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Injection mould company looks to 3D printing to solve operational bottlenecks – Saving up to 90% on parts

With the always-on productivity of the Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle, Metro Plastics found a solution to their long lead times, while also saving up to 90% on parts.

INTRODUCTION

Solving the lead time problem

Metro Plastics was struggling to get end-of-arm tooling parts machined in a timely manner from their internal tool shop. If the tool shop wasn’t busy, it might only take a week or so – but if they were overloaded, it may take a few months.

Adams knew a better solution was out there and had been hearing about additive manufacturing for a long time. When he started wondering if this might be right for Metro Plastics, he reached out to his friend, Matt Torosian, who is a director for Jabil’s Additive Manufacturing Materials division. Matt immediately suggested Ultimaker. With the goal of a quicker turnaround time, and an added bonus of the endless amounts of material choices through Ultimaker’s open material platform, it was a no-brainer.

After deciding on Ultimaker, the next question was what printer? For a larger build plate, to maximize air quality in the office area, and to easily swap materials, the decision was clear: Metro Plastics went with the Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle.

3D printed end-of-arm tooling solved Metro Plastics’ initial problem
Metro Plastics found many more 3D printing applications, like this quality control fixture

[The Ultimaker printer] runs every single day! We’re constantly thinking about 3D printing instead of outsourcing…

Custom 3D printed tool storage, demonstrating the lean manufacturing ‘poka yoke’ principle

Implementation

Once the Ultimaker 3D printer arrived, with the team’s 3D CAD skills, learning Ultimaker Cura software and the Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle 3D printer was simple.

Adams was able to set up the printer and start printing parts the same day.

When Metro Plastics purchased their 3D printer, they had no idea the amount of applications that would be possible. Adams initially thought the Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle would only be used for end-of-arm tooling, but quickly realized there were many different uses for their Ultimaker printer:

  • Fixtures: General and assembly fixtures as well as CMM
  • Automation: End-of-arm tooling
  • Equipment: Casings and brackets
  • Prototypes: Internal design and customer prototypes

“My original thought was that we’d be printing a fixture once a week,” divulged Adams, “but that thing runs every single day! We’re constantly thinking about 3D printing instead of outsourcing to the point that our production department now comes to us first to ask if a part is possible before going to our tool shop or an online catalogue to purchase.”

“With the Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle, we can have the part printed same day at $5 a part”

The Results

Now, Adams’ department rarely outsources. Before their Ultimaker 3D printer, everything was done by their in-house machine shop, where they employ a handful of toolmakers. “We can’t create our injection molds with 3D printing,” Adam states, “but besides that, we utilize our Ultimaker printer for almost everything else.” Their favorite material to print with is Jabil’s PA4035 material, which is carbon-fiber filled nylon, and have yet to break a part as a result of its strength.

To give an example of the cost savings they found, Adams created sensor brackets, which are around $40 to $50 for the metal part and take a few days to arrive at the facility. “With the Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle, we can have the part printed same day at $5 a part,” Adams declares.

With the use of their Ultimaker printer, Metro Plastics has minimized part turnaround time and cost, rapidly getting injection molded parts into their customers’ hands. A true engineer at heart, Adams has found a way to solve even more problems – this time not only for his customers, but also his team.

A 3D printed packaging nest to help organize parts

For a deeper dive and to view the full specs of the S5 Pro Bundle and/or request more information or a quote, please find link to the product page on our site here: https://www.dream3d.co.uk/product/ultimaker-s5-pro-bundle/

Don’t forget we stock the full Ultimaker range too which you can check out here: https://www.dream3d.co.uk/desktop-3d-printers/ultimaker-3d-printers/

If you have any other queries please feel to contact us (info@dream3d.co.uk / 07789266163)

If you have any other queries or are considering purchasing an Ultimaker 3D Printer or any other, please do feel free to ask us any queries or request a bespoke discount (info@dream3d.co.uk / 07789266163)

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How 3D Printing Cuts Costs in Moviemaking – Dark Cell business case

“We have had lots of movie professionals visiting our set and all of them were amazed with what we achieved with 3D printing

SUMMARY

  • A cluster of 8 Zortrax 3D printers have been used to print props and decorations for Dark Cell, a pilot for a French science fiction series featuring Juliette Tresanini.
  • 3D printers allowed the producers to meet tight deadlines for shooting the pilot and fit into limited budget.
  • Jean-Michele Tari, a producer of Dark Cell, claimed 3D printers will one day bridge the visual quality gap between Hollywood blockbusters and independent, low-budget projects.

INTRODUCTION

Dark Cell is a pilot for a new science fiction series set in an orbital prison. It features Juliette Tresanini, known from a French television drama The Future Belongs to Us, and is produced by Jean-Michel Tari, an ex-Ubisoft designer and computer graphics expert previously involved in making triple A video games such as Splinter Cell or Ghost Recon. To get the most out of a limited budget, Jean-Michel relied on combining real, 3D printed decorations with CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) to build his futuristic prison. A vast majority of props used in Dark Cell have been 3D printed in just two months on 8 Zortrax 3D printers.

“We have had lots of movie professionals visiting our set and all of them were amazed with what we achieved with 3D printing. Of course, most of them have already implemented 3D printers in their workflows to some extent. But in Dark Cell we employed them on an unprecedented scale. Nearly everything you will see in the pilot is 3D printed.”, says Adrien Rouet, the CEO and founder of Esquisse 3D, a company that was responsible for the 3D printing part of the project.

Building Reusable Movie Set

Back in 2019, when Jean-Michel conceived the idea for Dark Cell, he asked around for quotes to build props and decorations with traditional techniques out of plywood. All of them amounted to hundreds of thousands of euros which was the typical asking price for such things in the movie industry. Jean-Michel, with his extensive background in tech companies, started to think about optimizing the way things worked in this field.

