Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category

The Daily 3D Detail: Shapeways CEO steps down

Posted by Editor On August - 15 - 2017

Shapeways CEO steps down

Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg with Peter Weijmarshausen during ribbon cutting of Long Island City facility

Peter Weijmarshausen, co-founder and CEO of Shapeways, has announced his departure. COO Tom Finn will assume CEO operations until a permanent CEO can be installed.

Weijmarshausen began the online 3D service bureau in 2007 with fellow founders Marleen Vogelaar and Robert Schouwenburg, whom have already left the firm.

The service bureau was formed in The Netherlands as a way of providing 3D printing to a wide range of modelers and engineers who were unable to create prints on their own. Shapeways, as part of the Royal Philips Electronics business incubator, trailblazed the 3D printing industry with their services and has been instrumental in providing rapid prototyping to designers all over the world. It has been estimated that there are nearly 37,000 outlets providing Shapeways services in the world.

Weijmarshausen commented on his departure by saying, “I am proud of all we have accomplished during ten years at Shapeways and am excited about everything that I see on the horizon for the company.”

Albert Wenger, Shapeways director, had this to say about Weijmarshausen’s years of service, “I want to thank Pete for the decade he has spent building Shapeways. Pete has really pioneered consumer 3D printing and built Shapeways into the leading marketplace. He will continue to guide the future as a director of the company.”

For more on the story, see this article at

Print with Multiple Filaments with Palette+

A simple method of multicolor prints is now available

Type A Machines has introduced a new way of printing in multiple filaments with an add-on device called Palette+. The device, produced by Canadian company Mosaic Manufacturing Ltd, sits aside conventional FDM 3D printers and fuses multiple filaments together through a rotary cutting method. This method than allows not only multiple colors in one print, but a mix of material combinations including PLA with a soluble support material, PLA with flexible TPU, and PLA with PETG.

Print with Multiple Filaments with Palette+

The new and improved slicing method, referred to by Mosaic as closed splicing, allows for a more even distribution of heat across the bound surfaces of filaments. This process is complemented with its own software, Chroma 2.0, which incorporates a functionality enhancement called Raft, a new G-code processing engine that supports slicing programs like Cura.

For more on the development of Palette+, visit Type A Machines.

The Daily 3D Detail: Meet the 3D Printing Nerd…

Posted by Franka Schoening On July - 12 - 2017

YouTube’s 3D Printing Nerd

… and subscribe to his channel while you are at it. Joel uses YouTube videos to discuss and review 3D printers, analyze polymers and generally advocate for the industry. Check out his video about the Kodama Obsidian Prototype or watch him interview fellow 3D printers like Ben Heck or Josef Prusa. Some of his videos are applicable to practical printing, as he fixes his Subaru’s gas cap and prints and reviews his own feetz. But he also enthusiastically responds to fan mail. If you are lucky, he might respond to your question, showcase items you send him, or take your suggestion on videos you would like to see next. And if you are REALLY lucky, he will send you some stickers, as that seems to be the going currency in the 3D Printing Nerd’s universe.

His passion and curiosity make his videos informative and engaging. While nerd used to be an insult, it certainly is rather a certificate of knowledge when it comes to the 3D Printing Nerd.


The Six Steps to a New Manufacturing Paradigm

Posted by Fred Kaplan On July - 8 - 2017

Can additive manufacturing deliver on a $12 trillion promise?

By Fred Kaplan

Delivering on Additive Manufacturing's $12 Trillion Promise

The quality and clarity of SL-printed parts gives the additive manufacturing a definitive advantage

The manufacturing world is in transition to additive manufacturing.

The promise of this transition is $12 trillion worth of goods. Trillion. With a T.

Recent advances in technology by HP’s (multiJet fusion), Carbon3D (CLIP technology) and Desktop Metals, have all successfully employed FDM production for short-run end-use parts with at the enterprise level of 3D printers. At the DIY level, desktop model manufacturers such as Markforged, Roboze, and AirWolf3D offer commendable end-use production with the same FDM method.

Stephen Nigro, HP’s President of 3D printing, speaking at the 2017 RAPID + TCT show, described the areas where the additive manufacturing industry can optimize the transformational future of additive manufacturing. While Nigro’s presentation was framed around HP’s multiJet fusion technology, it is a useful look at how these key points are being addressed across many technologies industry-wide.

