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The 3-D Printing Revolution
Idea in Brief
Additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, is poised to transform the industrial economy. Its extreme flexibility not only allows for easy customization of goods but also eliminates assembly and inventories and enables products to be redesigned for higher performance.
Management teams should be reconsidering their strategies along three dimensions: (1) How might our offerings be enhanced, either by us or by competitors? (2) How should we reconfigure our operations, given the myriad new options for fabricating products and parts? (3) How will our commercial ecosystem evolve?
The Big Play
Inevitably, powerful platforms will arise to establish standards and facilitate exchanges among the designers, makers, and movers of 3-D-printed goods. The most successful of these will prosper mightily.
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Industrial 3-D printing is at a tipping point, about to go mainstream in a big way. Most executives and many engineers don’t realize it, but this technology has moved well beyond prototyping, rapid tooling, trinkets, and toys. “Additive manufacturing” is creating durable and safe products for sale to real customers in moderate to large quantities.
The beginnings of the revolution show up in a 2014 PwC survey of more than 100 manufacturing companies. At the time of the survey, 11% had already switched to volume production of 3-D-printed parts or products. According to Gartner analysts, a technology is “mainstream” when it reaches an adoption level of 20%.
Among the numerous companies using 3-D printing to ramp up production are GE (jet engines, medical devices, and home appliance parts), Lockheed Martin and Boeing (aerospace and defense), Aurora Flight Sciences (unmanned aerial vehicles), Invisalign (dental devices), Google (consumer electronics), and the Dutch company LUXeXcel (lenses for light-emitting diodes, or LEDs). Watching these developments, McKinsey recently reported that 3-D printing is “ready to emerge from its niche status and become a viable alternative to conventional manufacturing processes in an increasing number of applications. ” In 2014 sales of industrial-grade 3-D printers in the United States were already one-third the volume of industrial automation and robotic sales. Some projections have that figure rising to 42% by 2020.
More companies will follow as the range of printable materials continues to expand. In addition to basic plastics and photosensitive resins, these already include ceramics, cement, glass, numerous metals and metal alloys, and new thermoplastic composites infused with carbon nanotubes and fibers. Superior economics will eventually convince the laggards. Although the direct costs of producing goods with these new methods and materials are often higher, the greater flexibility afforded by additive manufacturing means that total costs can be substantially lower.
With this revolutionary shift already under way, managers should now be engaging with strategic questions on three levels:
First, sellers of tangible products should ask how their offerings could be improved, whether by themselves or by competitors. Fabricating an object layer by layer, according to a digital “blueprint” downloaded to a printer, allows not only for limitless customization but also for designs of greater intricacy.
Second, industrial enterprises must revisit their operations. As additive manufacturing creates myriad new options for how, when, and where products and parts are fabricated, what network of supply chain assets and what mix of old and new processes will be optimal?
Third, leaders must consider the strategic implications as whole commercial ecosystems begin to form around the new realities of 3-D printing. Much has been made of the potential for large swaths of the manufacturing sector to atomize into an untold number of small “makers.” But that vision tends to obscure a surer and more important development: To permit the integration of activities across designers, makers, and movers of goods, digital platforms will have to be established. At first these platforms will enable design-to-print activities and design sharing and fast downloading. Soon they will orchestrate printer operations, quality control, real-time optimization of printer networks, and capacity exchanges, among other needed functions. The most successful platform providers will prosper mightily by establishing standards and providing the settings in which a complex ecosystem can coordinate responses to market demands. But every company will be affected by the rise of these platforms. There will be much jockeying among incumbents and upstarts to capture shares of the enormous value this new technology will create.
These questions add up to a substantial amount of strategic thinking, and still another remains: How fast will all this happen? For a given business, here’s how fast it can happen: The U.S. hearing aid industry converted to 100% additive manufacturing in less than 500 days, according to one industry CEO, and not one company that stuck to traditional manufacturing methods survived. Managers will need to determine whether it’s wise to wait for this fast-evolving technology to mature before making certain investments or whether the risk of waiting is too great. Their answers will differ, but for all of them it seems safe to say that the time for strategic thinking is now.
It may be hard to imagine that this technology will displace today’s standard ways of making things in large quantities. Traditional injection-molding presses, for example, can spit out thousands of widgets an hour. By contrast, people who have watched 3-D printers in action in the hobbyist market often find the layer-by-layer accretion of objects comically slow. But recent advances in the technology are changing that dramatically in industrial settings.
Some may forget why standard manufacturing occurs with such impressive speed. Those widgets pour out quickly because heavy investments have been made up front to establish the complex array of machine tools and equipment required to produce them. The first unit is extremely expensive to make, but as identical units follow, their marginal cost plummets.
