Printrbelt from Printrbot and Polar3D is Going to Blow your Mind
By Bulent Yusuf
Printrbot and Polar3D collaborate on the Printrbelt; with an infinite build on the Z-axis, it takes a radical angle on desktop 3D printing.
The 3D printing community has caught a strange new fever, and it’s all about the Z-axis. The concept in a nutshell: if you take a fused filament fabrication 3D printer and position the print-head at a 45 degree angle over a print bed that doubles as a conveyor belt, you can theoretically have an infinite build space. Sounds a bit loopy, right?
And yet, somehow, it actually works. Prototype hardware has already surfaced on Kickstarter, where Dutch startup Blackbelt is seeking funding to mass produce their own infinite build 3D printer. Elsewhere, Opencreators has a model that dispenses with angles but still wants to automate production on the Z-axis.
But why bother waiting for crowdfunding campaigns to hit their goals (and eye-rolling with resignation as the shipping delays kick in). Early adopters can buy one now, today, from Printrbot for $1,999. It’s called the Printrbelt, it’s the fruits of a collaboration with Polar3D, and it’s a thing of beauty.
Let’s skip over the logistical hurdles for a second. Let’s not get hung up on questions about software, or patents, or how exactly you’d be printing complex models with bridges and overhangs. Instead, let’s celebrate the crazy innovative spirit that possessed the folks at these two companies to just forge ahead and build one.
Printrbelt Opens Up New Angle on Desktop Manufacturing
In practice, the way it works is that Polar3D supplies the cloud software to process the 3D printing files. That takes the heavy lifting out of the workflow, so new users needn’t be intimated by this new approach to digital fabrication. Polar3D have been working on “infinite Z” hardware designs and software since 2014.
Moreover, access to the cloud software is entirely free, since Polar3D will receive a cut from every Printrbelt sold. That said, Printrbot does not guarantee compatibility with any third party software or operating system. For the time being, Printrbelt requires access to the Polar3D cloud to operate.
Those technical specs in full:
Model: 1706 Build Volume (X-Y-Z):
Print Resolution: .2mm layer height recommended
Print Speed: 30-60mm/sec depending on material. Results may vary
Filament: 1.75mm PLA (sample included)
Extruder: Gear Head v2 Alu Extruder
Hot End: Ubis 13HF
Rails: Linear Rail and carriages for X & Y
Belt: Stainless steel covered in Kapton
Belt Drive Pulleys: 20 tooth, dual flange GT2 aluminum
Electronics: Printrboard Rev F6, Raspberry Pi 3
Software: Polar3D will provide the cloud software. WIFI or ethernet is required
Power Requirements: Standard 110V outlet
Motors: Nema17 for X, Y and Extruder. Geared stepper for Z belt
Overall Footprint*: 20.25″ x 13″ x 14″
What do you reckon? Are you a fearless maker, ready to journey into an exciting new frontier in desktop 3D printing? Or do you have doubts about the viability of the concept? Sound off in the comments.
3DEO Reduces Metal Printing Costs With “Intelligent Layering”
By Hanna Watkin
Los Angeles based company, 3DEO, is using a new technique called Intelligent Layering to help reduce the costs of metal 3D printing.
With the average cost of even lower-level metal 3D printer starting at extraordinary prices, it’s no surprise that many manufacturers are hesitant to integrate additive manufacturing into their production process.
According to Matt Sand, president of the Los Angeles-based company 3DEO, 42 percent of the market believes cost is the biggest obstacle keeping metal printing from being adopted. However, 3DEO is aiming to bring down the cost of of this technology with a method they’re calling “Intelligent Layering”.
Currently, there are many companies developing 3D printing metal methods, including Desktop Metal and Markforged. However, 3DEO believes that their unique process will help lower costs and enable mass production.
The way that Intelligent Layering works is to spread a thin layer of metal powder over an 8-in x 8-in build tray. A reliable and low-cost spray head then deposits a binding material across the entire print bed.
