It’s trade show Season! We are getting out of the studio to bring you the cutting edge 3D Printshow recap right from the show floor. The Pasadena Convention Center was the perfect venue for the 3D Printshow California, the quality of exhibitors and seminars was much better than expected. We took our AV crew on the road to capture all the highlights, you can see the 3D Printshow recap photos here:
3D Printshow Recap Photos
3D Printshow Recap Videos
In addition to this podcast of the best of our on site interviews, check our our YouTube 3D Printshow recap videos with videos of the people, products, and exhibits, and our complete interviews.
3D Printshow Recap
Hey, everyone. This is Tom and Tracy on the WTFFF 3D Printing Podcast. We had quite an experience at the 3D Printshow in California. It was great, fun. The location couldn’t be better. Pasadena was just great. The convention center was such a great place to have a show, and especially a show that size. It was within a great walking distance of local food and places to hangout. You didn’t have to eat the convention stuff. That was nice. Hotel is right there and of course Starbucks, that’s important. It was just really nice and it was a small show, but I have to say it was really jam-packed with some great things. I think it was very high quality show. I was pleased.
When I first saw it, I thought, “Oh gosh, we’re going to be done with this in half a day,” and really we came back for the second day or at least part of it. I think that we got a lot out of it. The other thing that I was really impressed with was their conference schedule, some of the speakers that they had, but not enough people went to it. I really think they missed out. There were a couple of really great speakers in there. Cydni Tetro from 3DPlusMe, oh my gosh, the things she talked about were just absolutely amazing. Her topic was battling for the 3D Printing Consumer. I just love her take on it because she talks about exactly what we say. Basically, if you’re just going to 3D print the same thing that you could make in mass production, then don’t bother. She’s sort of preaching to the choir here.
Anyway, the stuff that they’re doing, experience stuff, to geek out a little bit. The idea of having, you’re going to Disney and having your face scanned and then put on a Storm trooper because Star Wars is coming, or to have yourself scanned and you can have yourself put into carbonite. I’d like to do that, that’s cool. The idea of being able to combine scanning, 3D printing and the whole thing and having it be an experience I think is really great because people are willing to pay more for that and then it makes it worth it. These are just some of things, which actually ties into this week’s podcast because this week’s podcast is pet prints, and that’s an experience. They don’t scan them, they actually take photographs and then make a model. You’ll hear more about that on the next podcast. It’s an experience process. That’s why they are successful, it’s because they’re really modeling after what Cydni talked about. It’s high quality stuff.
The other thing is that, Staples, Behzad Soltani and Clement Moreau from Sculpteo announced their partnership and that they’re having a web portal through Staples that prints out your designs onto Sculpteo. The interesting part about that I think was that Sculpteo ended up being the most valued price. Also, I spoke to Jessica Hedstrom at Sculpteo and they are going to be opening, within the next couple of months, a San Francisco factory there of printing. Sculpteo won’t be overseas anymore, it’ll be right her in the US. That is going to make it really economical. That should make them more competitive. They didn’t really talk much about it, but I got the distinct impression that they were not going to be expanding the Staples store locations with 3D printing in them. They have 50 and they aren’t going to go further than that.
I think there was a lot of really good tips and information and things in these speaking conference part of the program. I know they charged for it but still I think more people should have taken advantage of that. It was some really great and interesting learning. Some new companies coming into the US who haven’t been here before. That’s pretty exciting. For those of you that was in the WTFFF pretty regularly, this is a little bit of an unusual or special episode where we went to the 3D print show and we took a crew with us with a camera and we interviewed a lot of the exhibiters right there on the floor and recorded that for you. We’re going to cut to some of that audio here in this podcast.
Also on the website, there’ll be a links to all the videos and the video cast of our time there. You can actually see our interviews as well as see what we were looking at when we were talking about it. I think it’s really important actually if you’re interested in any of the subjects and any of these interviews you hear clips of, you can actually see the full interviews in video on our YouTube channel and through our website.
What I want to talk about is the most exciting thing that happened when I walked in to the 3D print show. The color. There is a huge, huge row of color. Actually, the rainbow of color was impressive. But it was not a rainbow, that’s what I’m saying. It was the most subtle, beautiful colors I’d ever seen. There were two booths of colors, I was so super excited about it. New colors, subtle colors, colors you’re not finding anywhere else. Apparently, what we’re finding is the Europeans are really way ahead of us in color.
First, we went to the Herman Miller booth, which I used to work for Herman Miller back in the day when they invited the Aeron chair. They designed a system piece that is a part of a Herman Miller system, an office furniture collection. It’s an older product, a few years old. The 3D print tools that they’ve just designed for it and the colors that you can print them in from this fabulous line of colors is just tremendous, so we talked with her.
We’re here at the Metaform Tools booth with Janja. We are so excited because there’s this huge pan of color here. Tell us a little bit about this, because this is sponsored by Herman Miller, is that right?
How did that came about?
We’re a design studio based in Berlin, Germany and we designed this office furniture system. Then we came across a Berlin manufacturer with this range of filament color and played around with it in the studio and thought, “This is so great. We have to do something.” Then we thought, “Okay, let’s design and print tools for the office furniture system.”
You were already working on an office furniture project with Herman Miller when you discovered the beautiful range of colors?
Yes. We always work with 3D printing from prototyping, but then we discovered this material.
All of these accessories that we see here available for sale with the Herman Miller furniture system?
Yes. If you have this Herman Miller furniture system, you can go to MetaformTools.com to our web shop and order additional tools to customize your work space even further.
Now, can a customer buy spools of color and print themselves?
Yes. We also offer to download the STL file. Also on our web shop, you see the contact to the manufacturer of the material.
I think we just have to get some colors in.
We plan to also be a retailer for them in our shop.