Additive manufacturing doesn’t offer anything like that economy of scale. However, it avoids the downside of standard manufacturing—a lack of flexibility. Because each unit is built independently, it can easily be modified to suit unique needs or, more broadly, to accommodate improvements or changing fashion. And setting up the production system in the first place is much simpler, because it involves far fewer stages. That’s why 3-D printing has been so valuable for producing one-offs such as prototypes and rare replacement parts. But additive manufacturing increasingly makes sense even at higher scale. Buyers can choose from endless combinations of shapes, sizes, and colors, and this customization adds little to a manufacturer’s cost even as orders reach mass-production levels.
A big part of the additive advantage is that pieces that used to be molded separately and then assembled can now be produced as one piece in a single run. A simple example is sunglasses: The 3-D process allows the porosity and mixture of plastics to vary in different areas of the frame. The earpieces come out soft and flexible, while the rims holding the lenses are hard. No assembly required.
Printing parts and products also allows them to be designed with more-complex architectures, such as honeycombing within steel panels or geometries previously too fine to mill. Complex mechanical parts—an encased set of gears, for example—can be made without assembly. Additive methods can be used to combine parts and generate far more interior detailing. That’s why GE Aviation has switched to printing the fuel nozzles of certain jet engines. It expects to churn out more than 45,000 of the same design a year, so one might assume that conventional manufacturing methods would be more suitable. But printing technology allows a nozzle that used to be assembled from 20 separately cast parts to be fabricated in one piece. GE says this will cut the cost of manufacturing by 75%.
U.S. hearing aid companies converted to 100% 3-D printing in less than 500 days.
Additive manufacturing can also use multiple printer jets to lay down different materials simultaneously. Thus Optomec and other companies are developing conductive materials and methods of printing microbatteries and electronic circuits directly into or onto the surfaces of consumer electronic devices. Additional applications include medical equipment, transportation assets, aerospace components, measurement devices, telecom infrastructure, and many other “smart” things.
The enormous appeal of limiting assembly work is pushing additive manufacturing equipment to grow ever larger. At the current extreme, the U.S. Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin, Cincinnati Tool Steel, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are partnering to develop a capability for printing most of the endo- and exoskeletons of jet fighters, including the body, wings, internal structural panels, embedded wiring and antennas, and soon the central load-bearing structure. So-called big area additive manufacturing makes such large-object fabrication possible by using a huge gantry with computerized controls to move the printers into position. When this process has been certified for use, the only assembly required will be the installation of plug-and-play electronics modules for navigation, communications, weaponry, and electronic countermeasure systems in bays created during the printing process. In Iraq and Afghanistan the U.S. military has been using drones from Aurora Flight Sciences, which prints the entire body of these unmanned aerial vehicles—some with wingspans of 132 feet—in one build.
This brief discussion of additive manufacturing’s advantages suggests how readily companies will embrace the technology—and additional savings in inventory, shipping, and facility costs will make the case even stronger. The clear implication is that managers in companies of all kinds should be working to anticipate how their businesses will adapt on the three strategic levels mentioned above.
Product strategy is the answer to that most basic question in business, What will we sell? Companies will need to imagine how their customers could be better served in an era of additive manufacturing. What designs and features will now be possible that were not before? What aspects can be improved because restrictions or delivery delays have been eliminated?
For example, in the aerospace and automotive industries, 3-D printing will most often be used in the pursuit of performance gains. Previously, the fuel efficiency of jet fighters and vehicles could be enhanced by reducing their weight, but this frequently made them less structurally sound. The new technology allows manufacturers to hollow out a part to make it lighter and more fuel-efficient and incorporate internal structures that provide greater tensile strength, durability, and resistance to impact. And new materials that have greater heat and chemical resistance can be used in various spots in a product, as needed.
Want to know how fast the 3-D future is coming? Don’t look only at adoption rates among manufacturers. Look at the innovation rates of inventors. In 2005 only 80 patents relating to additive manufacturing materials, software, and equipment were granted worldwide, not counting duplicates filed in multiple countries. By 2013 that number had gone into orbit, with approximately 600 new nonduplicative patents issued around the globe.
What are some of the companies behind these patents? Not surprisingly, the two leaders are Stratasys and 3D Systems, rivals that have staked out positions in additive manufacturing. They hold 57 and 49 nonduplicative patents respectively. As befits its printing heritage, Xerox, too, has invested heavily in additive technologies for making electronics and has developed a strong alliance with 3D Systems. Panasonic, Hewlett-Packard, 3M, and Siemens likewise hold numerous patents.
But surprisingly, the largest users of 3-D printing have also been active innovators. Fourth on the list, with 35 patents, is Therics, a manufacturer of medical devices. These commercial companies understand additive manufacturing’s potential to give them important advantages over competitors.
