2 min read

7 reasons why machine shops should be adopting metal additive mfg technology to their subtractive technology

By Barbara Miller-Webb on Aug 19, 2021 11:49:13 AM

Historically most machine shops have been job shops, which makes the business dependent on constantly obtaining new customers with new machining needs.  3D printers can enable a machine shop to create its own new products and gain more independence.  

Let us review why it makes sense to adopt 3D printers in machine shops today.  

  • Diversification - Metal 3D print technologies are the next evolution to the machine shop.  The ability to complement their subtractive with additive manufacturing.  The evolution of adding plastics, carbon, and now metal additive manufacturing to produce tooling, fixturing, and end-use parts.
  • Optimize the tooling with metal 3D printing.  Shops can now leverage 3D printing cost-effective plastic parts or metal parts to enhance workflows and projects.  A machine shop can rely on the printer to mitigate errors and improve timelines from pre-production prototyping to creating production tools to printing end-use parts for quick fixes.
  • Small-batch production — additive manufacturing technologies provide direct production options for low volume production and bridge manufacturing.  Save on tooling costs with 3D printing directly from a file, and take advantage of speed to market.

Complex geometries are the best use case for metal AM.

Most importantly, metal 3D printing

  • Is especially helpful for geometries that are costly, time and labor-intensive processes to produce on a CNC machine.  Designs that leverage metal AM's freedom to generate internal features of the part, intricate geometries such as lattices, and complex forms such as topology-optimized shapes to maximize their performance while minimizing their weight and the total number of components in an assembly.  
  • Communication to the machinists to help interpret drawings that have so many call-outs and can be difficult to catch all with complex geometries.  This helps eliminate time and material waste with a CNC job that a call-out may have been missed.  A 3D print can be a valuable tool prior to machined part production.
  • To produce parts for test fit and function.  This will shorten the feedback loop in the machine shop with 3D prints in advance of production.  3D printing allows for faster prototypes, setting up prints to run overnight then using parts the next day.

Jigs, fixtures, and other customized production tools are essential for efficient, effective manufacturing.  Tooling is a fixed expense that must be amortized across large quantities of parts. 

  • One important capability is an alternative to casting.  Machining lead times can be a hostage to the lead times from foundries delivering cast parts.  With production, metal additive manufacturing in-house, the machine shop can print its own parts as needed, without any lead-time from a supplier. 

In summary, additive manufacturing eliminates the following barriers with tolling-free production:

  1. Optimized designs
  2. Mass customization
  3. Rapid design to production
  4. Cost-effective at any scale
  5. Digital inventory
  6. Low operator burden

To learn more about metal additive manufacturing solutions, please connect with us directly at https://www.mastergraphics.com/desktop-metal

Topics: 3D Printing Additive Manufacturing Metal Metal 3D Printing
2 min read

Investment Casting Using Additive Manufacturing Optimize your Foundry

By Barbara Miller-Webb on May 21, 2021 9:40:58 AM

The official definition of Investment casting is an industrial process based on lost-wax casting, one of the oldest known metal-forming techniques.  The term "lost-wax casting" can also refer to modern investment casting processes.

Additive manufacturing technologies are rapidly evolving and their applicability to investment casting grows with it.  Instead of using injection-molded wax patterns companies can now also choose to directly 3D print patterns using Stereolithography (SLA) and MultiJet (MJP) materials.  Using these AM technologies and 3D printer software such as 3D Sprint from 3D Systems, you can streamline your time and labor-intensive process to advance production and reduce expenses.  Today this is referred to by 3D Systems as "digital foundry" which enables foundries to deliver a new level of service to their customers.  There is no need to change anything in the workflow process.  More importantly, they can expect patterns in hours rather than days or weeks.  Foundries that want to compete in this market and maintain a competitive edge should be using additive manufacturing or... be left behind.  

With the new technologies for investment casting, foundries will be able to:

  1. Produce low volumes of casted parts from a CAD model in 24-48 hours
  2. Reduce the costs of tooling
  3. Eliminate the time it takes to produce tooling
  4. Reduce costs and space for tooling storage
  5. Deliver unmoldable products

Using powerful software such as 3D Sprint from 3D Systems you can apply chemical etching offsets.  Apply scale compensation for metal shrinkage.  Digitally create and position gates and vents.  Create sectioning of large parts and joints.  Prepare and optimize files for printing. 

Print your master pattern by choosing between plastic and wax master patterns.  But how do you determine which type of master pattern?  Let me summarize the differences:

With MultiJet printing (MJP) for wax casting patterns, you use 100% real wax printing technology.  This technology is great for small to medium size parts typically less than 8 inches in X, Y, and Z geometry.  These patterns are significantly lower in cost due to the material costs.  They are produced in less time than traditional patterns production again for low to medium volume prints.  You can expect accuracy and repeatability with wax patterns and fits into the existing investment casting process.  Also, ideal for customized metal components to bridge manufacturing.

