This is kind of mesmerizing; oddly satisfying, watching Ivan Miranda build a giant 3D printer.
I received a pre-production version of the Creality CR-6 SE 3D printer for review a few weeks ago. I’m pleasantly surprised with this solid printer which is currently on Kickstarter for $339 and will be $429 later. It’s a step up from earlier Creality offerings, is relatively easy to use, and dependable. It’s a value for money machine that is an improved version of an Ender with some better components. Safety features, an improved extruder, and a better feeder make this a better printer, suited for beginners and everyday use.
- 235 by 235 by 250mm build volume.
- Filament end detection
- Touch screen
- Mini USB/SD Card
- Carborundum glass bed
Unboxing the CR-6 was easy and the most difficult thing was the manual. I also didn’t know about the handy little tool drawer beforehand but actually that is quite handy once I managed to find it. The toolset is alright with the little pliers being very handy indeed. I had the printer set up and printing within 15 minutes of unpacking it. One of the only parts where you have to pay attention is in placing the Z stage correctly, so just take some time to make sure that this is perpendicular and that it is placed absolutely level. The other part where you have to pay attention is when placing the main plug on the front of the printer the right way.
I had to update the firmware and the Creality software worked well for the printer. I also tried just regular Cura with a modified Ender profile and this worked well also. I did some prints with Slic3r and this was fine as well. The Creality software is relatively easy to use and easy for beginners as well. There were some issues with saving to the SD cards with my own SD cards not working and certain file names being too long or having exotic characters and not working either. The workarounds were to format my SD cards and to shorten the file names.
I had some issues with the touchscreen crashing but this was due to me having a preproduction version and was fixed. Other than that, the touchscreen works well and is super simple to use every day. Menus that you need are very accessible. Part of me wanted more accessible tuning options but that would make it more complex to understand.
Leveling & Filament End Detection
Bed leveling worked like a dream on the printer and was super easy. Filament end detection and pausing prints worked as well. I also ripped out filament and the software paused the print and let me feed new filament back in again. These features are all very handy and work well.
Carborundum glass build plate
This part really threw me. The first week I totally completely loved the build plate which is a coated glass plate that works like a dream for PLA. I tried several PLA variants and they all worked well. After intensive use however, there were some adhesion issues especially with prints that had little initial surface area. I found it more difficult to clean this plate compared to regular glass also. I had real issues with the adhesion of ASA, ABS and PETG variant materials on the build plate. I’d recommend another build surface if you’d like to vary your materials. If you don’t damage the plate it works wonderfully with PLA though, so do be careful when removing prints.
The aluminum extruded profile chassis of the printer with the power supply in it makes for a solid base and reduces vibrations and misprints when compared to other similar printers. On the whole, components are more well made than we expect in this price category. Machining and finishing was, on the whole, better than comparable printers as well.
It’s a simple system to use and general maintenance stuff such as belt tensioning, leveling, and printing is straightforward. Compared to similarly priced systems it is quiet and just pumps out print after print in PLA. You can hear the fans work but little else. After my testing, I started making dozens of ear savers for friends and acquaintances and it just kept on working well. For PLA it’s a dream at this price point. Feeding in filament was easy as was removing it. I found that for me it worked better with an external spool holder.
Prints for PLA were good with the default settings and default operation working well. The printer was reliable and gave a good surface finish straight out of the box. Small tweaks improved this so that one could reliably make PLA prints that looked good.
This is a surprisingly solid 3D printer for the price. For entry-level systems this is a step forward in ease of use, components, the chassis, and in general operation. All of the leveling and day to day operation features work well. Both the feeder and nozzle are significant steps up from previous Creality designs. For PLA it works well but with the standard build platform, ABS and other materials are just not possible. Also, I’m not sold on the longevity of the coating on the platform either. This can be remedied through a BuildTak or other build plate though. All in all this is a good printer that offers a lot of value for money for the price.
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In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, Fraunhofer will soon discuss adoption of Industry 4.0-related technologies in a webinar, and we’ve learned that Formnext 2020 is still planned for this November. Moving on, Visagio and DiManEx have announced a partnership. Finally, BCN3D’s technology was used to make an interesting event installation.
Fraunhofer’s Industry 4.0 Webinar
Tomorrow, May 19th, the Fraunhofer Project Center (FPC) at the University of Twente will be holding a free webinar called “The Road to Digitalisation” that explains some of the challenges in adopting technologies related to Industry 4.0, such as 3D printing, as well as the solutions. Industry 4.0 is about optimization, and can offer companies many benefits, such as increased revenue, better quality, and reduced cycle times and costs. But, it can be a tough journey to start, and companies looking to start could use some help.