Also noteworthy among patent holders are companies that straddle both worlds. GE and IBM are important manufacturers but are increasingly invested in platforms that optimize value chains run by other companies. GE (11 patents) is developing the industrial internet, and IBM (19) has worked out what it is calling the “software-defined supply chain” and optimization software for smart manufacturing systems. Both are well positioned to take on similar roles with regard to additive manufacturing—and both bear watching as models for how incumbents can capture disproportionate value from a highly disruptive technology.
In other industries, the use of additive manufacturing for more-tailored and fast-evolving products will have ramifications for how offerings are marketed. What happens to the concept of product generations—let alone the hoopla around a launch—when things can be upgraded continually during successive printings rather than in the quantum leaps required by the higher tooling costs and setup times of conventional manufacturing? Imagine a near future in which cloud-based artificial intelligence augments additive manufacturing’s ability to change or add products instantly without retooling. Real-time changes in product strategy, such as product mix and design decisions, would become possible. With such rapid adaptation, what new advantages should be core to brand promises? And how could marketing departments prevent brand drift without losing sales?
Operations strategy encompasses all the questions of how a company will buy, make, move, and sell goods. The answers will be very different with additive manufacturing. Greater operational efficiency is always a goal, but it can be achieved in many ways. Today most companies contemplating the use of the technology do piecemeal financial analysis of targeted opportunities to swap in 3-D equipment and designs where those can reduce direct costs. Much bigger gains will come when they broaden their analyses to consider the total cost of manufacturing and overhead.
How much could be saved by cutting out assembly steps? Or by slashing inventories through production only in response to actual demand? Or by selling in different ways—for example, direct to consumers via interfaces that allow them to specify any configuration? In a hybrid world of old and new manufacturing methods, producers will have many more options; they will have to decide which components or products to transition over to additive manufacturing, and in what order.
Additional questions will arise around facilities locations. How proximate should they be to which customers? How can highly customized orders be delivered as efficiently as they are produced? Should printing be centralized in plants or dispersed in a network of printers at distributors, at retailers, on trucks, or even in customers’ facilities? Perhaps all of the above. The answers will change in real time, adjusting to shifts in foreign exchange, labor costs, printer efficiency and capabilities, material costs, energy costs, and shipping costs.
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A shorter traveling distance for products or parts not only saves money; it saves time. If you’ve ever been forced to leave your vehicle at a repair shop while the mechanic waits for a part, you’ll appreciate that. BMW and Honda, among other automakers, are moving toward the additive manufacturing of many industrial tools and end-use car parts in their factories and dealerships—especially as new metal, composite plastic, and carbon-fiber materials become available for use in 3-D printers. Distributors in many industries are taking note, eager to help their business customers capitalize on the new efficiencies. UPS, for example, is building on its existing third-party logistics business to turn its airport hub warehouses into mini-factories. The idea is to produce and deliver customized parts to customers as needed, instead of devoting acres of shelving to vast inventories. If we already live in a world of just-in-time inventory management, we now see how JIT things can get. Welcome to instantaneous inventory management.
Indeed, given all the potential efficiencies of highly integrated additive manufacturing, business process management may become the most important capability around. Some companies that excel in this area will build out proprietary coordination systems to secure competitive advantage. Others will adopt and help to shape standard packages created by big software companies.
Finally comes the question of where and how the enterprise fits into its broader business environment. Here managers address the puzzles of Who are we? and What do we need to own to be who we are? As additive manufacturing allows companies to acquire printers that can make many products, and as idle capacity is traded with others in the business of offering different products, the answers to those questions will become far less clear. Suppose you have rows of printers in your facility that build auto parts one day, military equipment the next day, and toys the next. What industry are you part of? Traditional boundaries will blur. Yet managers need a strong sense of the company’s role in the world to make decisions about which assets they will invest in—or divest themselves of.
Aurora Flight Sciences can print the entire body of a drone in one build.
They may find their organizations evolving into something very different from what they have been. As companies are freed from many of the logistical requirements of standard manufacturing, they will have to look anew at the value of their capabilities and other assets and how those complement or compete with the capabilities of others.
The Platform Opportunity
One position in the ecosystem will prove to be the most central and powerful—and this fact is not lost on the management teams of the biggest players already in the business of additive manufacturing, such as eBay, IBM, Autodesk, PTC, Materialise, Stratasys, and 3D Systems. Many are vying to develop the platforms on which other companies will build and connect. They know that the role of platform provider is the biggest strategic objective they could pursue and that it’s still very much up for grabs.
Platforms are a prominent feature in highly digitized 21st-century markets, and additive manufacturing will be no exception. Here platform owners will be powerful because production itself is likely to matter less over time. Already some companies are setting up contract “printer farms” that will effectively commoditize the making of products on demand. Even the valuable designs for printable products, being purely digital and easily shared, will be hard to hold tight. (For that matter, 3-D scanning devices will make it possible to reverse-engineer products by capturing their geometric design information.)