Reconfigurable scaffolding made out of wooden beams connected with 3D printed joints.

He found that wooden scaffoldings to which decorations were attached were made on order, used for just a couple of shooting days and then ended up in a landfill. So, Jean-Michel thought about making reconfigurable, reusable scaffoldings. To make that work, he needed lots of 3D printed joints. Wooden beams could be joined through such joints to build any desired shapes and geometries. This alone shaved off a significant portion of the initial price. But Jean-Michel wanted to take it a few steps further. After using 3D printers to build reusable scaffoldings, he wanted to print nearly everything that was supposed to be shown in the movie. 

Designing Props for 3D Printers

“Jean-Michel had lots of experience in video game industry, so, from the ground up, he designed all Dark Cell props in Fusion 360, a professional CAD software made by Autodesk. This way the models could be used in CGI right from the get-go, but they also could be easily exported to .stl files and 3D printed”, says Adrien.

Dark Cell props 3D printed on Zortrax 3D printers and painted.

According to him, this approach is really key in creative projects where 3D printing is to be involved at some point. Adrien’s team at Esquisse 3D could start running the 3D printers right when the models arrived, with no time necessary for making adjustments and design optimization.

3D printed decorations assembled into a setting where Dark Cell’s action takes place

The main idea behind using physical, 3D printed props instead of relying entirely on CGI was to help the actors act more naturally and feel their roles better. “When you bet solely on CGI, your actors have to act in a green box. They don’t see their surroundings so all interactions with the environment seem a bit off. Jean-Michel wanted to avoid that and place the actors in a real orbital prison cell they could touch and see.”, explains Adrien.

3D printers have been used to print elements of costumes for Dark Cell. Female lead Juliette Tresanini in the center.

“The only thing Jean-Michel was missing was the number of available 3D printers. He had just two machines which were open architectures that had a hard time printing filaments like Z-ABS or Z-PETG which were necessary for props that had to withstand impacts or endure mechanical stress. That’s the problem we jumped in to solve”, adds Adrien.

Scaling Up to Meet the Deadline

Roughly two months before the shooting of Dark Cell was scheduled to start, Jean-Michel realized that he couldn’t make the decorations on time working with just two 3D printers. So, he hired Adrien and his Esquisse 3D to fabricate the missing props.

Linear scalability is one of the key advantages of the 3D printing technology. The Dark Cell team used an entire cluster of Zortrax 3D printers to get all the props done before shooting.

“And that was a lot of 3D printing. We had all 8 of our Zortrax 3D printers running 24/7 for two months. We could do it because the printers were so reliable. We could be certain we would make all the models till the deadline. And this deadline couldn’t be moved as the studio, the actors, and the camera crew were all booked for a set date”, says Adrien.

Quality of prints achievable on Zortrax 3D printers significantly reduced the necessary post processing and limited the number of failed prints.

Quality of prints on Zortrax machines also saved lots of post-processing time. According to Adrien, his team in most cases did not need to sand the models. All that was necessary was painting to make the models look like metal parts. Limited sanding was necessary only in the models like laser weapons and other props that were meant to be used in close-up shots.

3D Printers as the Missing Link in Cinema

Jean-Michel, in the interview he gave to Primate 3D said that 3D printers were the missing link between computer graphics and real-life props in movie industry. He went on to say that quality and cost-efficiency of the 3D printing technology will eventually close the visual quality gap between Hollywood blockbusters and independent, low-budget projects.

Designing the props in professional 3D modeling software allowed using them in both CGI and 3D printing technology without further optimization.

“Working on Dark Cell was a 3D printing dream job for me. Still, this was something we did mostly for fun. Usually, we use the 3D printers for prototyping work and design in architecture. But I think Jean-Michel is on to something with using this technology in movie making. We already have lots of interest from various movie makers. Perhaps one day this will become our primary, steady source of income. I believe this will become a very real opportunity really soon”, says Adrien. 

Dark Cell is just one of many moviemaking projects where 3D printers helped optimize costs without sacrificing creative freedom. Read how Zortrax 3D printers have been used in the making of Star Wars blockbusters like Rouge One or The Last Jedi.

Dream 3D can supply you with the full Zortrax desktop range of 3D Printers, materials and accessories. Please find the Zortrax printer page here: Zortrax 3D Printers | Dream 3D

Please find the Zortrax filaments page here: Zortrax Filaments | Dream 3D

If you have any other queries or are considering purchasing a Zortrax 3D Printer or any other, please do feel free to ask us any queries or requesta bespoke discount (info@dream3d.co.uk / 07789266163)

Thanks for reading 🙂

5 ways to stop wasting money on production processes

Another useful white paper from Ultimaker we wanted to share with you.

Introduction

Additive manufacturing is revolutionizing production processes. Fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printing in particular has been adopted by diverse industries around the world, from automotive engineering to the health and beauty industry. These global brands use 3D printing to shrink production costs, accelerate time to market, and outpace their competitors.

In this white paper we highlight the five areas on which to focus to make your production processes more cost efficient, and look at just a few of the industry leaders already using FFF 3D printing to reduce production costs.

1 – Print tooling in-house

3D printed manufacturing helps to elevate quality and effectiveness, and reduce costs.

Factories and workshops rely on manufacturing aids to streamline production. Jigs, fixtures, and quality gauges facilitate faster machine setup, reduce deviations during assembly and fitting, and hold parts securely, but manufacturing aids are often highly customized items.

Outsourcing production results in long lead times and additional costs, placing your manufacturing at the mercy of the supplier. When design changes are necessary, the cycle must begin again, causing additional delays to product delivery.