You should. We don’t see these many colors in the US market.
I’m excited. I want to get my hands on some of that color and try it out. I’m dying to. The company that makes this is in Berlin as she told us, it’s in Germany and not so easy to get it. But her company, looks like they’re going to be reselling that filament and making it available. I just want to get my hands on the material. I want to get my hands to the filament. I think that the work tools and what they’re doing, the concept of being able to create your own customized product or they’re selling them as finished things, but this is a great example. You can use 3D printing to make things to augment your work environment.
I think in a Herman Miller environment, which is they mainly sell to a contract. They mainly sell to office managers and facility managers and big corporations. I think the real miss there is that, instead of just ordering those 3D prints, if you as a facility manager were able to have a 3D printer in your IT office and just send them the files and say, “Hey, print this for office number 360,” whatever it is, that’s could be a great idea for the future. Good service business.
Let’s go to Italy now. Oh, my gosh, the Italians. This was a great find. It wasn’t like they had a ton of colors in their booth but it was their openness to doing custom color that I totally loved. Their offices are right down the coast in San Diego. Let’s listen to the interview with them and then come back.
We’re at the FeelColor booth, which is an Italian-made filament. I got really excited because you guys know, listeners out there, how much I want to talk about color. Not only do they have some really nice unusual colors that I haven’t seen in a while, and I saw a great pearl back there, but you guys do custom colors as well. Explain that to us.
That is correct. We currently carry 90 colors for varying materials, like ABS and PLA. Color is really our thing, because we have developed a specialty in masterbatch, color additives for plastic. We can match any color, for example, anybody that would want to have something printed that matches their corporate color, or a particular color that they love. As long as they can order some quantity of 10 plus kilos of material, then we can match the color to exactly the color that they want.
Their rolls are 700 grams, so that’s about 12 to 15 rolls, somewhere in there. That’s great because that’s really low. To be able to do that as a business designer is a great tool. Filament goes far. You really can’t use up 300 rolls of a custom color but you could certainly the 10 or 15.
We realize that. We have a good system in terms of our production lining. We are pretty efficient. If we need to print that color, we’ll make the masterbatch and then we’ll print that quantity. Hopefully, people will love it and come back and order maybe the 300.
You got to start somewhere, exactly.
We have also the 300-gram filament. Smaller spool. We have this microwave coloring technology that allows us to color even smaller quantities. Even if it’s not very common, but we can make very, very small quantities. Also, 100 grams if required.
Wow, that’s great. You can really sample and get the color dialed in. Because that’s another problem. A lot of times when you’re custom color matching, give them a little swatch, but it’s a square, it’s not a filament. When you go to print it in, it’s wrong. This way, you can really dial it in and make sure you have the right color, make sure it’s a great match.
Yeah. Let me say another thing here. These filaments are controlled. We have a laser on the two axis so we control the diameter and there’s a tolerance of fine-microns in the X and Y axis. It’s a perfect circle. There’s no problem about the consistency in terms of diameter.
We talked about that on the podcast. We talked about it, ovality is a problem, you want to be circular.
It’s not a problem here. Another important thing is that our technology goes back 25 years in coloring plastics, so we can make a perfect match in the sense that we guarantee that if you buy this green, the next quantity will be exactly the same and there will be no change. Even if you interrupt your printing, you can start with a new filament then it would be perfectly similar.
A new LAT is still going to match the old LAT?
Exactly. We check the LATs and we have an instrument, which is called a colorimeter. We guarantee that in the chromatic values, we are very, very consistent.
Wow, that’s great. You said you’re opening an office in San Diego and you have one in New York?
Are you going to distribute the 90 colors out of US directly?
Yes, they will be available to the US market. For the moment, since it’s 100 percent made in Italy, our proposition is that if you want to add value and quality to your 3D prints, you can use material made in Italy. It’s a little bit like in other items, clothing or shoes.
Italian-made, how great is that?
Italian-made, right. We think that people take care about their 3D print designs that put effort in getting something that they really like, then they can match the quality of their creativity with material that we guarantee is high quality, brilliant colors or custom colors and consistent colors.
I noticed that back here, you have some that have a pearl quality, but also translucent. You do all those?
Sure, and actually colors is not the only thing that we do. We are actually working on new material. We have materials containing for example marble powder that looks exactly like chalk. You can sand it and then it’s like a statue. Then we have transparent, translucent, photoluminescent, fluorescent, iridescent color and many, many other things. This is originally the business we started many years ago, coloring plastics and adding to plastic new effects and new properties. For example, so we have filaments that are UV resistant. PLA is not that resistant, but if you put something inside PLA, it can be more resistant to light, or we have polyamide that can be resistant to temperature.
People are doing replacement car parts and other things like that. Even the decorative emblems, they don’t realize that it’s going to fade and they’ll have to reprint.
Exactly. For example, you have a gear inside your car that is broken, if you make it with PLA, it’s not going to last. If you make it with heat resistant polyamide, it will stay there for years. Longer than your car, I guess.
That’s true. We’re so excited about this and we’re going to have to do a real follow up full podcast on this, because color is just something we want to explore the whole process and how it worked and how long it takes.
We’re excited too. I forgot to say something, all the colors we use are approved in the US for food contact.
They’re food safe. That’s is a big deal. People don’t realize that as well, that if you’re going to make children’s cups, baby items, you want them to feel safe when they put them in their mouths, because they will, it happens all the time. Great. Well, thank you so much, I’m so excited.
You’re welcome. Thank you. Our pleasure.
I’m totally excited that they are going to be in San Diego. When are we booking to Italy to see it in person? I think we do have to schedule a Milan trip to just make sure the quality is perfect. We want to make sure we do our job for our WTFFF listeners and make sure the quality is really as good as it looks. They are putting an office in San Diego. The best part of this is they’re willing to work with people who want a custom color and you can do it for buying just 10 kilos as a minimum order. That is unheard off.
