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Today, two years after the launch of the Replicator +, American desktop 3D printer manufacturer and Stratasys subsidiary MakerBot has released the Method. Designed as a mid-way point between the industrial FDM and personal desktop market, MakerBot is calling the Method “the first performance 3D printer.”

Last week, 3D Printing Industry was invited to MakerBot HQ in Brooklyn, NY, ahead of the public launch to speak with the company’s President and CEO, Nadav Goshen, and Forrest Leighton, VP of Marketing.

A strong front in the face of the company’s return with a new product, Goshen explains how, with the Method, MakerBot is looking to “rebuild its core competence” and boost its presence within the engineering sphere.

Forrest Leighton, VP of Marketing at MakerBot (left) and Nadav Goshen, MakerBot President and CEO (right). Photo by Beau Jackson
Forrest Leighton, VP of Marketing at MakerBot (left) and Nadav Goshen, MakerBot President and CEO (right). Photo by Beau Jackson

Eradicating the ‘go figure’ approach

MakerBot’s foundations were, of course, established through the maker movement. In machines made for this market, there is always a willing participation element in the 3D printing process, as Goshen describes “[Operators] find themselves working for the 3D printer […] Up until now [3D printer development] was a refinement of the first RepRap.”

With the Method, however, he adds:

“We stop the ‘go figure’ approach.”

Through analyzing the market, in its transitional phase MakerBot identified “hobbyist, consumers, professional and education” as the four key areas of 3D printing application. Under the direction of Goshen, and inline with Stratasys, the company has selected two of these areas to pursue with the Method, namely “professional” and “education.”

At this point the company also faced a decision. “We could not unlock the professional market with the current desktop 3D printers,” Goshen adds, “including our own.”

And so, “We thought differently. We thought, what are the minimum specifications that you want to have in the professional market, and then, what is the lowest price you can get?”

The MakerBot Method 3D printer. Photo via Beau Jackson
The MakerBot Method 3D printer. Photo via Beau Jackson

MakerBot Method technical specifications

The Method 3D printer is a dual extrusion FDM 3D printer, relying on one nozzle to print soluble supports, and the other to make the object. It has a circulated heat chamber to help with the layer adhesion and overall quality of 3D printed objects. To boost the speed, and reportedly “print up to 2X faster” than other desktop material-extrusion 3D printers, each of the Method’s extruders include heaters with higher processing rates compared to the company’s existing systems.

Test 3D print from the Method. Photo by Beau Jackson
Test 3D print from the Method. Photo by Beau Jackson

With single extrusion, the Method has a max build volume of 19 L x 19 W x 19.6 H cm / 7.5 x 7.5 x 7.75 in. With dual extrusion, this volume is shrunk to 15.2 L x 19 W x 19.6 H cm / 6.0 x 7.5 x 7.75 in.

MakerBot’s operating software for the Method allows the user to 3D print in one of three possible, and automated, modes: Draft, Balanced and Minfill (i.e. hollow.) All objects shown at the press preview day were 3D printed with in Balance mode, providing a good, smooth surface finish.

Other key features of the 3D printer include an ultra-rigid metal frame body, for a more stable print, dry-sealed material bays, and readable RFID chips on the spools, to feedback real-time usage and moisture data, read and delivered in real-time by the 3D printer through its integrated touch screen. The 5″ user interface also includes animations to aid the user in performing operations and the 3D printer’s general setup.

Functional 3D print from the MakerBot Method. Photo by Beau Jackson
Functional 3D print from the MakerBot Method. Photo by Beau Jackson

In the presentation of the machine, user friendliness was one of the key takeaways from the press event last week. From the demonstration, the Method certainly looks like it would operate with a smoothness on-par with a common paper printer. And this, in many ways, is what MakerBot is trying to achieve.

Method availability 

The Method 3D printer is now available for preorder directly through MakerBot, with shipping to begin in the first quarter of 2019. Presently, the company is also looking for on-board partners to offer the system in different companies around the world.