3D printing, on the other hand, provides flexibility and removes these constraints. Since each item is produced in-house, manufacturing is entirely under your control. Moreover, 3D printed polymers offer a range of properties, such as toughness, strength, flexibility, and chemical resistance. Materials are inexpensive, allowing for more extensive design iteration. So if tooling changes are required, or the work floor suggests ergonomic improvements to a tool, a new design can be 3D printed and deployed in a matter of hours. And if the new design doesn’t meet the mechanical requirements, it can be reprinted with a stiffer or tougher material, or a new iteration can be produced. If more parts are needed, simply print more.

Streamlined production. Reduced costs.

• Get ahead of the competition – less than 1% of global manufacturing currently takes  advantage of 3D printing technology 

• Low production costs enable a greater range of applications, with no  compromises on ROI 

• Items are easy to customize, refine, and adapt at minimal cost 

• Tool development time shrinks from months to just days 

• Assembly line yield and production efficiency is improved in a cost-efficient way 

Ford Motor Company was able to implement more than 50 3D printed tools for high  volume production of the All-New Focus, with considerable cost savings per tool compared  to conventional methods. The alignment tool pictured above ensures that emblems and  decals are consistent for each vehicle that rolls off the assembly line.

3D printed manufacturing aids are used by Volkswagen Autoeuropa to maximize  production efficiency. For example, the pictured wheel protector jig prevents scratches and  damage to wheel rims and simultaneously aligns an operator’s pneumatic impact gun to  speed up the fitting process and reduce scrap costs.

Wheel protector jig External supplier Ultimaker 3D printers Cost per item €800 ($900) €21 ($24) Development time 56 days 10 days

Performing maintenance on complex and customized aircraft can be an expensive  challenge. By adopting 3D printing, The Royal Netherlands Air Force is able to affordably  create tools for specific applications within hours. 3D printed parts cost approximately $10  to produce, while traditional methods can cost over $1,000 for the same part.

3D printed manufacturing aids make production easier, faster, and cheaper for world leading beauty company L’Oréal. The pictured gauge keeps product packaging consistent  by verifying that labels are correctly positioned. With standardized label placement and  quality assurance, deviations are unlikely to hit the shelves.

2 – Validate designs faster

Keep up with rapidly changing consumer trends and outpace your competitors.  3D printed prototypes are cheaper and faster to produce, allowing you to verify  your design before further investment. 

In-house 3D printing accelerates prototyping cycles so that your products reach the market  faster. Accurate and functional 3D printed prototypes are inexpensive to produce and can  be shared with clients and customers to test form, fit, and function. A refined 3D printed  prototype can also give other departments a head start on marketing communications and  sales strategies – before the first production item is ever manufactured. 

Polymers such as nylon or polypropylene can be 3D printed, so in some cases you can  test prototypes with the same material properties as the final product. Items intended  for production with expensive materials, such as precious metals, can be produced as an  inexpensive prototype to verify physical characteristics. 3D printing can also be used for  mold making, or for applications external to the product, such as packaging prototypes. 

Faster prototyping. Better end products. 

• Be confident of a product concept before investing in expensive production 

• Prove a concept’s viability before producing it in more expensive materials

• Prototype with the same materials as production items, e.g. nylon or polypropylene

British manufacturing company Sylatech uses 3D printing to verify that pre-production  items are dimensionally accurate and function as intended. When design requirements  are met, these items are used to manufacture metal parts through investment casting.  

Yacht propeller Conventional tooling Ultimaker 3D printers Project cost £17,100 ($22,500) £660 ($860) Project development time 4 weeks 5 days

Before adopting 3D printing, L’Oréal spent as long as 18 months on packaging prototype  development. Now, designs can be validated in days.

Ukrainian pastry chef Dinara Kasko produces highly unique and artistic desserts, using  3D printed concepts to verify her designs. Printed items are then used to create silicone  molds that are filled with ingredients to make the final dessert. The iterative freedom  that 3D printed prototypes allow has also been instrumental in developing her own line  of dessert molds.

3 – Create customized end-use parts

3D printed parts can be manufactured at low cost, enabling you to customize  existing products. 

Have you ever needed to repair products or machinery made of parts that are expensive to  replace, or have been discontinued? 3D printing enables you to rapidly print high-quality  functional parts, locally, and at low cost. 

3D printing is unlike conventional methods such as injection molding, which must follow  restrictive design-for-manufacturing rules. Instead, 3D printing enables the production  of complicated geometries, and an iterative design process. This improves structural  performance, saves material, and streamlines the design-to-manufacturing cycle. 

The range of available 3D printing materials is expanding every day, so you’re likely to find  a material that matches your application requirements – whether you need reinforced,  ESD-safe, chemical-resistant, or other types of engineering-grade materials.

Flexible manufacturing. Bespoke solutions. 

• Create complex parts quickly and cheaply 

• Remove the limitations of outsourcing and design-for-manufacturing 

• Benefit from an iterative design approach 

If you’ve seen snow in a recent film or television production, 3D printing has likely played  a part in producing it. Snow Business, based in the UK, is the world’s biggest supplier of  winter special effects to the film and television industry. The diffusion nozzle is a critical  part of their snow machines. After years of R&D, this nozzle has a liquid and airflow  geometry so complex that it can only be made by 3D printing.  

4 – Accessible, scalable manufacturing

3D printers are easy to set up and use, with minimal training or additional staff  requirements. And their low cost means that you can easily scale production with  additional 3D printers.  

Ultimaker 3D printers are easy and safe to use and are compliant with international  standards for safe unattended professional use. So you are safe to leave them to do their  job, while you do yours. 

Ultimaker Connect enables you to operate a short-run production facility, by enabling 3D  printers to process a queue of jobs and manufacture items in parallel. All of this can be  controlled from a single device. 

