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3D printing, CNC carving and laser engraving – the ZMorph VX makes some bold claims about its capabilities. This multiple function desktop system was launched by its Polish namesake manufacturer, ZMorph, at TCT 2017. Now 3D Printing Industry engineers have been given the chance to put it to the test.

According to its core claims, the ZMorph VX is of robust construction and designed for prolonged use. Its multiple toolheads, including a paste extruder and dual extruder, should be easily transferable, and the free ZMorph Academy course should enable users to learn how to operate each one effectively. Though a multitool machine, with CNC PRO and Laser PRO toolheads, the VX promises uncompromising FFF 3D printing quality. Each of these claims have been taken into account throughout testing the machine, and serve as the basis for our review.

ZMorph VX multitool 3D printer unboxed with spool holder attached.
ZMorph VX multitool 3D printer unboxed with spool holder attached.

The ZMorph VX out of the box

After the five minutes taken to unpack the ZMorph VX, and a further three to attach the spool holder, the machine can be considered as “ready to go.” A concise, quick setup guide is provided in the box detailing each of its five modes of operation, and the customer is also referred to the ZMorph Knowledge Base and ZMorph Academy for extra help and how-tos.

The spool holder has an efficient design and is capable of holding up to four rolls of filament at the same time, only two of these spools, it should be noted, can be extruded simultaneously when the appropriate toolhead is attached.

Each of the toolheads is mounted by a single screw. When exchanging toolheads, this simple construction enables each head to be changed within one minute, as stated by the company in its advertising. It is also easy to switch between functions via the in-built touchscreen panel, which is powered by ZMorph Voxelizer software.

Calibration can be completed both automatically and manually on the VX. In tests we found that auto calibration was more than suitable for every task.

Straight into 3D printing

The first test our engineers performed was, of course, an assessment of the ZMorph VX’s 3D print quality. For this purpose, first with a single extruder, we tried five different models:

– A ZMorph pyramid sample print (PLA silver)
– A 3D Benchy in two different sizes (PLA silver and white)Complex flower vase (PLA silver)
– 
Large detailed house model (PLA silver)
– 3D Torture test (PLA white)

Put briefly, across all test prints, the ZMorph VX worked very well. The sample triangle was 3D printed with fine features, despite the fact that it is a challenging printout for some 3D printers due to its extensive details.

Pyramid 3D print test on the VX.

Similarly, both 3D Benchy’s were 3D printed without fault. Though of varying sizes, and using a different filament to the ZMorph triangle, the test Benchys were produced at a high quality without any stringing across difficult areas like the windows.

In the vase, a slightly more complex model, the walls were of a good quality, but some stringing could be noticed on the inside. It should be noted however, that the stringing was nothing unusual, and was most likely due to the small size of the object. A test of stamina, the large house model, which took 20 hours to complete, also printed well.

And, in the final torture test, the ZMorph VX proved that it can handle overhangs, bridges, hinges and floating strings with ease.

Dual extrusion on the ZMorph VX

A similar design to the single extruder, the dual extruder on the ZMorph X has two feeders and two inlets, which lead to a single nozzle. The feeders on this nozzle are open, a welcome feature of the head as it is handy for spotting any clogging. The heating element with the nozzle assembly is modular too, which also helps to just heat up the needed area during a clog.

In a test of dual extrusion capabilities, the team used ZMorph’s Voxelizer to add a basic text 3D Printing Industry (3DPI) logo to the side of a miniature rocket part.

ZMorph VX dual extrusion test.
ZMorph VX dual extrusion test.

The combination process in Voxelizer was quick and straightforward. Preprogrammed blending options for the two filaments where also clear and easy to understand, i.e. separate, 5050, gradient and texture.

Both sample parts 3D printed using the dual extruder were of a decent quality though the surface finish was not of the same quality when compared to single extrusion 3D prints. Adding text/images to the face of dual 3D printed objects is in fact better served by larger objects, allowing the pictures and characters to become more defined.

