Best Practice How to Use Small 3D Printer to Print Big 3D Model

If you want to print a large 3D model with a regular size 3D printer, the only way to do it is to cut the large model into multiple small pieces and print each small part individually. Once you have all the small parts printed, you glue them together. Afanche3D software provides all the tools needed in this process. You can use Afanche3D to measure 3D model to know how big it is, compare them against build volume of 3D printer, slice the 3D model at any given position, adjust the position of each individual part to make sure it is on printers platform, export each of the small parts as a separate STL file which is ready for 3D printing. This article shows how I used Afanche3D to help me print a large 3D model ( 220x220x425mm ) with MakerBot Replicator Mini 3D printer, which has a build volume of 100x100x125mm.

The following picture shows the original 3D model I would like to print. You can see the graphical display of build volume of 3D printer and the 3D model is much bigger than the build volume. There is no way you can print such a large 3D model with a small 3D printer directly. You need to cut the big model first.

The following picture shows the sliced model. The big model is turned into multiple small pieces.

The following picture shows the sliced model again, but I made one part invisible so you can look at the inside of the cutting.

The following picture shows one part of the small pieces which fits the build volume of my 3D printer and it is ready to print.

The following picture shows another part of the small pieces which fits the build volume of my 3D printer and it is ready to print.

The following picture shows the partially finished 3D printed object.

Print Large 3D Model with Small 3D Printer

13 cool things you can 3D print right now

Three-dimensional printing is more precise, widely available, and easier to use than ever. And new printing materialsand more people making 3D-print designsmeans a wider variety of applications. MakerBot, which manufactures 3D printers, features more than 100,000 models on its community, called theThingiverse.

Here are some of the coolest and most interesting things you can 3D-print right now.

Whether you wantto buy3D-printed jewelry orprint it yourself, theres a lot out there to choose from. The design for this bracelet on MakerBots Thingiverse has been downloaded over 1,100 times.

Theres also this 3D-printed metal ring fromCunicode, designed to look like the middle slice of the moon and based on actual topographical data of its surface.

Berlin-basedTwinkindsells eerilylifelike 3D-printed miniaturesbased on 360-degree scans of you. You can print out as many copies as you wantyou can create a small army of figurines to play with, if youre in to that sort of thing.

Instruments are expensive, but theres a whole community of 3D printers who are experimenting with printing their own instruments to potentially bring the cost down. Theres agroup of studentsthat printed a guitar that was then used by the British indie rock group Klaxons onstage. Although guitar bodies are traditionally made from wood, it seems like 3D-printed guitars actually sound pretty good.

Realize the dreams and fantasies of your childrens imagination in three dimensions withCrayon Creatures, also from Cunicode designer Bernat Cuni. Crayon Creatures, as the name suggests, takes your childrens drawings and turns them into wonderfully terrifying 3D figurines.

If your pet was injured or born with a disability, why not help it out? 3DSystemsrecently printeda set of custom blades for a dog born with deformed front legs so that it could run for the first time in its life. Look how happy he is, scampering around on his 3D prosthetics.

Theres no reason to stop at your petsthere have also been some amazing advances in medical 3D printing. Doctors are making3D-printed toolsto aid in spinal surgeries, workingknee jointsandhuman organs. Last year, MakerBotdonated to a projectthat built a prosthetic hand with fingers that can be controlled by wrist movements.

Theres a group of hackers makingIKEA productsa little more useful, or in some cases,just more fun. They have turned IKEAs $15Frosta stoolinto a toy bike which you can make with just a bit of 3D printing. And the stool, of course.

You can build a seasonally appropriatesledout of a Razor scooter with this mod on the Thingiverse. How long before hacked scooters like theseor custom-build stationsstart popping up at ski resorts around the world?

If you dont like any of the existing cases for an iPhone 6, you canprint one yourself. (Nokia actually incorporated the ability to 3D print new removable cases for the backs of theLumia 820early last year.)

If you struggle to eat food with chopsticks, but are sick of giving in and asking for a fork, you can now get some 3D-printed help. Slipthis devicearound a pair of chopsticks and never drop your noodles again.

