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Highlights Of The RapidPro 2015 Industrial and Home Professional

Last week, we spent a couple of days visiting the RapidPro 2015 Industrial and Home Professional in Veldhoven, Netherlands. We like to go to the RapidPro: not only is it completely free, but it is open to professionals as well as private users. Whether you are simply looking to see the latest 3D printers or find new and exciting 3D printing materials, whether you need somebody to mold the prototype you have developed or need a high-resolution 3D scan of any object, you will find what you are looking for at the RapidPro.

This fourth edition showed how much the 3D printing sector as well as the RapidPro itself have matured, with about 120 professional exhibitors, over 50 conferences and presentations and close to 10.000 visitors during those three days it is open. Although all the big names and brands were represented at the RapidPro, we were a tiny bit deceived as we were expecting to discover some new and yet unpublished 3D printers, a new and innovative 3D printing technology or even a completely novel 3D print material – however, that was not really the case. But we nevertheless managed to gather some news and meet some interesting people.

So here are our highlights of the RapidPro 2015:

 

Felix Printers – Interesting Developments in the Pipeline

We had the pleasure to meet with Wilgo Feliksdal, the director of Felix printers. We would like to thank Wilgo, as he took quite some time to discuss with us their current model, the Felix 3.0 as well as their latest developments. We even managed to obtain a sneak peek of their newest model, the Felix 4.0. This new iteration of the Felix 3D printer will be a complete redesign of the previous machine, but it will also present many interesting new features, like a standard auto-leveling feature and much more.

Unfortunately, we did not get any photos to show you how the new Felix 4.0 will look like. However, Wilgo promised to keep us posted on their developments. So you should check in with us regularly. Maybe we may manage, in time, to obtain a Felix 4.0 printer for testing purposes.

Wilgo also presented to us their latest development in software. This new software developed by Felix, together with Materialise and Formide allows not only for slicing with Repetier, but also for direct control, wireless control or even cloud control of your printer. You can monitor your prints live via camera, you can use a print queue and the software bundle allows auto STL repairs, cloud backup of your models and access to a specific model library. We are looking forward to find out what the market response will be to this ingenious piece of software.

NedColor – Eco-friendly 3D Printer Filament

Paul van Riek and his Team from NedColor, a small Dutch-based filament producer, was another interesting discovery we made during the fair. NedColor is mainly offering PLA and ABS spools and has recently launched some more special filament types like TPU (bendable, flexible filament).

So far so good, but why are we talking about yet another new filament producer offering fairly standard filament you may ask? Well, thanks to Paul’s 30 years of experience in the plastics business, he managed to get into a very interesting market niche: buying up bulk quantities of industrial scrap/waste plastics.

NedColor re-processes high quality scrap pieces of industrial grade ABS or PLA plastics, cleans, grinds and filters them, before adding a masterbatch (i.e. coloring them) and extrudes them in the wanted diameters. The result is a high-quality filament in several RAL colors, clean of any residues or impurities, made in the EU for a price that beats most of the other filaments currently on the market. And as it is recycled, his filament can be characterized as sustainable and eco-friendly.

This filament also represents a real high-quality contender to the cheap Chinese stuff you currently find a lot on the Internet and which more often than not results in poor print results, faded colors, nozzle clogging or other print failures, be it due to excessive moisture or just using the cheapest raw materials available. We have always been keen defenders of high-quality filaments. We will therefore test some of the NedColor’s samples we obtained and will keep you apprised on our findings on this promising, eco-friendly filament.

ColorFabb – The Masters of Specialty 3D Printer Filament Have Done it Again

We don’t think it is still necessary to introduce ColorFabb. They have become quite known for their innovative filaments which they are developing at a very quick pace. Their “woods” line of filament encompasses standard wood (WoodFill) as well as a bamboo wood type (BambooFill), but it is their “metals” line which really made them famous. These filament types are the object of many discussions in 3D printing forums, as thanks to this cunning developments, people are now able to print with brass (BrassFill), copper (CopperFill) and bronze-infused (BronzeFill) thermoplastics. And the results are stunning, just have a look at some of our photos below.

ColorFabb’s latest invention was quite the buzz at the RapidPro: the launch of their XT-CF20, a carbon-fiber infused co-polyester. We have been chatting to Sander, the head of sales at ColorFabb, who praised all of the exciting properties of this filament. This carbon-fiber filament is especially suited for high stiffness parts with a very high interlayer to layer bonding property.

The objects printed in XT-CF20 ColorFabb had on display some confirmed those properties (see our photos below), had a great, smooth finish and were very resistant. A word of caution though: carbon-fiber infused filaments are abrasive, especially brass nozzles will suffer from accelerated nozzle wear after printing with this filament. But, nozzle wear or not, we got to test it. Sander was so kind to provide us with a small sample to toy around with a bit. We will write up on it as soon as possible.

Trideus – More Than a 3D Printer Re-Seller

Regular readers of our site may already have stumbled over this name, as we covered Trideus in detail when we recently tested their low-warp ABS+ filament, which we liked a lot. This Belgian based company specializes as a multi-brand 3D printer and materials re-seller. But apart selling printers and materials, they also launched their own high-quality 3D printer filament line, under the tradename of “ICE filaments”.

Following our article on the ABS+ from ICE and a lot of positive feedback, we used the opportunity of the RapidPro to meet the Trideus team in person. During our discussion, we learnt that Trideus actually is in the process of developing even more specialty filament, which will be launched shortly. Jesse Buteneers, the CEO of Trideus was so kind to provide us with some of their newest materials, some of which are not even available commercially yet.

So, some of our upcoming material reviews will most probably include their ICE-flex flexible TPU filament, the Wild Wood “Co-Co” filament (a wood type), as well as their latest special HIPS development. Especially the prints realized with the latter looked absolutely stunning. We wanted to thank Jesse personally here for providing us with three full reels of those filaments, as this enables us to make serious, in-depth reviews.

While meeting the Trideus team, we were also introduced to Pieter-Jan Vandendriessche, the founder of the first Belgian 3D printer, an innovative Delta printer called the Tripodmaker. Pieter-Jan explained us the benefits of this machine of his own design, especially as it features a lot of clever little details and quite a big build volume. As we have not tested a Delta until now, we immediately signaled out interest to get our hands on a Tripodmaker for testing purposes. As the whole machine concept is currently undergoing a complete redesign, we were promised the new version for testing once it will be ready.

 

InnoFil 3D – Food Safe PET Filament

We also had the pleasure meeting Jeroen Wiggers, managing director of Innofil 3D, yet another Dutch 3D printer filament producer. Innofil might not be known to most of you, but they are one of the biggest players in the EU 3D filament market. They have been focusing on launching a huge line of various specialty filaments over the last year.

Jeroen explained to us that they recently launched a new line of PET filament. PET, short for polyethylene terephthalate, is widely used by the plastics industry to produce, beverage, food and liquid containers as well as bottles. According to Wiggers, all of PET filaments in their new line are graded “food safe”.

Food safety is a recurring question in 3D printing and even we are currently looking into it, for an eventual article. But before getting into this very complex subject, we will try and get our hands on some of their new PET filament. We have already been working with the original InnoPET (clear) and we loved the material. We will keep you apprised on those tests too.

 

Finally, here are a few general impression photos of the RapidPro edition 2015:

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Do you have any comments or suggestions on the RapidPro 2015 or on any of the above discussed materials? Feel free to use our comment section below.