Example of color blending on the ZMorph VX. Photo via ZMorph
Example of color blending on the ZMorph VX. Photo via ZMorph

Laser engraving, CNC carving, paste extrusion

Now, onto the extra features of the Zmorph VX multiool 3D printer. For laser engraving CNC carving and paste extrusion, first the print bed had to be replaced with the CNC worktable.

Due to the simple, magnetic design of both platforms, the exchange was easy to do. With this construction, planar aligning was also very easy, and  calibration process was acceptable.

For the engraving test, we effectively reproduced the ZMorph logo from the sample files provided by the company. In a further test, the team also succeeded in converting a .jpeg image into our own engraving .gcode using a tutorial from ZMorph Academy.

Overall we were impressed by the quality of the engraving, especially considering features were very close together in the tests.

ZMorph logo laser engraving.
ZMorph logo laser engraving.
Further example of laser engraving on the ZMorph VX. Photo via ZMorph
Further example of laser engraving on the ZMorph VX. Photo via ZMorph

For CNC carving, five types of cutter tip were provided, each easily mountable within the toolhead.

For carving, we used a 6mm thick piece of plywood provided by the company, and tested the sample “Rocket Holder” file downloaded from ZMorph Academy. At 75% and 125% speed, were were decently impressed by the results.

CNC carving test.
CNC carving test. of rocket holder parts.
Sample nylon cog carved on the VX. Photo via ZMorph
Sample nylon cog carved on the VX. Photo via ZMorph

And finally, attaching the partially 3D printed paste extruder, we achieved the successful guided extrusion of a thick chocolate icing. A handy addition for consistently decorating cakes, or experimentation with gels.

A multilayered “M” initial was achieved at layer height 3 mm, path width 3 mm, travel speed 120 mm/s and print speed 5 mm/s.

M initial paste extrusion on the VX.
M initial paste extrusion on the VX.

The all in one tool for workshops, schools and FabLabs

Based on our internal testing, the ZMorph VX is indeed a brilliant multitool 3D printer, which performed very well across all functions, especially for 3D printing. All prints demonstrated good layer adhesion, and the ability to pick out fine detail in chosen objects. Generally, the process also made it easy to remove supports, and the ZMorph VX produced a near perfect Torture Test proving its ability to overcome the breadth of 3D printer challenges, i.e. overhangs bridges, hinges and floating strings.

With the ability to reference ZMorph Academy for free, we were able to conduct our tests with ease, and found instructions incredibly clear and to the point. Simple tool mounting, the integrated touch screen, and Zmorph’s Voxelizer all contributed to an enjoyable, and intuitive user experience. It has a very sturdy frame, and could conceivably be used time and again over a long period of time. In addition, the machine’s multitool features, CNC carving, laser engraving and paste extrusion, all performed well, indicating the ZMorph VX’s capability as an all in one workshop tool.

The ZMorph VX would be a welcome addition to a classroom, FabLab, or the workbench of an in house engineering/design department. Buy the ZMorph VX here.

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Featured image shows the ZMorph VX multitool 3D printer. Photo via ZMorph.

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Diversity in the graphic communication industry is an important value that should be embraced by businesses, associations, academia and by individuals. However, presently the industry lacks in diversity in several ways:

  1. The number of women in the industry

The number of employees in the printing industry, as calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) NAICS Printing and Related Support Activities, as of the first half of 2018 was at 434,200. Of this number, 171,110, or 39%, were women. The Printing Industries of America has 26 members on its board, not counting its president, and only two, or 8%, are women. A similar discrepancy is true for PIA’s Benjamin Franklin Honor Society. If we take a “deeper dive” into industry numbers, we find that 60.4% of graphic design majors at colleges and universities are women. In 2016, the BLS records show that there were 266,200 graphic designers employed in the United States with the majority being women. In my travels, I am seeing an increasing number of women in top management positions.