Cunicodes Bernat Cuni spent 30 days designing and 3D printing a different mug every day, for 30 days. Some of the designs are clearly more about form than function. Some arestill on sale.

The National Institutes of Health recently set up a3D print exchange, where doctors and researchers can upload, search and download 3D models of viruses, molecules, lab equipment, and anatomic models to print. This is more for doctors rather than regular hobbyists, but its pretty amazing that MRI scans can now be used to print accurate models of human hearts. Doctors are using these to help plan their strategies for complicated open-heart surgeries before they make the first incisions.

If youre trying to figure out where to get your own 3D printer, the options are constantly expanding.Stapleshas partnered with 3D Systems andHome Depotwith MakerBot to sell 3D printers in their stores.AmazonandBest Buynow both have extensive 3D printer sections on their websites. MakerBot has also opened brick-and-mortar stores in thethree locationsin the US where you can pick up a printer.

If you dont want to buy your own 3D printer, there are many stores around the world that now offer 3D printing services.7-Elevenconvenience stores in South Korea, the supermarket chainASDA(owned by Walmart) in the UK and shipping companyUPSin the US have varying 3D printing services available for anyone to use. Its like the new version of one-hour photo service.

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A 3D printer is as close as you can get to the Star Trek replicator. Luckily, 3D printing technology has become both powerful and cheap. To make finding your 3D printer easy, weve researched 50 new products and selected the best ones below. Lets do this!

There are two main materials for 3D printing, called ABS and PLA. Both are modern thermoplastics which become malleable when superheated which allows your 3D printer to extrude them. ABS is the same plastic thats used in LEGOs. It is sturdy but required a 3D printer with a heated surface and ventilation, because of its fumes. PLA is an organic material made from corn. Its shinier, smoother, and doesnt smell, however it is slightly weaker than ABS. In short, if you want to build sturdy items use ABS, otherwise PLA.

Your 3D printers build volume (also known as printing area) is an important spec. It defines how big you can make the largest 3D printed objects. We have included the measurements for each printer shown here in inches (width x depth x height). In general, a larger build volume is better since it allows you to print bigger objects. However, in practice most build areas are totally sufficient for real life projects like statues, moving parts, phone cases, art pieces, and other similar 3D objects.

Your 3D printers layer thickness is essentially its vertical printing resolution. Its the minimum thickness of each layer that is printed. The smaller this value, the finer the details that can be printed vertically. Another way to understand this is that its similar to the 2D measurements of DPI for traditional printers and pixel resolution for monitors – except this one is vertical, in three dimensional space. The thickness can often be adjusted upward in your software for faster printing speed, so play around with this setting.

The MOD-t 3D printer offer a lot of valuable features for a low price. Its one of the best beginner 3D printers because of its print quality and how easy it is to use right out of the box. We liked the clean, minimalist design which makes it a nice addition to any home and office. The Matter MOD-t is also WiFi enabled so that you can send 3D objects wirelessly from its browser-based printing software. The clear cover reduces printing noise and prevents accidental touching of moving parts. We highly recommended!

Another very competitively priced 3D printer is the Prusa i3. It supports a large range of filament options, including ABS and PLA, plus wood and nylon! The black laser-cut case gives it a techy, garage-built feel which really makes it stand out. The print quality was also flawless. Unlike the MOD-t, this printer is a DIY kit which means you assemble it following an easy step-by-step guide. Its actually really satisfying to build your own 3D printer, so if you like building things yourself this 3D printer is a great choice.

If youre looking for an  intermediate, affordable 3D printer check out this one! The WER Delta mini GS2 sports two extruders which can handle both ABS and PLA, plus nylon and wood. The double extruders give you the flexibility to mix different materials. Besides the great 3D print quality we really liked the auto-leveling and auto-calibration features which made printing easier. Keep in mind that this is another DIY kit which you assemble before the first use. The included assembly instructions were easy to understand.