Following are six essential keys that Nigro believes will transform additive manufacturing toward this $12 trillion goal:

    • World-Class Product and Technology Capabilities: Additive manufacturing has never been more innovative. HP, Carbon 3D, and Desktop Metals are at the very beginning stages of developing technologies that offer the possibility of disruptive short-run manufacturing. Improvements they to chose to address included printing speed, printer “up” time, and higher percentages of acceptable finished parts. While these new technological innovations are getting the media’s attention, another manufacturer, UnionTech entered the U.S. in a new product category showing great promise in both resolution and material strengths. Since 2000, this company’s large-format open source printers have been using stereolithography to produce unheard-of build times with impressive results.SL technology, as seen in the graphic below from, is shown on the very far right in the “Plateau of Productivity” as opposed to the newer technologies which could be located in either the bubble of “Inflated Expectations”or the “Trough of Disillusionment” before they are on their way to the “Slope of Enlightenment.”

Delivering on Additive Manufacturing's $12 Trillion Promise

  • Open Materials Platform to Drive Down Costs: The cost of proprietary 3D printing materials has made it almost impossible to calculate a profitable ROI in manufacturing end-use 3d printed parts. The traditional razor blade method that has been employed by 3D printer manufacturers doesn’t work in an environment in which OEM manufacturers need the broadest portfolios of available materials from the 3D printer. HP began a program to qualify open source material partners at the K2016 plastics and rubber trade show. DSM Somos, has a complete portfolio of SL materials designed to go with open source SL printers such as UnionTech. Since the late 1980s, DSM’s Somos group has earned a global reputation for stereolithography material innovation. Prototypes made from Somos resins closely replicate the functionality of engineered thermoplastics, but are delivered with increased speed and accuracy.Delivering on Additive Manufacturing's $12 Trillion Promise

    UnionTech printers, made in China, have developed a reputation for quality prints

    Another aspect of additive manufacturing materials that has to be considered is the difference in part construction which varies from one technology to the next. Processes such FFF which depend on the adhesion of one layer to next tend to have little strength in the Z axis versus isotropic construction of stereolithography.

  • Materials Diversity: A wide array of material availability is the foundation of successful manufacturing whereas the promise of new materials in the future is an innovation driver. Open-source desktop printers have broken down the barriers closed-source manufacturers have attempted to use to control their market. Open-source printers have brought us PET-G, TPE, and ASA polymers and a variety of other filaments. Matterhackers’ matter guide is a good example of the material range and Somos lists 14 open-source stereolithography resins currently available.
  • New Design Methods for Additive Manufacturing: The development of CAD programs has increased the functionality and provided ease of use for new users. Through these applications, successful designers and engineers are creating geometries optimized for additive manufacturing. The future of CAD is in algorithm-based design that is able to iterate using tradition CAD and 3D-scanned data with programs such as SolidThinking’s Inspire that optimize topology for strength, economic material usage, and weight of printed parts. Another example is Materialise Magics, which optimizes data preparation for 3D printing intended for casting applications.
  • The Reinvention of Supply Chains: As Additive manufacturing is being perfected by organizations looking at the possibility of emailing CAD files versus shipping parts across the globe. While that reality is here, the advance of this prospect waits for the resolution of other issues on this list. Local Motors is a business whose model is built around four microfactories creating automobiles from locally sourced components. The capacity to accommodate the demand for individual vehicles through localized production is an example of the way the future supply chain is headed.

Delivering on Additive Manufacturing's $12 Trillion Promise

An example of the quality of SL prints

  • Regulations and Standards: One of the obstacles to the adoption of additive manufacturing is the uncertainty regarding 3D printing materials. There are currently few certifications for 3D printing materials due to the expense of certifying proprietary materials and the absence of regulatory groups. Typically 3D printer materials are referred to as “ABS-like,” as opposed to being actually ABS or any specific material. This lack of definition can lead to unexpected parts failure if produced without significant testing. Companies such as 3D Systems, Envisiontec, StrataSys and Somos are leading the industry with medical-grade and aerospace-approved materials. In order for manufacturing to embrace additive manufacturing, the industry needs to provide better materials information and a standardized rating system of material properties from the additive material suppliers.

There are a couple basic points to look at when choosing a 3D printer or a new 3D printing material:

  • Heat Deflection Temperature (HDT): which is the temperature at which a material deforms under a specific load. The importance of the number is a reflection on the functionality of the 3D printed part; such as whether the part will be functional under the hood of an automobile. Carbon- or silica-filled materials have a high HDT while PLA has a low HDT which makes easier to be printed on an FFF printer.
  • Tensile Modulus is the measurement of stresses that a material can take along an axis and return to its original shape or the measurement of the stiffness or brittleness of a solid material. Rubber is an example of a material with a low tensile modulus and glass or ceramics have a high tensile modulus.
    • Flexural Strength: is depicted in the graphic below. The “F” arrow is the force at the fracture point when factoring the length and width of the material. Flexural Strength is the stress a material can tolerate before yielding. ABS has a flexural strength of 75 MPa compared to StrataSys’ Nylon12 PA flexural strength of 47 MPa.