“Industry 4.0 is all about optimization; from managing big data to efficiency in the production line. All this aims at enabling businesses to make quicker, smarter decisions while minimizing costs. This webinar sets out to explain the challenges and to offer solutions in the adoption of I4.0 related technologies.”
The webinar, featuring Join Biba Visnjicki, Managing Director of FPC, and Thomas Vollmer, Head of Production Quality Dept. from Fraunhofer IPT, will last 60 minutes; register for free here.
Formnext 2020 Still a Go in Frankfurt
As many places in the world are cautiously reopening after recent mass shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to look to the future. In that vein, Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH is still planning to hold the AM industry’s biggest event, formnext 2020, this November 10-13. Recently, the Federal Government and the Federal States of Germany ruled that trade shows are no longer under the ‘major events’ category for health risks, but the health of all the employees, exhibitors, and visitors are still considered the highest priority if the event does indeed take place this fall. That’s why the exhibition organizer is working around the clock to develop an updated health concept, such as introducing contact tracing and decreasing visitor density, along with a supplementary digital/virtual program.
“We remain convinced of the unique value and advantages of a physical exhibition. And although digital interaction will never be able to replace face-to-face contact, it does offer more scope than previously thought possible only a few weeks ago,” stated Sascha F. Wenzler, Vice President of Formnext, Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH.
“Ultimately, even in these challenging times, we want to organize a trade show that is as responsive as possible to the current situation and the needs of participants and the market.”
Visagio and DiManEx Partnering to Improve AM Supply Chains
Management consultancy Visagio Ltd and DiManEx BV are partnering to strengthen end-to-end 3D printing usage in supply chains. Companies are looking to conquer supply base disruptions, and by pairing Visagio’s supply chain services with DiManEx’s end-to-end 3D printing platform, they can do so by digitizing their inventory and 3D printing parts on demand, which can delivered all over the world. The collaboration is a representation of how both companies address market needs, especially in these challenging times as COVID-19 disrupts the global supply and demand process.
“Companies are increasingly looking for ways to optimize their supply chains and mitigate risks, such as those brought about by pandemics or geo-political tensions. Our platform embeds 3D printing in supply chains easily, realising the concept of ‘Digital Inventory at your Fingertips, Ordered at a Click of a Button’. Coupled with Visagio’s industry and management expertise, this is a winning combination for supply chain optimization,” said Tibor van Melsem Kocsis, the Founder and CEO of DiManEx.
3D Printed Cisco Live 2020 Installation
Speaking of collaborations, Barcelona data interpretation firm and design studio Domestic Data Streamers pairs data and arts with storytelling to develop “participatory projects” for community building and education. Its workshop has long used 3D printers from BCN3D Technologies, and recently turned to the technology again to create an installation for the Cisco Live 2020 event. The studio wanted to give attendees “a better experience” by displaying the event schedule on an interactive Recommendation Wall of clickable screens; once clicked, the animated image turned into a QR code, which visitors could scan for more information. The screens had to be custom-made, and so Domestic Data Streamers turned to its in-house printer farm, and the BCN3D Epsilon 3D printer. They used PETG to print over 40 of the main covers in just four weeks, which equaled major cost savings.
“The printers work very well, we count on a very high success ratio, and the support from the team is always quick and helpful,” said Pol Trias, the Head of Design at Domestic Data Streamers.
“It gave us great agility when it comes to functionally and aesthetically validating the designs at a very low cost…our processes were more efficient and much faster thanks to our BCN3D Epsilon.
“This could not have happened without 3D printing. For a project like this one, where you want high-quality results in a short time and within a limited budget, there is no better option than 3D printing.”
You can learn more about the project here, or check out the video below.
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Family-run industrial 3D printing solutions provider FELIXprinters, headquartered in IJsselstein, the Netherlands since 2010, works to create what it calls “holistic AM solutions” for its customers , developing “tailor-made” platforms for specific applications, rather than simply selling off-the-shelf solutions. A year ago, soon after the introduction of its Pro 3, the Dutch company added the FELIX PRO L and XL 3D printers to its portfolio, which scaled its precision technology up to more large-scale build volumes. The robust systems reliably provide larger parts, without giving up the quality that FELIXprinters is known for, and can easily fit into workshop spaces.
Not long ago, the company launched its first 3D bioprinting system, and now, even amidst the many challenges brought on by the global COVID-19 crisis, has been busy at work. This week, FELIXprinters announced the addition of a new range made of two high-temperature 3D printers.
