Jul 1, 2016 | By Alec

If you’ve ever visited a 3D printing conference, such as this week’s Additive Manufacturing Europe 2016 in Amsterdam, you’ll have noticed that the 3D printing market is becoming saturated and increasingly chaotic. There are dozens of available desktop models, many with comparable characteristics and price classes. What’s more, layers are still as much a problem as ever before, and 3D printing largely remains a one-color affair. Fortunately, a cost-effective alternative is now available on the European market, as Belgian 3D printing service providers 3Dee have begun distributing the Taiwanese 3DPandoras, a multi-color gypsum 3D printer that costs just a third of comparable 3D Systems models.

3Dee, for those non-Belgians out there, is an Antwerp-based 3D printing service that has been making a big name for itself. Started in 2013 as a pop-up store, they have since moved into a 400 m2 experience store in the cultural heart of Antwerp and are becoming a force to be reckoned with. In particular, they stand out for offering 3D printing, 3D scanning and 3D design services to private consumers and businesses (B2B).

As co-founder Deepak Mehta explained, they also provide numerous ways for completely inexperienced professionals to explore 3D printing and that’s one of the keys to their success. “We are not just working on 3D prints, but are helping customers expand their services,” he explained to 3desr.org. “The idea is, we ask the question ‘why is our customer not 3D printing’? We find the restrictions they have, and find ways for them to overcome them. What also happens is that other companies have clients that require 3D design or 3D scanning services, and they send them on to us.”

But as Mehta explained, they are still largely a B2B business. “If you tell a consumer ‘we can 3D print anything you want’, they simply get lost. They don’t know what they could build. B2B knows what it wants. For instance, there are a lot of designers and architects in the creative industry of the Antwerp museum district. They walk in and know exactly what they want,” he says.

In an attempt to provide fuller services to those professional clients, 3Dee has even begun distributing 3D printers, including BigRep. More remarkably, they have recently signed a distribution deal with the Taiwanese developers of the 3DPandoras gypsum 3D printer. “With this 3D printer, we aim to lower the bar for companies who want to get started with 3D printing,” Mehta explained. “The 3D printer fits in the philosophy of getting people to adopt 3D printing, because it offers a professional solution that is affordable for a wide range of customers. It’s the first powder-based 3D printer in this price range, which allows you to have design flexibility as well as rapid prototyping in house.”

Of course that 3D printer has been around since 2014, but 3Dee is now the first to bring it to Europe. But even nearly two years after its release, the 3DPandoras is still very impressive. Comparable to the Z-corp gymsum 3D printer (now part of 3D Systems) in many ways, it 3D prints very detailed multi-colored gypsum parts and is perfect for, among others, 3D printed full-body selfies and other very visually-oriented prints.

And as Mehta explained to 3ders.org, the quality is excellent. “The 3DPandoras actually does the same as the Z-corp does, so gymsum, multi-colored 3D printed powder. Geometry wise, it’s 100 percent comparable to the Z-corp. Color-wise, it has a higher saturation, so the colors come out more intense. The greens are more green, the reds are more red and the clients like that. We are also working with a company to calibrate the colors for optimal performance,” he revealed.

But most importantly, it’s very accessible, starting at €17,000 excluding taxes. “That’s a third of the cost of the Z-corp, and material costs is an average of €0.16 per cubic centimeter, which is half of the competitor’s costs. That enables a new set of business models. A 3D printed selfie costs just €25 euros to print instead of €40, for instance.” And that, he adds makes 3D printing much more commercially interesting. “From our own perspective, we saw that many 3D printing applications weren’t mass-marketable. So once we got in touch with the 3DPandoras people, we found that a lot more was possible,” Mehta argued.

What’s more, it’s also very practical in use as the 3DPandoras is easy to operate and doesn’t even need support structures. As such artists, museums, architecture firms and design studios are all among 3Dee’s targets right now. If you’re interested, check out 3Dee’s website here. “We distribute all over Europe, from Croatia to the UK,” Mehta concluded.

3D Pandoras specifications:

  • Layer Thickness:0.08 - 0.2 mm (0.1 mm recommend)
  • Input Data File Format: STL, VRML, WRL (PLY, 3DS, OBJ can be translated)
  • Color: Basic K+Full CMY
  • Number of Jets:4608
  • Number of Printhead:1
  • Power Supply:90-10, 8A | 110-120, 6A | 200-240, 4A
  • Build Volume Size: 300 * 292 * 140mm3 ( or 11.8'' * 11.5'' * 5.5")
  • Resolution: 9600 * 2400 dpi
  • Prototyping: 5-10 mm / hr ( or 0.2-0.4 inch / hr)
  • Machine Size: 100 * 80 * 170 cm3 ( or 39.4'' * 31.5" * 66.9'')
  • Weight: 120 kg ( or 265 lbs)
  • Materials: Gypsum Powder, Clear Binder, Curing Agent, CMYK Ink

 

 

Posted in 3D Printer

 

 

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