This is going to change business use of filament and business use of 3D printers, and that’s what we needed. This is great. We’ll be doing a follow up podcast on this and doing a product review and test of that filament. They provided some filament to us and we haven’t worked with it yet, we’re going to very soon and we’ll let you know. We want to have them on a special podcast just about that.
Additionally, our friend Jack Warren from Toner Plastics was there, which is great that they come all the way across the coast, because they’re in Massachusetts, to come to a California show. I think it was really, really interesting that they are so invested in this market and do so well with it. It is our favorite filament to use. We love the quality of their filaments. Actually if you look at our previous episode from Polar 3D and there’s a time lapse video there of that printer printing some of our stuff. That filament was from Toner Plastics. Anyway, we checked in with him. Let’s hear that.
We’re at 3D Printshow California with our friend, Jack Warren, from Toner Plastics. It’s nice to see you on our coast.
It’s great to be here.
Tell us a little bit about what’s been going on at Toner Plastics.
Toner Plastics, this has been a good year for us. Our 3D business is growing. One of the things that we’re focused on now is helping companies to start their businesses in 3D printing supply, things like that. Companies are wanting to find a US manufacturer of filament.
A consistent manufacturer of filament, because you want it consistent if you’re going to bring it in an OEM standpoint, right?
That’s right. Some of them have had previous experiences with poor filament suppliers. We’re working with them to try to help them out and get going with our filament.
That’s great. That’s some strands for the Doodler pen I noticed.
We do. There are couple of 3D printing pens on the market now, so we can produce a strands. We make them in 10 inch lengths, wide variety of colors, PLA and ABS. They come in a tube, which is a nice package, you can open it up and put them back in.
They’re not getting messed up.
They don’t get messed up, they don’t get all over the place. It’s a nice storage package too.
Great. Has your facility been expanding with volume growing?
It has been. We moved into our facility. We just had our anniversary this past August, we’ve been there for a year. We have 125,000 square foot facility. We continue to add more extrusion lines as our business grows. We’re pretty happy about that.
You do ABS and PLA?
We do ABS and PLA. That’s mostly what people in the desktop community are buying. We also do TPU, that’s had some success. People say it prints really well. We’re working on some other materials as well. We’re working on a PET filament, we’re working on a conductive filament, a highly conductive filament in conjunction with our compounding company, S&E Specialty Polymers. We’re working together to bring a new filament to the market.
That would be like, you could put a battery in there and will just run?
Yeah. You could light an LED with it, things like that. They’re static dissipative conductive filament, but we think is going to be truly conductive.
That’s great. That would be fabulous. That really changes it and that really makes it so that you can really print and then go.
I’m so glad to catch up with you and see that you guys have great range of colors and things are growing. Thanks so much, Jack. Good to see you again.
I think a lot of companies are very serious about made in the USA. We know actually a new 3D printer company startup which is making everything in the USA. That’s important to some people. Toner is a first class manufacture we have here in the US. Great supplier source for it. They work really hard to make sure their quality is up there and I love their factory.
Anybody who’s listened to all of our podcasts, you may remember we’ve said at times that we have done a lot of furniture product design in our careers and then we have furniture of ours at Costco and places like that. For me, this was a very exciting find, that the Big ONE, the BigRep company was there with a huge printer. I don’t remember the build layer, but it’s in the interview. Oh my gosh, it’s huge. Let’s hear it.
Tom and Tracy here at 3D Printshow in California with Nazar from BigRep. They have the largest 3D printer that I’ve ever seen in person, printing a piece of fortune.
That’s the base of the table.
What is the build layer?
It’s about 1.3 cubic meters.
Wow, 1.3 cubic meters, that’s quite a bit. We noticed that the spool of filament is very large. That’s four kilograms, right?
This one is about 3.6 kilograms but you get even five kilograms spools.
Now, how long will it take to print that table base?
It will be done by tomorrow. We started today at 10:00.
Maybe lunch time tomorrow?
It’s very impressive. It seems to actually be moving very quickly for a big print.
I like on the scale of a furniture item that you really don’t notice the layer very much.
You don’t, because we can print up to 100 microns, that’s our solution.
Are there any recommendations or design constraints around doing a large piece of furniture like that, a base or something?
Design constraints, no. In theory, you could print actually anything. You have to just make sure what kind of support structure you are using, or if you would rather want to slice down your object into couple of parts and then put it together in the end.
What kind of applications are you using? What kind of companies are putting in these big machines?
It’s varied. We have a lot of universities who are interested in the machine. We have a lot of designers, architects and authors, but we also have a lot of small and medium size businesses, even larger industries more interested in incorporating the 3D printing technology into the manufacturing process. That could be in terms of prototyping or it could also be in terms of making molds.
What’s the cost of this machine you have here?
The machine you are looking at, it costs 38,000 euros.
You’re shipping those to the US now?
I notice that it was printing, it’s printing one color right now but I looks like there’s two nozzles there.
They have two nozzles. You could use two different colors, you could use the second nozzle for support material.
Do you have examples on your website of some large two-color prints?
Yes, we do. There’s a video of Marvin from 3DHubs? It’s this big and it’s in many different colors.
We will have to go to your website and look at that. We’ll put the link on the podcast.
It’s the largest printed Marvin in the world.
Thank you for your time.
I’m glad we went back the second day to 3D Printshow because when we were, that print of that furniture-based had just started. It’s been our most popular Facebook post and most popular Instagram of that show. You can see them before and after and it’s really great. What was really interesting was that the filament, because I got a lot of questions from it, from Vicky Somma, our listener who has a Shapeways Shop and now an Etsy shop. The filament on it was white when it first started. Then it looked like it was like coloring or maybe or it was lighting weird, but actually what it was, it was like an ombre in the filament itself. It transitioned from white all the way to a coral-orange color. It was a blend.
