By Melissa Donovan
Part 2 of 2
Three-dimensional (3D) printing technology as a whole is rapidly expanding into multiple industries thanks to numerous benefits like faster turnarounds and the ability to produce small volumes of product at a low cost. Print providers can position themselves to take advantage of these benefits.
The ASTM F2792 Standards Committee recognizes seven families of addictive manufacturing (AM) technology. These include binder jetting, directed energy deposition, material extrusion, material jetting, powder bed fusion, sheet lamination, and vat photopolymerization. All seven are considerations for use in a traditional two-dimensional (2D) printing environment.
Capitalizing on the Benefits
Printing providers are at a unique advantage when it comes to utilizing 3D printing technology. A few of the processes, namely material jetting, are similar to traditional inkjet printing in that liquid photopolymers are jetted from inkjet printheads and cured to a solid state with UV light—layer by layer—to build a final 3D model.
Leveraging knowledge of the 2D print process’ inner workings is something not only print providers can do, but vendors in the space are doing as well. Two examples are HP Inc. and Xerox Corporation. “Often these printers are reusing existing components from the traditional printing ecosystem,” says Brian Crotty, marketing team manager and PR, 3YOURMIND.
What’s going on under the hood of the printer isn’t the only thing that is relatable between 2D and 3D printing. “Even leveraging existing supplier relationships helps current print providers step confidently into a 3D printing business model. Print providers who are considering adding 3D printing as a business division gain clear benefits by diversifying output but reusing many of their existing business process like complex workflow management,” adds Crotty.
Prior to taking that familiarity and adapting it to a new printing process, Josh Hope, senior manager, engineering projects, Mimaki USA, Inc., suggests print providers find an entry point into the market and start becoming more knowledgeable on 3D file preparation, printing, and finishing.
In some scenarios, he believes it makes sense to invest in a desktop fused deposition modeling (FDM) printer even when a specific market is yet to be identified. When this happens, the print provider can design and print small fixtures needed in other printing processes such as thermoforming molds and flatbed printing jigs—practice makes perfect.
Printers for Printers
Here, we include a selection of 3D printers targeted toward 2D print providers.
Afinia’s newest 3D printer is the H+1. It is equipped with material-specific printheads to ensure optimal print quality and compatibility across a range of filament types. Three material-specific printheads are included with the printer, ABS, PLA, and TPU. The printer also comes with easy-to-use software for laying out, orienting, duplicating, and scaling parts.
The Form 3 from Formlabs utilizes a low force stereolithography technology. It is designed to grow with you as your 3D printing business grows. The same tool can be used through prototyping and into production. Formlabs 3D printers are designed to plug in and print right out of the box with no specialized training required.
HP Inc. Jet Fusion 500/300 Series is engineered for customers looking to accelerate design cycles, while being able to produce accurate, functional parts in full color. The 500/300 is an ideal solution for small/medium-sized product development teams, architects, design firms, and universities.
The Massivit 1500 Exploration Printer from Massivit 3D provides a first step into large format 3D printing for visual communication at an affordable price. It is designed to cater to print production spaces with a limited height. Its maximum build volume is 58x45x54 inches.
Mimaki currently offers two 3D printers—the Mimaki 3DFF-222, which is a desktop FDM printer that is suitable as a learning unit as well as a low-volume production machine, and the full-color 3DUJ-553 capable of producing photorealistic 3D printed models.
The Ultimaker S3 is a high-quality, compact desktop fused filament fabrication (FFF) printer. A complete production system, it is ideal for use in house and simple to utilize with a touch interface and seamless software integration. An open filament system, it is compatible with glass and carbon fiber composites.
In January 2020, xyzPrinting, Inc. announced the da Vinci Color 5D, a FFF full-color 3D printer. The da Vinci Color 5D is characterized by its ability to combine 2D and 3D printing experiences and to utilize high-quality full-color FFF technology to print materials with unparalleled speed, print quality, and productivity.
3D printing services complement traditional 2D printing. For a print provider considering adding 3D printing to its product offerings, the time is now. “The transformative impact of 3D printing is taking place across all industries. It’s the key to unlocking the massive opportunity represented in digital manufacturing—delivering time, quality, and economic advantages for organizations globally,” shares Alex Monino, VP, global strategy, 3D printing and digital manufacturing, HP. Why wait?
Apr2020, DPS Magazine