As of now, the machine has been in beta testing for 1 year with between 20 and 50 trusted customers including a handful of research institutions, small consumer electronics companies and, according to Leighton, “all the biggest brands.”

At present, though the Method is an open materials platform, PLA and PVA are the only official materials released by MakerBot for use with the machine. In the near future, the company plans to expand this material availability, along with further operation modes and extruders.

Making bold claims in the closing comments of the press preview at Makerbot HQ, Goshen said “I think every engineer should have three things beside them: a pencil, CAD software and the Method.”

Nominate your 3D printer of the year in the 2019 3D Printing Industry awards now.

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Featured image shows a closeup of the MakerBot Method 3D printer. Photo by Beau Jackson

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Mimaki Engineering, a Japanese inkjet printer manufacturer, has joined MIT’s Center for Additive and Digital Advanced Production Technologies (ADAPT) as a founding member.  

Yasuhiro Haba, Mimaki’s Executive General Manager of Sales Division, said, “Working towards ADAPT’s vision for the amalgamation and evolution of AM technology and digital production, Mimaki will continue to contribute to ADAPT activities through our inkjet technology and mass customization printing solutions.”

Akira Ikeda, Mimaki Engineering Chairman, and Professor John Hart of MIT. Image via Mimaki
Akira Ikeda, Mimaki Engineering Chairman, and Professor John Hart of MIT. Image via Mimaki

Mimaki’s full-color inkjet 3D printing

In the additive world, Mimaki is known for the 3DUJ-553 full-color UV inkjet 3D printer, capable of more than 10 million colors.

One of the clients of Mimaki, JMC Corporation, a Japanese CT scan specialist uses the 3DUJ-553 to 3D print color parts of human anatomy for use in the medical sector.

Mimaki’s customers have reported high quality of color parts made in the 3DUJ-553. Popls Inc., a Japanese printing company, used plaster based 3D printing before acquiring the 3DUJ-553 to supply its customers in the comic market. 

Miki Nakazawa, Executive Vice President of Popls Inc, said, “Using Mimaki’s 3DUJ-553 printer, we were able to show our customers that 3D print has evolved […] Compared with this, our past work seems to be faded.”

On joining the ADAPT center, Mimaki installed the 3DUJ-553, and UJF-7151 plus, a large-format inkjet printer, at the MIT.

Haba said, “Mimaki will utilize the feedback gained through ADAPT activities to help with future product development. We are honored to be selected as one of the founding members of MIT’s ADAPT.”

Mimaki has turned 3D printing into an art with the Mimaki 3D printer 3DUJ-553. Photo by Michael Petch.
Mimaki has turned 3D printing into an art with the Mimaki 3D printer 3DUJ-553. Photo by Michael Petch.

The ADAPT center 

The ADAPT consortium was announced by Professor John Hart at this year’s formnext in Frankfurt. Professor Hart is a renowned mechanical engineer, known for creating the high-speed FDM printer FastFFF and cellulose-based filament.  

The consortium brings professionals from various disciplines, including mechanical engineering, materials science, and business to develop additive manufacturing. The Center also holds research symposiums on additive manufacturing and a members-only annual workshop.

In addition to the above-mentioned efforts, ADAPT also runs a certified online course on additive manufacturing. The 11-week course takes a student from the basics of AM vocabulary to the preparation of parts for 3D printing, and AM product viability analysis.  

Mimaki is among the twelve members to join the ADAPT center so far. Other members include the automotive manufacturer General Motors, British metal 3D printer manufacturer, Renishaw, and German 3D printer maker EOS.

These members contribute funds to ADAPT that are used to further research on additive manufacturing. 

Nominations for 3D Printing Industry Awards 2019 are open. Let us know about the industrial and professional leaders in the additive manufacturing industry.

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Featured image shows Akira Ikeda, Mimaki Engineering Chairman, and Professor John Hart of the MIT. Image via Mimaki

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TORONTO, Dec. 11, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Jeff Ekstein, a third-generation owner of 65-year-old Willow Printing Group, has been named the Printing Industries of America 2018 Lewis Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. 