Everyone in the system will have a stake in sustaining the platforms on which production is dynamically orchestrated, blueprints are stored and continually enhanced, raw materials supplies are monitored and purchased, and customer orders are received. Those that control the digital ecosystem will sit in the middle of a tremendous volume of industrial transactions, collecting and selling valuable information. They will engage in arbitrage and divide the work up among trusted parties or assign it in-house when appropriate. They will trade printer capacity and designs all around the world, influencing prices by controlling or redirecting the “deal flow” for both. Like commodities arbitrageurs, they will finance trades or buy low and sell high with the asymmetric information they gain from overseeing millions of transactions.
Any manufacturer whose strategy for the future includes additive techniques has to lay out a road map for getting there. Companies already on the journey are taking things step-by-step, but in three different ways.
Some start with their high-end products, knowing that their most sophisticated (and price-insensitive) customers will appreciate the innovation and flexibility. The luxury will trickle down in the time-honored way as the technology matures and becomes more affordable. Automotive manufacturers, for example, tend to engineer one-off parts specially for Formula One racing cars and then find ways to introduce versions of those innovations to high-end sports and luxury cars. As engineers’ familiarity with the technology grows, they spot opportunities to bring it to parts for mass-market car segments.
Other pioneers proceed in a less splashy way, focusing first on the components of a given product that are easiest to migrate to additive manufacturing. The objective is to develop the organization’s know-how by advancing to more-challenging components of the same product. This is common in aerospace, where companies have selected a specific product, such as an F-35 fighter jet, and started with mundane brackets and braces before moving to, say, internal panels and partitions. As the manufacturers learn more, they begin printing the fighter’s exterior skin. Experiments with printing its load-bearing structures are now under way.
A third approach is to find components that show up in multiple products and use them to establish a 3-D foothold. For example, a design improvement for a fighter jet could be transferred to drones, missiles, or satellites. Such cross-product improvement builds knowledge and awareness throughout the company of how additive manufacturing can enhance performance on key dimensions such as weight, energy use, and flexibility.
The common theme here is small, incremental steps. In all three approaches, engineers are being given fascinating new puzzles to solve without having their world upended by still-evolving methods and materials, thus minimizing risk and resistance to change. It is up to more-senior managers to maintain the appropriate level of pressure for taking each successive step. As they push for further adoption, they should allow naysayers to explain why 3-D printing isn’t right for a given part or process, but then challenge them to overcome that roadblock. Traditionalists will always be quick to tell you what 3-D printing can’t do. Don’t let them blind you to what it can.
Responsibility for aligning dispersed capacity with growing market demand will fall to a small number of companies—and if the whole system is to work efficiently, some will have to step up to it. Look for analogs to Google, eBay, Match.com, and Amazon to emerge as search engines, exchange platforms, branded marketplaces, and matchmakers among additive manufacturing printers, designers, and design repositories. Perhaps even automated trading will come into existence, along with markets for trading derivatives or futures on printer capacity and designs.
In essence, then, the owners of printer-based manufacturing assets will compete with the owners of information for the profits generated by the ecosystem. And in fairly short order, power will migrate from producers to large systems integrators, which will set up branded platforms with common standards to coordinate and support the system. They’ll foster innovation through open sourcing and acquiring or partnering with smaller companies that meet high standards of quality. Small companies may indeed continue to try out interesting new approaches on the margins—but we’ll need big organizations to oversee the experiments and then push them to be practical and scalable.
Digital History Replicated
Thinking about the unfolding revolution in additive manufacturing, it’s hard not to reflect on that great transformative technology, the internet. In terms of the latter’s history, it might be fair to say that additive manufacturing is only in 1995. Hype levels were high that year, yet no one imagined how commerce and life would change in the coming decade, with the arrival of Wi-Fi, smartphones, and cloud computing. Few foresaw the day that internet-based artificial intelligence and software systems could run factories—and even city infrastructures—better than people could.
The future of additive manufacturing will bring similar surprises that might look strictly logical in hindsight but are hard to picture today. Imagine how new, highly capable printers might replace highly skilled workers, shifting entire companies and even manufacturing-based countries into people-less production. In “machine organizations,” humans might work only to service the printers.
And that future will arrive quickly. Once companies put a toe in the water and experience the advantages of greater manufacturing flexibility, they tend to dive in deep. As materials science creates more printable substances, more manufacturers and products will follow. Local Motors recently demonstrated that it can print a good-looking roadster, including wheels, chassis, body, roof, interior seats, and dashboard but not yet drivetrain, from bottom to top in 48 hours. When it goes into production, the roadster, including drivetrain, will be priced at approximately $20,000. As the cost of 3-D equipment and materials falls, traditional methods’ remaining advantages in economies of scale are becoming a minor factor.