Delivering on Additive Manufacturing's $12 Trillion Promise

While Additive Manufacturing is experiencing one technology breakthrough after another, the prospect of one 3D printer being replaced by the fleet of 3D printers will take the combination of 3D printer reliability, along with material functionality, to provide a dependable and predictable manufacturing process. As the industry awaits the roll out of HP’s, Desktop Metals’, and Carbon3D’s new printers, time will show if they are pushing the envelope of dependability and functionality. While open-source 3D printers provide more functionality by being able to print multiple materials, there may an additional benefit: the competition which open-source provides can only result in more user-friendly operations and more reliable 3D printers.

Fred Kaplan is a 3D printing material specialist, who has worked with SLA, SLS, FDM, ColorJet, ADAM, DLP, LOM, FFF, MultiJet, Polyjet, and SDL 3D printers. Specializing in matching the best technology to a particular 3D printing application, he has also worked with many brands of 3D scanners and many CAD packages.

Prior to his work in additive manufacturing, Fred received a Los Angeles-area Emmy and other awards for documentary filmmaking.

Even if you are not a regular subscriber, it might be worth picking up the latest copy of the Economist. Multiple articles on 3D printing are featured, covering additive manufacturing for mass production; economies of scale; Carbon’s plans regarding digital light synthesis and more. Find more details here.

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

Posted by Editor On May - 30 - 2017

Companies looking to be in space include GoEngineering, THK, Additec, Proto Labs, Purple Platypus, Airwolf3D, Splunk>, and more

By Gregory van Zuyen

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

The talking robot at the THK booth was an international hit

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

Next year’s event only promises to be more engaging

The most important thing you need to do right now is book travel and lodging to be in Pasadena, California between the dates of May 22-24, 2018. That is when SpaceTech Expo is happening at the Pasadena Convention Center and you will not want to miss it. Bring the kids. This event deserves the Governor’s Award for STEM Development. It’s the closest thing anyone can get to hanging out with astronauts themselves. All the people there are all qualified geniuses. And they are developing technology you want to discover. It’s nothing short of awe-inspiring.

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

The show had something for everyone at any age

Why Pasadena? Because that’s where Caltech resides. And anyone who knows will tell you that you have a satellite’s chance in the sun of getting into JPL without having graduated from Caltech with honors. Space exploration lives here.

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

Every aspect of space exploration was displayed for people to experience first-hand

SpaceTech Expo is expanding like the universe. The vast number of booths and offerings of this year’s expo were too numerous to mention in full. We had to limit this article to 3D printing specifically. We begin with GoEngineering.

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

GoEngineering’s 3D printing specialist Glen Chancellor demonstrates the Creaform’s ease of use

GoEngineering displayed their HandyScan Creaform scanner integrated with their editing software VX Elements to maximize their position in the scanning market, and frankly, they may be succeeding. Their device is barely over a pound and scans an object to within 30 microns of accuracy. Perfect for reverse engineering any spacecraft. It’s like waving around a baggie ziplocked with air. It’s LASER beams are precise, producing 480,000 measurements a second which is harmless to human exposure, and amazingly accurate. Patching the holes in the VX Elements software was a piece of cake. If I was running a city crime lab looking for the best means of recording forensic evidence, I would snag two for busy days. Price? $35,000.

The scanner market is huge. Huger than huge and few have grasped the importance of it’s impact on the future economy. Read driverless cars. Companies that get that will succeed for sure. SpaceTech taught us that this year.

Contributing Editor Fred Kaplan on scanning: “3D scanners produce point clouds of positional data. The point clouds are geometric samples of the object being scanned and often contain billions of points which require software to optimize the data and to export the data to a solid model such as a .STL file. 3D scanner software can smartly interpolate the point cloud to fill holes, merge meshes, optimize meshes, decimate meshes and create water-tight models ready to be 3D printed.

“3D scanners divide into two types of technologies. Laser Scanners that use a laser source that defines space by emitting laser light from two sources and recorded on camera in a process called triangulation and Touch probes or contact scanners recording positional data in 3D space by touching the surface of the object and clicking the device. Another technology that is used to record the surface imagery and the geometry of an object is call photogrammetry. Photogrammetry used an array of still cameras all pointed at an object or person. Software aligns the images, creates a visual reproduction of the surface and interpolates the geometry. Photogrammetry is used to create human reproductions because the process is recorded the duration of still camera shutter. There are also a variety of medical applications such as CT scans that are scans based upon the volume of an object.”