There are two extrusion machines that actually blend filament. We’re actually going to review in one coming up in a few weeks. In this case, they actually made a special filament. Boy, what a big spool that was. It was a huge spool. Unbelievable, it’s like four kilos or something. They needed it in order to continuously make this one part. It was beautiful. It was really well done. It was a simple table base. To me, the design of that table base was well done. It was a beautiful overall shape but had this textural pattern within it, kind of a three dimensional diamond-shaped pattern, that really the way light and shadow hits it, it takes your eyes completely away from the layers and really focused on the form of the furniture.
Compared to a lot of the displays of little gadgets and gizmos and trinkets and chotskies, it was probably the best and most original one. Unfortunately, what I think was not good in their booth was the fact that they had this end table, it was really a blurring ugly end table. It just really looked like it was plastic. It was just gross from the finish standpoint. I think it didn’t serve well. I think if they had had one of those, of the exact one that they were building finished, in context, I think that would have been a better choice for them. Plus, I would like to see that table base in a table like with a light in it illuminating it from the inside. There’s so many great things you could with that. It was impressive.
Let’s shift now to Ultimaker. We had a great conversation with Ed from Ultimaker. I didn’t really realize, I’ve known Ultimaker existed for a long time. When you go on 3DHubs, they’re one of the most used printers there. Of course, we’ve talked to a lot of people in the Netherlands about 3D printing over the time that we’ve been into 3D printing and Ultimaker is huge over there. Keleche, our mentee that we’re working with in Nigeria has an Ultimaker. But really Ultimakers I guess have not been distributed in the US. It was really eye opening to me. The most interesting part about the conversation is, first off, I just loved Ed. He’s a great guy.
He’s heading up all US operations, US sales. What I really liked is how supportive they are of their community. They have just such huge supportive community forums. In fact, none of the people in the booth, in the Ultimaker booth, were employees except for Ed. They were all users and community people. I think it was great because when you talk to them, they’ve all been there, done that, had that problem. They’re really realistic about it, they don’t sensor. I went back through and peeked through the Ultimaker forum, and they don’t sensor. If someone says, “I’m having a problem and this isn’t working,” and they get all upset about it, the rest of the community jumps on and tries to help him. They don’t give up on each other. I think that’s really impressive. Ed was a fun guy and this is a great interview. Let’s hear some of it.
We’re here with Ed from Ultimaker US. You guys are coming into US strong.
North America? Oh, wow, bigger.
Kenya and America.
It’s interesting because a lot of your listeners out there and viewers are Ultimaker users already, because we hear that a lot. That’s good from worldwide, but we’re not hearing a lot from the US, that’s because you’re just getting really going here.
Tell us a little bit about that.
Well, Ultimaker has been in the US in terms of selling devices for quite some time. Usually, it’s word of mouth, it’s few resellers that were put in place. What’s happening over the course of the next really couple of years, but more importantly the next three to four to five to six months, what’s going to happen is we’re going to expand that network so that Ultimaker is going to be more readily available, and at the same time quality of the services and support can even go up, even though it is actually really one of the highest in the marketplace today.
I think I see the 3DHubs report every month and it’s always been a number one at the 3DHubs for a long time. Although I heard the n3D is getting on there, but it’s really small. That’s a small printer. What is so special about an Ultimaker, especially for a first time user?
I can tell you this much. It’s the easiest printer to set up, it’s the most reliable, it’s got the highest quality, and that’s not me saying that, that’s the folks that evaluate the printers like Make Magazine and a number of other folks. Really, reliability. They’re designed to have a really good 0:29:46 results and all that. We’ve got engineers as quality insurance. We don’t just shove the product into the marketplace and say, “We’ll let our users decide.” We actually engineered the product to be highly reliable.
I find it really interesting that the people you have in this booth today are actual users from community.
We don’t sell the product. That sound like a strange thing. What we do is we invite users here, the community members that are familiar with the product, and then we step aside so that potential customers could come in and talk to them honestly. There’s a trust-based communication where you can ask them any question. When doesn’t it work, why it does it work, what was your experience?
How big a learning curve did you have.
By the way, it’s actually really interesting from the perspective that each person that uses the machine has a different skill level that they enter with and they have this different skill level that they want to engage and grow. If they know that they’ve got the right the equipment, now what they’re doing is they’re actually establishing relationships with other users, which extend beyond the show. Meaning, “Okay, George, can you help me do this?”
Now, you have a mentor. That’s brilliant.
Once again, it comes down from the engineering concepts and people that are experimenting with these machines is just fantastic. You just don’t see that with other manufacturers, you just don’t see it. It’s really what makes the difference.
I’m so glad I got to talk to you and meet you today. It’s been a pleasure, thank you.
I was really impressed. To me, Ultimaker as a company has a lot more integrity in my mind because they’re putting real users out there that you can talk to the trade show. You don’t have a sales person spinning whatever their printer does best into it’s the best printer in the world and you need to buy this one and nobody else’s. It’s just not like that. Now, I want to get my hands on one and try one. I think we need to.
There were also couple of really other interesting printers out there. We were impressed by 3DGence. They are out of Poland. I made a mistake at first, there was one of their representatives, one of their people in the booth who we had a discussion beforehand, he was from Germany. In the interview, I actually said, “Oh, and it’s German” They corrected me. It’s not, it’s Poland.
It’s actually a very impressive printer on many levels. Let’s listen to some of that interview and we’ll discuss it a little more after.
