Dion Parsons 19 September 2016
Europe and what we seen....3D Printing
Author: Dion Parsons Date Posted:18 April 2016
3D Printing with Leapfrog, Felix and BEEVERYCREATIVE.
Upon travelling Europe we wanted to visit a number of our suppliers, to see what was on offer, what products were coming, the manufacturing process', the support staff and to further develop an already great relationship.
More about that later........First I want to tell you about the first time we mentioned 3D Printing in Europe.
First mention of 3D Printing
So after a mammoth (what seemed like) 2 day trip to Amsterdam the first thing I wanted to do was get to my hotel room and have a shower. This involved my first experience with a taxi driver.
Jumped in the taxi and said take me here pointing to a hotel on my phone and off we went.
First thought was, well that was easy, telling a dutch person where to take me. (later it became obvious that Dutch people speak English fairly well)
But this is were I first mention or talk about 3D Printing.
During the journey, the taxi driver says "Here for Business or Pleasure?" I said "Both". He then went onto say "what do you do?" to which i replied " I sell 3D Printers"..........(Long Pause)
What are 3D Printers? The Taxi driver asked and so i went to explain......
"3D Printers are like printers that print objects" Waving my hands around like i'm talking a foreign language.
"Ahh ok", said the taxi driver, whilst i'm sitting in the back seat knowing full well he had no idea what i was talking about, and so I went on to further explain. I explained that they print with plastic and not ink, they print like a 2D Paper Ink Jet printer only they do it over and over again forming a 3rd Dimension, they essentially print real objects you can take off the printer and touch and feel and use.
At this point with my lake of Dutch (None) and the taxi drivers lack of understanding, I decided to be quiet and enjoy the first glimpses of Amsterdam.
Visit to Felix Printers
So the day came, we had to go to Felix Printers in The Netherlands. A short 35 to 45 Minute Taxi. The trip was quick and boring nothing worth mentioning so lets get straight into the juicy stuff.
Wilgo (The Director) of Felix Printers welcomed me and took me straight into the room that we were going to spend most of our time.
I was there to do training on their latest product Felix Pro 1 and on my way I saw an impressive collection of 3D Prints done on a variety of the printers.
Training kicked off with an introduction to the printer and all of its components, the leveling system, the filament detection sensor and the z height probe sensor.
I was shown many aspects of how to assemble, repair and troubleshoot the Felix Pro system.
At this point around 3 Hours in, I was shown the manufacturing floor and some of the methods used to test and assemble the parts.
Whilst downstairs in the heart of Felix Printers, Wilgo threw his eyes over the happenings, making sure everything is going as it should. (Its encouraging to see Directors of companies still making sure things go smoothly)
Back into the swing of things we moved a little from the Felix Pro 1 and started to discuss whats coming, whats being developed and how they are dealing with some ongoing issues with some earlier product releases.
Good News is that since coming back from Felix I can share with you that they have release a larger 400mm high 3D Printer. This printer is very much simular to the 3.1 as pictured below and is referred to as the Felix 3L
Other developments that are coming are an enclosure for the Felix Pro, it will be a perspex add on with magnetic buttons to make it easy to still access the printer. Below is pictured a prototype of the enclosure. The final is not yet finished.
Also coming on the Felix Pro 1 will be the ability to access your printer wireless via a Cloud Web Interface. Currently the below pictured interface is on a Felix 3.1 but the final version is rumored to be built into the LCD Colour Touch Panel that you will soon be able to elect to have on your Felix Pro.
The day came to an end with us discussing how we can better serve Felix Printers and i must say we have come to a great agreement. From now on we will be Felix's main point of contact for Australian Felix Printers for both Sales and Parts and Repairs, in doing this we have managed to also allow many more 3D Printer resellers the ability to sell and stock Felix Printers in their web store and in physical stores.
keep watching as you will notice a few more companies giving you access to an already great product.
Visit to Leapfrog 3D Printers
Another day passed and I feel somewhat happy that i finally got to meet Wilgo, his son Guilliam and the rest of the team, but it was time to move onto Leapfrog Printers.
We had some major concerns with Leapfrog as we have had in previous times experienced some really wierd left wing faults with the products. Having said this things seem to be settling down.
First we meet our account manager Nick and then Nick's Colleague and goto person for help Coen. Both people were friendly and showed me lots of stuff.
Leapfrog Printers was about 45 Minutes from Amsterdam, in an industrial park. The place I went to wasn't the manufacturing center but more the head quarters and testing and development area (Perfect, i'm thinking).
