Kodak Launched New Design to Print Service, Showcased 3D Printing Ecosystem

Just a couple of short years ago, Kodak entered the AM market with its 3D Printing Ecosystem, which includes specialized software, the dual extruder, professional Portrait 3D printer, and a line of premium, low moisture content filaments. I learned a lot about this ecosystem while visiting Kodak’s booth at the recent RAPID+TCT show in Detroit, as the Portrait, and a wide array of example prints made on it, were being showcased.

On to new business first – the company launched its new Design to Print Service, which Kodak’s CCO and and co-founder Demian Gawianski told me is helpful for “customers who find designers’ time very valuable.”

“This can go from converting any 3D model into a 3D printable file to tuning the parameters on how to print those files,” he told me. “Basically, if you have complex geometry that wouldn’t go with our preset parameters, because it may have some bridges or overhangs or something like that, we would create the profile for the user, and our designers will actually print out the part to make sure it works.”

The company was offering a launching offer for its new service at the show – any customer who purchased the Portrait 3D printer at RAPID would also receive a $500 credit for the Design to Print Service.

This valuable service is an easy three-step process: first, share your project on your Kodak 3D Cloud account. Then, interact with the company’s professional designers in order to get a quick quote for the project, in addition to an estimated completion date. Finally, have your part optimized for a guaranteed result, printed, and tested by the Kodak team. You will then receive an STL file from the company that’s been modified for successful 3D printing. The service is available in English and Spanish, from 8 am to 5 pm EST, for a standard rate of $45 an hour; a priority job is available for an hourly rate of $90.

“We want to make sure that the user has a very successful experience, with any level of knowledge they may have about 3D printing,” Gawianski continued. “We want to have a comprehensive approach.”

This includes providing users with the right materials and hardware, empowered by good software, and Gawianski believes that Kodak’s design solution offers this unique, comprehensive approach.

Then we moved over to the Portrait 3D printer, which features a compact 215 x 210 x 235 mm build volume with a magnetic, heated build plate and dual extruders. With an intuitive color touchscreen that supports multiple languages, HEPA filter with activated carbon, automatic bed leveling, and live print monitoring via a built-in camera, I can see why Kodak calls it “the new standard for ‘desktop’ professional printing.”

Gawianski noted the “fully enclosed chamber,” which helps enable a “high level of control,” stability, and accuracy. He also pointed out the dual extrusion system with automatic nozzle lifting. The #2 hotend on the left is Teflon for high temperature materials, while the one on the right is metal for lower temperatures. The part being printed while we were standing there was out of white ABS.

“It would be difficult to achieve this level of quality on another printer with ABS, because it would warp and have all kinds of problems,” he explained.

Then we walked over to a setup in the corner of the booth that had caught my eye when I first arrived. A Portrait 3D printer – which was currently operating and weighs about 35 kg – had been placed on a rather thin-looking wooden platform, which was suspended by ropes that were attached to nylon hooks 3D printed on the Portrait itself.

The nylon hooks were strong enough to keep the platform stable, so the print could continue uninterrupted with “the same level of quality” while it was fabricating a blue part out of strong but flexible Nylon 6.

“The printer comes with two filament cases. You open the back of a filament, and place the filament in the case,” Gawianski said. “It has a silica gel that continues to protect the filament all the way from the manufacturing plant to the printed part.”

This case protects the filament from absorbing dust or humidity. Kodak is open to Portrait customers using third party materials, but these clear cases are only for its own filament.

He then started to show me various parts made out of Kodak’s other materials, such as a blue skull printed out of PLA Tough with water-soluble PVA supports, an engineering part made out of ABS with HIPS supports that dissolve in Limonene, and a large part with a green top that can lift 700 lbs of weight.

Kodak offers 11 different materials, including strong, food-safe PETG and semi-flexible Flex 98 with high abrasive resistance. Gawianski brought out a 3D printed part that was a good example of the Portrait 3D printer’s dual extrusion. The figure, which bore a strong resemblance to the Egyptian god Anubis, was made with PLA+ (green) and PLA Tough (red), which are the two materials that come with the Portrait 3D printer out of the box.

“We also have Nylon 12, which is FDA certified and has high resistance to impact,” Gawianski said, showing me two parts in translucent white.

“We also have some further ABS parts – this is a delamination test,” he continued, scratching the side of a small container. “It’s difficult to achieve this with an open printer, you need an enclosed one.”

Kodak will soon be releasing some new materials to the market, such as acrylic, which I also got the chance to see.

Our conversation ended by discussing Kodak’s 3D printing software.

“We have a desktop solution, which is the Kodak 3D Slicer,” Gawianski explained. “And we have the Kodak 3D Cloud, that is a cloud management system that enables you to manage an unlimited number of printers in unlimited locations from a single data place. So from your computer, phone, whatever, you can manage this fleet of printer.”

I asked if the company had anything new on the horizon, and aside from new filaments, Gawianski also said we can expect to see a new 3D printer model by the end of the year.