The FlashForge is one of the best 3D printer kits. It offers amazing print quality and an excellent 3.5-inch, full-color touchscreen which makes operating it simple. We really liked that this 3D printer comes with a slide-in build plate so you can take out finished prints easier. Additionally, it supports WiFi, USB, and flash drive to load print jobs. This is a nice feature as it gives you lots of flexibility, depending on which computer you use. Given its many premium features this is definitely one of the best budget 3D printers around.

The RepRep Prusa I3 doesnt just have a geeky name, it also has that DIY-tech look to go along with that. It is known to be reliable and prints high quality 3D objects  (from a fishing reel, to a whistle, to a vase). While no soldering, cutting, or drilling is required please keep in mind that this is another DIY 3D printer kit that you assemble. We recommend it for people comfortable with tools and building products. A great choice if youre looking for a DIY 3D printers for sale.

The HICTOP Desktop is similar to the RepRap Prusa I3, except that it features a slightly larger build area (while only printing in PLA filament). It comes as a DIY kit, safely packaged in a solid foam box. It is easy to build and performs well according to customer reviews. While the included assembly guide was simple, wed still only recommend it to people with some experience putting together mechanical products. But once its set up, youll love how well it works!

The Monoprice Maker is a great, affordable 3D printer. Unlike some other products shown here, this one comes ready to go. All you have to do is attach the filament holder and put in four screws to secure the frame to the base. The entire setup was very simple and we were ready to print in 10 minutes. The printer comes with a micro SD card thats pre-loaded with printable 3D models, a very nice touch! Overall, this is one of the best affordable 3D printers you can get. Its fun, easy to use, and offers great print quality!

The Da Vinci 1.0 3D printer can proudly call itself a great 3D printer for several reasons: Its affordable, offers great print quality, comes pre-assembled, and has a large build area. Because of its front safety cover its also a smart choice for kids (under supervision). Additionally, it offers automatic software updates, automatic leveling, and downloadable cloud-powered designs. Theres a LOT to like here and the price is fair for all the included features. We highly recommend it, especially for beginners and for kids!

The HICTOP Prusa I3 3D is an excellent desktop 3D printer. It convinced with high printing accuracy, a large build area, a low price, and a sleek DIY workshop design. It took us a few minutes to set it up and calibrate it, but once it was up-and-running it was a lot of fun to use! We recommend playing around with the different settings to maximize print quality, especially for small details. The HICTOP is the ideal choice if youre looking for a printer thats a learning tool. It teaches both the mechanics of how to set it up and also allows room for manual print adjustments.

Another HICTOP printer made our list. Coincidentally, its the Prusa I3s bigger brother (with the same name). This version offers better overall accuracy and also has useful auto alignment. Please note that both HICTOP printers shown here are DIY, meaning that youll assemble them once they arrive. While DIY assemble is a lot of fun, it is technical and therefore not for everybody.  This printer supports a wide range of fillament 3D printing materials, including both ABS and PLA as well as HIPS, wood, and nylon. In short, it is a great budget intermediate 3D printer.

This futuristic looking product is the Da Vinci 1.0 3D printers little brother. Its one of the best home 3D printers weve seen but it doesnt skimp on quality. We were able to use it within 10 minutes (no assembly required). All that you need to do when getting the printer is to install the software, load the filament, and calibrate the z offset (thats the distance between the extruder head and print plate). Thats it – a very easy setup. The Da Vinci Jr. produced consistently good 3D objects. We recommend it if youre looking for a very affordable product thats perfect for children (under supervision) and beginners alike.

What is this, you ask? Well, this guide is all about affordable ways to get a 3D printer, so we didnt want to leave out a very popular budget choice: 3D printing pens. While a full-sized printer is the best choice for making large models, these pens are a lot of fun to use and cheap. The Yingjia 3D printing pen is the best one for sale. It extrudes plastic so you can paint 3D objects, layer by layer. If youre looking for a cool gadget to start your 3D printing hobby or an amazing 3D printing gift idea, this is a really great choice. Youll have it set up in two minutes and will be ready to start printing amazing freestyle 3D objects!

