FROM 2D TO 3D PRINTERS SHORT STEP OR LONG LEAP? Phyllis Gurgevich, Consulting Editor, Recycling Times Magazine
3D printing hasn't reached mainstream status yet, but it is certainly making some major in-roads. Demonstrating this is Staples' website where 3D printers are being marketed to home office and small business markets with an entry point of around US $1,300 plus supplies. And just last month, Amazon launched a special retail section dedicated to 3D printers and supplies, making it even easier to print 3D models. Microsoft announced that it will be adding 3D printing support to Windows 8.1, giving millions of PCs native support for 3D printing. Connecting a 3D printer to a Windows PC isn’t new, however, currently many 3D printing apps require extensive manipulation and time translating your creation into a format the printer software can process. Windows 8.1 will feature plug-and-play support for 3D printers much like standard printers currently enjoy. 3D printers and supplies are also showing up as a product line in our office imaging industry as well. As traditional
cartridge remanufacturers seek to diversify and find paths for growth, 3D printing is definitely an interesting market to watch. 3D printing holds the potential to be disruptive, not necessarily to the tradition print but rather to manufacturing, tool and molding, transportation as well as jewelry, toys, accessories, prosthetic devices and simple apparel. For the office imaging industry, however, opportunity may just be surfacing.
NovaCopy helps improve organizational effectiveness by providing simple, yet comprehensive content management and enterprise search, accelerating shared business processes, and facilitating information-sharing across boundaries for better business insight. NovaCopy offers sales of office supplies, OEM printer and copier supplies, NovaCopy brand consumables and a spent cartridge recycling program.
Case In Point: NovaCopy Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, with branch offices in Memphis, Jackson, Chattanooga, Knoxville and Dallas, NovaCopy is a leader in its industry. Under the direction of CEO Darren Metz, NovaCopy provides state-of-theart office technology, on-site services and customizable workflow solutions to over 7,000 businesses throughout the United States. Recognized as one of Konica Minolta's top tier Copier and Production Print dealers in the United States and North America,
Ruffling a Few Feathers A certified 3D Printer Solutions reseller for 3D Systems and Creaform Scanners, NovaCopy's 3D part-building systems and engineered materials are the output tool of choice for prototype designers, engineers, marketers, artists, architects, educators, and prosthetic device manufacturers. Among the many prototypes and products designed and manufactured by Buttercup's foot is one of several prototypes that NovaCopy has printed this year, one has recently ruffled a few feathers. Those feathers belong to Buttercup, a disabled male duck
NovaCopy CEO, Darren Metz, congratulates Buttercup on his new prosthetic foot.
Buttercup walking outside NovaCopy’s Nashville, TN office.
AFLAC presents Buttercup with a check for $3,000 (from one duck to another). NovaCopy President Joe White (left), Buttercup, Mike Garey (Buttercup’s owner), Melissa Ragsdale, President of NovaCopy 3D Printer Solutions, and Kelsey Evert, Middle Tennessee Regional Sales Coordinator for Aflac.
Key NovaCopy 3D staff pose with Buttercup and Mike Garey (his owner): Charlie Metz, NovaCopy 3D Solutions Specialist; Joel Graves, NovaCopy 3D Engineer (who printed the 3D prototype used in creating the prosthetic foot); Melissa Ragsdale, President of NovaCopy 3D Printer Solutions; and, Jason Levkulich, Chief Marketing Officer for NovaCopy.