Take a look at some more of my pictures from the Kodak booth at RAPID+TCT 2019 below:

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[Images: Sarah Saunders]

Interview with RIZE: Trying Out the XRIZE 3D Printer at RAPID 2019

[Image: Julie Reece, RIZE]

Typically, when I attend trade shows and events like RAPID + TCT and SOLIDWORKS World, I attend some presentations, maybe sit in on a panel discussion or two, and walk the show floor, conducting interviews and seeing what there is to see. I take closer looks at the systems we write about every day, get the chance to handle a part or two, and sometimes even try on 3D printed helmets. But I don’t normally have the opportunity to actually operate the hardware…until the recent RAPID 2019, when I met with Boston-based additive manufacturing company RIZE.

Let me back up – I was there for an interview with RIZE President and CEO Andy Kalambi to discuss the company’s patented Augmented Polymer Deposition (APD) technology, which allows for the easy snap-off release of supports. At formnext in November, the company introduced its industrial desktop XRIZE 3D printer, and I wanted to get a good look at the system that promises to print parts twice as fast as other leading AM technologies.

First, Kalambi told me that the company had just announced a partnership with Wichita State University’s National Institute of Aerospace Research (NIAR) at RAPID that’s focused on bringing 3D printing to end users.

“We launched this whole concept called ‘smart spaces,’” Kalambi explained. “Makerspaces need to come to engineers, engineers don’t need to go to makerspaces.”

He told me that RIZE and its 3D printers are “purpose built” for safety, which is an area the company will not compromise on – this year, RIZE actually won the New Equipment Digest Innovation Award (the only 3D printing company to do so), and the Frost & Sullivan award for Best Practices in Technology Innovation, for its safe, zero-emission polymer 3D printing technology. In fact, Kalambi shared that a customer had told them at the AMUG conference that he uses their printers because he knows in 30 years he won’t get cancer – quite the endorsement.

“So we said, let’s purpose build our machine and our system for safety. Then we start extending that, and from safety we extend that to security – how do we ensure that a print is secure? That’s where the marking came in. And then we said, let’s start looking at applications and start solving those application problems. So that’s how we introduced carbon composite – this is another original material that has good strength.”

Engineering-grade RIZIUM CARBON is the company’s newest material, and features a higher modulus and excellent visual finish, making it perfect for functional prototyping.

Going back to the safe spaces concept, RIZE wanted to see what else they could add – more materials for more applications, and color as well.

“The 3D printing industry has condemned users to a monochrome world. So let’s bring color – every part can be in different colors, and not color for the sake of color, but color for the sake of communication, color for the sake of reducing errors, color for the sake of being more lifelike,” Kalambi said. “This is consumer validation…when you’re waiting at a traffic light and you see red, that’s communication.

“I don’t think this industry has bothered about color.”

I mentioned there were only a few companies I could think of off the top of my head that were really doing color well, and he agreed, but stated that they were all really costly machines. Kalambi hopes that the next time we see RIZE machines displayed at a conference, all of the sample parts will be in color, and not just a few.

“There are many difference aspects to color, and that’s really exploded our use case scenarios.”

The company’s new color 3D printer will be heading to the market soon, shipping to early customers this month and generally available for purchase in August.

After mentioning that RIZE’s recent strategic partnership with Dassault Systèmes has brought the company a lot of continuity, we moved on to generative design and the company’s unique digitally augmented parts. He showed me how easy it was to add the company’s logo to the design file, as well as the bar code.

“Our uniqueness is our ability to mark,” Kalambi told me. “We’re the only ones doing it.”

Kalambi explained that RIZE covers the entire stream, all the way from digital marketing and quoting to manufacturing and delivery.

“You’re investing in the platform, not just the 3D printer,” he said. “We are focused on the user, not just the product.”

He said that RIZE wants users to feel comfortable using its machines and software, and that the company can train customers on its 3D printers in just 15 minutes. That’s when he got an idea – let me print something on the XRIZE at RAPID. Kalambi called over Vice President of Marketing Julie Reece to see if we’d have time to make it happen the next day, and once we figured out timing, he asked for my business card so it could be turned into a 3D model. Feeling pretty excited over what was to come, I left to conduct my next interview, with RIZE newly on my schedule for the next morning.

[Image: Julie Reece, RIZE]

When I arrived the next morning, Reece introduced me to RIZE Applications Engineer Neil Foley, who gave me a quick rundown on how the XRIZE 3D printer works. He opened the side panel so I could see the colored inks inside, and explained that the print of my business card would have a total of 29 layers; the first five layers would be a raft. The white filament is a little translucent so that the colors really shine through.

With just a few simple instructions from Foley, I was able to put in the magnetized build plate, close the door, and easily navigate the 3D printer’s touchscreen to select, and start, the print. The touchscreen not only tells you how long the print will take, but what layer it’s currently printing, with options to pause or cancel if necessary.

