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Staples to offer 3D printing service
Posted: 01 December 2012 09:13 AM   [ Ignore ]
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http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/30/tech/innovation/staples-3-d-printing/index.html?hpt=hp_c3

And there’s one just down the road from me grin

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Posted: 01 December 2012 09:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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That is very cool indeed. 3d printing will soon be mainstream.

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Posted: 01 December 2012 10:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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DAMN!  They just closed the one 2 blocks from me the end of October.  ~sheesh~

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Posted: 01 December 2012 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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If it is anything like the quality of color copies the first four years that service was new, then I can only imagine the results… it might even set back 3D printing in the general public’s mind.

On paper that sounds pretty exciting… in reality, those are pretty delicate high maintenance machines.  Somehow I don’t see the routine “open and close the cover and smack the sides a couple of times” maintenence program working so well.

I wonder what the prices would be… If it was cheap enough, I’d give it a shot. 


EDITED TO ADD-  I missed the last paragraph “Staples Easy 3D will launch in the Netherlands and Belgium in the first quarter of 2013, and will be rolled out to other countries shortly afterword. No word yet on pricing or when it will reach the United States.”


When- Probably a few years later and only in big cities or centers of design and development.

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Posted: 01 December 2012 01:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I have been working with Staples in Canada to offer 3D printing here and I received an e-mail yesterday stating:

“After reviewing the 3D printing project as a whole Staples Canada has decided to suspend activity with regards to this project until further notice”  and ” we don’t feel ready to embrace this technology at this time”.

I checked out the MCon Iris and its capabilities, in my opinion, are sub-par when compared to the industry leaders.  The machine uses paper as the build material - PAPER!  OMFG!  The layer thickness is 0.1 mm - WTF!

My company was suggesting equipment that has a layer thickness of 0.04 mm in DRAFT mode, and a 0.016 mm layer thickness in high quality mode.  The reason you need thin layers is due to details.  You will lose details with thick layers!  The D|S exported models I have made have eyelashes, hair strands, ear contours, etc.  I have made dozens of models, they all look lifelike.  Which brings me to another point ... how do you transfer a D|S model to the format that a 3D printer can use? 

The process to create an error-free .STL file from a D|S model is lengthy and complex.  It took me weeks of tinkering to determine how to do it correctly.  Keep in mind that just exporting an .OBJ file won’t work!  The OBJ has to be turned into .STL.  Then the .STL has to be corrected with a .STL correction program.  Why?  Because the raw conversion will contain holes, flipped triangles, duplicate vertices, and several other unwanted artifacts.  Getting rid of these errors can be VERY time consuming, even when you know how to use the appropriate software.

What makes me an expert on this?  I have been doing it for over 2 years!  The company I work for (based in Ottawa, Canada) sells 3D printers (3D Systems, ZCorp, BfB, etc) and we offer a 3D printing service.  My job is to verify, correct and process our client’s models.  I am also the primary for content creation and design - that is to say, when a client needs something designed, I am the person who does it.  The models we make are solid plastic, have an accuracy of 1 to 2 thousandths of an inch, have smooth surfaces and layer thicknesses between 0.016 and 0.04 mm. 

I am saddened that Staples USA has taken this direction, not because they didn’t get my equipment, but because what they picked will give a bad name to the 3D printing industry in general.  Essentially they picked a Lada, when they could have purchased a Benz.

Here’s a pic of one of my designs and the resulting model.  The model was built at the DRAFT setting and the pic is from my cell phone’s camera.

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Posted: 01 December 2012 01:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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KorvisBlack - 01 December 2012 01:24 PM

The company I work for (based in Ottawa, Canada) sells 3D printers (3D Systems, ZCorp, BfB, etc) and we offer a 3D printing service.  My job is to verify, correct and process our client’s models.  I am also the primary for content creation and design - that is to say, when a client needs something designed, I am the person who does it.  The models we make are solid plastic, have an accuracy of 1 to 2 thousandths of an inch, have smooth surfaces and layer thicknesses between 0.016 and 0.04 mm.

I’m very intrigued by the $1299 Cube printer mentioned earlier, but before buying one I’d like to see how much trouble prepping some of my simpler models would be. Does your company work with consumer-level clients, and if not would you be willing (for pay) to help prep a file for someone like Shapeways or Cubify?

Thanks,
Walt Sterdan

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Posted: 01 December 2012 01:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Does it cut out the paper for each layer as it goes? If so that would be a phenomenal amount of scrap paper so businesses can do crummy little 3d to add to signs.

