Sep 26, 2016 | By Benedict

Massachusetts-based Rize, a new 3D printing company made up of industry experts from Z Corporation, Objet, and elsewhere, has drummed up a great deal of interest in its forthcoming Rize One 3D printer, a machine we recently identified as one of the high-end 3D printers that could shape the future of additive manufacturing. While the Rize One bills itself as an industrial-class, office-safe printing solution with numerous useful features, it will offer one key advantage over other machines: no post-processing.

The Rize One 3D printer

By developing the Rize One and a set of special 3D printing materials, Rize has been able to create a 3D printing process which eliminates post-processing. Support structures can simply be removed by hand, massively reducing post-processing labor and materials, and resulting in a much shorter part production time. Rize knew that this new process could prove advantageous to 3D printer users, but in order to find out just how much post-processing affects 3D printing workflow, the company commissioned rapid prototyping consultant Todd Grimm to compile a report concerning the overall impact of post-processing on 3D printing operations.

Grimm spoke with six companies, coming from the automotive, consumer product, medical device, sporting goods, and architecture industries, about their experiences with post-processing in 3D printing. He found that 3D printer users usually require one hour of post-processing for every one to six hours of 3D printing, resulting in a 17% to 100% increase in the total process time. Staffing costs and floorspace also require consideration: Grimm found that, with companies operating 4 to 10 3D printers, the annual post-processing labor cost, fully burdened, ranged from $100,000 to $500,000.

Post-processing can be costly and time-consuming

“Post-processing is a non-value-added function that is both a burden and a bottleneck,” Grimm concludes. “Without it, as Rize has accomplished with their Augmented Polymer Deposition (APD) 3D printing technology, the promise of a simple, fast and automated digital workflow becomes a reality for all parts, whether simple or complex in design. In that new reality, 3D printing adoption will accelerate, and the breadth of applications will expand—for organizations of all types and sizes and for every industry and market.”

Rize kindly offered to answer some of our questions about APD 3D printing technology and Grimm’s findings about the impact of post-processing. Rize consists of a number of experienced 3D printing industry figures. How did the team come together and who proposed the idea of a post-process-free 3D printer? Was the development of APD always the target for Rize, or did the company initially consider developing a different kind of printer?

Rize: Our founder, Eugene Giller, had left Z Corporation and was inventing APD technology out of his home. He recruited Tom Davidson, our VP of Engineering who worked with Eugene at Z Corp., to make APD a reality in the form of the Rize One 3D printer. At about the same time, our President and CEO, Frank Marangell, left Stratasys and was exploring new opportunities. He heard about what Eugene and Tom were developing, recognized the enormous benefit and resulting market potential and said, “Sign me up.” With most of us having worked at Z Corp. and Objet for many years and being situated in the Boston area, which is the world hub for 3D printing, we were able to hand pick the best 3D printing software, materials, mechanical engineering, customer support and marketing talent in the industry. We’ve truly assembled a 3D printing dream team.

Using the Rize One in an office environment Besides post-processing, are there any other 3D printing problems that the Rize One is specifically aiming to tackle?

Rize: Despite the continued evolution of 3D printing, Eugene saw that the technology’s promise was far greater than its real-world use. Especially for those who depend on prototyping to help fuel innovation and for those who see the potential for on-the-go production parts. Users have to make sacrifices throughout the process, from file to usable part. Whether for material properties or printer reliability, speed or ease of use, safety or strength, cleanliness or software complexity, they can’t have it all, regardless of whether they use a desktop 3D printer or large, expensive machine operating in an additive manufacturing lab.

So in addition to post-processing, which companies we’ve spoken with rate as one of their biggest 3D printing headaches, Rize One and our APD process solves existing 3D printing limitations such as complex and tedious file fixing in order to produce a printable file, limited material properties vs. manufactured parts, limited access to industrial 3D printers that sit in additive manufacturing labs, delaying when engineers and designers can get their parts, limited or no color, unsafe industrial machines, materials and processes and unreliable machines that can’t produce commercial-quality parts. All of these factors have been significant barriers to large-scale commercial adoption and expansion of the technology.

Eugene and Tom set out to eliminate those sacrifices by developing a 3D printing platform that would set a new standard for turnaround speed and ease of use in industrial machines that could exist as comfortably and safely on desktops as they could in additive manufacturing lab environments and have the capability to deliver the industry’s holy grail: on-demand 3D printing of injection molded-quality parts. Augmented Polymer Deposition enables users to bind filament with functional inks, either for support removal or the addition of text and images. How exactly does the process work?