Here are our recommendations for high quality 3D printer filaments. We suggest starting with PLA which is compatible with all printers above. Its also more eco-friendly and doesnt produce strong fumes. If youd rather use ABS you canfind great ABS filaments here. With lots of vibrant colors available for both materials, there is no limit to what you can create! Experiment with printing layers in different colors and printing separately colored parts. Have fun!

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3D Printers For Home Small Scale And Hobbyists

There are a number of 3D printing companies and services for rapid prototyping available to the hobbyist, entrepreneur, start-up company and for production.

More are showing up each month offering a variety of 3D printers, 3D printing and buy / sell marketplace services.

For this article, well explore the industry leaders that have a proven product and excellent customer satisfaction ratings. In follow-on articles, well go in-depth to each of these companies.

A brief explanation of 3D printing this is an additive manufacturing process for creating three dimensional (3D) solid objects from a computer model. Note this is different from subtractive processes like milling and sculpting. In the latter, the process begins with a block of material which is larger than the finished product and is gradually reduced until the desired shape is reached. In 3D printing, the process begins with an empty space and layers of material are successively deposited on top of each other to build to the desired shape.  This layering has an added cost benefit in that objects can be built for structural strength without having to be 100% solid (e.g., a honeycomb internal structure).

Analogous to an electric glue gun, inside the 3D printer, plastic filament travels through a tube to the print head, where its heated to a semi-liquid state and extruded with precision. The nozzle diameter at the head determines the minimum amount of material that can used in the 3D printing process. This smaller the diameter, the finer the resolution of the finished product.

Similar to 2D printing, CNC milling and other modern technologies,  a designer creates the digital representation of the object using a software program or other means. In some instances, multiple photographs of an existing object can be used to create a 3D replica or as the basis for the new digital file. For example, using a set of 360 degree photographs to create a 3D printed object of a persons head.

Related Article AutoDesk releases their free CAD tools, 123D, to enable quick and robust 3D model designs

Stratasysoffers a few family  types of personal 3D printers, and a number of models in each family.

Their Mojo family uses a proprietary QuickPack Print Engine which contains and delivers the model base and support materials to build the 3D printed objects. These are similar to ink cart cartridge on a home document printer. The Print Engine has its own print head in addition to 80 cubic inches of material. This eliminates the need for period cleaning of the nozzles, and makes it (literally) a snap to change materials or simply print many objects.

The simplicity and ease of use of this design makes it very attractive for novice 3D printers. While this may add some expense, its a great feature that with every material change, the Mojo Print Engine provides a fresh print head to ensure optimum part quality. The QuickPack foil bag contains 80 cubic inches of material, which means fewer material changes and more uninterrupted, big idea printing for you.

Modeling bases provide a smooth surface on which your 3D print objects grow. Once printing is done, you simply take the recyclable base out of your 3D printer and snap off the model.

Above the entry level Mojo is the uPrint family, which features the SE Plus 3D printer . This machine  uses Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Technology to build in ABSplus thermoplastic. Additionally there are nine colors to choose from, making it possible to create realistic prototypes and marketing models. The size and precision of the finished object make them useful to evaluate form, fit and function in everything from ergonomics to manufacturing processes.  Two layer thicknesses provide a choice of  whether to print an object 30 percent faster or at a finer resolution. Optional dual material bays mean more uninterrupted print time, to maximize throughput without having to replenish materials.

The uPrint also supports a larger build chamber than the Mojo:

3DSystemsis also the parent company for Cube.

They position this machine as a home 3D printer starting at $1,299 . One differentiator from the other printers is that the Cube (and the larger version, CubeX) can communicate over a WiFi network, eliminating cables. Another interesting feature is the color offerings   it uses material cartridges in 16 different colors including vibrant colors, neutral colors, metallic silver and glow in the dark.

The other printer by Cube is CubeX, starting at $2499.

In addition to the entry model features, this has a larger build capacity.

MakerBotis probably the most prevalent of all home 3D printers used in North America.

The original Replicator is available on-line for $1,999 .