“Like all businesses as we moved through the first quarter of 2020, we have had to adapt and adjust the way that we work. As soon as it was obvious that the coronavirus pandemic was going to severely disrupt the usual way of working, we made some far reaching and strategic moves to ensure the continuity of production or our 3D printers, and also our relationships with our customers. First and foremost, we had to ensure that our FELIX team could operate in a way that they were comfortable with and which guaranteed their safety. So from very early on, we ensured that they had masks, had access to all the sanitiser and hygiene measures that they needed, and that we put in place protocols that meant everyone in the factory could work while maintaining social distancing requirements,” said Wilgo Feliksdal, Co-Founder of FELIXprinters.
“Once this had been arranged, and with the continued demand for our industrial range of 3D printers and our newly introduced BIOprinter still high, it became clear to us that we were in a position to continue our 2020 plans relatively uninterrupted. Earlier in the year we had received a tender from a large multinational client looking at the possibility that we could produce a series of high temperature 3D printers, and we have now geared up to produce these in large batches through Q2 and Q3.”
While we don’t yet know the name of these new high-temperature AM systems, we do know that they feature customizable print heads, a 600 x 600 x 600 mm build volume, and a secure enclosure with a HEPA filter.
High-temperature 3D printing makes it possible to use stronger, advanced, and functional engineering-grade materials, such as PEKK, PEI, and polyamides, which then allows manufacturers to fabricate parts that are needed for rapid prototyping purposes, and practical end use applications, in the aerospace, engineering, and architecture industries. As the new FELIXprinters high-temperature systems can print anywhere from 100-400°C, I’d say they fit the bill.
“There is no doubt that we are in unprecedented times, and we like many companies operating in the 3D printing space are having to adapt our ways of working as we begin to defeat the coronavirus, and we are delighted that despite everything we have successfully developed our high temperature solutions,” said Guillaume Feliksdal, FELIXprinters Co-Founder. “In many ways, the 3D printing sector is unique in that it is likely to see an upswing in attention as globally, companies begin to reassess and localise their supply chains. At FELIXprinters, the continued demand for our industrial 3D printers, the enormous interest in our BIOprinter, and the recent developments we have made in term of high temperature additive manufacturing show the vibrancy of the niche, and also demonstrate the resilience of industry as we all drive on and innovate, even in these difficult times. I feel we have the edge in many areas due to an exceptional, dedicated, and passionate team, and I would like to thank each and every one of them for their hard work and talents.”
While the new high-temperature 3D printers aren’t available just yet, FELIXprinters has said that they are mere weeks away from commercial use. So we’ll have to stay tuned for more information.
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We’re all business today in 3D Printing News Briefs – Nanofabrica has raised $4 million in funding, and voxeljet is expanding its presence in India. Elementum 3D has achieved an important industry certification. Finally, AMPOWER has released its 2020 report.
Nanofabrica Raises $4 Million in Funding
Tel Aviv startup Nanofabrica, which makes 3D printers for fabricating complex electronic and optical parts for semiconductors and medical devices, has raised $4 million in funding, and the round was led by Microsoft’s venture arm M12, which invests in enterprise software companies in Series A through C funding with a focus on infrastructure, applied AI, business applications, and security, and NextLeap Ventures, an investor group made of former Intel Corp employees. The startup says it will use the funding – it’s raised a total of $7 million so far – to expand its sales and continue its R&D work.
M12 partner Matthew Goldstein said, “Nanoscale, precision manufacturing is a growing need for R&D organizations, as well as production-scale manufacturing companies,” and that the technology allows for the “digital mass manufacturing of precision parts.”
voxeljet Grows Presence in India with Sale of VX4000
Industrial 3D printing solutions provider voxeljet AG has expanded its Asian presence with the announcement that Indian steel casting experts Peekay Steel Castings Pvt Ltd is investing in its 4000 x 2000 x 1000 mm VX4000 3D printer – the company’s largest industrial system. Peekay Steel, which makes high-quality steel castings, will use the printer to expand into new business areas and better cater to its current clients’ increasing demands. The flexibility, size, and speed of the VX4000 will allow the company to continue supporting the foundry industry in its native India, but also give them the opportunity to build a new Knowledge Center centered around the large 3D printer that will provide open access to a training facility. The VX4000 will be set up at a new Bangalore location in the Airport City.