Hey, everyone. I’m here with Patryk, the CEO of 3DGence. They have a very unique and high quality 3D printer with some unique features that we want to talk about today. Patryk, thank you for joining us. I understand your printer has an interchangeable nozzle?
Yes. This is one of the features which makes our printer unique in the market. We invented the interchangeable nozzle, which is like a press of a button.
I can change diameters?
Yeah, you can change diameters, you can have specific nozzles with specific materials. You can have all set of different nozzles so you can play around with them.
I understand you also have a ceramic bed and that seems to offer some improvements. Can you share that with us?
Yes. There are some filament improvements inside. First of all is structurally we are getting from a having a ceramic, which is really, really nice, really smooth. The main features which users will be interested in, we don’t need to use in order to start printing and then make the filament stick to the surface, we don’t need any kind of chemicals, glue or anything like that, it’s just sticks. The other two feature is once we finished the print, we just wait until heat bed cools down and we just take it out without damaging.
Once the ceramic cools, it just comes off very easily?
Yeah, like exactly from this table, you take it out and that’s it.
Wow. I’ve had a hard time removing some prints from some beds in the past. That’s amazing. Now, it seems a very high quality machine of aluminum. You have a unique feature with your filament feeding, right?
Yes, we have pressure sensors, which are responsible for various types of features in the printer.
I understand that if the filament is having trouble feeding, the printer can sense this and can adjust?
Yes, can adjust first of all. We can adjust on the fly, we can adjust the amount of filament as given by the extruder.
The machine does that automatically?
Yes, machine does it automatically, this is the first thing. The sensors also are responsible for the autocalibration.
That’s another unique feature. It does this all by itself, right?
Yes, it does it all by itself. The sensors are measuring the heat bed in 500 points. We only do it once, once in a lifetime we say. It creates a digital mat of this structure, because sometimes the ceramic might be stretching from the heat. We created the mat, we store it in the memory of the printer. Then we also use it for the autocalibration on the side during the print. You always have the same distance from the nozzle to the print that you print out.
It seems to be a very high quality printer. This is just made in Germany?
No, this is made in Poland.
Yes, in Poland. We are right now focusing mainly on automotive and outer space industry. We have some good results. Our first printer has been delivered to General Motors and General Motors is working on all those printers already.
You are distributing them in the US now?
Yeah. This is our first exposure in the US. Right now, we’re establishing an office. We already have an office in San Francisco in Rackspace. Ultimately, we are probably bringing also the production to the US.
Really, wow that’s great. It’s a very impressive looking printer and it seems to have some great features. Good luck to you, I hope does well. Thank you for spending some with us.
Thank very much. Thank you.
This is one of those you definitely got to check video out for because to watch them pop that piece in and out, it was so simple. It really was simple. It’s a problem a lot of people have with printers. I’ve had nozzles on printers and they’re really hot. I’m having to get out my box wrench and take it apart, heat resistant gloves. When I sometimes twist that nozzle off, I twist the whole assembly and then everything has to be re-calibrated. Really what they’ve done is they’ve really solved that problem and made it easy. You can change nozzle sizes and replace them when they were out.
Do you think you can do it within a print, can you do it while it’s printing, to change the size nozzle and stuff? I think you could change the nozzle if you thought it was wearing out or maybe starting to clog. Changing the size of nozzle, the G-code is really set for the size of nozzle. What you could do is if you wanted to put two in one print, is you could actually print apart into different files, leave it on the bed and change the nozzle in between parts. Because you can start a new file at a certain height to keep building at something you already printed.
I was just thinking the idea that you maybe have some layers that you just didn’t want. You just did need the clarity or other things like that. I don’t think you can do that. But their new printer coming out, that they said was within a month of being done, has two nozzles. You certainly could print one nozzle at one diameter and another nozzle at a different diameter. I’m looking to testing that one. They were really positive about sending us one to test. It was a beautiful design printer too for a new company. This is a serious effort, this is not a garage project. They’re selling to GM.
Another beautiful machine though, I have to say, Airwolf has always been my favorite looking machine. They were there and they got a new one. The new one has got injection molded parts which it says that they’ve really tipped over. If you’re starting to make an injection molded case for your printer, it means that you really come to stage at which is the volume is high enough, it make sense. He was saying that it was the time for them. They said that 50% of their growth, because he gave a talk, Erick Wolf, gave a talk, 50% of their market growth has been with schools.
That shocked me. Especially because they have one of the most expensive printers on the market, the desktop printers. Their biggest area was aerospace and other things like that. But 50% of their growth is schools. He said yes, it’s anywhere from junior high up. The majority of it tends to be colleges and high schools. There are some really new technical advances in this printer. Let’s go to our interview.
I’m here with Erick Wolf of Airwolf 3D at the 3D Printshow at California. We’re learning about their new printer, the AXIOM. Erick, thank you for talking with us today.
Can you tell our audience a little bit about your new printer and some of its unique features?
We’re really excited about the AXIOM. We started designing this printer in early 2015. There was this need out there for a printer that’s truly plug and play, push and go. One of the biggest barriers to easy 3D printing is calibration. Once you learn how to calibrate a standard printer, it’s no problem. For the beginners and for the people who actually have a job to do and they want to get it done right away, you don’t want to learn how to calibrate. They don’t want to think about, “Hey, is my print not coming out because I didn’t calibrate it right?” There’s this extra variables that it introduces.
Another thing that they wanted to do is they wanted to print an ABS. Usually with an open printer, you can print small objects and ABS. When you want to get into big ABS objects, you want more of an enclosure around it to prevent air coming in and to keep that temperature warm inside the chamber. We wanted to solve those problems. We also wanted a printer that looked really special from the outside. We have some outstanding previous designs, but one of the issues we ran into was at the large quantity we wanted to move this printer at, was people expected like an injection molded surface to the outside of the machine.