There are many reviews and articles available to explain all the details of the MakerBot products, include the one below:

Related Article Print Your Own 3D Creations At Home With MakerBot

The Replicator key specifications are:

Build size:  225 x 145 x 150 mm ( 8.9 x 5.7 x 5.9 in )

Layer thickness: Choose 0.2-0.3 mm with stock nozzle

Nozzles:  Single extruder and  Dual extruder available

They recently released the next generation in this family, the Replicator 2 , which retails for $2,199.

This is the fourth generation machine and MakerBot claims:

its the best desktop 3D printer on the market. With a resolution capability of 100 microns and a massive 410 cubic inch build volume, the MakerBot Replicator2 Desktop 3D Printer is the easiest, fastest, and most affordable tool for making professional quality models. We set a new standard with our work, so that you can set a new standard with yours.

The Replicator2  key specifications are:

Just announced is the Replicator 2X , suggested price of $2,799.

A third company offering home and hobbyist 3D printers isSolidoodle, with two machines. These print with  ABS filament (recommended), but use of PLA is possible

Another company offering small scale 3D printers includePP3DP(Personal Portable 3D Printer)

Once you have a 3D Printer, youll want to get the best use from it. These 3 books from authorJoan Horvathare an excellent source of ideas, projects and demonstrations. They will take you from the basics of 3D printing to the advanced techniques.

3D Printed Science Projects: Ideas for your classroom, science fair or home($26.94 paperback)

3D Printed Science Projects Volume 2: Physics, Math, Engineering and Geology Models($20.26 paperback)

Mastering 3D Printing (Technology in Action)($26.40 paperback)

For more information on each of these companies and their various 3D printers, please visit their websites with the links provided above. Also, to hear more from the 3D printing community, check in with the groups on Google+ and LinkedIn.

(Photo Credit Cubify / 3DSystems )

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3D Printers Used For Making Costumes

Rapid Prototyping With 3D Creation Systems

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What is the best semi-professional 3d printer for a small Industrial Design studio? 3D Printing

What is the best semi-professional 3d printer for a small Industrial Design studio?

, 3D printing consultant for additive manufacturing & 3D printers.

It depends really on the actual size of the things you want to make, your budget and the type of things you want to make. At the moment I can not think of one 3D printer that would satisfy both your requirements and budget. You basically want the dream machine that everyone is trying to make.

An Objet24 would have the precision be about 20k and be able to do only one material. An Objet30 would be around 30k and have more materials as well as opaque and flexible.

An EnvisionTec Micro would be around 15k and have a lot of detail but a small build volume.

Perfactory® Micro 3D Printing for the Jewelry Industry

An Asiga would be around 8k and have detail but not build volume.

If youd want truly functional parts you would be looking at a Mojo for 9k which would print in ABS but the parts would not be really pretty.

A Beijing Tiertime S200 would be around 10k.

Beijing TierTime Technology Co. Ltd. 3D Printer

Projet 3500s tick a lot of the right boxes but start at 35k.

ProJet 3510 HD and 3510 HDPlus Professional 3D Printers

Another option is a Blueprinter for 10k but the detail level is not great but the mechanical properties should be fun.

You could also get a RobotFactory duo with a 3DL Printer for detail and the One for functional parts.

Or you could get a Form1 (3k) for detail and a German RepRap (5k) for the build sizes. Or maybe a Leapfrog or Ultimaker (2k).

Leapfrog 3D Printers Creatr, Xeed and filaments

the fast, easy to build, affordable 3D printer – 3D printing for everyone!

If you have diverse requirements in terms of materials, mechanical qualities and finishes youd probably be best off using a service to deliver exactly the parts you need every time. Youd pay more per part and it would take longer but youd get the right thing every time.

Related QuestionsMore Answers Below

What is the cost of professional 3D printers?

How will 3d printers change product designers?

What are the best top 5 3D printers in the market now?

Which desktop 3D printer is most popular among professionals?

What are the best desktop 3D printers for precise parts?

, Digital Marketing & Fashion Industry (SEO,PPC,SMO,Analytics)

Industrial grade professional 3D printer

It features, the Quick Load functionality for changing and loading filaments easily, anti-clogging filament sensors and a super-slicer that makes sure theres no time lost.