PIA is the world’s largest graphic arts trade association, representing an industry with approximately one million employees and serving the interests of thousands of member companies.

Established in 1950, the Lewis Award recognizes business leaders who have made major, long-term contributions to the graphic arts industry and have been a significant force in shaping the business of printed communications. The award was presented on November 9 at the Ben Franklin Honor Society Award Dinner during the Fall Administrative Meeting of Printing Industries of America in Grapevine, Texas.

The award was presented to Ekstein by Canadian-born Michael Makin, who has been President and CEO of the Printing Industries of America since August 1, 2002.

“Being recognized with the lifetime achievement award from the Printing Industries of America is an enormous honour,” said Ekstein. “It was particularly meaningful to receive it as a proud Canadian from my colleague Michael, another proud Canadian. It’s been a real privilege for me to serve the North American graphic arts industry in various capacities over the years.”

Ekstein has served PIA for more than a decade, initially as a director, advancing to the officers’ ranks in 2011, and ultimately to Chairman of the Board in 2013. Additionally, he has served on countless committees and task forces. He was the Education Committee Chairman from 2009 to 2011, and is currently a PIA Finance Committee member and serves as a judge for the Premier Print Awards.

In 2016, Ekstein was named PrintAction’s Community Leader of the Year as part of the annual Canadian Printing Awards. Prior to that, he was named one of PrintAction’s Top 20 Most Influential Printers in 2010.

In addition to his involvement in PIA, he has served as Co-Chair of CPISC (Canadian Printing Industries Sector Council) as well as Past Chair, Government Affairs Committee Chair, and long-time Director of CPIA (Canadian Printing Industries Association). In 2007, Ekstein earned the CPIA Distinguished Service Award for excellence, achievement and dedication to the printing industry. He is the current Chair of the Canadian Printing Industries Scholarship Trust Fund (CPISTF).

About Willow Printing Group
Willow Printing Group is a graphic communications company providing commercial and digital print solutions, database management, mailing services and fulfillment. Located just north of Toronto in Vaughan Ontario, Willow specializes in the home building, conference, tradeshow, event and not-for-profit sectors. To learn more about Willow please visit https://willowprint.com/.

For more information and/or to request an interview, please contact:

Name: Jeff Ekstein, CEO
T. 905-660-1515

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/01609d78-968e-4d5a-a679-ab66c66fa079

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Printing Industry Sets Course to Meet Today's Sustainability Challenges

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Press release from the issuing company

Leaders from retail and printing industry discuss paths to a sustainable future at SGP Community Day 2018

Sayville, N.Y. – The Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP), the leading authority in sustainable printing certifications for print manufacturers held its 2018 SGP Community Day in Cincinnati, November 14 setting a clear direction for a sustainable future.

The fifth annual SGP Community Day included in-depth discussions on a variety of issues and challenges facing the printing industry and the retail market along with informative talks on sustainability metrics, circular economy, green procurement and recycling.

"Working towards a sustainable future is a clear choice for the printing industry - you're either on the 'train' that's moving forward, or you're left behind. Sustainability is not a fad. It's here to stay. It's addressing your people, your processes and your products. SGP certification fosters a continuous improvement journey toward a sustainable future and provides that needed validation," said Jodi Sawyer, chair of SGP board and market development manager at FLEXcon. "SGP certification has gone from an achievement to a business-critical certification."

Key challenges and opportunities for the printing industry that came out of the event:

  • Certification is a priority. Validation through SGP certification provides commitment to sustainability - the proof that brands and print buyers require.
  • With the new SGP Impact Tracker there is instant access to metrics that puts printers on a level with other companies in the supply chain. No longer is there just a printer to printer ad-hoc comparison.
  • There are immediate solutions to environmental challenges. From recycle and reuse of print materials to indoor air quality, printers must consult with their supply chain and others to find immediate solutions.
  • The SGP Community provides leadership in sustainability. SGP Printers, Brand Leaders, Patrons and Resource Partners need to drive local sustainability and recycling initiatives in their communities.