Scale-up for less 

• 3D printers can produce a variety of shapes, without the need to change tooling • Transportation, scrap, and waste disposal costs are reduced 

• 3D printers are easy to use, so staff and training costs are reduced  

• Ultimaker 3D printers are compliant with international standards for safe unattended  professional use 

• Network-enabled Ultimaker 3D printers are an automated and scalable  production solution

Italian fashion brand Florenradica uses the versatility of 3D printing to produce items for  a range of fashion houses. To meet the fast-paced and rapidly-changing demands of the  fashion industry, Florenradica has scaled their 3D printing production by using a group of  50+ Ultimaker 3D printers, working in parallel for maximum efficiency.

5 – Simplify model making

3D printing frees your staff to develop concepts by enabling an iterative  design process. 

Model making is an essential step in architecture, product design, and other creative  industries. These industries already rely on CAD modeling to convey ideas, so converting  this data into a 3D print is a simple process. 3D printing models eliminates the time consuming and labor-intensive aspects of conventional model making, doesn’t require  skilled labor, and creates less waste than conventional methods such as woodworking. 

Architects are rapidly adopting 3D printing to create intricate prototypes, and no  longer need to compromise on model detail or accuracy. From small models of intricate  features to huge context models, precise and detailed prototypes can be accurately  produced within hours. 

Unlike CAD designs, 3D printing lets clients see, touch, and feel concepts to get a clearer  idea of the spatial relations of a design. And if ideas need to be communicated rapidly  across a large distance, CAD data can be shared and printed at each location.

Clearer concepts. Meaningful innovation. 

• Clearly communicate ideas, with a model produced directly from your CAD data • Create complex geometries that are difficult to make by hand, with detail at large  or small scales 

• Reduce development times from months to just days 

• Duplicate models as needed

Make architects in London used to outsource model making. A third-party supplier would  build timber feasibility study models at a cost of approximately £20,000 ($26,500) and a  lead time of up to six weeks. Using 3D printing, hundreds of individual structures can be  produced in two days at a cost of £2,000 ($2,650) for labor and materials, and with a total  build time of two weeks. This iterative design approach adds value and allows Make to  better communicate their ideas to partners and stakeholders.

London-based MATT architects uses 3D printed concept models to communicate  complicated ideas to their clients. Previously, they used hand-made paper or cardboard  models. This was a labor-intensive and slow process that limited the range of ideas that  could be conveyed. Now they can produce high-detail concepts within hours.

Explore more 3D printing knowledge

Don’t let the hurdles of traditional manufacturing slow down your good ideas.

Dream 3D stock the full range of Ultimaker 3D Printers, filaments and accessories along with many other leading brands and we are here to help you find the right solution for you.

If you would like to discuss the various options available on the market today to suit your specific needs please feel free contact us (info@dream3d.co.uk / 07789266163)

Thanks for reading 🙂

Custom-made Helmet for a Cat – with the Zortrax M200 Plus

Agnieszka from Zortrax did a great blog on one customers latest project with their 3d printer that we wanted to share – A French influencer, Remy Vicarini, has designed and 3D printed extraordinary helmets for his cat, Cathode, with the use of Zortrax M200 Plus desktop printer.

Designing and 3D Printing the Helmet

Workflow step 1: Measurements and Digital Design

The creative process begins with measuring Cathode’s head. In order to do so, Remy places the pieces of aluminum foil around the cat’s head and forms a hollow ball of that size. Then, he moves on to digital design. With the mold at his disposal, the creator transfers the measurements to PTC Creo design software, forming the digital model. Once it’s ready, the obtained .stl file is uploaded to Z-SUITE, where it is sliced and prepared for 3D printing. „With Z-SUITE it’s super simple. I see my design appear and the first thing I do is positioning it in space. My trick is to always put the surface that will be the most visible after the print at the top, to get the best surface finish,” Remy underlines. As this software is truly intuitive, it is not a challenge to achieve the optimal settings – it advises its users on the most efficient position of the model, support angles, and other parameters crucial for minimizing the time and material usage for a given print.

Workflow step 2: 3D Printing

Now, Remy uploads the model of a helmet, prepared in Z-SUITE, to his Zortrax 3D printer, connecting the USB stick to the device. All the files ready for 3D printing appear at this stage on the printer’s screen – the creator just picks the one he wishes to print. The filament Remy selects for Cathode’s helmet is Z-ULTRAT due to its durability, hardness, and smooth finish of prints. As the influencer states, „I love using Z-ULTRAT, the workmanship is still very good, and the material is robust with a shiny appearance, and the prints are hard and smooth. I always choose that one.” Regardless of the material selected for a particular project, the assets of Zortrax M200 Plus stay the same. Remy confirms that ease of use, desktop size, and, most of all, reliability are its key advantages.

Cathode supervising the 3D printing process.

iving the Models their Final Look

Workflow step 3: Post-processing

Once the prints are ready, the influencer moves on to their post-processing. In this step, it is essential to remove the support structures, which might sometimes be challenging, especially in some hard-to-reach corners. Whenever there is such a need, Remy takes his time to scrap the leftovers of supporting material with a special tool. In order to obtain a smooth surface of the helmets, he also uses sandpaper, thoroughly polishing any irregularities. The helmets prepared in such a way are ready for the last stage, which is painting. After the final touches of the paintbrush, the fully functional and eye-pleasing objects are obtained.

Having 3D printed the models, Remy removes the supports, polishes the prints with sandpaper and paints them to give them the final look.

The helmets for Cathode, though do not constitute the protection in case of a fall, perfectly shield her eyes from the wind while doing various sports with Remy, be it cycling, motorcycling, or any other activity Remy wants Cathode to accompany him in. “The 3D printed items have worked every time, whatever the shape of the helmet is. It’s a real success!”, Remy Vicarini assures. Although mon_copain_ray is best known for his projects for Cathode, he creates more than garments for his gorgeous cat with the use of Zortrax M200 Plus. „I make all the parts needed to make my life easier or to replace any broken parts for the items of everyday use with this printer. For example, to hold my shower palm, to make a phone holder for my motorbike and recently for a glasses project for the people who can only communicate by blinking their eyes! Zortrax makes all my ideas come true.”