The revolutionary AION 500 is a high performance, massive size 3D printer that offers a professional-level build volume

The machine is easy to use allowing the user to alternate between quick-&- easy to professional-grade printing smoothly.

For more Head Over to :Best Large Build Size Industrial Grade 3D Printer

Your requirements up to the budget screams polyjet machine. A Objet Connex type to be specific, though 3D systems jet machines arent bad either. Your budget, however screams cheap. Your only real options in my opinion is a larger format FDM machine, something along the lines of a gcreate gmax or a raise3d. There is a big gap between the 5K and under, and the 25K and over for something that can print the size of a helmet. However, an FDM is going to limit many of your preferences.

What is the best desktop 3D printer for interior designing?

Whats the most easiest DIY 3D printer to build?

Which is the best professional 3D Printer for jewellery prototyping?

Which company makes the best 3D printer?

What are the best personal 3D printers?

Which company sells industry 3D printer?

Can a 3D printer print another 3D printer? My friend told me that hes printing a 3D printer from his 3D printer. Can someone print a 3D print…

Will 3D printers revolutionize the dental industry?

Still have a question? Ask your own!

What is the cost of professional 3D printers?

How will 3d printers change product designers?

What are the best top 5 3D printers in the market now?

Which desktop 3D printer is most popular among professionals?

What are the best desktop 3D printers for precise parts?

What is the best desktop 3D printer for interior designing?

Whats the most easiest DIY 3D printer to build?

Which is the best professional 3D Printer for jewellery prototyping?

Which company makes the best 3D printer?

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Choosing the right small flatbed printer for your business – part 2

Concluding our round-up of flatbed printers, Simon Eccles looks at the smaller manufacturers of compact flatbed digital printers.

We previously examined the potential market for small flatbed printers and the way they are used for applications that are very different from their larger format relatives. We also looked at the offerings from the first two major suppliers in this sector,MimakiandRoland DG.

Here we look at the offerings from a couple of smaller companies,CopytraxandBergstein, as well as the new entry fromMutoh, another of the Japanese big three in solvent and UV inkjets.

UK based Copytrax may be a less familiar name than the Japanese makers in the general wide format market, but its lately been busy carving out a niche in small flatbeds.

A few years ago it was best known for a range of solvent ink CD/DVD industrial printers, based on modifiedEpsonprint engines with new inks and custom-built feeders. However the use of CDs and DVDs is declining as other digital media take over, so it has been extending its expertise into more general purpose industrial printers, that it calls PrintMaster.

Their ability to print on 3D items with curved surfaces makes them in some ways replacements for the CD/DVD printers, as USB sticks are taking over in this sector and these can be given labels and promotional graphics. However, these small flatbeds can print on a whole lot more as well.

Copytrax now has three families of PrintMaster flatbeds: Rubens, available in A3 and A2 formats with solvent inks; Cezanne, ranging from A3 to B0 with UV-cured inks; and the new Renoir, in A3 and A2 formats with a water-based gel ink.

Cezanne was first announced last year as an A2 model, with a price that undercut the Mimaki and Roland A2 models by a significant margin. It has a printable area of 400 x 600mm and takes items up to 150 mm thick. An alternative freestanding model with its own stand has an even deeper bed system for objects up to 300 mm.

Eight ink channels can be configured as CMYK plus 4x white, or CMYK plus 2x white and 2x clear. White and clear can be printed in separate passes as under or overcoats, acting as a primer on porous surfaces if needed. It can print an area of 600x420mm with a photographic resolution of 720x1440dpi in 12 minutes. Lower resolutions and higher speeds are possible. A rotator for cylindrical items is optional.

The UK price is the equivalent of €23,600 for the 150mm depth model and €27,700 for 300mm. The UVA3 model costs €18,900 and the UVA1 (600 x 800mm) is €49,000.

The Cezanne UVA3 printer is interesting for its configuration as well as its price. Its not really A3, rather it has a fixed bed measuring 300 x 800mm. The print engine (Epson based like the others) travels along the length of the bed while the head carriage moves from side to side.