To be specific, understanding the scanning market takes foresight:
3D scanning is used in:
1) Inspection: to measure the size of an actual part to compare to the CAD that was original designed to increase the accuracy of the part and quality control.
2) Engineering: Creating CAD from an existing part to re-create something no longer being produced or to adapt something new from something old or replace old parts
3) Product Development: Feet and faces are commonly scanned for sizing shoes or eye glasses
4) Medical applications
5) GIS, mapping
6) LIDAR in autonomous cars

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

GoEngineering’s William Huertas shows how their software makes Creaform so effective

Kaplan went on: “Creaform scanners are hand-held that are fast and easy to use. The HandyScan scanner is made to scan the interior or the space stations as well as the auto, healthcare and manufacturing applications. The company originated as a scanner service provider but the HandyScan and GoScan packages have set the standard as the highest quality handheld scanners on the market. Creaform’s robotic mounted optical system is MetraScan which are 3D scanners that have been seamlessly integrated into automobile and other manufacturing assembly line operations.”

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

Additec — one of the many companies present at this year’s show

Technical Editor Tsion Asmamaw had this to say about the show: “Proto Labs was the company to visit at the show. This company provides injection molding, CNC machining, and 3D printing for customers who wish to budget themselves conservatively. They can see the proto type design before going ahead with any production or large scale manufacturing. I think the flexibility of this company will quickly create a good stream of customers exploring their vision in no time.”

Asmamaw also pointed out that GoEngineering wasn’t the only company sponsoring Stratasys products: “The second company I was interested in was PurplePlatypus. They displayed the impressive machines from Stratasys. The preciseness of the prints displayed at the booth were handheld examples of accuracy. One example was a human hand displayed with all the blood vessels in true color — all done with injection polyjetting by these incredible machines — the level of detail and realism can only help the medical education industry beyond measure.”

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

Julie from Airwolf3D in a brief moment between speaking with the many aerospace engineers who visited the booth in the busy three days of the expo

Airwolf3D also presented at the show and, as has been written previously, is a company worthy of taking into space. Their Axiom made a hit with engineers, who although celebrated in their mechanics, have yet to experience 3D printing. Credit goes to Airwolf3D for speaking to this awe-inspiring level of genius it takes to do rocket science. This company is closer than most to being in space. That’s all I go to say.

Lastly, I want to bring your attention to a company that, by all aspects, is not 3D printing related. It is my hope 3D printing companies will seize upon this aspect of technological innovation to improve their products at exponential rate. That company is called Splunk>.

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

Devon Bolton, account manager for aerospace & defense for Splunk>

Splunk> does data-mining and analytical feedback on levels that make one ponder what cannot be done. Their team has grown steadily in their application of brilliance in what they are achieving. Keep in mind, this is SpaceTech Expo. This is NASA-grade data-mining analysis. Talking to the team at Splunk> is like trying to have a conversation with a genius cousin on scholarship to MIT. These guys see data in ways that make the notion of cosmic-shift likely. Their story on developing better subway braking systems makes me proud to have met them. Remember you heard of them here first.

Plan now for next year’s SpaceTech. Make a family trip of it and develop a love of science in even the youngest of keen investors.

Gregory van Zuyen is managing editor of 3D Printr Magazine and an instructor is 3D printing at Santa Monica College.

Matterhackers Matter about Matter

Posted by Fred Kaplan On May - 16 - 2017

3D printing is all about what will work best for the part

By Fred Kaplan

Matterhackers Matter about Matter

Matterhacker’s lab where products are tested and used

The first 3D printer company I worked for sold printers that made objects out of a refined and expensive form of gypsum. Gypsum has been called “Plaster of Paris” due to the proximity of the Montmartre quarries to the City of Lights. Gypsum is also the main ingredient of sheetrock or drywall — not exactly the strongest or sexist material that one would expect from a 3D printer but it worked well for its purpose at the time.

From humble plaster beginnings, 3D printing has always been a materials game. One cannot say what material is the best because every printing need is different. For many, PLA is the best material because it is easy and inexpensive. For the aerospace community, Ultem /PEI or PEEK are considered the holy grail of 3D-printable materials.

SPOILER ALERT // There will be a rash of new desktop metal printers coming out in the next twelve months which will produce fully dense metal part on what is comparably inexpensive $120,000 printers. //

The best materials are subject to what your intended use is for your 3D-printed part. Which can be divided into three groups.

  • Rapid Prototype: a geometric representation of the object to be viewed, held or snap fit to test the shape of the object perhaps in relationship to another object
  • Functional Prototype: The printed part may be subject to heat or stress to determine if the geometry fits and functions under specific conditions I would put 3D printed part that will be a casting in this category.
  • End Use Pars: which includes Tooling, Aerospace, Automotive, Medical, Dental, Jewelry, Food, Bioprinting, Clothing and more

Given the wide variety of uses for 3D-printed objects — everything from toothbrush holders to a functioning kidney — it’s crucial to know what materials you want before you purchase a 3D printer because the material you print with will affect the geometry of the part.