Thanks to Remy Vicarini’s imagination and 3D printing technology, Cathode’s eyes are now properly protected and the cat is ready for further adventures.

Creative projects like this and almost anything else you can dream of can actually become a possibility with the power of 3d printing.

If you want to get your paws on this power or if you have any other queries or are considering purchasing this machine please do feel free to ask us directly for a bespoke quote (info@dream3d.co.uk / 07789266163)

Dream 3D can supply you with the full Zortrax desktop range of 3D Printers, materials and accessories.

Please find the Zortrax printer page here: Zortrax 3D Printers | Dream 3D

Please find the Zortrax filaments page here: Zortrax Filaments | Dream 3D

This project was created with the Zortrax M200 Plus. Please see our product page here for this machine where you can view full specs, features, pictures and videos:

If you have any other queries or are considering purchasing this machine please do feel free to ask us directly (info@dream3d.co.uk / 07789266163)

Thanks for reading 🙂

The ROI of 3D Printing with Ultimaker

Before investing in 3D printing for your business, it is important to calculate the costs involved and answer some key questions – today we would like to share this white paper from Ultimaker which is a great resource on this topic.

Introduction


Desktop 3D printers are an attractive option for businesses because of their low purchase and running costs compared to other options. On the desk of a product designer, engineer, or manufacturer, a 3D printer is a powerful tool. It enables the fast and inexpensive production of visual models and functional prototypes, and on-demand production of highly customized manufacturing aids and end-use parts.

But before investing in 3D printing, it is important to calculate the costs involved and answer some key questions:

How does desktop 3D printing compare to your current costs?
How many 3D printers do you need?
How long will it take for savings to deliver a complete return on investment?

Choosing a high-quality, professional machine over a budget option creates significant savings through reliability and ease of use. A reliable 3D printer maximizes uptime and print success rate, while an easy-to-use printer reduces the time needed for operation,
maintenance, and training.
This article outlines how to calculate the costs and potential savings of 3D printing, and provides a case study of one business that has achieved significant cost savings using desktop 3D printing.

Why invest in 3D printers?

Cost savings

Like any purchase decision, choosing whether to buy a 3D printer should be based on the potential return on investment (ROI). But it can be difficult to understand the potential savings if you aren’t comparing similar costs.
For example, when outsourcing you pay a single price for the entire service. But with in-house 3D printing, you must account for factors such as labor and running costs – and before you purchase the printer, it isn’t easy to know what those costs are. That’s where this guide will help you.

Quality

Another consideration is how well desktop 3D printing actually performs as a prototyping or manufacturing solution. The main variables to look at are the available compatible materials and the quality of the parts they produce. Both factors vary dramatically depending on the 3D printer.

A propeller prototype 3D printed on an Ultimaker printer, next to the final production version

A high-quality 3D printer should be compatible with a wide range of materials, offering properties such as strength, flexibility, heat resistance, or chemical resistance – but quality can be hard to measure.

Printer specifications can indicate quality, but we also recommend looking at customer case studies from 3D printer manufacturers. Are customers able to achieve the sort of results you require? If so, that’s a 3D printer to consider investing in.

Availability

An in-house 3D printer is always available for on-demand production, creating a culture of continuous improvement as new ideas are tested and immediately implemented. Creating customized jigs, fixtures, or spare parts can reduce ordering costs in a manufacturing facility, while in-house production allows for a ‘just in time’ approach to your inventory,

eliminating costly storage.

Efficiency

The key benefit of in-house 3D printing is the speed and efficiency it brings. For product designers, prototypes can be produced in a matter of hours instead of waiting for designs to be outsourced and delivered. This enables more iterations in a shorter space of time, resulting in cheaper product development, a more refined design, and a faster time to market.

Comparing costs: Outsourcing

If your business needs prototypes or highly customized parts, outsourcing may seem like a sensible option. And the lack of large, upfront investment means the costs are regular and predictable. But outsourcing has the disadvantages of high costs and long lead times when compared with in-house 3D printing.

The initial investment in 3D printing may be higher, but can greatly increase capacity and throughput if efficiently managed. 3D printing is also completely scalable, so there is no penalty if you invest in one printer and realize it is not enough. You can simply purchase additional printers to meet your capacity needs.

A typical fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printer can complete one or two print jobs per day, based on the average requirements of a professional user. If you need to print more than 10 parts per week, you may need multiple printers for sufficient capacity. Your 3D printer provider will be able to advise you, based on the number and types of prints you need.

Calculating ROI

To calculate your 3D printing ROI and payback period, take a look at our quick and easy to use ROI Calculator. This handy tool calculates the return on investment that you could realize by switching to an in-house 3D printing solution, and provides a downloadable  ROI report that you can use to gain stakeholder buy-in. For illustrative purposes, we’ve used an Ultimaker S5 as an example and provided an  ROI and payback period calculation below:

While your costs may differ from the examples used, this chart highlights the rapid ROI that

3D printing can offer. In this example, the payback period for the purchase of an Ultimaker S5 printer is after 37 prints. From this point, each 3D print provides a saving compared with outsourcing. So even though the upfront investment cost is higher, the cost per print is much lower. Here is a breakdown of the expenses:

Upfront costsIn-house 3D printingOutsourced 3D printing
Investments in hardware and software$5,995$0
Training (optional)$500$0
Per-print costs  
Cost per print (estimate)$10$200
20 prints$7,200$4,000
50 prints$7,500$10,000
80 prints$7,800$16,000

A breakdown of 3D printing costs

Desktop FFF 3D printing is a particularly economical option when compared with technologies such as selective laser sintering (SLS) or large industrial 3D printers. For example, an Ultimaker S5 with no optional extras costs $5,995, excluding taxes. And Ultimaker Cura, the slicing software trusted by over 2 million users, is supplied free of charge.