However, unlike the commonly used process binder jetting — a CNC milling head does all of the dirty work. By tracing the outline of the part, the process is repeated until a print is finished. Finally, the object is sintered in a furnace.
3DEO to Offer Intelligent Layering Service
There are many benefits of Intelligent Layering, especially when it comes to lowering production costs. For example, due to no high power laser, there is little maintenance necessary with this technology. This process enables a layer thickness of 100 microns, but the CNC mill is capable of cutting down 20 microns at a time.
Additionally, Intelligent Layering can lay down multiple layers of powder and binder at once, and then cutting into them 10-20 at a time. This feature will greatly increase print speed, thus reducing the operational costs and enhancing manufacturing output.
In terms of quality, the CNC head improves a print’s resolution. It also speeds up the process of printing objects that have a continuous shape. The way this works is simply laying down multiple layers of powder and binder at a time.
Sand explained to Engineering.com that all 3D printing metal processes are currently too costly. He explains: “Even binder jetting is expensive, including the maintenance of the machine… The inkjet head for a $450,000 machine may require $75,000 in maintenance just to maintain the inkjet print head.”
Instead, 3DEO will be able to offer a cheaper alternative and will monitor the quality of prints. To do so, the company will keep the Intelligent Layering technology in-house and enter the marketplace as a service provider.
One obstacle that 3DEO has had to account for is that printed parts shrink by up to 20% while in the furnace. However, is developing a software that will be able to predict part behavior and ensure that dimensions always come out correctly.
Right now, the company can print 17-4 stainless steel. Sand hopes that two more metals will be added and qualified before the year is over. Head over to the company’s website to find out more.
MeshMixer Tutorial for 3D Printing Beginners
By Frederik Bedrich
MeshMixer is a free open source software from AutoDesk. It’s one of the leading programs to edit and prepare mesh files like .stl and .obj. MeshMixer offers a large variety of different tools to prepare and improve 3D object for 3D printing.
Here is a list of the best tools MeshMixer offers to improve the quality of your 3D prints. Click on them to jump to a part of this Meshmixer tutorial on how to use the specific tool:
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 1: Easily Import and Export Mesh Files
First of all, you will need to download and install Autodesk MeshMixer. Next, you’ll need to import the 3D model file you want to optimize: Start MeshMixer and click on Import in the middle of the window.
Next, select the file you want to edit. Autodesk MeshMixer supports the common mesh file types: .STL, .OBJ, .PLY, .AMF and also .3MF, .OFF and .MIX. You can also simply drag and drop files out of the Explorer into the edit space. You can choose between the option to replace the current object or append to the model.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 2: Setup of a Custom Print Space
When using MeshMixer, you can either choose your 3D printer from a list or, if not listed, enter the 3D printer properties manually. You can also disable the Printer Bed by clicking on View and uncheck Show Printer Bed. If you own a 3D printer or plan on 3D printing your object, you can choose your type of 3D printer in the top right corner. If your desired 3D printer is not listed or you built your own 3D printer, you can easily add your personal configuration.
Click on Print in the bottom left corner.
Select Printer Properties.
Select Settings in the Printer Properties window.
Now switch to the Printers tab and click Add New Printer. This will return you to the Printer Properties.
You can now name the printer and select Process of printing.
Set the size of your Print Space measured from the bottom center of the build plate or a bottom corner.
Set the Thickness Threshold to 1.
Click on Add to list your 3D Printer so you can work with it in the digital print space.
To leave the printing area, click on the arrow in the top right corner.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 3: Learn the Basic Movements
Pan across the current plane by holding the central mouse button.
Orbit around the center of the coordinate system by either holding down right mouse button, left mouse + ALT or middle mouse + SHIFT.
Zoom with your mouse wheel or by pressing right mouse + ALT.