Matterhackers Matter about Matter

We spoke to MatterHackers’ Director of Marketing Dave Gaylord to get a greater understanding what 3D-printable materials are being used and why would one choose any particular material. Granted, we could have taken a six-year degree program in chemistry to get our answer but we figured asking Dave was like the same thing. MatterHackers opened in 2012 and currently represents over 70 manufacturers of 3D printers as well as a large assortment of filament materials including PLAABSnylonNylonX, SLA resins, Flex, PETG and more.

Matterhackers Matter about Matter

“sets MatterHackers apart is that they test and use the products they sell, much the way you would expect an innovative lab to work. Matterhackers’ website provides sought-after user forums where customer’s questions are answered by MatterHackers’ trained staff.

3D Printr Magazine: Can you tell me about MatterHackers?

Dave Gaylord: “MatterHackers is the largest 3D printer retailer in the United States. We are known for our customer service and we feel confident in our ability to provide all the information our customers need in order to use their 3D printer successfully. Our website features how-to guides on many subjects including how to calibrate your extrude, use cases that illustrate 3D printing applications, and generally inspire our customers with interesting designs. We write features stories about new products and accessories. There are 3D printer reviews and it’s a go-to resource for 3D printing. Recently we have been adding video content.”

3D Printr Magazine: Tell me about Matterhackers’ customers.

Dave Gaylord: “We have three distinct types of customers:

  • Hobbyist and Do It Yourself customers who are the root of the open source movement and our primary customer
  • The education community.
  • Professional Engineers. We have been selling into the professional market such as engineers what makes these customers unique they require greater geometric tolerances and the absolute best user experience. These customers will use 3D printed parts as an end use part.”

3D Printr Magazine: What materials are being used?

Matterhackers Matter about Matter

Dave Gaylord:“PLA is the most popular material, it’s easy to use so everybody uses it — unless there is some specific case requiring a more robust material. PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate) is going to overtake a good bit of the market in the next year or two. PETG is easy to print with and it’s more durable. Our more advanced users are printing in nylon. MatterHackers’ in-house engineers are using nylon almost exclusively. It’s a stellar material that makes really strong parts and the layer adhesion of nylon is remarkable. Last year we announced our NylonX material which is a chopped carbon filled nylon. It’s a super strong, super stiff material that looks great right off the print bed. About a month ago we launched a PRO Series nylon that offers seven different color materials. Prior to this nylon was only available in the natural off-white color.”

3D Printr Magazine: What do you think is the best support structure method?

(3D printers add what’s called “support structure: when printing overhangs and to void the problems when the geometry would have plastic printing in mid-air. The most common form of support structure is a lattice of the printing material that is broken away in a post-printing process.)

Dave Gaylord: “Well that depends. If you don’t have dual-extrusion, the only option is printing in one material and breaking away the support material. If your 3D printer has dual-extrusion — meaning that the printer can print two different material in the same build — an additional material can be printed to physically support the build material. There are two soluble support materials — PVA (Polyvinyl alcohol) which dissolves in water when used with PLA plastic — and HIPS (high impact polystyrene), used with ABS plastic and removed using D-Limonene which is derived from citrus oils. We find that same material break-away supports work just fine. MatterHackers’ slicing software MatterControl has really great features that make easy-to-remove break-away support.”

3D Printr Magazine: Can you tell me more about the MatterControl software?

Matterhackers Matter about Matter

Dave Gaylord: “MatterControl software is free open source software that organizes and manages your 3D prints. It’s designed to help you get the most out of your 3D printer and its available for all operating systems including MatterControl Touch which is an Android-powered touchscreen controller that turns your 3D printer into an independent internet-connected device. Matter Control ships with many 3D printers as the original slicing software including SeeMeCNC and Robo3D. The slicing engine is continually being updated by our in-house software engineers. How can you beat free software that is easy to use?”

3D Printr Magazine: What’s your dream 3D printable material?

Dave Gaylord: “The material chemists in the 3D printing space have been very busy. New 3D printer materials are constantly being developed. We find the problem with many materials is that they are cost prohibitive for our market. PETG checks off a lot of the boxes on my checklist, particularly ease of use, strength, and durability. PETG is used to make water bottles, food packaging, and countless other plastic items. It combines the durability of ABS plastic with ease of use of PLA. Anything that PETG lacks as a 3D printable material, nylon fills the gap. It’s our primary material at MatterHackers.