As with the CD printers, all of the flatbeds are based on Epsons Stylus Pro print engines, but heavily modified with entirely new flatbed feed systems, different inks and in the case of Cezanne, LED curing lamps mounted on the print head carriages.

The Cezanne printers (and Renoir, which use much the same hardware) are actually made by Azon in Croatia, which sells the same basic models under its own name and UV Q brand in some territories.

The Printmaster Rubens is an A3+ flatbed with solvent inks. According Copytrax, solvent gives a smoother, glossier finish than UV and is better for photographic images, but it has to be left to harden for a few hours. Its suited to printing on plastic, wood, glass, metal, ceramic, slate and leather. The bed size is 330 x 530mm and items up to 140mm deep can be accommodated (a rotary jig to print cylindrical items is optional). There are eight ink channels for either CMYK x 2 or CMYK + 4x white. The resolution is up to 5,760 x 1,440dpi. Theres an IR lamp for heating and the option of a heated vacuum bed.

The latest Renoir models (currently in A3 and A2 formats) use much the same hardware base as Cezanne, with a new water-based gel ink instead of UV curing and LED lamps. The ink is said to give similar printed results to solvent, but without the VOCs. Renoir printers also cost less than the UV Cezannes. An A3 model costs about €12,600 and an A2 model is about €16,000.

So Mutoh is joining a market thats already populated with some strong products. Sensibly, one of its main tactics is to offer a keen price. UK distributorColourgensaid that it expects the ValueJet 426UF to start shipping in September and that the advisory price is currently €16,905, though it may turn out to be lower. This puts the A3 Mutoh at about the same price as the A4 Roland.

Mutohs ValueJet 426UF, showing the UV and dust protection cover open

The bed size is 483 x 329mm and it can take objects up to 70mm thick. There are six ink channels that can be configured as CCMMYK or as CMYK + white + clear. Layer printing (with white in the centre of colours) is possible for clear backlit media that has to be viewed from both sides.

The throughput seems to be roughly comparable to the rival printers and depends on the resolution, with a choice of 1,440 x 1,440dpi unidirectional, 720 x 1,440dpi bidirectional or 720 x 1,080dpi bidirectional. For a CCMMYK configuration you can print between six and 28 beds per hour. For CMYK only (ie on a machine loaded with white and clear too) it falls to between two and 14 beds per hour. With white only it is from six to 28 beds, and with layer printing it is between one and seven beds.

Bergstein Digital, based in the Netherlands, has grown out of a parent company that makes screen process and pad printers. It offers a range of small flatbeds two of which are based on considerably modified Mimaki UJF flatbed UV printers. These are painted blue and offer new bed mechanisms that accept thicker items than the original printers.

The BE 300 model family is based on the A3 UJF-3042, with added industrial features such as anti-static ionised air circulation and extra microswitches on the guards. Its available in three models with 50, 150 or 300mm item heights. The ionisation helps ink adhere to uneven surfaces. Prices range from about €31,500 to €41,500. Bergsteins BE 330 LED (pictured right) is an industrialised flatbed with a 30cm adjustable bed height.

The BE 600 is based on the A2 format UJF-6042, with the same extra features as the BE 300, with a choice of 150, 300 and 500mm depth vacuum beds. Theres also provision for a robotic arm loading/unloading system. Prices range from €56,600 to €75,000.

Bergstein also offers a very fast UV flatbed, the Viper LED, which can print a 600 x 600mm bed in 80 seconds. It accepts items up to 300mm high and has a maximum resolution of 700 x 920dpi (though the bed speed then falls to 150 seconds), printing CMYK plus white, with options for clear and primer. It costs considerably more than the other small flatbeds were considering, at about €150,000. It also has a much larger footprint.

These switch panels were printed on a Copytrax Cezanne.

All these small flatbed printers are bringing digital technology and its potential for short runs and one-offs or personalisation to the giftware and gadgetware sectors. Theyre also useful for short runs of small metal, wood, plastic or glass signage, ceramic decoration and the like, or industrial applications such as instrument panels.