Upon entry to Leapfrog Printers I was welcomed with a massive mural on the wall.
Upon walking in the first thing I was offered was a coffee, then a tour of their office's and development/testing floor.
When walking around the development section I quickly noticed a few things that I had not seen before, spoiler alert.
The Leapfrog XEED has been upgraded and is very very reliable. In fact they now use the XEED for some regular printing of parts. Notice the Granite Build Platform? Yes now the Leapfrog XEED has a granite build platform. Im told this ensure completely flat surface, no warpage and great build quality.
Also note: The Xeed's Z Height Probe has been better mounted and is way more secure than it used to be. This was the number one problem with leapfrog XEED and it seems that they have fixed this as well.
I didnt take a photo but, they also have a sort of extraction blower now built in for two reasons.
- Better control of Fumes
- Better control of Chamber temperature.
Moving further around the Leapfrog Floor, I was shown something that you may all know is on the horizon. How about a 2.4 Meter 3D Printer?
Take a look at Coen standing next to the mammoth printer, pictured below.
What really surprised me was the apparent 20kg roll of 1.75mm filament being pulled from the motors mounted up to of the printer. Stepper motors that have enough pull for this sort of weight? Amazing.
Apparently Leapfrog are doing away with the Avery Label Sheets, or at least it looks this way. They have released a bed adhesion spray and Yes it smells just like hair spray. Currently due to Air Freight shipping we cannot import this product, maybe later we will have this so keep an eye on our website for this.
If you notice the above picture the Leapfrog Creatr HS has large threaded rods on the Z Axis both left and right of the print bed? Well one of the differences between the Leapfrog Creatr HS and the Creatr HS XL is that the bed features linear guide rails at the rear to support the Platform as pictured below.
So far apart from the 2.4 Meter 3D Printer not much has been shown in terms of whats coming. We can tell you that there are some very exciting things coming, some major developments that will further secure Leapfrog's position in the professional end of the market for 3D Printing.
Juicy information: We walked past a closed area, couldn't see anything but I can tell you, what ever it is, its big. Maybe not in size but indefinitely in development. So like we said before, watch this company and watch this space.
Back to reality, and now we have reconvened in one of the offices. Here we discussed reasons for sales increases and decreases. We discussed strategies around building a better brand for Leapfrog and we also discussed the ability for us to provide local contact-ability and support for the product.
The outcome was for us to become one of Leapfrog's main points of contact and sales in Australia, we now stock most if not all parts needed for Leapfrog and we also envisage us providing better service by offering local Australian repairs.
BEEVERYCREATIVE in Portugal
Firstly, what a fantastic country, beautiful city and friendly people. Take a look at the beach that sits just behind BEEVERYCREATIVE Office's in Aveiro.
First walk into BEEVERYCREATIVE offices and im confronted with the very beginnings of the company. All the early models and prototypes of BEETHEFIRST. It was interesting to see how the product went from a very basic Prusa to a well designed and award winning printer. Its my most favorite printer.
Just take a look at the awards BEETHEFIRST has won over the years.
Walking around the office i got the chance to meet many people, two of the founders of BEEVERYCREATIVE.
Our account managers Jenny and Paulo
and not too mention the movie star and respected member of the marketing team
Upon walking around i noticed a few key things worth mentioning, some of which is now public knowledge.
BEETHEFIRST Plus can now print in TPU, i was shown a few example models and they are as good as any i have been shown that print TPU if not better.
My immediate thought was, i do not see how you can print TPU in the current configuration due to the elasticity and the way the filament feeds into the printer.
My mind was put to rest almost immediately without even saying a word, they showed me a new way of feeding filament into the printer by removing the handle and fitting a spool holder on top of the printer.
Instantly it was obvious that this already great designed printer had so much more to offer.
Other things worth noting from the BEEVERYCREATIVE Team was that they were using almost every printer in house to print these Red X's. I asked Sergio one of the marketing team members "how many he had printed" and he had replied "approximately 400".
I then put one of the X's in my pocket and said "i think 399."
After a tour of the office, and meeting many of the staff. I went for lunch with our account managers. We discussed many things including how to convince schools that this printer should be their first and only choice.
We came up with a few ideas and are currently putting them to work.
In more news you will hear about how a school purchased BEETHEFIRST and are now developing one of the first 3D Printed sculptures that collaborates over 700 students works.