In her keynote, "Building a Community: The Heart and Engine of Sustainability", Ryan Mooney-Bullock, Director of Cincinnati's Green Umbrella Regional Sustainability Alliance, spoke about building a community and included group interaction on finding commonality to develop goals. "Green Umbrella facilitates collaboration among more than 200 area non-profits, businesses, educational institutions and governmental entities focused on the environmental aspects of sustainability. With our members, we aim to meet the environmental, social, and economic needs of today while preserving the ability of future generations to do the same," said Mooney-Bullock. "The success we have of building a community with 100s of organizations and individuals is based on the Collective Impact Model-- a common agenda, shared measurement, collective responsibility, constant communication and a professional staff."

Paul Glynn, Manager of Materials Digital Technologies R&D for Designtex and incoming SGP Chair, led several discussions including a case study of the SGP Sustainability Tracker and the recycling efforts at Designtex. "The SGP Impact Tracker provided insights into our operations that have made small adjustments to the business and our operations yield incremental sustainable advancement and overall better business operations," said Glynn."The Tracker is delivering a way to measure the sustainability impact of the entire supply chain."

In addition to presenting the benefits of using the SGP Impact Tracker, Paul shared how SGP Community Day 2017 in Oregon inspired the Portland, Maine, based Designtex to reexamine its recycling efforts. "Not only did The Renewal Workshop presentation inspire us as a textile manufacturer, it spurred Designtex to look at recycling in a different perspective," commented Glynn. "We went back and looked at everything not being recycled and started working on every possible way to incorporate all the 3 Rs into our waste sorting program and to avoid the landfill option wherever possible. Some early success includes having 100% recycling of all our packaging materials."

The Plastics and Recycling Panel was a lively discussion with David McLain, Market Development Manager, Printpack and Ashley Hood-Morley, Sustainability Director, Plastics Industry Association. "The potential of plastic recycling is all about building the 4 Rs-Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Reclaim into your company's plastic strategy," said Hood-Morley. The panelists encouraged the audience to explore new pathways to sustainability and drive conversations with recycling and waste management companies in addition to make behavioral changes in organizations. "The panelists confirmed we are progressing in the right direction. SGP works toward a sustainable future and this means working with local companies and municipal services to drive recycling," commented Sawyer. "The actual amount of recyclable materials being recycled is very low. We must work together to make sure each of us recycles to the fullest extent possible."

Cincinnati State Visit
Before SGP Community Day, new SGP Resource Partner Cincinnati State College hosted the SGP Executive Committee for an engaging discussion with students studying graphic arts, print and production. The school joins Appalachian State University and Rochester Institute of Technology along with associations and professional organizations in the SGP Resource Partner program. "Cincinnati State has been active with Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) for many years. Its graphics program provides relevant education and training for the ever-changing printing industry," said Doreen Monteleone, SGP board member and FTA representative. "A key part of the program is sustainability. Students have a good understanding of sustainability along with the talent, drive, dedication and opportunity to succeed. They are making the connection with the importance of sustainable printing practices. SGP looks forward to collaborating with Cincinnati State on future sustainability projects and initiatives."

10th Anniversary Dinner
The day closed with an intimate dinner celebrating the 10th anniversary of SGP. "Looking toward the future, the last 10 years of SGP have brought us to a point in a time for expansion and leadership of SGP in the printing industry and the retail supply chain," said Marci Kinter, SGP board member and Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) representative. "SGP has led the print industry on the sustainability journey and will continue to drive a more sustainable future," added Kinter. "We will continue to work on key initiatives to keep SGP relevant-the integration of TLMI L.I.F.E. certified printers, providing program enhancements through the SGP Impact Tracker, establishing the SGP Foundation as a leading resource for sustainability in the printing industry and its supply chains, and exploring feasibility of SGP certification for suppliers and more services to support our SGP certified printers."

To learn more about getting print facilities SGP Certified, visit www.sgppartnership.org

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5G, the future of mobile communications, ultra-fast video streaming and autonomous car radar, is seeking precision 3D printing methods for its circuitry.