“Nylon filament is incredibly strong, durable, and versatile. It warps a little if you don’t handle it properly and it is perceived to be a hard material to print but if you know how to handle it — it is an amazing tool. It is flexible when printed thin with very nice inter-layer adhesion. It’s low friction coefficient and high melting temperature makes nylon an excellent choice for 3D printing gears. Printing nylon requires temperatures higher than 240 degrees C. Most 3D printers come standard with hot ends made of PEEK and PTFE which begin to breakdown above 240 C, burn and emit noxious fumes. Make sure you check with your 3D printer manufacturer or email us your 3D printer information if you are unsure if you can print nylon safely.

“Most 3D printers can be upgraded with metal hot ends to print nylon safely and successfully. Nylon is also hydroscopic which means that it can absorb 10% of its weight in 24 hours so it is best if the Nylon material is dried in an oven at a temperature of 160-180 F for 6-8 hours. Store nylon in an airtight container.

“You can prevent the Nylon from warping by printing on a glass bed. We suggest a bed heated to 75 C with a thin layer of glue. To sum up, nylon is a great material that some people perceive to be difficult to print but if you use the tips I just mentioned or look at the information on the MatterHackers website you will enjoy the superior material characteristics of nylon. So I guess my dream material is either nylon or PETG.”

3D Printr Magazine: What’s MatterHackers bestselling material?

Dave Gaylord: “Our Pro series materials are our best sellers. The Pro Series filaments are engineered to highlight the strength of each type of material. Made to the highest tolerances in the USA. The PRO series includes PLA, ABS, PETG, nylon and Flex. MatterHackers stick behind the Pro series material like all the rest of the products we sell but you can use the pro materials with full confidence that you are getting the finest 3D printer material.”

3D Printr Magazine: Does MatterHackers sell material to print metal?

Dave Gaylord: “We sell thermoplastics filament infused with metal powders. The finish looks like bronze or stainless steel when you sand and polish it. They are not as strong as a fully dense metal part but it doesn’t require a $100,000 printer and a Hazmat suit.”

3D Printr Magazine: How have the 3D printer manufacturers improved their printers?

Dave Gaylord: “3D printer manufacturers have really dialed in user experience to the point that you can be 3D printing five minutes after the box is opened. Matter Controls is focusing on improving the user experience by creating presets to get the user printing quickly and having those settings match the different materials.”

3D Printr Magazine: How can you sell 70 printers? Does that confusion people?

Dave Gaylord: “It’s awesome! We have great conversations with our customers. We ask about their expectations and what their needs are. We ask questions such as, ‘Do you need a large build volume?’ ‘Are you focused on print speed?’ ‘Do you care about the visual aspect of what the printed part looks like?’ ‘How many printers do you want — one or a fleet?’ We can really dial in the needs of the customer because we have so many options, and each printer we sell is extensively tested by our team. We know the printers intimately and we can make strong recommendations based on our personal experiences.

“Having a great experience with a 3D printer really comes down to making sure that you — as the 3D printer user — understand what you need and what you can expect from the printer you buy. This is where MatterHackers excels. We regularly send out informative emails. Each printer we sell excels in different areas so it is important to make sure the customer gets all the information about the printers or the materials. People trust us because we aren’t a printer manufacturer. We have a broader vision of the whole 3D printing landscape.”

Fred Kaplan is a 3D-printing material specialist, who has worked with SLA, SLS, FDM, ColorJet, ADAM, DLP, LOM, FFF, MultiJet, Polyjet, and SDL 3D printers. Specializing in matching the best technology to a particular 3D printing application, he has also worked with many brands of 3D scanners and many CAD packages.

Prior to his work in additive manufacturing, Fred received a Los Angeles area Emmy and other awards for documentary filmmaking.

You Have the Idea and 3D Printer – Now What?

Posted by Franka Schoening On April - 2 - 2017

How to begin the process of taking new inventions to market

By Franka Schoening

You Have the Idea and 3D Printer — Now What?

How often have you had an idea for a great product, but never saw it come to life because the required capital to create it rivals the cost of a house in Manhattan? Many hobby inventors are scared off by the monetary commitment imposed on them to make their invention a reality, and so they put their blueprints into the “future projects” folder instead of in front of customers.

This is a tragedy really, as someone out there has designs on how to build a machine that solves problems such as speeding up the old lady counting her pennies at the supermarket check out – just imagine the GDP gain if people spent the time working on great ideas as supposed to waiting in line; diverting people from bumping into you when they are texting while walking – I vote to divert them into poles and call it natural selection; and, perhaps most importantly, a device that collects all your pet’s hair from the couch, floor, bed, clothes, and carpets. Or even better yet, one that stops the shedding completely. A girl living in her own little urban rescue animal farm can only dream.

While traditional manufacturing requires expensive machinery, product-development software, and extensive negotiations with suppliers to even produce a first-round prototype, 3D printing opens the door for a home-based product creation with minimal investment. Additionally, as Chuck Alexander, director of product management at Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, already pointed out in 2005 inventions can be tweaked and improved easily with 3D printing to test product functionality and perfect it before pushing it into the market with a reduced risk of failing. In-house printing furthermore allows for increased input from stakeholders, according to Christian Richter from R&D Technologies.