“We want to offer our customers an end-to-end solution and position ourselves as a supplier of high-quality, ready-to-install components in record times. With the VX4000, we are able to increase the flexibility of our production in order to be able to react quickly, even to complex projects,” said K.E. Shanavaz, Jt., Managing Director, Peekay Steel Castings (P) Ltd. “3D printing gives us a unique competitive advantage, especially when it comes to expanding our business areas. Since the beginning, we have emphasized the importance of co engineering with our customers, most of these are Fortune 500 companies, to optimize and customize the product design, to lend better functionality and a clear competitive advantage. A specialized Design Center aligned to the VX4000 will help add value for our customers.”
Elementum 3D Achieves Quality Management Certification
Colorado metal 3D printing materials company Elementum 3D announced that it has received the important ISO 9001:2015 certification. This is recognized as the worldwide standard for quality management practices and systems, and was issued to the company through the Denver-based ISO 9001 management certification firm Platinum Registration, Inc. The scope of its certification includes manufacturing prototype and production parts to customer specifications, designing and manufacturing advanced composites, metals, and superalloys, and developing new manufacturing processes.
“This is an important milestone for Elementum 3D. It’s a rigorous process to become ISO 9001 certified. Our staff worked very hard with Platinum Registration’s auditors to demonstrate we meet the requirements of the standard. Not only does that make us feel confident we’re the most efficient that we can be, it assures our customers that we have a completely transparent and robust management system; and that means we have reliable, repeatable, continuously improving business processes so that our customers receive the best value for their money,” said Dr. Jacob Nuechterlein, Elementum 3D President and Founder.
AMPOWER Releases 2020 Metal AM Report
Metal additive manufacturing consultancy AMPOWER has released its new 2020 report, containing analysis based on over 250 data sets of metal AM supplier and user surveys. If you purchased the previous AMPOWER Report, you can get the latest edition for free through the online portal, or you could subscribe to the report to start getting it; either way, the publication is chock-full of helpful information. For instance, a separate section analyzes the possible impact scenarios of the COVID-19 pandemic on the metal AM industry in both 2020 and 2021, and new contributions from the worlds of standards and startups are included from ASTM and AM Ventures, respectively. The report includes in-depth market data, and has also added new databases with over 700 entries, so readers can browse through a list of material, service, and systems suppliers; the new interactive cost calculator has been updated with the most recent productivity values.
“We hope the AMPOWER Report 2020 continues to support our customers in making the right decisions in these challenging times,” AMPOWER’s Matthias Schmidt-Lehr, Dr. Maximilian Munsch, and Dr. Eric Wycisk wrote in an email.
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A new webinar series by 3D metal printer manufacturer SLM Solutions showcases its system’s ability to empower customers to grow in the ever-evolving additive manufacturing (AM) marketplace. For many 3D printing companies, webinars are turning into a fundamental tool to create awareness about new developments and to identify customer needs. For the German-based top metal 3D printing supplier, this new series of webinars can draw in users in search of cost-efficient, fast, and reliable Selective Laser Melting (SLM, DMLS, Powder Bed Fusion) 3D printers for part production, which is the core development at SLM Solutions.
During the hour-long educational talk through the advantages of true open architecture in AM, the Director of Industrialization Strategy for SLM Solutions Americas, Thomas Haymond, explores the company’s goal: building a system that grows with the user. By opening up the system’s architecture, SLM Solutions wants to prove that customers will never outgrow the machines and instead be able to adapt their businesses, reduce their learning curve, and innovate from day one.
Defined by Haymond as a system that allows for full user access, where there are no closed doors, and essentially everything about the system and its inherent variables is fully discoverable, open-architecture systems are unquestionably important to the company. So, what are the key elements? Haymond defined four:
- Powder variety
- Open process parameters
- Freedom to control variables
- Customized development
Certainly, many metal 3D printing manufacturers offer open access to certain aspects of their systems, however, SLM Solutions claims that its product is different and unique because there are no additional requirements associated with it.
“The initial variable of powder variability is an open architecture element we recognize and we will support you with. Empowering the user to understand this intricate knowledge expedites their evolution and turns them into power users of additive manufacturing technology,” asserted Haymond. “By providing the ability to utilize an unlimited variety of raw materials, opening the doors on all of our parameter configurations, and educating the customer on how to transform all facets of built strategy parameters, we are enabling them to apply the SLM technology in whatever direction they choose.”
Achieving a successful build is heavily dependant on the powder being used, which according to Haymond, is arguably one of the most important system-level variables. In fact, he considers that the first key element of an open architecture system is the ability to vary the raw material, emphasizing the importance of powder quality and variety. That is why SLM Solutions offers a wide assortment of materials, from the traditional to the rather exotic more advanced AM powders, as well as a few new aluminum alloys which they have yet to release.
