What you need to know about adding 3D printing as a new revenue stream

Originally Published in March 2015 Issue of Graphic Arts Magazine. Objex Unlimited worked with closely with Graphic Arts Magazine to write articles catering to a print media and graphic arts crowd to educate about 3D Printing. This is the first of this series of articles.

A look at the products, misconceptions and opportunities of taking your business from 2D to 3D printing.

3D printing is an exciting, emerging technology. From cars, to dental implants, to human organs… from customized works of art, to functional prototypes and tools… the list of what can now be printed on a 3D printer is constantly growing.

But what are the obstacles? Most importantly, how can you add 3D to your existing digital or offset products and services? To answer these questions, I asked Steve Cory, president of Objex Unlimited 3D Printing Studio, based in Toronto. This full-service Canadian firm is at the forefront of the 3D printing revolution, partnering with clients in developing and commercializing technologies, products and processes – from concept to final result.

“The demand for 3D services is already present, and your competition is likely already capitalizing on it. To match or exceed this, you must bring a new level of interest to existing and prospective clients by showcasing this cutting-edge technology to them in an affordable way. Traditional methods of producing a model are extremely costly, but 3D Printing has opened many doors,” says Cory. “What we believe to be most important is educating your customers about the technology and managing their expectations. There’s a plethora of machines in the realm of 3D and it’s a matter of finding the best software and equipment for the particular application. Whether you use our services, purchase from us, or simply use us as a resource, we are always here to help.”


The 3D process and the misconceptions

“With 3D Printing comes many pre-conceived misconceptions, the most common being that the 3D Printer is an all-in-one solution; you just push the “start” button and anything you imagine will materialize! The bulk of the work comes both before the print begins, and after the print completes. The 3D Printing champions are definitely 3D designers who do a bulk of the work before it even reaches a printer, and the model finishers who treat, finish, and make the model the best it can be.”

There are many steps in generating that ideal 3D Printed model. From the moment you have your idea, your next step should be to understand the different printing technologies and materials. For example, each printer (and each material used) has different properties that govern how you should initially design your file. You have to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Which material is best for your prototype? Are you looking for plastic, rubber, or a specific type of resin? Does it need to be medically certified?
  • What kind of strength and fit do you need? Like digital printers, 3D printers have different tolerances and strengths, which should be factored into initial design.
  • What is your desired end product? Are you going to make a cast or mold from the model? Will it be a display model? Or will it be a functional, ready-to-use part?
  • Do you need a specific colour or surface finish? Would you like your print to be full-colour CMYK? Or do you need something transparent?

 

The role of 3D scanners

You don’t always need to start from scratch! Perhaps you already have some kind of physical object or model you’d like to work with. 3D Scanners are an outstanding tool to give you a jump-start on your design, even if some kind of post-processing and 3D design work is often necessary. Maybe you’re looking to reverse engineer something you already have, and break it down into a digital design. Maybe you want to build a custom-fit part, like making a wing or part that fits your particular car, or a wearable item formed perfectly to your body. Maybe you want to scan of a person to commemorate a special occasion.

 

Again, you’ll be faced with a choice; which scanner is best for you? What’s your budget? Will you need a mobile scanner? Stationary scanning booths invariably render better accuracy and detail. Do you need to capture colour, or just geometry? Is the object you are scanning large or small?

 

Choosing a 3D printing partner

Today’s successful companies should provide more than just hardware. You need – and should expect – ongoing expertise and tech support for rapid prototyping, 3D scanning and digital imaging. This includes personal and professional service training, plus consulting and workflow management. Most importantly, your supplier should tell you how to capitalize financially on 3D printing opportunities by providing sales and marketing support – including lead generation, referral programs and even discounts on services and equipment.

 

Some cool new 3D printing options

So what 3D products are end-users buying? Full-colour, photo-realistic 3D prints continue to be big sellers. Photo-realistic 3D people models as well as 3D-printed pet models are also extremely popular. On the commercial side, rapid prototyping and custom personalized devices are on the rise. In the final analysis, you must determine what will your client base wants – both on a personal and business level. Giving them exciting new 3D ideas by promoting all that you can do and getting actual physical samples into their hands is a great beginning.”