Local Motors can print a good-looking roadster from bottom to top in 48 hours.
Here’s what we can confidently expect: Within the next five years we will have fully automated, high-speed, large-quantity additive manufacturing systems that are economical even for standardized parts. Owing to the flexibility of those systems, customization or fragmentation in many product categories will then take off, further reducing conventional mass production’s market share.
Smart business leaders aren’t waiting for all the details and eventualities to reveal themselves. They can see clearly enough that additive manufacturing developments will change the way products are designed, made, bought, and delivered. They are taking the first steps in the redesign of manufacturing systems. They are envisioning the claims they will stake in the emerging ecosystem. They are making the many layers of decisions that will add up to advantage in a new world of 3-D printing.
A version of this article appeared in the May 2015 issue (pp. 40–48) of Harvard Business Review.
The Now: What is 3D Printing?
Lesson 4: What is 3D Printing?
What is 3D printing?
3D printing is a process in which a digital model is turned into a tangible, solid, three-dimensional object, usually by laying down many successive, thin layers of a material. 3D printing has become popular so quickly because it makes manufacturing accessible to more people than ever before. This is partly due to the price (the starting price for a basic 3D printer is about $300), but also the small size of the printers compared to traditional manufacturing.
Watch the video below to learn about the process of 3D printing.
How does it work?
First, a virtual design of the object is made. This design will work like a blueprint for the 3D printer to read. The virtual design is made using computer-aided design (CAD) software, a type of software that can create precise drawings and technical illustrations. A virtual design can also be made using a 3D scanner, which creates a copy of an existing object by basically taking pictures of it from different angles.
Once the virtual model is made, it must be prepared for printing. This is done by breaking down the model into many layers using a process called slicing. Slicing takes the model and slices it into hundreds or even thousands of thin, horizontal layers using special software.
After the model has been sliced, the slices are ready to be uploaded to the 3D printer. This is done using a USB cable or Wi-Fi connection to move the sliced model from the computer it’s on to the 3D printer. When the file is uploaded to the 3D printer, it reads every slice of the model and prints it layer by layer.
How are things printed?
The 3D printer will begin printing the layers of material in a process known as material extrusion. Depending on the type of 3D printer and material being used, there are several methods of material extrusion.
Most commonly, the 3D printer will have a nozzle ejecting a semi-liquid material, like molten plastic, metal, or cement. The extrusion nozzle can move in both horizontal and vertical directions as it precisely places the material, following the blueprint of the digital model layer by layer.
This process is repeated until the 3D printer has replicated every layer in the digital model with the extruded material.
Watch the time-lapse video below to see a 3D printer in action.
What sorts of things can be made with 3D printers?
Nearly anything you can imagine can be turned into a design that can be 3D printed. 3D printers are helping designers, engineers, and even everyday people create complex objects in ways previous manufacturing methods weren’t capable of.
3D printers are being used to create toys, phone cases, tools, clothing, tables, lamps, pottery, art, and even cars.
The medical field is also finding new ways to use 3D printing to help patients. Doctors are now able to print 3D medical models that are so accurate that surgeons can essentially do a practice run on a patient’s 3D model before actually operating on that patient. 3D printed models are also being used to create less expensive, more durable, and better-fitting prosthetics for individuals who have lost limbs.
3D printed production is a quickly evolving industry with a lot of exciting potential for the future. We’ve only just begun to see the ways 3D printed objects can make our lives easier, more convenient, safer, and healthier. And with 3D printing evolving as quickly as people can come up with new designs to print, it may not be long before we live in a world where you can 3D print your lunch, a custom fitted shirt, or replacement parts to repair everyday objects—all from the comfort of your own home.
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Top 10 3D printers available for purchase in 2020
3D printing is relatively new. Therefore, special attention is riveted to it, both experienced and novice users of office equipment. In this article, we will present a list of the top ten 3D printers available for purchase in 2020. Here you will find devices that meet high quality standards, are simple and easy to use, and are also capable of producing large volumes of products. After reviewing the information provided, you can easily choose a 3D printer that suits your requirements.
In the list you will find the following 3D printer models:
- Original PRUSA i3 MK3s
- CEL-UK RoboxPro
- Ultimaker S3
- FormLabs Form 3
- Original PRUSA SL1
- TRILAB DeltiQ 2
- Raise3D E2
- CEL-UK RoboxDual
- LulzBot Mini 2
- Snapmaker 2. 0 A350
Immediately, we note that all printers are diverse and suitable for use in various fields of activity. Therefore, we did not list them in any particular order. Purchasing any printer from the list is a smart financial investment.