  1. Who are the buyers/customers? How do we treat our buyers?

I am told that a number of years ago, the Rochester Institute of Technology estimated that there were fewer than 20,000 print buyers. Printing industry marketing consultant and writer, Margie Dana, states, “In studies I’ve done since then, we learned that the vast majority of print buyers do so part-time — in addition to other responsibilities. The function is folded into other corporate functions, like marketing and general procurement. The vast majority of them are women. The typical corporate buyer is a woman in her 40s.”

Now that we know our buyers are women, how do we treat them? A large printing company in San Francisco that I visited had three bright clean customer rooms with Mac computers, a dog kennel, infant cribs, color-viewing booths, and a fantastic dining room with a professional chef. The food was great. They realized who their customer was. Another company I visited in the Upper Midwest had two customer rooms, no color-viewing booth, a refrigerator filled with beer and Cokes, baskets of high calorie snacks, no computer, lots of magazines, a leather sofa and a large deer head mounted on the wall. Believe me, I have seen much worse.

A few years ago I was asked to do two three-hour lectures for a printing company’s customers. The audience was 95% women. This firm printed very high quality commercial work including catalogs, books, and brochures. The knowledge base of the group was excellent, not only in design but in the actual production of printing, I was impressed.

  1. Graphic communication school enrollment

This year, in Cal Poly’s Graphic Communication major, 70% of the students are women. In fall 2017, the University of Wisconsin-Stout had 74 women and 49 male students. Clemson University boasts a 3:1 women-to-men ratio. In looking at the other major graphic communication programs, the percentage varies between 45% up to 60% women enrollment.

  1. Women ownership of companies

These numbers are a bit difficult to obtain. However, from observations, the number of women-owned graphic design companies is on the rise, as are women-owned digital printing companies.

  1. Women presidents

There has been a rise in women corporate presidents generally, as well as a rise in women-owned printing companies, with more women holding executive positions than ever before.

Finally, women play a vital and significant role in our industry. We like to say, “the customer comes first.” Well, most of our customers are women. Let’s recognize that and address it in a positive way by enhancing women identity in our companies and associations. All of the associations and companies in the printing and related industries need to “open their eyes” and espouse 21st century values of their customers, employees and other stakeholders. This is particularly true if the industry wants to attract young, bright talent to its ranks.

About the Author

Raymond J. Prince has served the industry for 60 years as a printer, student, association executive, and now as an industry advisor and consultant. Ray can be reached at: raymondjprince@aol.com

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Press release from the issuing company

Melville, N.Y. – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, achieves its 10th consecutive BenchmarkPortal Center of Excellence Certification. One of the most prestigious accreditations in the customer service and support industry, this certification honors customer service call centers that rank in the top ten percent of call centers surveyed.

“This certification signifies Canon’s leadership and commitment to balancing cost-effective service solutions with best-in-class service performance,” says Bruce Belfiore, CEO, BenchmarkPortal. “To maintain superior performance for ten years straight is, indeed, an exceptional accomplishment.”

To evaluate a call center, BenchmarkPortal researchers audit and validate companies against a balanced scorecard of metrics for efficiency and effectiveness. The balanced scorecard includes key performance indicators, customer satisfaction ratings, cost, and quality-related evaluations.

“We are honored that BenchmarkPortal recognized us for the tenth year in a row as a leader in providing an outstanding customer service and support experience,” says Leroy Farrell, vice president and general manager, Business Imaging Solutions Group, Engineering Services and Solutions, Canon U.S.A., Inc. “We built our Customer Solutions Center more than a year ago to evolve with the industry’s changing needs and seamlessly provide innovative, end-to-end service solutions. To us, this certification signifies that the center is doing its job, and doing it well for our channel partners and customers.”

The Customer Solutions Center fosters collaboration, with technical support, engineering, and development teams working together within one location to employ cutting-edge technologies that deliver outstanding service and support solutions to Canon channel partners, and in turn customers, across the enterprise, production, large format, image capture, and desktop imaging product lines.

About Center of Excellence Certification
Contact centers and their managers who wish to implement best practices and attain world-class performance in their industry have a unique opportunity to certify their contact centers. BenchmarkPortal’s rigorous certification process has the advantage of referencing all performance goals to their best practice database of thousands of contact centers. Thus, contact centers will be held to performance levels that will improve their competitive position, not just force them to adhere to an arbitrary standard. Discover what the steps to certification are and how they will improve your center’s performance. https://www.benchmarkportal.com/contact-center-certification/.