Rize: Rize’s patented Augmented Polymer Deposition (APD) is an industrial-grade 3D printing process that involves the simultaneous extrusion of a proprietary compound of medical and engineering-grade thermoplastic and the jetting of functional inks, voxel (3D pixel) by voxel through industrial print heads to change the material properties of the thermoplastic. This provides a myriad of capabilities and applications, but one of these embodied in the Rize One 3D printer today, is the elimination of post-processing.

Post-processing refers to all processes required to make the part usable after the part finishes building in the 3D printer, including support removal, sanding, painting, coating, curing and more. All other 3D printers, including desktop 3D printers, require post-processing following 3D printing in order to produce a usable part. After the thermoplastic support is extruded using APD, a print head jets a layer of Release One ink between the support and the first layer of the part. The release ink provides just enough bond to prevent the part from slipping during printing, but enables the user to simply release the part from its support after printing, in seconds with their bare hands in a typical office environment, without mess, chemicals, special facility and storage requirements or filing.

Another capability provided today by APD’s simultaneous extrusion and voxel-level jetting is the ability to 3D print high-definition text and images onto the part. In this case, Marking Ink is jetted by the print head anywhere and anytime it’s called for in the file to print directly onto parts.

1. File preparation
Rize’s software automatically prepares the imported CAD file for 3D printing, including imperfect files. Intelligence and sophistication built into the Rize software automatically identifies and handles problems in the imported 3D file. Because the slicer tolerates imperfect 3D files, the file can be printed quickly and easily, without the need for additional software tools, enabling users to 3D print files in the software programs they use the most.

2. 3D printing

  • a. The Rize One 3D printer heats and extrudes Rizium One, Rize’s thermoplastic filament, to form the part’s support.
  • b. An industrial print head jets Release One ink wherever it’s needed between the part and its support structure, to weaken the bond between these two layers.
  • c. Rize One continues to extrude Rizium One layer by layer until the part is complete.
  • d. Functional inks are jetted between the layers of thermoplastic as needed to change material properties voxel by voxel.
  • e. Marking Ink is also jetted wherever and whenever it’s called for in the file to produce detailed text and images in and on the part.

3. Support release
The part’s support structure is simply released from the part cleanly, safely and in seconds with bare hands. No filing, coating or other procedures are needed. The part is ready to use.

In future product releases, this ability to bind thermoplastic with functional inks at the voxel level will be expanded to encompass the complete CMYK color profile for full, photorealistic color 3D printing. Rize will also provide other functional materials, such as conductive, thermo-insulating and thermo-conducting inks. One can immediately imagine other applications for voxel level 3D printing. Creating active smart sensors to have a 3D-printed part that has active materials in it. Or creating a battery within a 3D printed structure. The sky’s the limit.

One specific application Rize is working on is the ability to change the mechanical properties of the plastic by coating it with a flexible additive in order to produce comfortable, yet effective hearing aids. Many of the world’s hearing aids today are 3D printed with stereolithography (SLA) technology, which limits the structure of the device to one material property. Leveraging APD, Rize will be able to 3D print them in such a way that the interior channel of the hearing aid is rigid so that sound can bounce through the hearing canal, while the exterior is coated in soft, flexible material so that it fits comfortably in a wearer’s ear. Could you briefly describe the research and development process behind APD and the Rize One?

Rize: Eugene invented APD technology out of his home. He recruited Tom Davidson, our VP of Engineering who worked with Eugene at Z Corp., to make his invention a reality in the form of our Rize One 3D printer, which has been in development since late 2014. We have just entered beta and plan to make Rize One publicly available before the end of 2016. Todd Grimm’s report suggests that the Rize One could improve 3D printing operations in both laboratory and office environments. Do you see the 3D printer as a one-size-fits-all solution? Could Rize eventually produce either a more compact, office-specific model, or a larger, factory-specific model?

Rize: In an additive manufacturing lab, the issues and limitations created by post-processing are impediments to throughput and part quality, as well as a drain on budgets and resources. In a design or engineering office, these issues are significant barriers to adoption. Three of the six companies Todd interviewed expressed an immediate desire to deploy 3D printing in office areas while maintaining the existing 3D printing lab. The advantage of distributed 3D printing is that a designer or engineer would have quicker turnaround, both for office-built and lab-built parts. Placing 3D printers in the office, the self-serve model is more responsive because it sidesteps the work queue of the lab. Meanwhile, the lab is more responsive because it offloads the work for basic models and prototypes. Yet, all agree that office deployment is not reasonable when primary post-processing is required. For 3D printing in the office to become realistic, it must output ready-to-use items with no requirement for additional labor, equipment and floor space.