3D printer for universal use
Original Prusa I3 MK3S
9004 Material: thread 1.75 mm | Working area: 250x210x210 mm | Layer thickness: 50-350 µm | Size: 550x400x500 mm | Weight: 7 kg
- excellent working speed;
- high quality printing.
- lack of protective walls.
Description: Josef Pruscha is a leader in 3D printing. Their products are famous for their high reliability and long service life. The flagship model is the Original PRUSA i3 MK3s. It is characterized by high speed, low noise and excellent print quality. The most innovative developments are used in the production of the device: Bondtech extruder, P.I.N.D.A. 2, E3D V6 nozzle and thread sensor. The main feature of the printer is that it can be used for a variety of purposes. It is worth noting that the device is supplied both assembled and as a kit for assembly.
3D printer for business
Characteristics: 9004 Material: thread 1.75 mm | Working area: 210x300x400 mm | Layer thickness: 50-500 µm | Size: 513x508x605 mm | Weight: 26 kg
- interchangeable print heads;
- network connection option.
Description: CEL-UK is a leader in 3D printing innovation. Their Robox series printers are the most functional in the FDM class. The flagship model CEL-UK RoboxPro is a direct proof of the above words. The device has a huge set of functions, including: auto-filament, automatic layer alignment, Wi-Fi and the ability to print over a network. In addition, the closed design and interchangeable print heads make it the best choice for businesses.
3D printer for educational institutions
Characteristics: Modeling Models Models Modeling Models Modeling Models Material: thread 2.85 mm | Working area: 230x190x200 mm | Layer thickness: 20-600 µm | Size: 394x489x637 mm | Weight: 14. 4 kg
- easy to connect to the network;
- high quality printing.
- high price.
Description: Ultimaker has been attracting attention ever since 3D printing has taken off. Although representatives of the company have only recently begun to use modern open source software. The new Ultimaker S3 is valued for its fast speed, robust design and excellent print quality. The main features include replaceable cartridges, a touch-screen display and a Cura-branded slicer. Ease of use makes the device indispensable for educational institutions.
3D printer SLA
Formlabs Form 3
9,0002 Material: resin Multiple | Working area: 145x145x185 mm | Layer thickness: 25-300 µm | Size: 405x375x530 mm | Weight: 17. 5 kg
- high print quality;
- large selection of materials.
- prints need to be finished (cleaning and trimming).
Description: FormLabs manufacture SLA 3D printers. These devices use a special liquid resin as the main material for printing. Form 3 is the most compact device in the series. But because of the precise laser that guarantees the highest quality prints, this printer is most suitable for the production of product prototypes, jewelry and various castings. The device is considered the most original 3D printer available on the market.
3D printer MSLA
Original Prusa SL1
Characteristics: Sterelegraphy: Technology: Material: resin 405 nm | Working area: 120x68x150 mm | Layer thickness: 25-100 µm | Size: 400x237x225 mm | Weight: 10. 6 kg
- high print quality;
- large selection of materials.
- prints need to be finished (cleaning and trimming).
Description: With the creation of the Original PRUSA SL1, Josef Prusha's company was able to conquer the SLA 3D printer market (previously they worked only in the field of FDM technologies). True, the device was classified under the MSLA subcategory, due to the fact that it uses an LCD matrix and an ultraviolet LED backlight for resin processing, instead of standard high-precision lasers. Despite the fact that the printer consists of cheap components, the print quality meets the highest standards.
3D printer DELTA
Trilab Deltiq 2
Material: thread 1. 75 mm | Working area: 250x250x300 mm | Layer thickness: from 50 µm (nozzle dependent) | Size: 410x500x810 mm | Weight: 10 kg
- advanced technology;
- versatility and versatility of use.
- difficult to master the printer.
Description: In this 3D printer, the print head is mounted on 3 hinged supports. This is what distinguishes it from conventional 3D printers. This approach allows you to reduce the space occupied by the device, as well as the amount of additional equipment used. At the same time, TRILAB DeltiQ 2 is characterized by a large working area and a wide range of features. The device has an E3D hotend extruder and a Wi-Fi Duet 2 panel. In addition, the printer can be connected and controlled from a smartphone.
3D printer for work
Modeling 9007 Models 9007; Material: thread 1.75 mm | Working area: 330x240x240 mm | Layer thickness: 20-250 µm | Size: 607x596x465 mm | Weight: 40 kg
- high resolution;
- touch screen display.
- significant size and weight.
Description: Raise3D E2 is a printer capable of producing high quality FFF prints. Great for home, education, medical and business. The printer is equipped with two independent extruders. Has a strong and reliable design. In addition, the 3D printer is easy to operate and maintain. Such an apparatus will be able to meet the needs of any consumer involved in modeling, design or design. High quality of the press is provided with automatic calibration of a platform.