Like an office printer that requires paper, FFF 3D printers require material, or filament. Ultimaker offers a wide range of materials designed to work optimally with our 3D printers, but our open filament system means that you can also use filaments from other material providers. On average, materials cost only a few cents per gram – approximately $5 to $20 per printed model.

Setup and maintenance costs vary, depending on the 3D printer’s design. For instance, Ultimaker printers are designed with quick setup in mind, and maintenance tasks such as cleaning and calibration need only be performed monthly. Ultimaker printers are highly reliable machines, capable of running continuously with high uptime and print success rates.

Training

Even professional 3D printers should provide a relatively simple user experience, with 3D designs simply sent to the printer via slicing software such as Ultimaker Cura. So unlike a CNC machine, no specialized operator is required.

And for designers accustomed to using 3D modelling software, there is usually an easy and smooth transition to using 3D printing slicing software. User training requirements are therefore minimal, and in some cases unnecessary.

Comparing costs: In-house processes

When moving to in-house production, there are several technologies to choose from.  In this section, we examine the costs of five of the best-known in-house production methods:

  1. Fused filament fabrication (FFF)
  2. Stereolithography (SLA)
  3. Selective laser sintering (SLS)
  4. Computer numerical control (CNC)
  5. Injection molding

Case study: Snow Business

Snow Business is the world leader in snow and winter effects for the film and TV industry, and for live events. The company uses Ultimaker 3D printers to create prototypes, functional test parts, and final parts for its intricate snow machine nozzles.

Challenge Previously, Snow Business outsourced the production of nozzle prototypes to SLS service bureaus, with a minimum order of $150. Turnaround times were anything up to seven days.Solution Snow Business invested in three Ultimaker 3D printers to prototype and produce nozzles for their snow machines. They can now cost effectively print nozzles in a matter of hours.
 SLS serviceUltimaker 3D printers 
Cost per iteration$150$3.25 
Lead time7 days7 hours 
Paul Denney, Head of Research at Snow Business, estimates that the company’s first printer paid for itself within just two weeks.

Iterations of the complex nozzle design (above) and the final 3D printed part in action (below)

Dream 3D can supply you with the full Ultimaker range of 3D Printers, materials and accessories. Please find the Ultimaker product page here: Ultimaker 3D Printers | Open Source 3D Printers | Dream 3D

Don’t forget to check out the latest addition to the Ultimaker family, the Ultimaker 2+ Connect. The full specs, features, videos/pictures and price can be found on the product page here:

If you have any other queries or are considering purchasing this machine please do feel free to ask us directly (info@dream3d.co.uk / 07789266163)

Thanks for reading 🙂

Ultimaker and Bose business case study – Rapid prototyping and product testing

We needed a way to quickly churn out more parts for prototyping. Our Ultimaker machines easily handled printing half a dozen in different colors, which allowed everyone on the team to test the headphones for design, function, and usability.”
Joe Titlow, Head of Sales and Marketing, BOSEbuild

at a glance:

Company : BOSEbuild, a division of Bose Corporation

Industry: Consumer goods

Challenge: BOSEbuild needed a quicker, more cost-efficient way to design and redesign parts for their BOSEbuild headphones, which averaged $35 per part to outsource and required three days to complete.

Solution: After incorporating Ultimaker into their workflow, BOSEbuild reduced their prototyping costs to a mere $1-$2 per part at just a few hours of 3D printing, leaving ample room for product testing.

Results:

• Rapid iterations for acoustics tuning
• Wearability for immediate feedback
• Product testing across departments
• Savings from in-house 3D printing

BOSEbuild, a division of Bose Corporation – Introduction

Within the emerging business division of Bose, the BOSEbuild team of engineers, operations, finance, and marketing professionals works to create highquality products that provide invaluable experiences for children. These products allow children to explore the science behind speakers and headphones, with build-it-yourself kits that educate young minds about the speed of sound and how to maintain healthy hearing. As the BOSEbuild team set out to design their BOSEbuild Headphones, they quickly realized that the yokes, which attached to the ear cups, were a vital part of early product testing and required multiple iterations.

After initially using the Bose prototyping service to create the yoke, the BOSEbuild team saw a need for multiple yokes that would enable product testing across multiple departments. The solution of 3D printing not only saved them about $30 per part, but it also cut down on waiting time. Instead of waiting three days, the BOSEbuild team had a new yoke in three hours. With Ultimaker on hand, they could create essential prototyped parts quickly and efficiently for testing by the acoustics team, the app team, and the firmware team, expediting early development and design processes.

Challenge

Although they initially used the Bose prototyping service to create their master part, the BOSEbuild team realized they would need more than one yoke to more efficiently test their product. They needed a way to create headphones that looked and felt like the desired end product, with full functionality to work with other parts

Solution

With the addition of two Ultimaker 3D printers, they were able to create yokes that were flexible enough to survive testing by the app team, firmware team, and acoustics team. With the time saved by incorporating Ultimaker into their workflow, the BOSEbuild team could focus on results while creating the best products possible.

Results

According to Joe Titlow, Head of Sales and Marketing at BOSEbuild, “We needed a way to quickly churn out more parts for prototyping. Our Ultimaker machines easily handled printing half a dozen in different colors, which allowed everyone on the team to test the headphones for design, function, and usability.”