I stayed at the booth to watch the five layers of the raft, and the first layer of the print itself, but then had to leave to take care of a few things before driving home from the show later that day. During the time I was gone, Reece contacted me to let me know that the print was complete, and that I could come back to the booth anytime to remove it from the plate.

Once I arrived, I took a few pictures of my completed print, then opened the door and pulled out the build plate, This was a little tougher than I imagined, possibly due to the magnets, but more likely because I tend to be nervous when handling expensive machinery and was afraid to pull too hard.

I was supposed to remove the supports myself, which I was really excited about, but because the print was pretty thin, they came off almost immediately when Foley removed the raft. But, Reece brought me over a small part that had just come off the Rize One so I could remove those supports, and it truly is as easy as it looks – hardly any pressure is required to snap them off. As for the XRIZE itself, it is definitely a user-friendly system, and for an industrial machine, that’s pretty great news.

All in all, I had a good talk with Kalambi at RAPID, and was thrilled to be given the chance to operate the XRIZE 3D printer and make a 3D printed version of my business card, which now sits on my desk at home. Take a look below to see more pictures that RIZE’s Julie Reece took of me operating the printer at RAPID:

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[Images: Sarah Saunders unless otherwise noted]

Nano Dimension Continues its Growth in the 3D Printing Industry

Israeli PCB print leader Nano Dimension showed off its DragonFly 2020 Pro 3D printer at a US event for the first time while attending RAPID + TCT in Texas last year. Not too long ago, I finally had the opportunity to see the machine for myself while attending this year’s RAPID in Detroit, Michigan.

The industrial PCB printer was the first thing I saw at the booth – it’s hard to miss, being much taller than its desktop predecessor. The system stands on the floor and offers a larger footprint, though it has the same 20 x 20 cm print area as the original DragonFly 2020, which officially ended its beta program in the summer of 2017. Tim Sheehan, the VP of Global Sales and Customer Care for Nano Dimension USA Inc., came over to greet me, and we sat down to chat.

Sheehan used the example of an electrical engineer looking to make a prototype board, noting that everything involved in the process – from finding a business to make the prototype, filling out and getting a purchase order approved, having the prototype made and getting it shipped to you – can cost thousands of dollars and take months to complete.

“That’s the standard process that people deal with today,” he said.

“Now, along comes someone who says, what if I could increase your productivity and reduce your cycle time…that’s giving you a return on investment that’s going to help.”

Then we walked over to the DragonFly 2020 Pro so I could get a closer look. Sheehan explained that a dielectric ink (DI) and a conductive ink are both cured at almost the same time within the system.

“It takes sophisticated software to calculate the algorithm to make sure that what you want to be a feature on that board…something as simple as a hole…it places the hole each time at the appropriate place.

“The board is being printed on a chuck, and that chuck is a heating element and a holding element, so it’s holding what’s being printed.”

The chuck moves back and forth, while the ink is being distributed exactly where it’s supposed to go. Nano Dimension uses a free SOLIDWORKS add-in which, according to its website, “creates a design environment optimized for 3D printing multi-material electronics.”

“So all of this can allow that electrical engineer not to take all that time – that two days for approval, a week to get all the signatures, three to five weeks for the board to show back up, ordering of components – all that time. You can now have a board printed overnight.”

Sheehan told me that, as an engineer, the first design you come up with is never the best. The DragonFly 2020 Pro really helps to speed up the design process, so if you need to make changes and iterations, you’re not wasting everyone’s time. He then showed me some examples of what the PCB printer is capable of, including a 12-layer PCB (below) that took a total of 20 hours to print.

“Time is only determined by the amount of silver we want to put down,” he explained.

“No one else in here can do this. The only way this is being done is the old-fashioned, traditional way, which is one layer at a time is created.”

He also showed me a PCB with an indentation on one end where a battery will sit, which also features a circuit that’s on multiple layers.

Next, Sheehan brought out a sample that demonstrates a helical conductive coil – created in 180 extremely fine turns – that’s embedded in the company’s dielectric ink; this shows Nano Dimension’s ability to create non-planar conductors, and embed them in a structure, in a single process. This can be used in applications such as charging cell phones or as a solenoid, which acts like a magnet when carrying electric current.

“Solenoids generally grab something locked…unlock the solenoid, door opens,” he explained.

“I have children, I’m not home, they come home from school, the door opens, the signal gets sent, I know they’re home. This is the whole IoT, right? Related to electronics.

“So how this all plays through for us is I’m helping you increase productivity.”

I asked Sheehan if anything new was happening with Nano Dimension that he could tell me about, and he said that the company had recently begun a European expansion, in addition to completing its partner development in North America.

“We’ve signed on national and global leaders in additive manufacturing.”

He listed some of these, including additive solutions and SOLIDWORKS software reseller Go Engineer, CATI, and Fisher Unitech, which is the largest Stratasys reseller in the world.

“So, what else is new for us? A lot of what we call application development sharing – we’re introducing how we can help people side mount components, how we can help people create three-dimensional applications, like the inductive coil,” Sheehan explained. “That’s just a few of the many different, what we call ‘feature applications,’ we’re introducing to help people stretch their minds around what else you can do with the DragonFly.”

