Highlights of the 3D Printshow Paris
During last weekend (17 – 18 October 2014), we had the distinct pleasure of visiting the 3D Printshow Paris, to which the organizer had kindly given us press passes (thank you #3DPS!). The exquisite venue at the Carrousel du Louvre (the place of Pei’s famous glass Pyramid), underground but just next to the famous Louvre itself, hosted over 50 stands with some of the very big names in the industry, like Makerbot, iMaterialise, Ultimaker, Autodesk, Sculpteo, Shapeways, etc.
The local and national industry representatives were also very well represented, amongst others by LeFabShop (Makerbot stand), the designer Pierre-Yves Jacques (with his great lace lamps), Filimprimante3D and the guys from bulbzone.net, as well as many others.
The evening before the show itself, Autodesk used the venue for the launch of its brand-new, sleek and sexy DLP printer. As announced by the organizers, the 3D Printshow’s main subjects were extremely varied and spanned from a large 3D printed art exhibition to food printing, from printer manufacturers to filament vendors, from a huge concrete printer to a long list of conferences with key speakers from the industry. Amongst these themes, visitors could inform themselves about the latest printer models, the newest and hottest material developments, as well as get a hands-on approach to a myriad of 3D printed objects. One of the most noticeable things was the massive presence of big and very big 3D printers. Here are our picks of the Paris 2014 3D Printshow:
52 Shapes is a Dutch company from Amsterdam which set itself the goal to provide design savvy customers with a different lamp each week, amounting to 52 different shapes over the year (hence their name). 52 shapes works with professional designers in order to ensure the highest design quality for their lamps. Each lamp is limited to 250 units exclusively – once the 250 have been ordered, there will be no more. 52 shapes uses various 3D printing services to get their models printed and they are all done from powdered nylon. All their lamps are printed in basic white, but they are easily colored. You can order your colored lamp with 52 shapes or, alternatively, you can actually spray paint it yourself. This is great for people who get bored of a certain color rapidly, who want to change often or who are remodeling. Have a look at some of our photos of these great lamps or check out their website (unfortunately in Dutch only).
Autodesk’s DLP 3D Printer
Autodesk Inc., the leading company in 3D modelling software, most know for developing Tinkercad, 123 Catch, Meshmixer, 123 Design or 123 Creatures, was one of the main sponsors of the 3D Printshow Paris. As such, they cleverly used to very exclusive venue to officially unveil their new 3D printer during a pre-show event. It has been known at least since May this year that Autodesk was going to get into the hardware end of the 3D printing business and a few photos have been made available to the public of the printer’s beta models.
Actually, Autodesk are also launching the so-called “Spark” platform in parallel, which is an open-software platform aimed to “help catalyze innovation, collaboration and lead to tighter software-hardware integration in the 3D printing industry“. Autodesk is aiming very high with its goals, as it intends Spark to become a real operating system for 3D printing. According to Autodesk’s CTO, Spark is set to become to 3D printers as Android is to smartphones. Check out the Spark platform here.
Although there were droves of people in front of the newly unveiled printer, we managed to get a short glimpse of this downright sleek and sexy DLP printer. Specification information is still sparse, but apart from being a real design jewel, we noticed that the Autodesk printer makes use of a resin bed that turns in a half circle (i.e. 90°) between each projection of light and not an inclining bed like FormLabs Form +1. The case of the printer made out of high quality grey coated aluminium as well as orange plexiglas. The nicely integrated front panel has only two buttons but is also fitted with a circle of orange LED’s, in order to display time left before the print is finished. The blue LCD is very crisp and you can distinguish a USB, micro-USB and a micro-SD slot on the printers front. The few 3D prints Autodesk exposed were of very high resolution, with no discernible ridges at all. Have a look at our photos of the printer and the models below.
Food 3D Printers
One of the 3D Printshow’s main themes this year were food printers and 3D food printing. Apart from various futuristic 3D printed menus, visitors could admire, amongst others, a 3D printed Eiffel tower or Arc de Triomphe made from a special thick cream. One of the exhibitors attracted especially a lot of attention: the chocolate prints done with the Choc Creator printer from chocedge.com. Their chocolate creations got points not only because they were quite artistic, but also because the exhibitor was distributing samples quite generously. The Choc Creator may actually be an interesting option for bakeries or chefs looking to add something exotic and new to their creations. Just have a look at our selected photos to see what can be done with such a printer.
We also stopped by at the Printrbot stand where the new Simple Metal machine was on display. Chatting with the friendly Printrbot people, they confirmed that Printrbot is switching all its designs to metal frames and that the Printrbot Plus is currently undergoing this very re-design. This is an interesting development since the metal construction improves the sturdiness and precision of the machines while they still remain very price competitive. Printrbot is also working on a beginner friendly CNC machine that will come out in 2015. Judging by what we have seen, Printrbot will remain among the movers and shakers to be watched closely in the 3D manufacturing space.
Czech based be3D was another 3D printer manufacturer making its mark on the 3D Print Show Paris by displaying its full product range: while the DeeRed, with its huge print volume of 400mm x 400mm x 800mm is geared towards professionals, the DeeGreen is be3D’s option for consumers. With a fully enclosed chassis, automatic bed calibration, LED lighting and limit switches on the print chamber doors that pause the print process when opened, the DeeGreen sports a unique combination of compelling features.
It will be interesting to see if this feature set will help the DeeGreen to rise to the top in its target market, schools and educational institutions. Talking to the be3D team, there is no doubt that these guys are ambitious and that they want to challenge the established players in the market.
We also had a chat with Edoardo from Blue Tek, the Italian 3D printer manufacturer behind the Strato 3D printers. While the Strato looks a bit inconspicuous at first glance, the machine stood out since it runs extremely quietly and comes with a set of exchangeable nozzles going down all the way to 0.2mm. Further, Blue Tek is working on some interesting filament that is supposed to come out in the coming months. We’ll be keeping an eye on them for sure.
Spain based Lewihe, is another new entrant in the 3D printer market. However, unlike a lot of its competitors, Lewihe does not try to be yet another 3D printer that is all things to all people. Instead, the machine has a high temperature operating range (up to 320°C) and is optimized for printing flexible filament as could be seen by the impressive display of elastic prints on the Lewihe stand. In a market flooded with new entrants, Lewihe is pursuing a clear differentiation strategy. An interesting approach, that could well establish the Lewihe as the 3D printer for printing with flexible filament.
Oh, just in case you are wondering, the slightly odd name Lewihe stands for nothing other than length, width and height :-).
Here are some general impressions of the exhibition:
We also met the people from bulbzone.net (website in French only), with which we had a very interesting chat about a custom made printbed, to which first layers of many materials do seems to adhere particularly well. As most of you know, this is search of the holy grail of 3D printing at the moment, as many solutions are being offered, but nothing seems to work reliably across all the available materials right now. Once we get one of the printbeds for testing, we will publish our findings for our readers. We also wanted to thank the representatives from eSun, the Chinese filament manufacturer for procuring us with some of their cleaning filament and some thermochromic filament, which we will test as soon as time permits to do so. As usual, you will be able to read up on this in our future articles. So check in regularly!