Traditionally, our customers loved the way our machines were 3D printed and they could see some of the 3D printing in there. But with the new style, they want the smooth finish. We actually built a hybrid machine. It’s got injection molded polycarbonate outer pieces and inside it was still 3D printed because we can really quickly prototype the designs and make them faster and stronger and adapt the machine to new filaments and new ways of doing this. It’s a really, really fun project for us.
The other issue we want to work on was make it a strong as possible. I want this printer to be able to be rolled out of the back of the delivery truck and survive. We build it with aluminum extrusions throughout. A lot of aluminum 1/8 sheet metal in there and make it as strong as it possible can. With the printer itself for the auto-leveling, with the auto-leveling, what will happen is actually the nozzle will complete a circuit with the bed. Now, this technology is a new application in the sense of this printer because that glass plate will slide in to this carrier that we created. The glass plate is the printing surface but the carrier actually acts as a conductive surface for the nozzle.
What’ll happen is the nozzle will touch different parts of this plate, the microprocessor will then remember where on the Z axis the nozzle was for each that it touches, generate a virtual plane in the microprocessor. That virtual plane will then be projected on the part as it prints. If you look down, you can actually see the Z axis slightly turning, depending on where the print head is. We have this automatic calibration at all times. It’s sealed too, it’s enclosed so you don’t smell it, you don’t really hear it too much and it does its thing, that’s the beauty of it.
I understand that the filament feed is new as well and it’s much easier?
That’s right. Usually with the 3D printers out today, you have to feed that filament in and you have to close the latch, make sure your tension on the filament is correct. This one is already pre-tension, there’s actually no adjustment. Even if you want to adjust it, you cannot adjust it. It automatically adjusts the tension on the back there. You’ll put the filament though, it’ll suck it through, come out the nozzle and it’s ready to print. If you want to change the color or change the filament print, you just press Pause, you’ll select Retract Filament and it will take all the filament out of the head. Then you can put your new filament in, you select the Load Filament and it will put all the new filament in for you.
That’s certainly sounds like it will be a lot easier to use, a lot more enjoyable really in filling with all those little things.
I think so. Our guys love it at work. After they used these, they don’t want to use anything else anymore.
Wonderful. Airwolf 3D has a new printer and a new logo, I understand. It’s very cool.
We do. We have some really talented people that joined our art department. We’re so happy, everything is coming together just in time.
All right. Thanks so much for spending some time with us. Really appreciate it.
Thank you, Tom.
They’re really close. We’re going to go over at some point when the two color version, when the dual version is available. We’ll go over there and we’ll do an onsite review, and we’ll check it out. They’ve invited us to come over and participate in something like that. I think it’s a great idea. They’re great people. They provide a lot of good service if you buy one of their printers. You have to respect where they started. They’re making 3D printers and their own facility manufactures them here in California and they’re 3D printing the majority of parts, and they have for all their printers for a long time. This is the first printer where they’re still 3D printing parts for it but it’s interior parts. The exterior parts, the shell that is what you see when you walk up to it is now more manufactured, more professionally done. Very impressive.
I have to say, they’re still using a click wheel interface. I was hoping with the new printer to see a little bit better user interface on the printer. I guess all things in good time. Put your money where it’s really important. I think the filament thing is the important part, that autofeeding.
The other thing is that there were, besides machines and filament and other things, there were a lot of software people at the show as well, people who were doing cloud services and file servers and a different things like that. The one that really caught my eye, what an evangelist, Paul Trani from Adobe. Oh my gosh. He is out there, loves 3D printing, loves to talk about it. He gave a really energized presentation in the conference section about growing industries. He’s super excited. That’s his job, is to go out there and talk about it and talk about what Adobe has done to integrate 3D printing. While we talked to him, which we should hear, we also got a first-hand walkthrough with him. He gave me a personal demo, because I was not able to go listen to his conference talk. I needed to understand this myself, so I got a guided tour. Let’s listen to what he had to say and then we’ll talk about how the walkthrough us.
Tom and Tracy here with WTFFF. We’re talking with Paul Trani of Adobe. We want to learn a little bit today about what Adobe is doing to integrate with 3D printing.
Happy to tell you. We have a big booth here. Usually we’re really loud but we toned it down a bit. In essence, Photoshop has a built-in audience of millions. I’m not sure how many, but so many people use Photoshop day in and day out. We wanted to give them that avenue, that way to express themselves if they want to. The short of it is Photoshop, as you know, has been doing printing, Adobe has been doing printing. Our history is integrated with postscript. If you guys download Photoshop, Illustrator. It was all about, “Whatever I see on my screen, I want to get printed out.” It’s the same concept, whether they are bringing in a model into Photoshop or if they’re creating some 3D printing Photoshop as well.
I think that’s great because we talk about it all the time on the podcast, that we really want it to tip mainstream. If it’s going to tip mainstream, then your average ETSY designer who’s using it to create PDF printables and things like that are using Photoshop already, so they understand that language. We find that the language of 3D printing tends to be a little too engineering and less design. I don’t mean it to be criticism, but it is what it is. If you really want to go mainstream, you got to start talking design. Adobe talks design already.
You’re exactly right. It scares me. Even if you bring up the term 3D to people, it can be a little scary. We even at Adobe have to approach it in a different way. It really gives you the ultimate when it comes to flexibility. That’s what 3D does in general. If I have a flat image of someone and then a client comes, “I want a different angle,” or something else, then I’m stuck. I got to redo that shoe or do something else. But if it’s 3D, ” I can just adjust that a different direction.” Not only that, again that next level is the 3D printing of whatever that is.
We’ve heard more about these 3D photographs and 3D scans and things. Is now Photoshop becoming able to integrate that kind of technology into it?