Nano Dimension has been listening to its customers, and until this point, the company’s “addressable market” has been R&D with major research institutes. But now, the US Department of Defense is one of the top markets it’s addressing, after becoming a certified DoD vendor last June.

“They are the biggest single organization buying from us today,” Sheehan said, noting that Tier 1 suppliers are also purchasing DragonFly printers. “There are different Army, Navy, Air Force branches buying this system, doing things that we don’t even really know because it’s not for us to know…we’re probably not allowed to know.

“So that’s exciting because when you bring a product to market, you want to know who to address in the market, you want to make sure you go target that. But what’s important is we gather the information from them, and then come back and do the appropriate things for the future of the product. So that’s been successful for us.”

Before I left, Sheehan presented me with my very own 3D PCB, which now sits on my desk next to a myriad of other prints I’ve made or been given. I was excited to receive the PCB, not only because it’s a good physical reminder of what 3D printing is capable of, but also, as I said to Sheehan, who doesn’t like to be handed a little white box?

Stay tuned for more on 3DPrint.com’s trip to RAPID + TCT 2019, and take a look at more pictures from the Nano Dimension booth below:

Discuss this story and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.

[Images: Sarah Saunders]

RAPID + TCT 2019 Showcased Continued Adoption and Growth of Additive Manufacturing

Nearly 9,000 manufacturing professionals from around the world converged in Detroit for this year’s RAPID + TCT, North America’s most influential additive manufacturing (AM) event. The event, which took place May 20-23, was the largest, most comprehensive offering yet. The show floor spanned 112,200 square feet and hosted a record 434 exhibiting companies, an increase of 27% over the 2018 event.

The first day was filled with AM workshops led by industry leaders, before attendees gathered for the RAPID + TCT 2019 Opening Event, hosted by SME’s AM Technical Community advisors. Erika Berg of Carbon and Vittorio Bologna of Riddell delivered the opening keynote presentation, detailing how the two companies collaborated to create Riddell’s new Diamond helmet, which features a 3D printed lattice liner developed using Carbon’s proprietary Digital Light Synthesis™ technology.

After the keynote, former AM Technical Community Chair Todd Grimm took the stage to explain some of the top new products in 3D printing and scanning and gave attendees a better sense of what they need to see on the show floor. And rounding out the day, winners were announced for the 2019 SME/AM Community Awards, including this year’s Industry Achievement Award winner, Professor Emanuel “Ely” Sachs, Co-Founder & Co-CTO of Desktop Metal, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

To kick off the second day of RAPID + TCT, Bill Taylor delivered an energetic Tuesday morning keynote presentation on “Disruptive Technology and Innovation.” Taylor discussed what it means to be a leader in an age of disruption and uncertainty, telling the crowd to ask themselves the following: What’s your unique definition of success? Do you work as distinctively as you hope to compete? Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?

Day three of RAPID + TCT 2019 started with keynote speaker Dr. Naomi Murray, Director of Additive Technology Solutions at Stryker, discussing how Stryker uses AM methods to create their Tritanium® technology, which has been used in several FDA-cleared orthopedic implants. Standing out among a variety of great workshops and panel discussions was the Women in AM/3D Perspectives Panel. The discussion focused on process and quality control, as well as other automation and data-driven tools used to level up or surpass existing manufacturing processes.

The final day of RAPID + TCT 2019 began with Jennifer Fielding of the Air Force Research Laboratory and Zach Simkin of Senvol announcing the winners of the 2019 AM Community Awards. Digital Alloys was chosen for this year’s Exhibitor Innovation Award and the People’s Choice Award went to Desktop Metal. The last day of RAPID + TCT was also Automotive Day, so it was only fitting that the keynote speaker be one of the industry leaders for AM, Dr. Dominik Rietzel, Head of Additive Manufacturing (Non-Metals) at BMW Group. Rietzel showcased how BMW, an early adopter of AM technologies, is innovating with AM from prototyping to production. Examples include producing foam-like AM prototype parts to mimic actual production parts used in seats and dashboards and allowing consumers to personalize the interior and exterior parts of their MINI that BMW then 3D prints and sends to them.

If you missed the conference, panels, or other presentations at RAPID + TCT 2019, the Digital Package is a great option. For $200, you will have access to select conference presentations, keynotes, thought leadership panels, and more for one year. Details on how to purchase the digital package will be posted soon to rapid3Devent.com.

RAPID + TCT moves to the west coast in 2020, taking place April 20-23 in Anaheim, California, allowing easier access to state-of-the-art additive manufacturing knowledge for industry hubs in the region. Additive manufacturing is growing at a rate of approximately 25 percent per year in California alone, according to the 2018 Wohlers Report. Mark your calendars for next year’s event and sign up to receive event updates here.