Selftraits Featured on Front Page of Metro News

Yesterday, Objex Unlimited sister company Sculptraits was featured on the front page of Metro News Toronto. Founder of Objex Unlimited and Sculptraits, Steve Cory, spoke about the 3D Printed selfies, called Selftraits. In particular, Steve talked about the Projex Selfie Day promotion where customers can receive 10% off the 5″ Selftrait, and 20% off the 6″ Selftrait. In accordance to the Projex Selfie initiative, proceeds will be donated to the Paralympic Committee; an organization dedicated to strengthening the Paralympic movement.

Here’s an excerpt from Metro News Toronto:

“A Toronto company is taking selfies to the next dimension.

Sculptraits Studios will create a 3D model of you and turn it into a six-inch, full-colour figurine for $120.
“It began as a proof of concept. Could we scan and print a person?” said Steve Cory, Sculptraits founder and president of its parent company, Objex Unlimited.

Turns out, you can.

While other 3D selfie providers rely on handheld scanners or moving cameras, Sculptraits Studios (321 Davenport Rd.) opened in July boasting a booth equipped with more than 130 synchronized cameras. Not only does the technique allow Cory and his colleagues to capture subjects in motion, it also results in a surprisingly lifelike figurines….”

Read the full article here.

3D Printed Pixel People! Perfect example of 3D Marketing Materials

Objex Unlimited recently had the opportunity to work with Conch & Media Creative Agency on developing some 3D Marketing Materials for a Campaign released by H&R Block.

The 3D Printed Pixel People campaign is an outstanding example of using 3D Design and 3D Printing to promote your brand in an exciting and novel fashion. See the awesome video below of the final product or check it out on Conch & Media’s Instagram.

The 3D Printed Pixel People were created using MagicaVoxel, and the printed on a 3D Systems ProJet 660Pro Full-Colour 3D Printer. The printer is excellent for creating colour displays, prototypes, showing abstract products, and product demonstrations.

3D Printed Pixel People 2

 

 

 

Printed on a 3D Systems ProJet 660Pro

 

The ProJet 660Pro

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Objex Unlimited 3D Printing Studio is a full-service 3D solutions provider and 3D product reseller specializing in3D Printing, 3D Scanning, 3D Design and 3D Services. We’re leading the 3D printing revolution to explore, develop, and commercialize new applications in 3D. Leveraging unparalleled expertise in 3D technologies, we work with you personally to find a product or solution that will save you time, effort, and money. We will bring your ideas and designs to life by creating working parts, beautiful full-colour models, and rapid prototypes.  Authorized resellers of 3D Systems, Artec, MarkForged and LMI Technologies.

MarkForged Mark One – The World’s First Carbon Fiber, Kevlar, Fiberglass 3D printer.

Objex Unlimited is happy to announce that we are now certified resellers of the MarkForged Mark One, the world’s first and only Carbon Fiber, Kevlar, and Fiberglass 3D Printer.

Print Strong Parts.

Have you ever had a 3D printed part that wasn’t strong enough? The revolutionary Mark One prints with the strength of 6160 aluminum. With parts that are up to 30x stronger and 30x stiffer than ABS 3D Printed parts, now you can have the dependability of CNC parts with the flexibility of 3D printing.

How does it work?

The Mark One uses two print heads: One builds Nylon parts, and the other is a revolutionary new print-head that extrudes composite materials to reinforce the nylon to make solid, strong-as-aluminum 3D Prints. The composite materials used in the machine are Carbon Fiber, Fiberglass, and Kevlar.

The Materials

Composites made with continuous reinforcing fibers exhibit substantial increases in strength and stiffness compared to similar materials using discontinuous (chopped) fibers. Carbon Fiber has the greatest strength-to-weight ratio in the world. Kevlar is best for parts that require a degree of abrasion resistance. Fibreglass has the best strength-to-cost ratio, making parts nearly as strong as Carbon Fiber filament, but almost twice the weight.