“So, why is powder critical to success? Powder specifications are critical to succesfull builds. We understand that there is a need for material diversity as this industry is constantly growing and establishing new applications. In the old additive manufacturing world, it was about processing properties and performance; but in the metal additive manufacturing world, powder drives processing, drives properties and ultimately drives performance, something we call P4.”
One of the big perks of SLM Solutions systems is that they work with external powders. Haymond described that there are no fees, penalties, or stigma associated with sourcing raw materials for their SLM systems. However, he indicated that “while we do permit these external powder use we do so with a number of recommendations with respect to powder quality and powder specifications that are critical to building quality and success.”
When customers choose to source powder externally the company claims they will walk them through the three basic requirements, that is flowability, moisture content, and particle size distribution.
To encourage user development, SLM Solutions said they develop and provide parameters for each of its released materials. The open process parameters are the materials and parts in specific settings that can be varied and impact a user’s build quality. Haymond indicated that there is no need to actively edit any of these available parameter settings, but they are open in case a customer wishes to do alter them in pursuit of a specific development objective.
“When you purchase one of our systems, you are guaranteed to have access to all build strategies that we have released. Furthermore, the software that we have developed around parameter modification and material development is a very detailed sweep that allows our customers to explore the intricacies of the build strategies that we have released. It is designed to provide the user with as much functionality, information, sensor feedback, and flexibility that is really possible. Both SLM solutions software, that is the Build Processor and the Material Development Module (MDM), facilitate the variation of every available parameter in a very user-friendly fashion, as we strive to provide the most comprehensive software for our customers.”
Haymond suggested that this access essentially allows users to understand the logic behind the systems’ parameter structure, and learn how to create similar constructs for themselves in pursuit of their growth with SLM Solutions machines, and within the AM industry itself.
“Additionally, through providing this unparalleled level of access we are enabling significant cost and time savings for the development of new materials or the development of new exposure strategies for established materials.”
There is no real limit to the number of combinations for a given material family. And SLM Solutions makes it unnecessary to edit the variables because the parameters they claim to provide for any given material are deemed to produce ideal mechanical and physical properties for a wide range of geometries. Yet, like in the previous two elements of open-architecture systems, the company believes that having the freedom to control variables will enhance the user’s experience, allowing them to innovate and grow with the system and technology.
All the variables are modified with the Build Processor. Haymond explained that they “found many of our customers begin their path to custom development with the use of a new material not currently offered with an optimized parameter set.” So SLM has developed a unique tool within the built processor software, the MDM, which facilitates the automatic varying of individual parameters and will also automatically assign the matrix of parameters across the given build platform. Haymond proposes that users who have experienced a new material development will appreciate that they will no longer have to laboriously and tediously create each individual parameter set and type it in by hand and then assign it to the parts. Instead, the MDM software eliminates all this time consuming and error-prone activities.
“Essentially the MDM allows the user the ability to perform a systematic analysis of the part parameter variation. It is an incredibly useful tool, mostly focused around the editing of the basic parameters. The software is designed to utilize the user-specific rules to create matrices of every parameter setting. So once customers decide which parameters they wish to study and establish their relative boundary conditions the rule editor can be utilized to build the matrix.”
One of the primary tenants of open architecture philosophy means altering and modifying all parameter variables, which will eventually lead to customized development. That’s the goal for SLM Solutions: providing capability of complete customization gives the user freedom.
As the AM world develops, SLM Solutions asserted that they will continue to develop and release material and process parameter combinations. Even more so, Haymond stated that the “needs of our customers can sometimes outpace our efforts, and rather than forcing our customers to wait for us we choose to empower them to continually strive for the rise of metal AM, using our machines as their vessels.”
“Essentially, it all boils down to providing the capability that the user needs to customize the development. We feel that we want to provide an open architecture to allow customers to grow because this is such a new industry with so much potential, and we are still in the infancy of its development, furthermore, without the flexibility of open architecture, you’ll be forever catching up to market trends. Instead, we want to empower our customers to be the trendsetters.”
High-quality SLM additive manufacturing machines have high costs, especially if parts aren’t optimized or designed for the process. SLM Solutions’ approach to creating true open architecture manufacturing systems expects to offer customers full access to every aspect of the system and its inherent variables, enabling them to optimize their systems. As discussed in the webinar, providing accessibility to control variables and parameters can take the users to new levels.