RAPID 2019: Talking 3D Printing and Partnerships with Ultimaker’s Jamie Howard

While attending the recent RAPID + TCT conference and trade show, I also visited the Ultimaker booth to meet with Jamie Howard, the new president of Ultimaker North America. On the first full day of RAPID, when the show floor had officially opened and there were just a few less lectures and workshops, the company announced that Heineken is using its on-demand 3D printing solutions to create functional machine parts and custom tools for the manufacturing line at its Seville brewery in Spain.

“We’re still in the first stages of 3D printing, but we’ve already seen a reduction of costs in the applications that we found by 70-90% and also a decrease of delivery time of these applications of 70-90%. Local manufacturing helps us a lot in increasing uptime, efficiency and output. We use 3D printing to optimize the manufacturing line, create maintenance and quality control tools, and create tools for our machines which help us increase safety for our people. I think there will be even more purposes in the future,” Isabelle Haenen, Global Supply Chain Procurement at Heineken, said in a press release.

Howard told me that he would describe Heineken as a “global customer,” and that Ultimaker was already looking at additional 3D printing applications in the brewery, aside from the ones it’s already working on, like safety and line optimizations and tooling.

The brewery produces multiple brands of beers owned by Heineken, which all adds up to 500 million liters of beer annually. Engineers at the Seville brewery started off using the Ultimaker 2+ about a year ago, but have since switched to a set of Ultimaker S5 machines.

Howard explained that the project partnership with Heineken included the Ultimaker applications engineering team going through the plant to help the brewery “discover and develop applications that could be 3D printed.”

Heineken’s 3D LAB [Image: Ultimaker]

“We offer that to our Enterprise customers as a service to help them accelerate the adoption of 3D printing in the enterprise,” Howard said. “We also facilitated some advanced training in design for 3D printing so that they could actually print the parts and tools we discovered during what we call the ‘site scan’ process, and that enables the transfer of knowledge and the adoption of knowledge necessary to have them be able to do it more on their own.

“So teaching the competency to discover new applications – it expands the catalogue of parts and applications that they can actually 3D print, which increases the adoption and expands the footprint of the printers.”

Since adopting Ultimaker’s solutions, the brewery has been able to increase its production uptime and save about 80% in production costs.

“The Heineken opportunity is really a good demonstration of the range of applications you can use the Ultimaker platform to do,” Howard said. “Our vision and mission is accelerating the world’s transition to local digital manufacturing, and in a distributed way, where you have the opportunity to leverage our software.

“The open materials platform gives us the flexibility to, at a local level, expand the range of applications with all the same accessibility to the material partners that we have through our Partner Alliance. The Heineken use case includes four categories of applications, from rapid prototyping to safety devices and also jigs, fixtures and tools on the manufacturing line, and also tooling for end-use parts – parts that fail during the production line process – to keep the uptime of the facility higher.”

I asked Howard what types of materials Heineken was using, and he showed me a device made out of Tough PLA material that is used to keep bottles from falling off the line.

“It’s light, and yet has the strength to be able to handle the weight from the bottle,” Howard explained.

“The tool that they were using before was a lot more rigid and rough, and it was sometimes causing the bottles to come off the line.”

The 3D printed version of the tool causes less friction on the bottles, which means a higher yield for Heineken as less bottles are breaking. It also saves the brewery time and money, as they can fabricate the tool on-site rather than send the design away to a third party for manufacturing. Howard also told me about one of the 3D printed safety device that’s been implemented in the brewery.

“There was a piece of equipment that required maintenance, and there was a safety latch that they built to prevent the machine from accidentally coming on during the maintenance process, to protect the workers from any injury. So the part that was printed goes over the power [switch] so you can’t inadvertently turn that machine on during the maintenance process.”

We then moved on to some parts 3D printed by other Ultimaker customers, including one for Volkswagen Autoeuropa. The tool, pictured above, was used on the manufacturing line to keep the wheel assembly from getting scratched. The tool has multiple drill guides to keep the wheel from falling off the lug nuts while it’s being screwed on, and Volkswagen was able to save a lot of time and money in upgrading to this 3D printed tool from the one they were previously using from a molding company, which would often break.

“We redesigned it…before, they were molding it in one piece. Our engineers helped them to discover that if they designed this differently, they could do it in a way that, if this part breaks, then you can just print that part, you don’t have to take the whole thing and throw it away,” Howard explained.

“All the principles of lean manufacturing are addressed in this particular piece.”

This new 3D printed version of the part reduces the amount of the time the tool was unavailable due to breakage, keeps productivity up, and also protects the wheel, so that the yield of the assembly at the end of the line is higher overall.

Take a look at more of my pictures from the Ultimaker booth at RAPID + TCT below:

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.

