparison

Print volumes of PolyJet vs. Multijet don’t differ much. Depending on the system used, PolyJet can have volumes up to 260 x 200 x 200 mm and Multijet systems can have volumes up to 294 x 211 x 144 mm. If larger parts are needed, parts can be printed in pieces and then assembled afterward.

PolyJet vs. Multijet: Surface Finish Comparison

Surface finishes of PolyJet vs. Multijet-printed parts don’t significantly differ. Because of the precise resolutions and layer thicknesses of both PolyJet and Multijet, surfaces on completed parts are smooth. Occasionally, rough surfaces may be present in more complex geometric areas but can easily be smoothed out with an appropriate post-process.

PolyJet vs. Multijet: Cost Comparison

PolyJet and Multijet systems can be expensive compared to other forms of 3D printing. PolyJet printers start as low as $6,000 and go as high as $75,000 for more advanced systems. Multijet printers are similarly priced and average around $43,000.

What are the Mutual Alternatives to PolyJet and Multijet?

An alternative to both PolyJet and Multijet is:

  • DLP: Digital light processing (DLP) also uses cured liquid photopolymers to build parts. Curing is completed by a projector in DLP. The primary difference between DLP and  PolyJet / Multijet is that parts are printed upside down, and the liquid photopolymer is deposited from a tank underneath the build platform. Despite these differences, DLP rivals PolyJet and Multijet in terms of resolution, precision, and cost-effectiveness.

What Are the Similarities Between PolyJet and Multijet?

Similarities between PolyJet and Multijet include:

  1. Both use liquid photopolymers cured by UV lamps to build parts.
  2. Both can be used for proof-of-concept and functional prototypes.
  3. Both can print complex geometries that otherwise would not be manufacturable using traditional methods.

What Are the Other Comparisons for PolyJet Besides Multijet?

Besides Multijet, another alternative to PolyJet is:

  • PolyJet vs. SLA: SLA is a comparable alternative to Polyjet since it can be used for both functional prototypes and parts. The difference between PolyJet and SLA is that SLA has equivalent, if not better resolution than PolyJet, depending on the system. It offers the highest resolution of any form of 3D printing and it can therefore also be used for molds, tooling, patterns, and the production of textured surfaces. For more information, see our article on PolyJet vs. SLA.

What Are the Other Comparisons to Multijet Besides PolyJet?

Besides PolyJet, another potential alternative to multijet is:

  • Multijet vs. MJF: Multi-Jet Fusion (MJF) is comparable to Multijet since it is excellent at producing complex geometries with exceptional surface finishes. The difference between Multijet and MJF is that MJF works by using a polymer powder and a fusing mechanism (ink agents and infrared frequencies) to cure parts. 

Summary

This article summarized the differences between PolyJet and Multijet 3D printing technologies.

To learn more about PolyJet vs. Multijet and to help select the perfect technology for your products, contact a Xometry representative.

Xometry offers a full range of 3D printing services for your project needs. Visit our Instant Quote Engine to get a free, no-obligation quote in minutes.

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Xomety X
Team Xometry
This article was written by various Xometry contributors. Xometry is a leading resource on manufacturing with CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, 3D printing, injection molding, urethane casting, and more.