When you get lost, you can click on View>Recenter View to focus on the center of the coordinate system again. If you are limited with your mouse, you can hold down the space bar to access all camera tools. When holding down the space bar, you can also change the visual style of your object. MeshMixer can smoothen the surface of your object or show all the triangles your object is composed of.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 4: Translation and Scaling of 3D Objects
Click the Edit button on the left and select Transform. Here you can change basic placement data of the object or move and rotate it manually.
Meshmixer Tutorial: Manual placement
When placing objects you can switch between two reference points. First, you have the World Frame which is defined by the center of the coordinate system in your build space. Every transformation or rotation will be in relation to the center. Secondly, you can work with the Local Frame. Here the translation is still relative to the center of the coordinate system. However, the rotation is now defined by the coordinate system of the object you are currently working with. You can also scale your object alongside the X-, Y- and Z-Axis. Switch between both frames via the Transform menu or the bubbles on the Transform circle. Use these basic steps to move and scale your selected object.
Check the Enable Snapping box at the bottom of the Transform window. You can change the Snap Step to the accuracy you need for placing objects. Here you change the
Click and drag one of the arrows to move the object alongside an axis.
The quarter circles will rotate the object. Overlap the black increment circle to activate snapping.
To scale your model, click and drag the withe cube in the center to scale it uniformly. To stretch the model to one side, click and drag the square at the end of the arrows.
Shift your model alongside a plane by click and dragging the triangles.
Meshmixer Tutorial: Automatic placement
By using the Align tool, you can place a flat side your object perfectly onto the build plate. Select the object you want to align and set Base Point as source. Now set “Destination” to the axis of the world coordinate system you want to align. You can flip your object by clicking the blue arrow.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 5: Create a Plain Surface
Use the Plane Cut command to create a flat surface. This is a fast tool for creating a smooth and stable surface to print on. Like the transform tool you can move the plane in relation to world or local frame. Rotate and move the plane to the position. The blue arrow indicates the direction you are going to cut. Click on the blue arrow to switch directions.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 6: Auto-Repair and Patch Holes in Your Models
Before 3D printing your model, you want to make sure, there are no unwanted holes or cuts in the object. You can simply check for irregularities with the repair feature. Click on Analysis>Inspector. After computing, you will see different colored balls pointing towards holes and gaps. The color of the ball symbolizes the severity of the hole. Blue indicates a minor error, which can easily be patched. Red stands for larger holes. MeshMixer will still fix them, but you might want to check these areas after repairing. Pink indicates an island which will be removed in the first step of repairing. You will have to run the Inspector tool a second time to fix the hole for good. You can either click on the balls to fix each error individually or hit Auto Repair All.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 7: Create a solid model
It is now time to turn the mesh into a solid.
Click on Edit, and then Make Solid.
Select Solid Type. Now you can decide between different levels of accuracy to transform the mesh. Choose Fast, as this is pretty precise and also fast to process.
Set Color Transfer Mode to Automatic.
You can now adjust Solid Accuracy. This setting will connect generated cells to each other. Higher accuracy means a better detection of gaps but it will also take longer to process. First, set Accuracy to about 100. You can either use the slider or click on the value next to it and change it by typing.
Change Mesh Density to 100 as well. This will determine edges. If you enter a smaller number, edges will be projected as chamfers.
Offset Distance allows you to make your object thicker or thinner. The filament you are printing is always going to shrink when it cools down. PLA shrinks by up to 1.5% and ABS in some cases by up to 5%! So if you know the percentage of how much your filament is going to shrink, you can add some material to your object. If accuracy is no big issue and if you have a rather small object, just leave accuracy at zero. Click on Accept to continue.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 8: Hollow Your 3D Print to Save Material and Time
Sometimes when 3D printing big models with a big volume, you might want to save time and material. This step will show you how to hollow your object.
Click on Edit, and then Hollow (right below the Make Solid command).
After processing, you will see the object as a see-through and with black pockets, representing the hollowed out area.
You can now change the Offset. This will determine the thickness of the walls. But remember: Do not make the walls too thin or else the print might collapse. Adjust the wall thickness to the properties of the printing process!