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Posted: 01 December 2012 06:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I’m very intrigued by the $1299 Cube printer mentioned earlier, but before buying one I’d like to see how much trouble prepping some of my simpler models would be. Does your company work with consumer-level clients, and if not would you be willing (for pay) to help prep a file for someone like Shapeways or Cubify?

Thanks,
Walt Sterdan

Hi Walt,

The company I work for sells the Cube printer, but the layer thickness is similar to the device that Staples has picked.  Details will be lost in the layers, unless you were to do something like a 1/4 scale model of a V4/V5 head, and even then you would see the stair-stepping of the layers.  It would not be pretty.  Unless you are really wanting to play with 3D printing, I would not suggest getting one.  The 3D Touch would be a better device (larger build envelope, two heads, multiple materials, slightly better model quality) but they are around $4,500.

The Cube, RapMan, 3D Touch, MakerBot, UltraBot, and UPrint all use the same technology (FDM) which is essentially a filament of ABS plastic that is heated and deposited into layers to build a model.  A better device would be the ProJet 1000 or ProJet 1500 since the layers are thinner.  A complete setup of a ProJet 1000 is around $15,000.  Still, the results are not optimal for high quality D|S modeling.

Going up to the $60,000 range would get you a good quality color ZPrinter which is what FigurePrints uses for their WoW models.  Models produced by this device would be what I would consider the minimum quality level for 3D character models. 

Moving up the scale to the $90,000 price point gets you a ProJet HD 3500 Plus, which will make some really detailed models.  Our company has the ProJet HD 3000 which is last year’s version of the ProJet HD 3500.  I believe that the best 3D printer for character modeling would be the ProJet 7000, but at close to $275,000 it is just a bit pricey.wink

Our company does work for college students who need solid models for their projects, so we could certainly do a print for you. 

Or if you want to use Shapeways, I could correct your model.  Depending on what errors are present, it could take me between 15 minutes and several hours to remove the errors in the .STL.  The model I made from my Genesis girl took about 1 hour to complete once I had it exported into .OBJ format.  I was able to remove 99.8% of the errors, which is considered acceptable. Let me know if you would want me to do that.  I have no idea how much to charge so make me an offer.  Of course, I would need to see your file to determine just how hard it would be to correct.

For a point of reference, the company I work for for would charge about $400 for the model I built; she is 7.25” tall.  Keep in mind that it takes about 10 hours to build the model and do the initial finishing on it; that amounts to about $350 of the cost.  My employer is considered to be one of the cheapest places to get high quality, 3D printing done.  Most Canadian service bureaus charge 10% to 50% more than what we do.

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Posted: 01 December 2012 06:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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...400USD, does that include “building” the model in a 3D app before it is sent to the printer? 


I’d also love to a fully detailed 3D model of my Leela and Namesake, KK.

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Posted: 01 December 2012 09:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Kyoto Kid - 01 December 2012 06:52 PM

...400USD, does that include “building” the model in a 3D app before it is sent to the printer? 


I’d also love to a fully detailed 3D model of my Leela and Namesake, KK.

If you make a D|S model and export it to .OBJ format I can do the rest of the process to make sure it can be used by a 3D printer.  It is something that could take me 15 minutes to several hours depending on the number of errors that are in the file.  If you want to hire me to design something for you, I can do that, but my time is not normally incorporated into the company’s 3D printing fee.  It is an “extra”, although I do free-lance design work with my employer’s blessings.

With regards to printing models, the cost is a sliding scale.  If you have one model that takes 10 hrs, the time cost is $350.  If you have two models of the same height, the time taken would still be about 10 hrs.  Depending on size, it is entirely possible to process five models in about 10 hrs, if they are all the same height.  The only difference will be the cost of material used.  So, 1 model could be $400, but five models may only be $600 since the material is not very expensive.  Time is the most costly element.

One of my clients is an architectural firm.  I made 20 models for them and the cost was only $450 because the dimensions were 1.5” x 3.25” x 1.5”.

If anyone here wants to know about 3D printing, send me a message and I can contact you directly regarding costs and delivery schedule.

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Posted: 01 December 2012 09:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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A very interesting and informative topic, thanks for all the info KorvisBlack. I might drop you a PM as this sounds like a cool deal to have done and the price seems reasonable also.
Curious, what is the largest size model that can be developed?

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Posted: 01 December 2012 11:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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FSMCDesigns - 01 December 2012 09:26 PM

Curious, what is the largest size model that can be developed?

Our ProJet HD 3000 can build a model within the following constraints:  11.5 ” x 7” x 7” with a 0.04 mm layer thickness.  If you want a finer layer, the maximum envelope is about 7” x 5” x 5” at a 0.016 mm layer.