3D printer for home and office
- robust construction;
- easy operation.
- use only branded consumables.
Description: The printer went on sale in 2016, but is still the best in its segment. Equipped with a dual extruder, smart spools, autoloader, self-levelling and flexible platform, the CEL-UK RoboxDual allows you to quickly prepare the material, as well as fully control the printing process. The device is adapted to work in any conditions. Therefore, it is great for both home and industrial use.
3D printer for beginners
Lulzbot Mini 2
Modeling Models Models Models Material: thread 2.85 mm | Working area: 160x160x180 mm | Layer thickness: 50-400 µm | Size: 457x339x607 mm | Weight: 9 kg
- Open source software;
- ease of operation.
- lack of protective walls.
Description: If you are just learning the basics of 3D printing, then start with the LulzBot Mini 2 printer. Another important advantage of the device is its moderate overall dimensions. The compact design and light weight allow this printer to be placed on a typical desktop.
Multifunctional 3D printer
Snapmaker 2.0 A350
REAPERS:9000 9000 9000 9000 CNC Router | Laser power: 1.6 Watt | Working area: 350x350x350 mm | Layer thickness: 50-300 µm | Size: 645x480x580 mm | Weight: 9.8 kg
- structural strength.
- delay between mode changes.
Description: Snapmaker 2.0 A350 is a multifunctional device with second generation replaceable modules. The product is capable of performing the functions of a 3D printer, laser engraver and CNC router. Updated filament sensors and an auto-leveling flexible bed ensure high-quality prints. It should be noted that the device is the largest in the series (only three models). But this is not a minus, but rather a plus, since the A350 can work with larger objects than its "brothers".
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How to choose the right 3D printer for dentistry
How 3D printing can be used or is already being used in medicine and, in particular, in dentistry, quite a lot of notes and articles have been written, a large number of reports and lectures have been held. Almost all the participants in these disputes are aware of the advantageous prospect and inevitability of the arrival of 3D printing in most areas of dentistry.
But there are few places where the technical and economic specifics are voiced when choosing this equipment, and even more so, the obvious shortcomings of a particular 3D printer or 3D printing technology are pointed out.
In this article, we will try to analyze in more detail the main nuances when choosing a professional 3D printer for dentists, taking into account the most important factors - the optimal 3D printing technology, quality, reliability and, most importantly, the affordability of a 3D printer in the Russian market. We will also find out what today influences the choice in favor of 3D printing using the example of one dental clinic.
The very first professional 3D printing technology was stereolithography (SLA), which turned 30 this year. SLA remains the most versatile and cost effective 3D printing technology. In its favor speaks a large selection of photopolymers with different physical and chemical properties. The laser system has a much longer life than the similar DLP technology, which is based on light sources such as LEDs or projector lamps, which require periodic replacement and financial investment. For a long time, the main patents for the use of SLA technology (exactly in the form in which it was invented) were owned by the American company 3D Systems. Each time, making small changes, it extended the validity of patents, remaining an absolute monopolist in the market for professional and industrial 3D printers using SLA technology.
In 2014-2015, the situation changes dramatically and after the end of all kinds of "copyrights", many manufacturers of 3D printers using SLA technology appear on the market. First of all, these are Asian analogues / clones of famous brands without any design changes. With an attractive cost from $1,000 to $4,000, but giving out completely non-profile results. Therefore, this category cannot be attributed to a professional line in any way due to the discrepancy between the print quality and the internal equipment of the equipment itself.
No matter how advertising articles or online store managers convince you of the opposite, most of them just read the text of the same advertising article, you will simply lose money, time and even be disappointed in the correctness of your choice in favor of 3D printing. Therefore, we only consider 3D printers that really meet the accuracy and quality parameters declared by the manufacturer.
And so the price range of really high-precision and reliable 3D printers (SLA) in Russia starts from $6,500. It is affordable and suitable for small-scale printing of one-off models from rigid, transparent or burn-out polymers.
But here it is important to understand that if the manufacturer of 3D printers (SLA) does not position its model as a direct 3D printer for dentistry, but presents its equipment as allowing it to be used in all production areas equally effectively and as profitably as possible, this printer , most likely has software and technical limitations. For example, such as not being able to place models vertically, but only at 45°, significantly reducing the working area of the table. To date, there simply are no multi-purpose 3D printers that are equally suitable in their starter kit for printing, for example, color building models and surgical templates for dentistry. Therefore, if you are interested in getting full-fledged performance from a 3D printer without losing quality in dentistry, we also ignore this line of 3D printers.
The next price range for professional 3D printers (SLA) for dentistry starts from $45,000 to $800,000.
This is no longer a small financial investment, which also requires the loading of equipment to reduce its payback period, which can reach several years.