 In-house Ultimaker 3D printersOutsourcing
Costs per iteration$1-2$30-$40
Time per iteration3 hours3 days

About Ultimaker

Ultimaker has been in operation since 2011, and over the years has grown to become a market-leader; creating powerful, professional, and accessible desktop 3D printers with offices in the Netherlands, New York, and Boston, plus production facilities in Europe and the US. Ultimaker’s team of over 300 employees continually strives to offer the highest-quality 3D printers, software, and materials on the market to accelerate the world’s transition to local digital manufacturing

Dream 3D can supply you with the full Ultimaker range of 3D Printers, materials and accessories. Please find the Ultimaker product page here: Ultimaker 3D Printers | Open Source 3D Printers | Dream 3D

Don’t forget to check out the latest addition to the Ultimaker family, the Ultimaker 2+ Connect. The full specs, features, videos/pictures and price can be found on the product page here:

If you have any other queries or are considering purchasing this machine please do feel free to ask us directly (info@dream3d.co.uk / 07789266163)

Thanks for reading 🙂

The Ultimaker 2+ Connect has arrived!

Ultimaker launched their latest 3d printer to the market today – The Ultimaker 2+ Connect
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The Ultimaker 2+ Connect is designed to be your reliable first step into the Ultimaker world of easy, remote 3D printing.

Featuring networking capabilities and a new touchscreen, the latest addition to the Ultimaker 3D printing portfolio will enable you to create a seamless 3D printing workflow that’s perfect for small enterprises and educators.

Hit the ground printing

Thousands of designers and educators love Ultimaker technology because it just keeps working – day and night, year after year. Since 2015, over 6 million prints have been prepared for its predecessor, the Ultimaker 2+. The Ultimaker 2+ Connect improves on that workhorse legacy.

The Ultimaker 2+ Connect adds intuitive operation and deeper software connectivity. It  features:

  • Network connectivity. At home or in the office, sending print jobs to the Ultimaker 2+ Connect is a breeze. Via Wi-Fi or Ethernet, cloud 3D printing allows remote file transfer with added security from anywhere in the world
  • Next-gen components. There’s nothing better than waking up to a successful print. Thanks to a stiffer build platform and rigorously tested material profiles, you can trust the Ultimaker 2+ Connect to print reliably overnight or over the weekend
  • A touchscreen. For every action, the 2.4” color touchscreen gives you intuitive control and step-bystep assistance. Changing material, adjusting the build plate, or checking your print status are just a tap away.
  • Wide material choice. Ultimaker offers the widest material choice on the market. With an open  filament system, you can always find the right material properties for your application – from  stunning aesthetics to flexibility
  • Easy setup. With a hardware installation that takes minutes, setting up the Ultimaker 2+ Connect is easy. It also features a more ergonomic feeder lever and improved assisted bed levelingstep-by-step assistance. Changing material, adjusting the build plate, or checking your print status are just a tap away

High uptime. low maintenance

A clean and updated design keeps maintenance to a minimum – just 20 minutes per month. These tasks can be performed easily, without the need for special tools.

You can also switch out swappable nozzles in less than 5 minutes for high uptime, choosing between 0.25 mm for detailed prints, 0.8 mm for fast drafts or 3D sketches, 0.6 mm, or 0.4 mm.

Cloud 3D printing built in

With the Ultimaker 2+ Connect, you can leverage the full power of Ultimaker’s digital workflow. You’ll enjoy the benefits of:

  • Ultimaker Digital Factory. Via Ultimaker Digital Factory, share the Ultimaker 2+ Connect with your co-workers to increase uptime. Then remotely monitor your print job to know when it’s complete
  • Ultimaker Marketplace. Ultimaker Marketplace lets you customize your slicing experience with plugins (including CAD integration) for a simpler 3D printing workflow
  • Ultimaker 3D Printing Academy. By registering your Ultimaker 2+ Connect, you’ll be eligible for a free onboarding course with the Ultimaker 3D Printing Academy, our e-learning platform that teaches the ins and outs of 3D printing

Upgrade your peace of mind

The optional Ultimaker 2+ Connect Air Manager gives you more confidence and setup flexibility. Designed to simply and effectively increase user safety, it removes up to 95% of ultrafine particles (UFPs) and shields users from hot and moving components.

The Ultimaker 2+ Connect Air Manager includes a single-speed fan to efficiently pull air through a large EPA filter. This gives you the flexibility to install multiple printers in more locations.

The Ultimaker 2+ Connect Air Manager also fully covers the Ultimaker 2+ Connect’s build chamber with a front enclosure for a more stable printing environment, preventing anyone from touching hot and moving components.

Who is the Ultimaker 2+ Connect for?

During development phases, 3D printing can provide up to a 20x capability enhancement to iterate on new ideas and products, giving small enterprises more freedom and flexibility to experiment. And by 3D printing prototypes with your choice of affordable materials, you’ll also be able to test your ideas for less. By. On average, Ultimaker customers achieve more than 80% cost savings compared to outsourcing.*

The Ultimaker 2+ Connect is also an ideal 3D printer to give higher education students access to additive technology, no matter their skill level. You can also easily install multiple machines to facilitate students’ projects – or to create a general access 3D printing lab.

The full specs, features, videos/pictures and price can be found on the product page here:

If you have any other queries or are considering purchasing this machine please do feel free to ask us directly (info@dream3d.co.uk / 07789266163)

Thanks for reading 🙂

A beginners guide to Support Materials in 3D Printing

Did you get a chance to read this great introductory article on support materials provided by Ultimaker? If not don’t worry, you can find the full article here:
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Why are support materials important?

With FFF (fused filament fabrication) 3D printing, objects are created in layers, from bottom to top. Melted filament passes through the 3D printer’s extruder and builds the printed item, layer by layer. Each new layer requires the layer underneath to support it.

Issues arise when a print design requires an overhang, or an element that’s suspended in mid-air. This is where support materials can help. They create a “prop,” on which the melted filament can be placed. The support material is removed once the print is complete, leaving the printed material intact and in the correct position.

This offers far greater design freedom, enabling the creation of complex geometries, with very few restrictions.

Common uses of support materials

Support materials enable you to create more complicated parts. Architects, for example, can 3D print bolder conceptual designs. Engineers and designers have complete freedom in their designs and are not subjected to the limitations of traditional manufacturing methods, such as milling or molding. Manufacturing aids (such as tools, jigs and fixtures) can be customized to specific tasks. Even complex models with separately moving parts can be printed in one go.