[Images: Sarah Saunders, unless otherwise noted]

Jabil partners with Renault F1 Team to manufacture F1 car parts

Jabil, an American worldwide manufacturing services company has announced that it will partner with the Renault F1 Team to produce 3D-printed car parts for its F1 car competing in the 2019 Formula One World Championship. Announcing the news at RAPID 2019, John Dulchinos, VP of digital manufacturing at Jabil said, “We’re excited to be part […]

3D Printing News Briefs: May 26, 2019

This year’s RAPID + TCT ended late last week at the Cobo Center in Detroit, so we’re again starting off today’s 3D Printing News Briefs with more news from the busy show floor. DyeMansion launched a new extended color series at RAPID, while 3D Systems made the announcement that its Figure 4 Modular is now available. Moving on, SLM Solutions just celebrated the grand opening of its new Shanghai application center. Finally, a Reddit user made an adorable miniature 3D printer.

RAPID 2019: DyeMansion’s New Colors

DyeMansion at RAPID 2019 [Image: Sarah Saunders]

Munich startup DyeMansion, a leader in finishing and coloring solutions for 3D printing, launched its new ColorsX extended color series for end-use products at RAPID last week, in order to continue helping its customers achieve the perfect finish for all of their applications. Automotive ColorsX and Neon ColorsX are the first solutions under the startup’s X Colors for X Industries premise, with more to follow in the future. The automotive color line has improved light and heat resistance for better 3D printed polyamide components and interior car parts, and features Automotive BlackX, which has a less saturated black tone than DyeMansion’s basic DM Black 01 and was created according to ISO EN 105 B06 method 3’s hot irradiation standards. The luminous neon color line includes GreenX, YellowX, OrangeX and PinkX to help create striking end-use products. Both of these new color lines are compatible with DyeMansion’s PolyShot Surfacing (PSS) and VaporFuse Surfacing (VFS).

“Some of our earliest customers who made use of DyeMansion Print-to-Product technologies for serial production are from the Automotive and Lifestyle industries,” explained Kai Witter, DyeMansion’s Chief Customer Officer. “While working closely with our customers, joint strategies are always about creating even more value to their businesses. So, I feel very delighted to now offer additional value creating products. Automotive and Neon ColorsX are only the beginning of providing more specific industry offers.”

Once DyeMansion decided to launch its ColorsX series, it also named the coloring process it established back in 2015: DeepDye Coloring (DDC), which can be easily controlled and traced through integrated RFID technology and offers a limitless choice of custom colors.

RAPID 2019: 3D Systems Announces General Availability of Figure 4 Modular

Also at RAPID last week, 3D Systems announced the general availability of its scalable Figure 4 Modular production platform. The flexible digital light printing (DLP) system has multiple configurations that can print parts with high surface quality, and allows manufacturers to iterate designs more quickly, as well as produce end-use parts without having to worry about a minimum order quantity. Three models make up the Figure 4 – Standalone, Production, and Modular – and several customers, such as D&K Engineering and Midwest Prototyping, are reaping the benefits. Additionally, 3D Systems also announced five new DLP and SLS materials, the first of which is the immediately available Figure 4 FLEX-BLK 10. The other new Figure 4 materials, such as TOUGH-BLK 20, MED-AMB 10, MED-WHT 10, and HI-TEMP-AMB 250, are expected to be available in Q3 and Q4 of 2019.

“The newest additions to our plastic 3D printing portfolio demonstrate our commitment to driving the adoption of digital manufacturing. With the industry’s first, truly scalable plastic production platform and our robust selection of materials, 3D Systems enables customers to rethink manufacturing and realize improved agility, reduced complexity, and lower overall total cost of operation,” said Vyomesh Joshi, the President and CEO of 3D Systems.

3D Systems also announced that its customers Rodin Cars (based in New Zealand) and North Carolina-based Stewart-Haas Racing are using its plastic and metal 3D printing solutions to improve the speed and performance of their cars.

SLM Solutions Celebrates Opening of New Shanghai Application Center

The same year that SLM Solutions opened an applications and demonstration center in Germany, it also established Chinese operations in Shanghai. Earlier this week, the selective laser melting experts celebrated the grand opening of their expanded office facilities and application center in Shanghai, which will help the company continue to grow its presence on the Asian market. The new center has installed four SLM systems: one SLM 125, one SLM 500, and two SLM 280 printers. Additionally, the facility also has equipment to represent an SLM build’s supporting process chain, such as a metallurgical lab and post-processing capabilities. The grand opening included a tour through the new new customer service and application engineering center.

“As we continue to grow our Chinese team, the opening of our Shanghai Application Center is an important milestone in SLM Solutions’ development and indicates the confidence in the Chinese market,” stated Jerry Ma, General Manager of SLM Solutions (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. “As part of the global strategy for growth we have the capacity to more than double our number of employees and the equipment to support all Chinese users with the technological resources shared by our applications centers around the world. We can also provide high-quality, fast technical services to better promote the development of selective laser melting and create more value for customers.”