However, the ability to manufacture your own idea with 3D printing should not be mistaken for guaranteed success. Many more factors need to be considered and everybody relying on 3D printing for their start-up enterprise undergoes extensive homework to properly begin. Thankfully, there are a number of instructional materials available online.

A great resource in this case is the Ultimate Guide to Designing and Manufacturing your Product Idea provided by J-CAD Inc. These comprehensive instructions walk any aspiring 3D business person through the product development process starting with market analysis and patent law, followed by finding help through freelancers and businesses, to prototyping, pricing, packaging and marketing.

J-CAD Inc. has been involved in the 3D printing industry since 2006 and offer various services including designing, mold creation, printing, and shipping. Furthermore, they offer PR services and assistance with crowdfunding and other marketing functions.

Pinshape provides another step-by-step guide for inventors eager to turn their idea into a profitable product. In addition to the aspects mentioned by J-CAD, Pinshape also discusses a variety of 3D printing softwares, design principles that consider your product’s supports, material, and the level of detail among others, as well as hardware.

It is furthermore wise to consult guides that are not 3D-printing-specific, since the framework for conventional product development is very similar, if not equal. Check out Entrepreneur’s article on NYX cosmetics’ success story, or read suggestions by Harvard Business Review if you are seeking funding for your invention. Joining the PDMA (Product Development and Management Association) is also recommended for active entrepreneurs in the 3D community.

With resources like these available, it is our hope you can save the world with that product you have been thinking about all these years. When you do, share your stories with us at 3D Printr Magazine and we will do what we can to help promote it. It is our belief that your success makes all our lives more successful.

Franka Schoening, a German native, moved to sunny Southern California in 2011 to attain her Masters of Communications Management at the University of Southern California. Since graduating she has worked in operations in the medical industry and as group events coordinator in eco-tourism.

In her free time you can find her in the rabbit room at the South Los Angeles Animal Shelter, cooking vegan feasts, treasure hunting at estate sales and thrift stores, or picking up a random new hobby, lately sewing. She also organizes events and fundraisers for LA Rabbit Foundation and has a small rabbit boarding business.

Purple Reign: Prince to Spend Eternity in 3D-Printed Urn

Posted by Editor On October - 15 - 2016

Purple Reign: Prince to Spend Eternity in 3D-Printed Urn

Bulent Yusuf reports for on the recently-passed musician’s final resting place

Visitors to the Paisley Park museum were greeted with a surprise; Prince’s remains stored in a custom 3D printed urn. Foreverence, a company that specializes in custom 3D printed urns, has shared more details on the urn they created for Prince. The cremation urn is an artistic rendering of Paisley Park, the artist’s legendary recording studio and residence. Foreverence, a company that specializes in custom 3D printed urns, has shared more details on the urn they created for Prince.

The cremation urn is an artistic rendering of Paisley Park, the artist’s legendary recording studio and residence. Foreverence — which is based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota — worked closely with Prince’s family to create a memorial art-piece to house his remains.

According to People Magazine, Foreverence CEO Pete Saari said:

“We are truly honored and humbled to work with Prince’s family to pay tribute to one of the greatest musical artists of our generation. We believe that everyone’s a legend to the people who love and miss them the most.”

The urn was first unveiled at a private memorial last August, and is a surprise attraction for visitors to the Paisley Park museum in Minneapolis.

For more on the People Magazine story on the custom urn, Paisley Park Museum, and Prince’s legacy, see:

Editor’s Review: Micro M3D

Posted by Editor On October - 10 - 2016

Editor's Review: Micro M3D

I purchased the Micro M3D based on the reviews it received from the RAPID conference in May. After months and months of solid printing on it, I am able to confidently say that the Micro M3D is THE GIFT to have under the Christmas tree this year.

At the price they are selling today, there is no better way to get your egghead bestie into 3D printing than with this device. That being said, they will want to read this article and take notes to be able to get the most out of it right away. Still, at $349 each, it’s a small price to pay to be the first on the block with a 3D printer.

The Micro M3D is perhaps the smallest 3D printer you can buy as well. It’s print bed is barely a five-inch square. It’s tiny, and it only builds up to four-inch objects. Don’t plan on building anything large unless you are doing it with LEGO®-size parts. Small as it is however, it’s reliably the best 3D printer you can have to get started with this new technology. It keeps printing and printing and is like having a fun little robot in the house.