What else should you know?

Basic build material support. If you’re using a single extrusion 3D printer, you will need to create supports with the material your are printing your model in. This is because single extrusion printers can only print with one material at a time. This means your support will adhere well to the model. Prints are also less likely to fail, as there are no compatibility issues. However, it’s more difficult to remove the support material post-print, and the surface quality may be adversely affected.

Breakaway support material. Manually removable support materials, like Ultimaker Breakaway, tend to be used by those printing with dual extrusion 3D printers. They’re a different material to the filament used to create the printed model, easy to remove, and reduce impact on surface quality. However, when you’re working with these support materials, consider compatibility. Specific support materials adhere more effectively to some build materials than others.

breakaway-2
A part printed with Ultimaker Breakaway support material

This table details which materials are compatible with our Breakaway support material:

PLATough PLAABSNylonCPECPE+PCTPU 95APP

✓ Officially supported ⓘ Experimental ✕ Not supported

Soluble support material. Soluble support materials are a popular option for dual extrusion 3D printing. These supports dissolve in water, which means they don’t adversely affect surface quality. They also offer exceptional design freedom. Soluble support material is the favored option for printing moving assemblies or precision end-use parts.

Support blockers. Sometimes, support material is added in holes that could be printed just as well without it. Surface quality is also less important on some parts of a model than others. In these instances, using the ‘support blockers’ function in Ultimaker Cura is highly effective.

Functionality testing. Always check that your supports can be reached, so they can be easily removed once the print is complete. For example, a section of support that’s stuck inside your model may limit its functionality.

PVA. PVA is the most commonly used soluble support material. It dissolves quickly in water after printing, and even works with highly complex structures. Be aware that PVA attracts moisture, so it’s important to store it properly when not in use.

Here’s a quick run-through of which materials are compatible to use with PVA:

PLATough PLAABSNylonCPECPE+PCTPU 95APP

✓ Officially supported ⓘ Experimental ✕ Not supported

Our support material partner

Some higher-engineered applications require a higher temperature or a different type of material that does not bond well with normal PVA. For these applications, Ultimaker works with Infinite Material Solutions, which offers Infinite AquaSys® 120 as a solution.

Infinite Material Solutions

Infinite Material Solutions Infinite AquaSys® 120 is easy to use, as it dissolves rapidly in tap water. It’s also stable up to a 120 °C build chamber temperature, which makes it suitable for engineering thermoplastics.

“PVA is an excellent option for providing support, but AquaSys® 120 offers certain advantages for specific applications. In head-to-head testing, AquaSys® 120 exhibited consistent model material compatibility and excellent dissolution rates,” Larry Doerr, Chief Operating Officer, AND Brandon Cernohous, R&D Supervisor/Production Operations at Infinite Material Solutions, said. “Specifically, AquaSys® 120 dissolved twice as fast as the PVA at room temperature, and up to six times faster at 80°C. And since it dissolves completely in only water – no chemicals required – AquaSys® 120 is also environmentally friendly.”

Infinite Aquasys® 120 is compatible with the following 3D printing materials:

PLATough PLAABSNylonCPECPE+PC
TPU 95APPPVDFPETGPACFPETCF

If you’d like to find out more about support materials, whether for your Ultimaker printer or any other printer you already have or are considering to buy – do feel free to ask us directly (info@dream3d.co.uk / 07789266163)

Thanks for reading 🙂

Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle – what are the key features?

The Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle (consists of the S5 3D Printer, the S5 Air Manager and the S5 Material Station) – is what Ultimaker call their most professional 3d printing solution to date.
In this post we are going to list the key features of the Pro Bundle and explain the key benefits of each along with some videos for you ti sit back and enjoy.
Key Features

1. Ease of installation and printing
– You can plug everything right in, load materials from the front and start printing
– No need to arrange office ventilation or space for material storage
– Automated print head cleaning in between each job
– Ejected filament always retracts with a clean, sharp tip for easy reloading without user intervention

2. Higher efficiency
– More materials means more efficient queuing of print jobs
– Humidity control will keep moisture-sensitive materials from deteriorating
– Automated switching of materials reduces operator time
– Loading materials takes only seconds

3. Better productivity
– During a print, any spool not in use can be replaced, ensuring it is ready for the next job
– With NFC material recognition, Ultimaker Connect knows which spools are loaded and will optimally manage your job queue, minimising downtime
– Each bay in the Ultimaker S5 Material Station has end-of-spool detection. This means you can trust that the material will be switched at exactly the right time

4. A safer work environment
– Providing a closed, inside-out airflow for the Ultimaker S5 3D printer. It filters up to 95% of all ultra-fine particles (UFPs) emitted during 3D printing.
– It creates a safe barrier around the build chamber
– Having the correct safety measures in place to protect you and your staff is essential. You can read a white paper from Ultimaker, written by the engineers and safety specialists who developed the Ultimaker S5 Air Manager, in the link below. This document takes a close look at ultrafine particles (UFPs), volatile organic compounds, and FFF 3D printing. https://ultimaker.com/learn/3d-printer-emissions-and-indoor-air-quality

Hear what the R&D engineers responsible for making the Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle think and get their behind-the-scenes perspective on this unique 3D printing solution in this interesting video below:

For a deeper dive and to view the full specs of the S5 Pro Bundle and/or request more information or a quote, please find link to the product page on our site here: https://www.dream3d.co.uk/product/ultimaker-s5-pro-bundle/

Don’t forget we stock the full Ultimaker range too which you can check out here: https://www.dream3d.co.uk/desktop-3d-printers/ultimaker-3d-printers/

If you have any other queries please feel to contact us (info@dream3d.co.uk / 07789266163)

Thanks for reading 🙂