As a safe, industrial-grade 3D printer, Rize One solves those limitations and can be used as effectively in the lab as it can in an office setting. Since our goal is to “set a new standard for turnaround speed and ease of use in industrial machines that can exist as comfortably and safely on desktops as they can in additive manufacturing lab environments and have the capability to deliver the industry’s holy grail: on-demand 3D printing of injection molded-quality parts,” our primary focus in the near term will be on adding material capabilities and continuing to improve part quality, rather than creating separate machines for labs and desktops. However, long term, we see this as a possibility, depending on our customers’ and market needs. Your own materials, Rizium One and Release One, have been optimized for use in the Rize One 3D printer. Could Release One theoretically be used with other 3D printing materials in order to eliminate post-processing? Does Rize have plans to develop further materials?

Rize: Release One can only be used with Rizium One in the Rize One 3D printer. Our software, hardware and materials are all carefully optimized and balanced to work with one another in precisely the right way to enable zero post-processing and other capabilities. This is all protected in our IP. We do have plans to develop additional materials and inks and all will be carefully formulated to work with one another.  In future product releases, this ability will be expanded to encompass the complete CMYK color profile for full, photorealistic color 3D printing. We will also provide other functional materials, including conductive, thermo-insulating and thermo-conducting inks. It was widely reported that you raised $4 million in funding from Longworth Venture Partners and SB Capital. Have there been other funding rounds? Is the company seeking further funding? In which areas of the company do you plan to use this funding?

Rize: We raised $4 million in seed funding through Longworth Venture Partners and SB Capital and are currently raising our A round of funding. We plan to use this additional funding to go to market, building our sales, marketing and customer support teams and associated initiatives. Todd Grimm’s report concludes that, with your own APD process, “3D printing adoption will accelerate, and the breadth of applications will expand.” What specific businesses and processes do you think could benefit most from the Rize One? Are there some specific 3D printing applications that might only be possible with APD technology?

Rize: APD transforms how products are designed and manufactured across a broad range of industries, from footwear and sporting equipment to consumer goods, aerospace, automotive, government agencies, medicine, architecture and many more, opening up a world of possibilities for those who depend on prototyping to help fuel innovation, for those who see the potential for on-the-go production parts, such as tools, fixtures and jigs, and for those who produce a limited quantity of customized end-use parts.

Objects printed with the Rize One

Rize’s APD is a completely hassle-free, office-safe and affordable commercial-class 3D printing platform that produces a usable part faster than any other method. This makes it ideal for a wide variety of commercial applications across a growing number of markets to improve designs, increase accuracy, cut costs, streamline operations and speed time to market. With parts available for immediate use after printing, Rize opens a world of possibilities. An updated prototype for a critical meeting tomorrow morning. An idea sent to a desktop overseas for evaluation that same day. A manufacturing engineer keeping the assembly line humming by creating a custom tool in a few hours. A mechanic printing and installing a custom part while you wait. A direct link to a CT scanner that turns images to accurate replicas of body parts on demand. Whether hastening time to market or time to install, the impact is dramatic. How did your partnership with Reebok come about? Why were they interested in the Rize project? Do you think that 3D printing has a role to play in the development of sportswear and sports equipment in general?

Rize: Gary Rabinovitz, Additive Manufacturing Lab Manager at Reebok, first saw our technology at the Additive Manufacturing User Group (AMUG) meeting last year. Known for being a technology innovator, as well as an additive manufacturing expert and super user, Gary visited Rize to see our facility, the printer and meet the team, many of whom Gary has known for years at former 3D printing companies, Z Corporation (later acquired by 3D Systems) and Objet (later acquired by Stratasys).

Gary immediately recognized the value that our technology and team could have on product design and development at Reebok, as well as the 3D printing industry.  He said, “We run our 3D printers 24/7 to create the parts central to Reebok’s innovation, and, unfortunately, post processing has been a necessary but laborious and time-consuming process. An easy-to-use, zero post-processing 3D printer like Rize would dramatically improve workflow, enabling us to deliver parts as much as 50% faster than similar technologies while reducing the cost of labor, materials and equipment." What is the current status of your beta program? Is there an estimated public release date for the Rize One? What comes next for the company?

Rize: We placed our first beta machine at the customer site in September and will place the second machine in early October. We will begin to roll out other beta machines very quickly thereafter and expect to begin taking orders for Rize One before the end of the year and start shipping in late Q4 or early Q1. Moving forward, you can expect new materials, new 3D printers, and some very exciting applications.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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I.AM.Magic wrote at 9/27/2016 9:50:11 AM:

A promising technology, can't wait to see more parts. Cheers guys!

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