This class of equipment has a number of disadvantages, which are sometimes ignored by the supplier:
- Binding to the use of only their own consumables.
- High cost of printing.
- Completely closed software.
- Special conditions for the operation of a 3D printer.
- Need to buy additional hardware.
- Expensive post-warranty service, long delivery time for components, etc.
3D printer Basic (Dental) - golden mean
We offer you the most optimal and cost-effective solution on the market of professional 3D printers (SLA) for dentistry.
The Basic (D) 3D printer is not positioned with well-known brands of desktop 3D printing options. This is a more affordable option for professional and expensive equipment, capable of continuously high-volume printing, while having unique control functionality and a set of excellent features. What Basic (D) offers you really doesn't fit any 3D printer (SLA).
Here are just a few of the Basic (D) justification factors:
- The Basic (D) 3D printer and its software are designed specifically for dentists.
- Vertical layout of models without loss of quality when printing at 25 microns.
- The highest print speed among competitors.
- Not linked to consumables. A unique system for adjusting the laser illumination speed allows you to achieve high precision results using any third-party photopolymer (405 nm).
- Five print modes (25\30\50\75\100 microns).
- Low cost printing.
- Direct printing of scanned models in STL format.
- 80% of all service calls are resolved by remote connection using software, without requiring a service engineer to visit.
- The most favorable combination of price and quality on the Russian market of 3D printers for dentistry.
In addition to the above indicators, we also note the standard features of Basic (D):
- Printed in paraffin-containing photopolymer for post-casting without ash, using standard temperature burnout.
- Rigid/ABS/Rubber/Transparent/White/Natural and many other photopolymers are also available.
- All photopolymers are non-toxic and certified to standard Class IV safety.
- The working life of the laser system is 10,000 hours, which is confirmed by the warranty statement.
- Full service support in Russia.
The launch of the Basic (D) 3D printer on the Russian market was preceded by a lot of work by the entire 3D Osnova team. For more than a year, we have been conducting in-depth testing of this 3D printer before offering it to you. Our specialists were trained at the manufacturer's production sites, studied the experience of using this equipment among dentists in other countries, and finally, we added a number of optional changes to adapt this equipment to the requirements of Russian dentists. We really have a lot to be proud of. We also ask you to evaluate the combination of simplicity and reliability in the use of the Basic (D) 3D printer with its high-precision printing and multifunctionality of work performed in the field of dentistry. We are always ready to answer your questions, provide a full consultation and demonstration of the Basic (D) 3D printer.
Let the "machines" do the work
Let's look at one specific use case for the Basic 3D printer. Meet this dentist of the highest category Alexander Nikolayevich Romankov (Clinic of Modern Dentistry, Sochi, founded in 1991), who devoted his entire conscious life to his profession, just like many colleagues, passing on his knowledge and experience to future generations, his daughter, also a dentist.
His short story about how he came to use 3D printing in his clinic
"Today, more than 2,500 people are regular patients of our clinic, plus a constant influx of new clients (1-2 daily). Over the past two years, the volume of work performed has increased significantly, taking into account the introduction of fairly new orthodontic services: correction of teeth bite without braces (system of aligners), production of our own surgical templates for implant placement. It is for this work that we planned the introduction of 3D printing. We just want to give the solution of these tasks to machines, thereby reducing the visit time of our clients and significantly saving our strength. Do not forget For example, printing one dental impression on a Basic (D) 3D printer costs us about $ 8, and soon this figure may decrease by another 1.5 times, since we may start using a photopolymer from a Russian manufacturer. we conduct remotely and one course costs about $ 170 for us. Then there is the molding and processing of the mouthguard."
Tips for choosing a 3D printer supplier
1. It is not recommended to purchase equipment from companies that do not have a demo printer or print samples of this printer.
2. The company must have a full or partial service on the territory of Russia, and not a guarantee from the manufacturer.
3. When purchasing a 3D printer, you must ask the supplier to print their own 3D model for you, or to demonstrate a similar one. A conscientious supplier will not see anything strange in this, and moreover, a company that is confident in its product and has come to the market for more than one day should itself offer you a pre-sale print, albeit for a certain amount, which is deducted from its cost during the subsequent purchase of equipment.
4. Ask for contacts of 1-2 customers who have already purchased this or similar equipment to form an independent opinion about this company and its product.
By following these smart tips, you will weed out unqualified suppliers and save time and money in the future.
What am I overpaying for?!
There is an opinion / practice that it is more profitable to purchase a non-industrial 3D printer directly in the manufacturer's country or order it in Europe or the States. Why overpay local suppliers and dealers when you can just pay extra for shipping. And this is a perfectly reasonable argument in favor of financial gain. But momentary gain can turn into unpleasant moments in the future.