As soon as that stuff starts to become more mainstream, when our phones can start capturing 3D data, when I take that picture and I add that, trust me, we’re on top of that, we’re so on top of that.
We ordered a Bevel already from Kickstarter. We can’t wait for the 3D camera. It is going to hook to the top for your phone. It goes into your headphone jack and you can just on your phone, take a 3D picture.
Do you take a straight 3D photo and then it captures that 3D data?
You move around the object that captures it all with a laser.
Better precision. I think actually Autodesk might make an app, mesh mixer, which will sync all this all up. Trust me, we’re definitely on top of that, just so you know.
Good. That’s great. How are you educating those who are already know Photoshop, are you offering classes, videos? What’s going on there?
We’re trying to get the word out as much as possible without even using that term 3D. Because we don’t want them to think of say Cinema 4D or any of those programs because it scares me. Unlike just make it simple and then you have me sold.
It’s like having to learn how to fly a plane or something to use this programs.
It makes my brain hurt. I just want to create cool stuff and you’re making my brain hurt. In Photoshop, it doesn’t make your hurt. In fact, I like to call it, it’s like the gateway drug to 3D because you get hooked. You’re like, “Oh, I could do stuff,” provided it’s not going to replace your Cinema 4D, but that’s where you might end up if you want to.
Where can they learn about it?
If they go to Adobe.com, and selfishly my site, PaulTrani.com. I have a huge list of videos. This is our Creative Cloud logo that I turned into a bottle opener. This is just a simple extrusion.You might touch up a selfie in Photoshop if you want where you could get the 3D scan.
The 3D scan is being touched up. That’s what we discovered from experience 3D scanning. It would be great to do that in Photoshop because people will love that. If you have to really take it into a big CAD program, it’s intimidating.
Yeah, it is. That’s why we’re there, to meet that need and make sure that even if didn’t come from a big app that it prints out successfully, wherever it came from. Just like Photoshop doesn’t take photos, I clean them up in Photoshop, the same idea.
It makes a lot of sense. Thank you so much for spending a little time with us today.
I’m really glad I spent the time, I think it was our second day when we came back. I got a little guided tour from Paul. I didn’t realize Photoshop, which is a program that we have and we use every day in our normal work, has actual capabilities for creating 3D models or integrating new things with 3D models. You can import 3D models, add things to them, especially I’m most excited about, fonts. Who manipulates fonts better in a computer than Adobe? Nobody really.
I have not printed with anything I’ve done with that yet. I’ve just started to get to know it because we just learned about it. We’ll have to report back on it and I think maybe do a Screencast little video companion about it. Because fonts don’t always print very well. I also think that this is a bigger opportunity to see someone like me who actually doesn’t do the G-code part, doesn’t do that CAD part of it, see if I can take the designs that I do in Photoshop and actually turn them into something that really looks decent 3D printed. That would be great when do our review on that. Let’s definitely plan to do that.
I’m really excited because I think CAD programs don’t deal with fonts as well as they should. Adobe, they’re the masters. I think you can use that and your normal CAD program together. Adobe speaks to a lot of artist, graphic artists and other things who might want to really try three dimensions but don’t yet. Their language is more grounded in that. That’s my biggest complain about a lot of software and CAD programs and things that are out there, is that the language is in the language of mathematics and CAD and not in the language of design and art. That’s always been one of the reasons we’re drawn to, Adobe has taken off and gotten so powerful.
That just reminds me of one of my favorite things about the show, the artist forum in the center. There was some beautiful art in there. It was not contrived. This was legitimate fine art that either was entirely 3D printed or 3D printing was one of the materials and mediums used to create it. We took a lot of photographs of it and we’ve been putting a lot of these things up on Instagram and on Facebook. Go and check some of those out.
There was a beautiful artistic, technically fashion, but much more couture and sculptural. There were some abstract art. My mom is an artist, an abstract artist. I think she would love to have seen this because it just integrated in that same abstract way that she works, integrated that texture and three dimensions, and it was actually 3D printed. It was with paint mixed into it but it was beautiful. Actually my mom has taking some of our print fails or rafts and things like that. She used those in some of hers. She hasn’t actually used them stuck to the canvas, but she’s used them to almost block print. Almost like stamping.
My favorite was Ryan Buyssens. He has done a lot of work to create those sculptures. I think I want one in the office. He does this installation. Let’s listen to our discussion with Ryan for a minute.
We’re here at the 3D Printshow in California talking to an artist named Ryan Buyssens. Ryan, thanks so much for joining us.
Thank you, guys.
He’s the creator of this wonderful moving art behind us that you see. Tell us about how this came about.
Many years of obsession over movement, animal movement. I loved light since I was a child. I had a couple of a-ha moments while studying the movement of birds and related it back to a mechanism and made the bird’s wing pivot and rotate as it flapped. Then I figured out how to make the wing bend and break throughout the flapping motion.
Has your art always been with 3D printing involvement or did it start with a different material?
I did a lot of handwork, and I learned to 3D model. Usually, I’ll put my work as a paper print up and I would cut the pieces out. Then I gained access to laser cutting and 3D printing. 3D printing is now a huge part of my work. It saves a lot of time, they can do it better than I can. It’s a means to an end for a lot of parts.
So you can create more art?
Exactly, yeah. I still like to have the hand in there. To play both off of each other is really important to me.
What kind of 3D printer did you use for the mechanism of art in here?
These are laser-centered. I send them up to Shapeways and have the parts printed out. I dye them to be the colors that I want.
You dye them. Colors is the greatest issue with 3D printing. What kind of dye are using, textile dye?
Rit dye, awesome.
A little bit of vinegar, oil it, it works really well.
That’s great. That’s good to know because we always want to get better color. You have a regular printer or a regular FFF or you always outsource?