Previously these applications have mainly relied on relatively specialised analogue printing such as screen process, offset or flexo decals, or pad printing. Direct printing also works better in some circumstances than other digital processes, such as shrink films and wraps.

On the other hand none of these small flatbeds are very fast. While this is balanced somewhat by not needing to wait for plates or screens, they will still often need positioning jigs, which have to be made in advance (though they can be re-used indefinitely).

These small flatbeds have obvious appeal to companies that are already operating in these sectors and can now add easy customisation and short-run fast turnround services. However their relatively low price, compact sizes and ease of operation will mean that outsiders may now feel its worth getting into these markets too.

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How to 3d Print Gears

Some complex mechanical 3d prints use gears and geared mechanisms in beautiful ways.  To design gears for 3d printing, you have to take some things into account. Clearance, the printer type, and the type of gear. Youre best off using gear creator scripts, or importing existing pieces and correcting scale and clearance issues.

3d printers cannot print perfectly, so there will always be a bit of variation between the model and the output.  If you make a round  hole thats 10mm in diameter and a 10mm diameter drive shaft to fill that hole, it wont have enough clearance to fit into the hole.   The best current commercially available printers have a resolution of 0.1mm.   This means there could be up to 0.2mm difference between the actual surface of your print and the 3d model. Models also shrink a little after being printed.

You need to design gears to account for shrinkage and resolution issues.  To do this, include clearance empty space between the gears and between the gear axle and the stationary part of the model.  The more clearance there is between gearing, the more certain you can be everything will fit together.  But at the same time, they will have less mechanical efficiency, so they will require more force to turn.  To ensure your model fits, use 0.6mm clearance between all moving parts.

If you use a commercial printer, your model will probably be printed with laser sintering.  A powder is deposited, and a laser melts the powder into a solid.  The powder holds your model in place, so pieces that would have to be printed separately can be printed in place.  The powder holds them up as each layer is printed.  Ball and socket joints can be  3d printed in place.  Gears can be printed in place, instead of needing assembly, because the powder fills the clearance gap.

You can print gear systems on 3d printers that dont use laser sintering, but you need to use support structures to stand in place of the powder.  You can either design them by hand, or let your slicing software generate them.  Support structures need to be hand removed.  Some 3d printers let you print with a second material that can be dissolved, but most will need to be cleaned off with a utility knife or scalpel.  Check out this video to show how much can need to be removed if you want to print in place.

Otherwise, you can print each piece separately and assemble by hand.  This is safer, but means you need to design even more fasteners to solidly snap together pieces that hold the gearing.Emmetts Automatic Transmissionmodel on thingiverse has each piece as an individual model.  Once printed, they can be hand assembled.

Unless youre a mechanical engineer, it may take you many test prints to get the right fitting and gearings.  The woodgears.ca gear template software lets you easily change parameters and generate gears that fit your use. Thingiverse has manygear templatesthat are tested by other users, so find the one that best fits your application, making sure you pick one that has been actually printed, and insert it into your design. You will likely have to scale the gearing to work with your model. Once the gears are scaled, remember to check that the gear clearance is still 0.6mm, since that may have changed when you scaled the system.

Many of the standard 3d modeling tools also have scripts to generate gears, created by users.  Do a search for scripts before you try to hand-model gears yourself.  For example, here are scripts forBlenderandRhino. Inkscape has built in gearing support, and can be used in yourgear modeling pipeline.

Read theguide to how gears work.  For efficient gears, you cant use triangles or squares.  You need an involute curve, or depending on your application, you could need a more complex shape, like a worm gear.  The tips of the gear should not touch the other gear.  Instead, where they intersect, the Pitch Line, should reach slightly over halfway into the gear about 1:1.25.  If youre going to try to model gears by hand, find a good design reference to consult.  One of the classic reference manuals isDudleys Handbook of Practical Gear Design.  You really shouldnt try to make gearing systems by hand unless you have lots of engineering experience.

There are some amazing models being made with gearing.  Think of an existing real world model and how you could adapt it to 3d printing.  With a few test prints, and using gearing, you can have a 3d print with moving parts.

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