You can also select pause points in your print to allow embedded components up to 10 micron accuracy.

The Software

The Mark One comes with it’s very own 3D Printing and slicing software, free of charge. Operating on the cloud, you can upload your files, collaborate and share with others, and clone multiple versions of a file for different print configurations. In addition, the software is extremely powerful, giving you the option to automatically choose the orientation of fibers, or specifying the orientation on a layer-by-layer basis.  The software was specifically designed to give users total control over fiber orientation in each layer and thus, directional strength.

Our Experience

We’ve been running the MarkForged Mark One since March of this year and so far it’s been an extremely smooth ride. The rock-solid construction of the milled aluminum makes for a very solid machine. It has travelled to trade-shows, demonstrations, and been through some rough conditions, but is still one of the few 3D Printers that just seems to work every time we go to switch it on and run a print. That is, of course, taking care to run the standard maintenance procedures such as bed levelling, head cleaning, and keeping nylon filament dry (we’ve heard of issues with nylon filament that gets moist under-extruding and causing print problems, but we have not run into this issue personally). The Carbon Fiber filament has a tendency to clog a little easier than other filaments, but there are tools to unclog your heads and Professional Kit ships with lots of spare nozzles.

In addition, we’ve been extremely happy with how the machine generates support materials for the prints, especially since MarkForged has released the firmware update with the improved support material algorithm. Updates seem to be frequent, bringing minor improvements to the operation of the printer each time.

The included Eiger software is by far one of the best slicing and 3D Printing software, giving you a very detailed view of the print and vast customization options for literally every layer of the print. Not only does the software do a great job at automatically generating the best setup and orientation for the Composite Fiber materials, you have the option to reinforce and change everything to your needs.

A fantastic option for those looking for a little more than the standard plastic-jet printers in the Consumer to Prosumer price range. The Mark One printer starts at $5,499 USD for a standard kit, or for $8,799 USD you can get the Professional Kit. If you have any questions, want to see the printers in action, or are looking to order, please don’t hesitate to contact Objex Unlimited 3D Print Studio.

Mark One Composite 3D Printer
$5,499.00 USD

  • Mark One 3D Printer
  • MarkForged software
  • Carbon fiber filament sample, 50 cm3 (3.05 in3)
  • Fiberglass filament sample, 50 cm3 (3.06 in3)
  • Nylon filament, 1000 cm3 (61 in3)
  • 1 x CFF Quick-change nozzle
  • 1 x FFF Quick-change nozzle

Mark One 3D Printer and Professional Kit
$8,799.00 USD

  • Mark One Composite 3D Printer.
  • MarkForged software. Premium software support.
  • Kevlar® filament, 300 cm3 (18.3 in3)
  • Carbon fiber filament, 200 cm3 (12.2 in3)
  • Fiberglass filament, 300 cm3 (18.3 in3)
  • Nylon filament, 2000 cm3 (122 in3)
  • 5 x CFF Quick-change nozzle
  • 5 x FFF Quick-change nozzle
  • 2 additional print beds


Reserve Your  Mark One  Today!




Meet the Mark One: the world’s first Carbon Fiber 3D printer

This Tow Hook, 3D Printed on a Mark One 3D Printer, Holds Up to a 3000lb Car

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Objex Unlimited 3D Printing Studio is a 3D solutions provider and 3D product reseller specializing in 3D Printing, 3D Scanning, 3D Design and 3D Services. We’re leading the 3D printing revolution to explore, develop, and commercialize new applications in 3D. Leveraging unparalleled expertise in 3D technologies, we work with you personally to find a product or solution that will save you time, effort, and money. We will bring your ideas and designs to life by creating working parts, beautiful full-colour models, and rapid prototypes.  Authorized resellers of 3D Systems, Artec, Markforged and LMI Technologies.