Solid Accuracy and Mesh Density will improve the smoothness and the accuracy of the holes. The difference between a medium and a high-quality setting is a noticeable but not much of an improvement. Higher quality will take a lot longer to calculate, though. So for a fast and good result, best pick about 250 for Accuracy and 100-150 for Mesh Density.
Leave the other settings at their defaults and click Accept to proceed.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 9: Create Custom Escape Holes
When you have hollowed your 3D object, it is not yet ready for 3D printing! Some 3D printing technologies like metal sintering use metal dust as material. With SLS printing you only need the shell of your model in most of the times, so it is great to hollow it. However, the powder material inside your model will still be your part of the bargain and will cost you a lot of money if it cannot be removed. If you are planning on sintering your model, you will need to create escape holes for the dust. Luckily MeshMixer offers an effective tool to create custom escape holes! 3D Printing services offer detailed information on minimum wall thickness and size of escape holes.
Execute the hollow command and set Holes per Hollow to 2. When 3D printing larger models you can also add more, but two is sufficient to remove all the dust from the inside. Now set the hole radius and if needed you can add a slight angle to the hole with the taper option. Click on Generate Holes when you have entered the desired settings. You can now reposition the holes by dragging the red dot. You can update the parameters by clicking on Generate Holes again and remove the holes by clicking on Remove All Holes.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 10: Prepare for 3D Printing
Before 3D printing, you want to make sure your object is aligned with the ground plane. To check if your model is planar to the ground plane go to Analysis > Stability. This Meshmixer tool will calculate the Surface Area and Volume of your object. Furthermore, it will show you in red the contact area with the ground plane and if your object can tip. By adjusting the Contact Tol you give or take some clearance between the ground plane and the object. The red dot in the middle of your object indicates an unstable position. Green-lit, it’s a stable one. There is one trick to adjust your object perfectly to the ground plane without transforming in small steps.
Go to Edit > Create Pivot. Set the Placement Mode to Surface Point and Coordinate Frame to Geometry. Now click on the plane of your object you want to align. This will place a pivot which functions as an independent coordinate system. Click on Drop Pivot to confirm the placement and click on Done to exit.
Now go to Edit > Align, set the source to pivot and click on the pivot you placed before. Set the destination to one of the Wold Origin coordinate axis. You can also use Flip to turn your model.
Check the placement of your model again by using the Stability tool. It should now be placed perfectly aligned to the ground plane.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 11:Stability and Thickness Analysis
Analyze the Thickness of your model with Analysis > Thickness. You can now set the minimum thickness to the printing service or your own requirements and MeshMixer will highlight the thin areas. When you click on the Balls indicating thin spots, it will select the area and you can edit the area.
MeshMixer analyses the wall thickness by shooting rays from each vertex through the object and measures the closest intersection of rays. You can adjust The number of rays with cone sample. You will get a higher accuracy but it will also take longer to calculate. Cone angle sets the angle between the rays from one vertex. If you want to analyze a wall in every direction and if your object is built out of big mesh tiles, set this angle to high. If you are just interested in the overall wall thickness you can let them on Default. Grazing Angle is the threshold for intersecting rays to define the maximum detection angle. Again, if you are working with a low poly mesh it is best to use a high angle.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Step 12: Automatic and Custom Supports for your 3D Print
MeshMixer offers the great tool to create your own supports. It can also generate supports automatically. Do not generate supports when you plan on printing your model with a 3D Printing service!
You need to place your object on a ground plane as stated in Meshmixer Tutorial Step 10. Then go to Analysis > Overhangs. You can now set preset to one of the listed printers or choose Custom Settings.
Adjust Angle Thresh to set when an overhang is detected. An overhang is defined when the angle of the perpendicular vector on each mesh tile compared to the vector pointing straight to the ground is less then the set angle.
Contact Tol is the threshold between two faces. If the distance between an overhang to another fave is below this value it will not be detected as an overhang.