Mini 3D Printed 3D Printer

A reddit and imgur user by the name of “Mega Andy” used 3D printed parts and DVD drive motors to make his own miniature 3D printer. And by miniature, I mean that he used a banana for scale, which was taller than the 3D printed 3D printer itself! It’s a really interesting project – the device runs Marlin, and features a glass bed and an E3D V6 hotend. The black and gold parts of the mini 3D printer were made out of PLA material, while PETG was used to make teeth for the leadscrews. Speaking of this, Mega Andy said that the printer is “fairly unreliable” because it easily ruins the teeth that guide the device on the leadscrew. Additionally, he’s also working to improve and lengthen the Z axis due to binding problems. Mega Andy released the STLs onto Thingiverse so others could try to make their own versions of the miniature 3D printed 3D printer…say that five times fast.

“So this project is nothing new, people have made 3d printers, CNC, engravers before using this hardware. What I wanted to do differently with this is have a designed 3D printed frame to hopefully fit standard parts. Instead of mounting full metal dvd drive assembly’s together and look like a DIY project I wanted a something that could be more compact and neat,” Mega Andy wrote on Thingiverse.

“This project is not for everyone and would only recommend to someone with a decent knowledge of 3d printers, basic soldering and lots of patience. Also some fiddling was needed to get the right amount of tension on the leadscrew, this bit is a massive pain but hopefully no one else needs to go through quite as much issues as i did with this bit. They will wear out though and a 3d printer will be needed to print new parts for it when they inevitable wear out.”

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Rapid 2019: Interview with Markforged’s Greg Mark On AI in 3D Printing

Markforged started by bringing an innovative continuous composites technology to 3D printing. Rather than try to be all things to all men, the firm had a strong initial automotive focus before branching out. Then the company surprised everyone by releasing a binder jetting metal 3D printer. Now with successive investment rounds, over 100 metal systems sold and new closed-loop technologies focussing on manufacturers the firm looks set for success. Now the company is putting out entire lines of systems with an X3, X5 and X7 on the market. The company also makes a complete suite of products including a sintering and washing station as well as its Eiger software. However, its up against HP, GE, Desktop Metal and new entrants in a very competitive space. How will Markforged compete? What makes this firm special and how can it win? Also, why should you choose to work with them?

The Markforged systems can be ordered with washing/debinding and sintering stations from the firm.



At Rapid we sat down with the eminently bright Greg Mark, the founder of Markforged to talk about the future of his firm.

What makes Markforged special?

We are a software company, that produces parts. We create fully integrated systems consisting of software and materials. To make a production system, that is a combined system that can produce parts requires a different approach. For us to “end to end” ensure that our customers can make the right part we have to take into account all of the factors that influence the making of a part. The physics, the engineering, the code, your STL they all influence the properties of your final part. In order to account for those influences, we have to be systems people who design systems. Our people is, of course, the most special thing about us. We’ve managed to find a group of very enthusiastic, talented and intelligent people who are passionate about 3D printing. Together they make up Markforged. We are always looking for people who love 3D printing, who are systems people. Systems people that want to develop integrated systems that manufacture.  There are a lot of companies making 3D printers, few make manufacturing systems. From the very beginning, software was an integral part of our manufacturing solution and with Blacksmith, the importance of software has only grown.

We also do things that no one else has done before. We were the first to 3D print continuous carbon fiber for example. We let you make high strength polymer parts through a low cost material extrusion process.  Not only can you 3D print strong parts on the desktop we are letting you do this while fundamentally lowering the cost structure of these parts. 


The X7 is an industrial polymer system for continuous fiber

What is adaptive manufacturing? 

Up and until now machines go through the motion of making parts with no idea of what they’re making. Spindles move, toolheads cut but they have no awareness. They have no idea where they are and what they’re doing. Literally, they’re going through the motions. Machines will keep on running even if empty or cutting up air.

Now with Blacksmith we’re uniting your inspection equipment with the machine itself. Now for the first time, a machine can know what it is doing at any moment. What’s more, it can connect to an AI and learn about manufacturing. Our machine learning software is letting the machine rewrite its own code. The machine can now improve itself. This will improve reliability and repeatability for manufacturing. The machine can now learn “How do offsets work?” for example. 

What will Blacksmith do for manufacturers?

Blacksmith lets manufacturers create dependable parts the first time, every time. Now we’re closing the loop by integrating part scanning, printer hardware, and software. This means that you’ll know that you have the right material, in the right places, and the right shape at the right moment. This improves part outcomes and locks in repeatability when you go into production. Blacksmith compares a design to a 3D scanned part and then adapts the process to create in spec parts.

With Blacksmith we’ve made an autopilot for manufacturing. Rather than waste material and time we cut waste and accelerate time to market. This is not just a 3D printing solution we aim to connect your entire factory to Blacksmith.

So it’s a learning algorithm? 

It is a learning algorithm that encompasses all of the relevant data that you need to make an in-spec part. The same way that we train application engineer, we train the AI. For many of our customers’ lack of qualified 3D Printing staff reduces their adoption speed. They have Mary and she understands 3D printing but she will be the only one in the organization. With Blacksmith part of the knowledge that used to only be in Mary’s head will now be in the cloud, accessible to your machines. 