Tall models take longer, so I believe that if you have an action posed model, you will want it under 3” in any one direction, and under 2” is best to keep costs down.

I laid my sample model on her back, she was 2 inches high that way, so it took her about 10 hrs for the build.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 12:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Just to define a point here, for people who have never tried this sort of thing… when we talk of 3D printing, resolution and material are EVERYTHING.
The lower the resolution, the less smooth the surface… Depending on the machine, a low resolution surface may come across looking “gritty” or even “griddy”(not a real term but the surface will have grid like marks sort of like machining marks from a CNC milling machine or those seen in early bubble jet printers that had poor alignment).
The material/method also make a huge difference…
Granular materials binding- (there are a few ways to go about this) fuse little granules of material together to form the model, this usually results in a model that has anywhere from a velvety eggshell finish (in best circumstances) to something that looks like fine sandstone.
And Extrusion deposition,(also called Fused deposition modeling or “FDM” ) this is the best choice… which as KorvisBlack mentioned, works using a plastic filament which is unwound from a coil, melted and fed out an extrusion nozzle. these type machines usually produce the smoothest surfaces.

Granular materials, are okay if you just want to make a quick demo of something or if you have the skills to do some sealing, finishing and painting on your own…  But if you want something that comes closer to what you see on the screen, than you want FDM.

When going to 3d printing companies, it is very important to be sure what you need/want and what the printer will use/produce.

Shapeway has a materials page that shows some material examples:
http://www.shapeways.com/materials 

 

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Posted: 02 December 2012 10:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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KorvisBlack - 01 December 2012 06:21 PM

I’m very intrigued by the $1299 Cube printer mentioned earlier, but before buying one I’d like to see how much trouble prepping some of my simpler models would be. Does your company work with consumer-level clients, and if not would you be willing (for pay) to help prep a file for someone like Shapeways or Cubify?

Thanks,
Walt Sterdan

Or if you want to use Shapeways, I could correct your model.  Depending on what errors are present, it could take me between 15 minutes and several hours to remove the errors in the .STL.  The model I made from my Genesis girl took about 1 hour to complete once I had it exported into .OBJ format.  I was able to remove 99.8% of the errors, which is considered acceptable. Let me know if you would want me to do that.  I have no idea how much to charge so make me an offer.  Of course, I would need to see your file to determine just how hard it would be to correct.

For a point of reference, the company I work for for would charge about $400 for the model I built; she is 7.25” tall.  Keep in mind that it takes about 10 hours to build the model and do the initial finishing on it; that amounts to about $350 of the cost.  My employer is considered to be one of the cheapest places to get high quality, 3D printing done.  Most Canadian service bureaus charge 10% to 50% more than what we do.

Thanks for the info, much appreciated. My schedule’s pretty full through to the new year, but what I’ll try to do after that is to see how far along I can get on my own, and once I hit the brick wall I’ll take you up on your offer to either get me over the last hurdle or two, or point out all of the things I did totally backwards and fix ‘em all (probably from scratch). wink

We’ll work out an hourly rate when the time comes, if that’s okay with you.

Again, thanks for the prompt response, and I’ll hopefully be in touch some time in the New Year.

—Walt Sterdan

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Posted: 03 December 2012 06:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I’d be quite interested in the Shapeways prep service! Or I’d pay for a tutorial, if you could create one. I have a number of ideas I’d like to try with 3D printing, but haven’t had time yet to figure out how to get my models into stl format, watertight, etc.

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Posted: 22 December 2012 12:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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wsterdan - 02 December 2012 10:41 PM

Thanks for the info, much appreciated. My schedule’s pretty full through to the new year, but what I’ll try to do after that is to see how far along I can get on my own, and once I hit the brick wall I’ll take you up on your offer to either get me over the last hurdle or two, or point out all of the things I did totally backwards and fix ‘em all (probably from scratch). wink

We’ll work out an hourly rate when the time comes, if that’s okay with you.

Again, thanks for the prompt response, and I’ll hopefully be in touch some time in the New Year.

—Walt Sterdan

Sounds good to me Walt. 

Here’s what I can tell you about the conversion process, to start you off.

Export the model as .OBJ format.  Download MeshLab.  Use MeshLab to convert from .OBJ to .STL.

That will give you a corrupt .STL file, and that is what I work with to create the “good” .STL.

The software I use to fix the file is around $1000, my employer is a dealer so I get to use it for free.  grin  However, even with this awesome software, you still need to know the parameters to follow, and quite often, it is hit and miss.  Experience has taught me the most likely range though, so that is why I am good at it now.

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