The Micro M3D is not without limitations

While downloading and launching the M3D spooler software is easily done with a number of Windows and Linux operating systems, the software requires a Mac OS of 10.8 or better. That means unless you are running Mountain Lion, you will need a PC to use the Micro M3D. Having reviewed various versions of their spoolers, it’s easy to see that the staff at M3D are working hard all the time to upgrade their driver software quickly and they are focused heavily on improving user interface features, which bodes well for the bounty of new owners this holiday should create.

The spooler for the Micro M3D itself is easy to navigate. It allows for a 360º view of the print bed and full manipulation of the object on the bed in scale and placement rotation for optimum printing conditions. It includes expert settings for loading unique inks and the wall and infill settings should suit any build, going down to the 150 micron level of resolution.

As with all 3D printing, risking speed for print quality is a conditional decision and with Micro M3D, even more so. New operators will soon come to understand that it is worth the time to wait for higher-resolution prints. Should impatience be a factor, the spooler allows for multi-printer functionality so you can run two Micro M3Ds at once. (If doing so, better results can be obtained by using a USB splitter rather than confusing the spooler with two ports to choose from.)

Editor's Review: Micro M3D

A word of note to Onshape users: set the model export settings to millimeters, not inches, when downloading creations to print on the Micro M3D. Otherwise there will be quesswork involved in scaling the object in the M3D spooler to be the proper size. M3D recommends a 25.4 percent scale enlargement of the object in the spooler to compensate for the difference in writing the exporting file to inches.

Perhaps the greatest issue plaguing the M3D is the internal spool assembly. The design of the Micro M3D includes a space under the removable print bed for an ink spool to be ported into the extruder from behind the printer. Unfortunately, this assembly creates an undue amount of friction in the releasing of ink from its spool and makes printing more difficult.

The M3D designers were able to see that defect in advance, and they created an external ink spool apparatus as the M3D’s test print. This apparatus, an attachable spool arm, greatly improves the ink feed to the printer head. This first download and print job recommended by the company is the key factor in making the Micro M3D a viable 3D printer option for everyone. New owners should prepare to immediately download the external spool assembly and hand-feed their first printed object in order to make the most of the Micro M3D from then on.

Also note there is no on/off switch for the 3d printer. Powering off the device for any reason requires disconnecting the electrical plug.

Editor's Review: Micro M3D

Breakdowns and Rage Prints

There was an episode of having the x-axis gantry separate from the y-axis chain about a week of heavy use (the printer ink became bound in the spool, causing the printer head to pull on the gantry which produced the separating parts). A call to the company though quickly directed us to a web page available on the site that showed us how to reconnect the gantry and recalibrate the printer. In no time we were successfully printing again and grateful the M3D was a forgiving piece of machinery. Given that factor, we also felt comforted by the company’s proactive stance on dealing with their product’s issues and we feel this company is doing a lot of things right.

One of those things being done right are the M3D printer inks. Although the M3D can use inks from other manufacturers, we’ve been testing M3D’s brand of inks and have found them to be diverse in substance and result. The brick red ink we ordered seemed to be an older product by the company and was brittle and finicky. It also produced an elaborate rage print when we let the printer run overnight unobserved. The pearl white and deep lemon standard inks at $14 each have held up well and have produced attractive objects. What has been most exciting are the “Tough” PLA inks available from M3D for $18. We ordered the yoga green (opaque) and super blue (semi-translucent) and discovered they have a springy, flexible, silicone-like give to their grip and feel. Need to print something bouncy and twisty with great resilience? Try M3D’s tough inks. Highly recommended with great printing results every time.

Editor's Review: Micro M3D

Care and maintenance of your Micro M3D

Again, this Micro M3D is a very good buy. Good friends and family-members who find a Micro M3D under their Christmas tree this year will be stoked. They are that affordable and easy-to-use. What better way to say “STEAM” to your child this year than with a 3D printer of their own, even if all they print out is Minecraft stuff? And while the nozzle does get hot enough to cause burns if touched, the print bed itself is unheated and a good choice for responsible adolescents to use. Unclogging and improving the flow of the nozzle does not require specific tools or removing parts but can be done through the spooler interface by increasing the heat levels to what ABS requires and flushing the system that way.

Obtain a thin-planed metal spatula to remove objects. Don’t use an Xacto knife or other hobby tool to pry off the printed objects from the removable print bed or you will scar it. The print bed can also be run under warm water to help detach objects and clean the bed. Elmer’s glue or other PVA adhesives have little benefit and M3D works best with a clean and dry surface. The process to watch for is a clean nozzle flow that allows the maximum amount of material for the initial raft. Adding wave bonding is also recommended to help avoid objects warping off the bed.

A number of online users prefer Buildtak sheets to protect their beds and improve their print adhesion. Blue masking tape has also been recommended.

To find out more about M3D printers and to get yours in time for Christmas, visit today.