At Formnext in Frankfurt last week, Boston-area 3D printing company, RIZE debuted its latest machine, materials and software updates.
The new kit, the XRIZE, is the next generation of its RIZE ONE system, now with full colour capabilities (which we saw hints of when TCT visited RIZE HQ last year) and has been developed to enable engineers to produce functional polymer and composite parts featuring images, text and texture maps. Alongside that, new RIZIUM CARBON and ENDURA materials are bringing high-impact strength to the platform while updated software is enabling users to build security into their parts with digital part identification and other forms of part augmentation.
In a savvy move, the company decided to beat the inevitable crowd of launches by introducing the technology days before the show, which meant TCT was able to grab a few moments with RIZE President and CEO, Andy Kalambi for a quick chat before the doors opened.
Hi Andy, you’ve just introduced the XRIZE, can you tell us about the demand for this full-colour capability?
We’re in the market now with RIZE ONE. That has been, in some ways, a game changer because it presented people with a desktop industrial 3D printer which produced fully functional parts and what we call, digital augmented parts. That was, in some ways, a colour machine but only one colour, monochrome, so we got a little bit of a taste of what the market would like from a colour perspective. The original idea for this machine was to create a full colour platform and we designed it as such, so we left enough expansion within the printer to be able to expand it to a full colour capability. Colour is very challenging when you take it from 2D to 3D because you need to move the colour across all the three dimensions, you need to put the colour uniformly, you need to put it in places where the supports are. That is not easy. It took us almost two and half to three years to do that. We also had to retain all of our original value propositions to ensure that it would be fully functional, that it would be something which would have minimal post processing, that we would not use any chemicals to infiltrate or to stabilise the colours.
The RIZE ONE was aimed at primarily industrial users and applications, what kinds of users do you see leveraging this new colour technology?
We see two segments of markets. One segment is a market that has been using colour for some time now but with very high end or very hard to use 3D printers. As you know, full colour has been there with other machines and other companies. We believe that this machine will target that segment but ensure that it will augment the capacity that they currently have on those machines. Those machines take a lot of time. Even though the printing process may only be a few hours, the end to end process can take as many as one to two days. In our case it will be the same as, you print a part and then you take it out of the printer, take off the supports and it’s useable. Those customers are essentially customers in the consumer products industry, packaging design, those kinds of areas. That’s one segment of customers which we believe which has used colour, they know colour printing but they have not experienced a fully functional part coming out of a printer and being used very easily.
The other set of customers are those who have never seen colour on a 3D printed part before but are now seeing applications and users for that. One example is, the design and engineering community is looking at how to create a FEA map on a part so that you can see all of the stresses on a part. The other is they want to see is how do you use it for tolerancing? We also see the ability for us to take this to consumer products because our products are functional and you can create end-use parts. We see people using it at the consumer level to just embellish what they have, making things that are more customised and unique for an end consumer.
So, how does it work?
The process is identical to what you’ve seen before on our other printers, we are printing with two sets of things, one is the release ink, in this case we are using a CMYK set of inks, so instead of only the marking ink which was a blue ink but now we are using four inks and we are creating a pallet of 810,000 colours. The printing is at a voxel level, we can print even inside the part and we can print even under surface. So you can print at any level of granularity because it is voxel level printing. You export the model to slicing software where you can apply colour, text images, import colour file, logo, picture and it wraps itself around the part. The machine is similar in nature so all you do is put in the build plate, it locks itself, checks for all the inks and all you do is press print and it starts the print process.
It’s designed with the same simplicity, so the only thing you are changing is you are adding three more cartridges, you just stick in the cartridges the way you would a 2D printer and the rest of the process is the same.
Have any potential end-users been beta testing the machine with you?
We have been working with a couple of customers, of course we are under NDAs with these so we can’t share. One of them is a very prominent consumer products company so we are working hand in hand with customers, we always do.
What about the new materials and software capabilities? Will these be available for both machines?
It is the fact that we have taken our current printer RIZE ONE and expanded it significantly in terms of materials. CARBON and then ENDURA next year, these new materials will significantly expand the way RIZE ONE can be used. As we know, carbon composite is very popular right now, our value proposition remains the same in that we want the whole simplicity and usage and at the same time get the carbon strength and this will expand the usage of RIZE ONE into tooling jigs and fixtures, where we are already being used but i think it will increase the value proposition further.
XRIZE will be like an all in one printer with all of these so it will be full colour, it will use RIZIUM ONE, CARBON, ENDURA, all of these materials so it’s pretty much like the way you buy a printer today. You buy a colour 2D printer not necessarily to produce colour but because colour is an option. We believe that over time, people will get used to colour and they will see that colour is really the default option.
So, does that mean this will eventually replace the RIZE ONE?
We will retain the two machines however just to get people kind of on the colour bandwagon, we have announced a special until December, for anyone who books an XRIZE machine, which will be shipping in the first half of 2019, we will give a RIZE ONE included in that price. Available only until December 14th. We will ship them a RIZE ONE so that they can start using something right away.
With RIZE CONNECT you’re giving users the ability to monitor their machines, multiple in some cases, remotely. Are you finding that customers are buying more than one machine?
We are seeing that increasing trend, so one of our customers has six machines now and are building up a print farm kind of facility. Our machine was always capturing a lot of data, now what we are doing with RIZE CONNECT is we are creating a cloud-based capability where we can take that data and help customers get better at using the RIZE ONE and eventually the XRIZE system. They will be able to use it for ensuring that there will be no unplanned downtime. They can connect with us for any remote support. As they do more jobs, they will be able to learn from those jobs.
You’ve addressed the big three areas in one go here (hardware, software and materials) – was that a conscious decision to boost all three together?
We are doing significant enhancements on all three areas and we are doing it as very good value to our customers. We are not a very big team but we are showing that small teams can make a big difference to industry. No one has done colour the way we will deliver colours and it’s going to be a game changer. We want to show significant update on all of these three elements.
We want 3D printing to be like 2D printing, we want it to be close to end users we want it to be close to places where 3D printing was always required but never could be because of complexity, because of the fact that it required a lot of overheads, we want the cost to come down of 3D printing, its very high right now, people’s utilisation capacity of some of the machines is very poor. We really want usage to expand and even if we do it with just these two machines that’s good enough as long as we keep expanding materials and everything else.