In a University of Birmingham project set for completion at the end of 2018, two contenders from across the industry have been singled out as potential industrial partners for circuit production.

Now, with a further £743.4 thousand from the British Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the researchers have entered into a further threes years of investigation, in partnership with leading industry stakeholders, including BAE Systems, UK manufacturer Elite Antennas Ltd. and Samsung.

The outcomes of these projects are industry-focused, and tipped to place the UK at the center of developments in “Millimeter-wave Antennas and Components for Future Mobile Broadband Networks” also known as “MILLIBAN.”

Illustration of a mmWave cellular network (after “Millimeter Wave Wireless Communications”, T. S. Rappaport, et al., 2014 Prentice Hall) Image via University of Birmingham
Illustration of a mmWave cellular network (after “Millimeter Wave Wireless Communications”, T. S. Rappaport, et al., 2014 Prentice Hall) Image via University of Birmingham

A multimillion opportunity

For the past three years Professor Michael Lancaster has been the principal investigator of a project which sought to identify micromachining techniques for making circuitry suitable for for use in terahertz (“tremendously high frequency”) communications. Facilitated by over £1 million in funding from the EPSRC, the first stage of this project is set for completion in December 2018.

In the course of this project, Professor Lancaster and colleagues at the University of Birmingham have published 10 papers detailing different approaches for circuit microfabrication. With authors working at Rutherford Appleton Laborator (RAL) and Jaguar Land Rover, capable of implementing the technology in earth observations and car radar.

Still, the team are looking for cutting edge micro 3D printing technologies that fit the brief. Speaking to The Engineer Professor Lancaster explained, “As the devices go up in frequency these components get more difficult to make […] We’re looking for the best companies around the world who can print things very accurately.”

Reportedly, researchers have narrowed down their options to two companies: 3D MicroPrint and SWISSto12.

3D MicroPrint and Swissto12

The product of a co-operation between leading 3D printer manufacturer EOS and laser micromachining company 3D-Micromac, 3D MicroPrint was founded in Chemnitz, Germany, in 2013. The company specializes in the development and sale of Micro Laser Sintering technology through machines and services. Like its big brother, laser sintering, Micro Laser Sintering is a metal 3D printing method that relies on a powdered feedstock. To achieve finer quality prints, the technique simply relies on a smaller laser spot size, and a finer powder feed.

SWISSto12, the second company identified by Professor Lancaster. is based in Ecublens, Switzerland. Its patented technology, based in 3D printing, is designed especially for radio frequency applications combines both metal and polymer feedstocks. The process is ISO certified, and has earned the support of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the EU’s Horizon 2020 project.


One of the next steps for Professor Lancaster and colleagues is a further ESPRC funded project titled MILLIBAN.

MILLIBAN (Not to be confused with former British Labour party leader Ed Miliband) focuses on the development of devices that exploit bandwidths between 30 Ghz and 300 Ghz, known as the extremely high frequency (EHF) range, a step ahead of terahertz. Due to nature of this bandwidth, though fast, these waves only have a range of 1 km, making them challenging for the transmission of data. As such, EHF is presently underexploited by the telecommunications industry, and a great deal of effort is being applied to figure out how to make use of the waves, through things such as MILLIBAN.

The University of Birmingham’s MILLIBAN project is led by Dr. Alexandros Feresidis, with Professor Lancaster and Professor Peter Gardner, listed as co-investigators. The project has been running since April 2017, and will receive funding for the next two years before it must be reviewed.

While the project remains a technology-agnostic pursuit, according to the MILLIBAN grant application form, “We will develop new paradigms in antenna design leading to breakthroughs in the analogue beamforming performance. This will be based on innovative enabling material technology along with state of the art microfabrication processes building on heritage at the applicants’ institutions.”

2019 3D Printing Industry Awards nominations are now open. Make your selections here.

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Featured image shows miniature rooks 3D printed using Micro Laser Sintering. Photo via 3D MicroPrint 

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