Y-Offset is the distance between the ground plane and overhangs. It works like Contact Tol but in reference to the ground plane.
Adjust the dimensions of your supports below Support Generator. Max Angle is the maximum angle of overhang supports are allowed to have. This angle however is in relation to the ground plane. So 1o° is a close to horizontally support structure, which is not very useful as you would generate more overhangs. The best supports are at more than 45° depending on your Printer.
Density sets the spacing between the supports. If you need supports for big and heavy overhangs set this one to a lower value.
Layer hight needs to be set to the layer thickness of your 3D printer.
By adjusting Base, Post, and Tip Diameter,you can design very small or huge support structures.
You can now click onto a red marked overhanging area to create a support with the selected setting. When you change the settings, the next placed support will adopt these properties. You can delete supports by clicking on them while holding CTRL if you made a mistake. Remove Support will delete all support structures! You can also drag supports in the direction you want them to face.
Click on Place Supports to automatically place support structures with the selected settings.
Create Solid will transform all the support structures into a solid model.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 13: Print your 3D model
Now your 3D model is optimized and ready for 3D printing! You can now export your object by clicking on Export. If you own a listed 3D printer, you can send it directly to the 3D printer’s original slicing program by pressing Print. You can also export the file and open it in the slicing program of your choice. Autodesk MeshMixer also has the option to directly send the model three online 3D printing services: Sculpteo, i.materialise and Shapeways.
Congratulations! You have finished this MeshMixer tutorial.
Rize One 3D Printer Eliminates Post-Processing With Disruptive Technology
By Tyler Koslow
After unveiling its Augmented Polymer Deposition technology last year, Rize is finally ready to release its flagship printer: the Rize One.
Last year, the relatively unknown company Rize emerged onto the 3D printing scene with a groundbreaking technology in tow. The process, called Augmented Polymer Deposition (APD), combines fused deposition modeling and inkjetting, offering some unique advantages over other techniques.
This week, the Massachusetts 3D printer manufacturer finally started shipping out its Rize One 3D printer to customers. While all eyes have been on HP’s Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing, Rize’s technology also has the potential to revolutionize the additive manufacturing industry.
How Does Augmented Polymer Deposition Work?
As mentioned before, APD is a process that essentially mixes FDM and inkjetting technology. Similarly to HP’s printer, this allows the Rize One to print with voxel-level control. Using an inkjet print head, the Rize One is able to bind thermoplastic filament with functional inks.
Rize has developed a speciality thermoplastic called Rizium One, which is both an engineering and medical-grade material. Meanwhile, the inkjet head is capable of depositing unique inks anywhere within the printing process.
Their Release One ink allows for exceptionally easy support removal. It’s deposited between the print and supports, preventing them from forming a strong bond. According to Rize, the easy support removal system reduces the total turnaround time by 50 percent.
This reduction in post-processing time is one of the major benefits that the Rize One offers. Another advantage is that the voxel-level control allows the possibility to print full-color parts. However, at the moment, the printer will be only produce objects in grayscale.
Rize One 3D Printer: The Specs
Unlike other expensive industrial 3D printers, the Rize One will cost just $28,500. The printer has a build size of 12 x 8 x 6 inches, and offers a layer thickness of up to 250 microns.
As for the Rizium One material, the house-made thermoplastic delivers watertight, isotropic parts that are stronger than polycarbonate, carbon fiber, and nylon parts. There’s also a marking ink available that enables 3D printed text and images on parts.
According to Eugene Giller, the founder and president of Rize, there are already a number of global manufacturers and healthcare entities that have sought out the new 3D printer. The company has been servicing the athletic sportswear company Reebok since the printer was unveiled last year.
Now that the Rize One is officially ready for delivery, don’t be surprised to see this printer gain as much traction as HP MJF or Carbon CLIP. Rize is aiming to disrupt the additive manufacturing industry, making 3D printing a more appealing option for businesses and manufacturers.