About BenchmarkPortal
Founded in 1995, BenchmarkPortal is a global leader in the contact center industry, providing benchmarking, certification, training, consulting, research and industry reports. The BenchmarkPortal team of professionals has gained international recognition for its innovative approach to best practices for the contact center indus­try. BenchmarkPortal hosts the world’s largest database of contact center metrics, which is constantly being refreshed with new data. BenchmarkPortal’s mission is to provide contact center managers with the tools and information that will help them optimize their efficiency and effectiveness in their customer communications.

For more information on BenchmarkPortal please call 1-800-214-8929 or visit www.BenchmarkPortal.com

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Press release from the issuing company

An elegant proposal entitled Flora Renaissance

Barcelona – Lecta welcomes 2019 with its new annual calendar featuring distinctive details from the arrival of spring in Sandro Botticelli’s “Primavera”, where the young goddess Flora is seen decorating nature with flowers and plants in her path.

Beyond the beauty and symbolism of the mythological and pagan figures in this famous work of art, Lecta offers a new vision showcasing the abundant, colorful floral and plant world of the Tuscany spring, which Botticelli renders with extraordinary precision and elegance in his monumental painting.

Flora’s headdress. The folds in her tunic. The grass in the meadow. The fruit trees of the forest are among the 12 attractive, original selections enhanced by the quality of the GardaPat 13 KIARA paper on which the calendar is printed.

With this Italian Renaissance masterpiece, Lecta completes the trilogy of calendars devoted to reproducing great works of art on its premium paper for the publishing industry.

For more information, please visit www.lecta.com.

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Friday, December 21, 2018

Press release from the issuing company

Family business completes transition from ownership with sale of business to GSB Digital

Long Island City, N.Y. – GSB Digital, a trusted print and litigation support service provider located in the New York City area, announced today that they have acquired selected assets of Aldine Printing, Inc. and will assume the manufacturing for the customers of Aldine, a luxury specialty printing company also located in the New York City area. This purchase supports GSB Digital’s vision towards a complete print solution approach by bringing together the craftsmanship of traditional print methods with their innovative digital printing counterparts.

GSB Digital’s President, Stephan Steiner, and Aldine’s CEO, Greg Zuniss have a long-standing business relationship. Collaborating frequently, the two share a common pride and perseverance of running a family business and creating a quality product. The Zuniss family looked to GSB Digital to achieve a graceful exit from ownership, and pave the way for retirement of Alan Zuniss, who founded the business over 35 years ago, knowing that GSB will be able to maintain a sustainable and profitable manufacturing processes long-term. Greg specifically wanted to target another print provider who would ensure their employees would retain their position and that their customers would continue to receive uninterrupted quality service.

“With many significant synergies between us, the addition of Aldine’s capabilities and staff will lead GSB Digital to become a larger and stronger organization” noted Stephan Steiner. “GSB Digital is already a place where innovation and craftsmanship coexist. Our acquisition of Aldine’s assets and their traditional print and finishing processes only solidifies our mission to aid in our client’s success while providing a range of complementary and extended print services.”

Effective immediately, the Aldine business will work under the name GSB Digital as a new division. The operation will relocate from lower Manhattan and join the GSB Digital facility in Long Island City over the next few weeks.

“This is a great example of a leading company such as GSB Digital focusing on valuable customer relationships and exceptional market presence as the drivers of growth,” said John Hyde, Esq, Director, Graphic Arts Advisors, LLC, who advised Aldine on the M&A transaction.

“Aldine has always had a strong reputation for craftsmanship, producing some of the finest printed material in the New York City marketplace. Customers expect this level of quality and nothing less. This will not change. Even though we are now part of GSB Digital, we will communicate to the customer base that they will have the same people and processes producing the same quality product as they did before” remarked Greg Zuniss.

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