The steep learning curve that people have had to go through to really use 3D printing for manufacturing is now reduced. The machine, the factory is on autopilot. Through now being able to predict part outcomes and act accordingly Blacksmith lets companies adopt 3D printing at an accelerated rate. Staffing is now less of a bottleneck and the company can get to production quicker.


The Onyx two is a desktop system that can make continuous carbon fiber parts.

In binder jetting metals, the sintering step has always been problematic. How are you trying to solve this? 

We’re letting the machine change its own code to make their own part. Blacksmith can now predict parts and defects. We don’t use a linear scale factor. Blacksmith intelligently alters the part to get the outcome that you need. In this way, we can have a system that will continuously learn and improve to get the optimal output for manufacturing. 

Sandvik unveils first 3D printed diamond composite at RAPID + TCT

Sandvik, has unveiled what is said to be the first ever 3D printed diamond composite at RAPID + TCT this week. Using stereolithography (SLA), researchers from Sandvik’s additive manufacturing division implemented a slurry consisting of diamond powder and polymer to 3D print the diamond composite. This material has been tested and maintains the physical properties […]

3DQue Introducing QPoD & QSuite at RAPID 2019: Enabling Autonomous 3D Printing Mass Production Capabilities

Today in Detroit, this year’s RAPID + TCT kicked off in the Cobo Center. We’ve already been reporting on plenty of news from the show, with lots more to come in the days ahead. Canadian company 3DQue Systems Inc., which automates FFF and FDM 3D printing for mass production, will be launching two technologies at the event this week: QSuite and QPoD.

First, a little background…the company was founded just last year by finance expert Steph Sharp and 18-year-old inventor and 3D printing whiz 18-year-old Mateo Pekic, who began 3D printing small part quantities in 2016. Pekic needed to find a way to remove parts from the print bed and start the next job remotely, and after lots of research and testing, has now been running his own 3D printers – with full automation – for more than two years.

“Until now, plastic 3D printing has failed to meet today’s manufacturing needs due to the high cost of part removal and lack of end-to-end automation. Working from his basement, Mateo Pekic has been able to solve a problem that has stumped some of the world’s leading experts in materials science, engineering and innovation by automating plastic 3D printers to safely produce complex plastic parts at scale,” said Sharp, who is also the CEO of 3DQue.

Pekic spoke with Sharp, a local mentor for entrepreneurs, and asked her to run the business with him; 3DQue was founded just days after Pekic’s 18th birthday. The company has truly made plastic 3D printing competitive with traditional manufacturing, as it offers solutions to some of the major problems when it comes to scaling the technology, such as unit cost, autonomous part removal, and automated production.

When I first saw an image of the QPoD, I was positive it was oriented wrong, until I read the release more closely. The plastic high-volume 3D printing mass production unit, powered by the company’s automation QSuite, has a vertical build platform.

This could actually be a real game changer. The efficient, compact, 24/7 production-on-demand unit has a total of nine 3D printers in a 12 sq ft 3×3 array. An 8-day field trial was conducted on the autonomous platform in January, and the QPoD printers were able to successfully produce 25 x 25 x 25 mm switch cube frames at a rate that would be equivalent to 100,000 parts a year: a production capacity of over 8,000 parts/sq ft.

Switch cubes

The platform has internal conveyors and collection bins for true autonomous 3D printing, at unit costs that are competitive with injection molding. With QPoD, there’s no need for outsourcing, which helps reduce inventory levels, costs, the environmental footprint, and lead times.

The QPoD is driven by QSuite, which automates 3D printers all the way from upload of the design to delivery of the parts. This end-to-end automation upgrade negates manual, time-consuming tasks like enterprise scheduling, 3D printer restart, and parts removal. The suite includes several modules, including calibration, material removal, and matching the next print job to the current 3D printer configuration.

QSuite mass produces high-quality plastic parts in a continuous loop without the need for dedicated operators, and reprioritizes jobs based on changing parts or deadlines. The suite doesn’t require any glue, tape, or robotics for autonomous part removal, and uses real-time reporting and management data to give users complete control from remote locations.

At RAPID this week, 3DQue will be offering live, hands-on demonstrations of the innovative QPoD. Not only has the cover been removed from the platform so attendees can get a good look inside, but you can also book a hands-on demonstration of the automated part ordering system at the company’s booth #1765. You can choose the part, material, color, and quantity, then watch how it’s uploaded into the queue and matched with the correct printer. Once the part is printed, attendees will be able to see it automatically delivered to the collection area and pick it up.

Additionally, don’t miss the Innovation Auditions at RAPID today from 1:30-2:30, as Pekic will be competing for the chance to present 3DQue at tomorrow morning’s keynote presentation.

Starting in July, QSuite capabilities will be available for license to end users on a pay-for-use basis starting at $1 an hour per printer (lower hourly rate for high volume users). Booking is also currently open for the QPoD platform, with installations slated to take place between June-December 2019 for the introductory price of $45,000. Each on-demand production unit comes with QSuite, automated part delivery, control panel, and nine 3D printers.

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[Images provided by 3DQue]