(drake) at a Memphis waterfowl sanctuary. Buttercup was hatched with a backward facing left foot. The only option was for a veterinarian to amputate the foot, leaving a stump that would leave Buttercup hobbling, very unstable, and threatening its survival. The sanctuary, along with NovaCopy engineers, developed a prosthetic foot designed from a similar duck’s foot using 3-D design software. Then, a 13½-hour printing process resulted in a new foot that allowed Buttercup to waddle happily away. The Buttercup story highlights the convergence of human compassion and cutting-edge technology. To keep the spirit alive, NovaCopy is searching for a firm to partner with that will allow it to work with more disabled animals. At this time no decisions have been made. Why Did NovaCopy Espouse 3D Printing? Ever since it started operations in 1998, NovaCopy has embraced state-of-theart solutions to businesses. The company began as an office equipment company, selling and servicing copiers and multifunction printers. NovaCopy’s CEO, Darren Metz, always created a tech-savvy solution that could offer more than just sales and service. He wisely saw the shift away from printed material and more toward digital documents and online solutions. Through the 2000s, NovaCopy became a leader in the eco-friendly digital arena. It still is. Coupling office equipment with digital document storage helped it create innovative workflow solutions. Today, NovaCopy is recognized as Konica Minolta’s largest single line dealer in the United States as well as one of the fastest growing companies according to Inc Magazine. Says Darren Metz, “3D Systems approached us in 2011 to become one of their 3D technology resellers. We instantly recognized the addition of 3D printing was a natural progression from 2D for our business. Our first 3D printed part was a gear and it is still on display at our headquarters in Nashville.” What are the Strongest Similarities and Differences Between a Traditional Printer and Today’s 3D Printer The major similarities between a traditional printer and a 3D printer are that they both require a digital file to print, they Issue43|www.iRecyclingTimes.com
live and function in an office environment and they are close in price. Beyond that the differences are immense. 3D printers print in 3 dimensions—left to right, front to back and bottom to top, all at the same time, layer-by-layer. 3D printers print or produce color physical objects that can be held in your hand, not just a color picture, text, or diagrams on a piece of paper. In short, a 2D print provides information, but typically has no physical use. On the other hand, a 3D molded product fulfills many practical applications, including replacing valuable parts, developing machine components, and creating a prototype for future, high volume production. “Aside from a duck’s foot,” I asked, “are there any other surprising success stories or new markets penetrated?” Metz responded, “We are working on a few projects at this time, but none that we can share.” What Advances do you Envision in the Supplies Arena? There are well over 100 materials available on the market that can be used to produce 3D printed objects. Photosensitive plastics, thermoplastics, cornstarch material, silicones, powdered metals and fiber or filament reinforced plastics.. Each material has specific characteristics, including strength, temperature and color, that can determine how and when the material is used. Advances in materials technology is one driver of the 3D industry that everyone is watching. Progress is being made daily in the materials arena that will affect many industries from aerospace to medical to consumer products. What Material was Used to Create Buttercup's Prosthetic Foot? We used a photopolymer or UVcurable plastic to produce the prosthetic prototypes. The final prosthetic foot was created by Buttercup’s owner, Mike Garey, and he used silicone to pour and mold the prosthesis. Buttercup is using his current prosthesis to learn to walk again and to build his muscles. In the coming months, Buttercup will be ready for a new prosthesis. Mike and NovaCopy are working together on a new design and our goal for the next prosthetic is to 3D print the prototypes, the molds and the final prosthetic.
Art Diamond, Senior Consulting Editor, Recycling Times
While the imaging industry is abuzz with chatter about 3D printers, rechargers are asking, “Can I play a role in the future of this ‘new’ technology”. That’s a tough call considering that 3D printing is already an established manufacturing and prototypemaking process. It has been in use for many years, yet has not attracted aftermarket players from the imaging industry. One reason is that the consumables, typically, sophisticated polymers, silicones, and UV-sensitive resins, from which the molded products are constructed layer-by-layer, lie primarily in the province of the major chemical companies. Another reason is that some of the cross-linking agents that convert a thermoplastic into a thermosetting resin are rather nasty in terms of skin irritation and other toxic properties. While acceptable for industrial applications, their use by amateurs and hobbyists, is largely restricted. Nevertheless, 3D printers are receiving an enormous amount of attention these days, and are now priced within reach of many households. Certainly, new applications will likely be discovered, promoted and developed into significant business ventures. Perhaps the best way to look at 3D printers is by dividing the field between industrial and home uses. From that standpoint, I must agree that those of us in the imaging industry should closely follow 3D printing— especially for use at home—and keep alert for opportunities to participate in its growth.