No. I have a couple of printers myself. I have 4 in 1 and a Buccaneer. I use dimensions and emboss and all sorts of other printers to help my work.
Do you show these in galleries?
Yeah, I’ve shown in a few galleries. I’ve shown a lot more in academia. I’m sending them out to different calls for entries and exhibits that are museum or academic-based.
These are motion activated it seems.
They’re flying behind us because we’re standing in front of him. There is the one static over there. I found it when you walked up to it and it starts up. It’s really actually exciting to see the shadow move all of the sudden
Thanks. It’s a big part of it for me. I like it when it’s lit in high key lighting to make that shadow on the wall.
Thanks so much for talking to us. We’re always interested to see what artists are able to do with 3D printing because we have much more vision than some of the engineers and thinkers that have started it. They have a plan for what they want to make, but you have a bigger broader goal.
Thank you again. Nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you.
I really relate to him. He’s an artist but he also has interest in motion and mechanics and physics, and he’s found a way to combine all that and using 3D printing to his advantage to create wonderful art installation. He’s done things for corporate lobbies and things. The way that thing worked, and you got to go see the video companion for this one. There’s some really cool video shots. He’s 3D printed this mechanisms really and these beautiful wings that flap in motion just like a bird does, and it doesn’t move until you walk up near it. It senses you and then it starts moving. It’s this wonderful surprise.
I think that really just really speaks to, having seen that, is you really can see how artists are pushing and using 3D printing both to make sure that they can make more art, be more efficient in what that is. Our friend, Bridgette Mongeon, her book came out and I just got it yesterday. I’m super excited about it, it’s 3D Technology in Fine Art and Craft. I can’t wait to read through this. The idea that 3D print artists aren’t artists, I can’t stand that. I keep reading that on the internet. That’s an ignorant statement, it’s just not truth. It’s completely ignorant. Who doesn’t use a medium of some kind? If your medium is produced in a computer, but as long as that your artistic vision and your manipulation of it, artists have stuff cast and done all the time by other machinery shops and artists. This is just more efficient. It just a means to an end to realize your artistic vision.
I’m really glad that the 3D Printshow California included that. They did a really great job of putting a really nice section together. Actually, of all of the 3D printing shows that we’ve been to, actually I think this art installation, this gallery presentation was the best that I have seen. There’s a lot of great fine art we’ve seen at some shows but as a presentation, as a gallery of art, as a collection to view, to me, this was the best that there’s been.
I had a great a time. There was a lot of other companies to see there. Our friends down the road, Matter Hackers, were there. Tinkerine we saw. We talked to them at the very end. We didn’t really do a formal interview. We’re going to do a follow up with them. Gosh, they’re doing some great things and they have this great little hovercraft made of trash bags and 3D printed parts and remote control stuff. These guys are pretty sharp. They’re doing a great job up in Vancouver. There’s just some really great things going on in Canada. Good for them to come to 3D Printshow California too.
We’ve been talking to them. They’re also associated with another person we’ve interviewed for an upcoming podcast, John Biehler. We’re going to be talking about Tinkerine. Hopefully, we’re going to be reviewing one of their printers. They also may participate with some of our ask us anything questions in the future. They got a Tinkerine You kind of thing going on, how they teach and how they help and they get a lot of question. We thought maybe they can help us answer some. I look forward to that.
I guess we’ve got a huge line up of future shows now, more of these trade shows and conferences and things like that. Next up will be a Maker Faire San Diego. We will cover that one. We’re also doing a talk at that one. We’re talking about marketing and profit making as a maker. If you’re in the San Diego area, we’ll be there as well and we’re going to take questions and answer them at the end. That’s October 3rd, yeah. October 3rd. Saturday, October 3rd. That’s coming up in less than a week after this is published.
After that, we’re going to have SoCal Maker Con, which I’m also speaking at. We’re actually going to be exhibiting there and conducting a lot of podcast interviews, taking ask us anything questions and doing some periscopes live from there. We’re going to try to do some live. Stream it out, we’re going to have our camera crew there and it’ll be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to that one. It looks like in December, we’ll be up at another one in LA. Some gadget show. We’re going to have to get back to you on that because it just came to us. We’ll have one in December 2, so we’ll have one a month of these. There will always be video if we can squeeze it in, which I think pretty much we will for all the next shows.
I think especially for those of you that are any parts of the country or parts of world where you can’t get out to some of these shows, hopefully it’s of interest and use to you. We’re just trying to help spread the information and help tell you what’s new, what’s up and coming. Also, if you’re in another area of the country like Paris or Dubai, this 3D Printshow is a show that travels around the world at different times of the year, at different places. If you’re able to get to one, they put on a very high quality show. I would highly recommend, if there’s one near you, try and get out to it. You won’t regret it.
If you are a 3D print company, you should think about exhibiting with them. They do a good quality job and they drove a good amount of people. I think it could have been a little heavier on the first day but it looked like it was building up because the second day was Saturday. I think for a lot of people, it’s easier for them to go on a Saturday. It was definitely building up. I would definitely attend those shows and think about exhibiting.
Let us know what you think. If you’re going to be at one of those shows that we mentioned, send us a message and we’ll make sure to get by and see you. Stop by our booth if you’re at the SoCal Maker Con, ask us some questions. Love to meet you all. Thanks again. This is Tracy and Tom. This is the WTFFF 3D Printing Podcast.
- Metaform Tools
- Feel Color
- Toner Plastics
- Big Rep – Big One
- 3D Gence
- Airwolf 3D
- Artist Ryan Buyssens
- Staples 3D Printing Web Portal
3D Printshow California is the place to discover 3D Printing. Whether you want to strengthen your business, bolster your creativity or just find out more about the world’s hottest new tech, we’re at Pasadena Convention Center, 11, 12 September, 2015.
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