With Stereolithography (SLA) for plastic casting patterns, you would use a castable resin material.  This provides you with highly accurate, high yield, large parts, and very complex lightweight master patterns.  They will maintain dimensional stability over years.  Typically, there is less manual finishing and labor expense with SLA processes.   3D Systems uses a QuickCast resin that is 30% lighter weight and provides consistent strength X, Y, Z geometries.

To learn more watch, the 3D Systems YouTube video. Understanding How 3D Printed Casting Patterns Work in the Foundry

Topics: 3D Printing Additive Manufacturing Stereolithography SLA Casting
3 min read

Trends in Additive Manufacturing - 3D Print 2021

By Kevin Carr on May 7, 2021 12:05:47 PM

I almost can't believe I am writing this but I just got back from attending my first live conference since the COVID pandemic hit us!  I was fortunate enough to attend the 2021 Additive Manufacturing Users Conference (AMUG) where the leading users of additive gather to share their knowledge, expertise, and updates on best-in-class additive manufacturing processes.  There is too much to share in just one blog so I will have more follow-up blogs but wanted to start with what the experts noted as the trends they saw in 2020.  In one of the sessions, industry leaders outlined what they believe will be the next areas of success around 3D print in 2021.  Here are my notes from what was presented...

BASF - Noted that they are seeing more traditional injection molding companies looking to leverage additive manufacturing and leveraging 3D print to augment their traditional services.  Historically because of the volume and material needs that injection molders require they have been slower to adopt Additive Manufacturing technologies but BASF believes advancement in materials and throughput will increase the adoption.


DMG Mori - Stated they believe automation around 3D print, enhanced reliability, and improved quality assurance processes will be key for additive.   Much like the notes above from BASF, they believe adoption will also increase as the materials improve for both metal and composites.  In addition, more hybrid systems will be leveraged to take advantage of both traditional and new manufacturing technologies.


Dyndrite - Believes that software solutions have lagged 3D print technology and 2021 will be the year software makes a big step forward to catch up.  With the explosion of manufacturing data, software will need to be developed to run 3D printers more efficiently, quickly and to leverage data better.  The need for technology-agnostic front ends will be another improvement as manufacturers will leverage various 3D print technologies.  

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Essentium - Predicts the continued rise of full-scale production, improved leveraging of 3D print for supply chain resiliency, and the development of materials to solve specific applications versus a general material solution.  The trend for true additive manufacturing that occurred in 2020 will continue into 2021.


ExOne - Beyond just the overall desire for 3D metal parts, they see the demand for more metal materials will increase along with the desire to implement additive processes to satisfy green initiatives. There will also be a continued leveraging for metal print for light-weighting and part consolidation.  Metal certainly has a strong future.


Take these as my notes and I encourage you to visit each of their websites to see what they are focused on.  Overall I believe the message was consistent, it's not only about the print technology but the processes utilized both before and after printing.  Design processes and technologies will continue to evolve to better leverage and prepare data for printing.  The post finishing processes will be improved to support a true manufacturing process for both producing parts in quantity but with quality assurance.  Throw in materials development and I believe 2021 will be another step forward to true additive manufacturing.  

As always, if any of the directions I noted above resonate with you (or does not) please reach out as I am always curious to hear real-world feedback.

Lastly, I encourage you to check out the Additive Manufacturing User Group - www.amug.com
The Additive Manufacturing Users Group's origins date back to the early 1990s when the founding industry users group called 3D Systems North American Stereolithography User Group.  Today, AMUG educates and supports users of all additive manufacturing technologies.  If you are at all involved in 3D around production, this is a group you should support and join.AMUGlogotag

More to come in later blogs...

Topics: 3D Printing Additive Manufacturing AMUG
2 min read

The First Step in the 3D Printing Post-Processing WorkFlow is OFTEN Cleaning

By Gene Call on May 6, 2021 3:43:10 PM

You can have the best 3D printed parts in the world, but if you do not have a good cleaning/post-processing workflow, your parts are likely not going to look their best or be as functional as possible. This is especially true with powder-based 3D printing technologies. 

The most common cleaning process for powder-based 3D printing is bead blasting.  In the past, this was done manually bent over a bead blaster; you would have a bead blaster hooked up to an air compressor and clean each part one at a time.  This process not only takes time, but you could damage and/or discolor the parts by putting the spray nozzle too close to the part.  See example A for discoloration, called burn marks. Example A Burn MarksIf any of you have ever bead blasted by hand you know what a pain in the back, neck, and eye strain it can be, not to mention a major time suck especially if you have many parts to clean. 

Now with the DyeMansion Powershot C automatic cleaning system what would take me hours has been reduced down to 10 minutes a load.  The other advantage with the DyeMansion Powershot C is I get consistently clean-looking parts.  See example B20210428_155747 The cleaned parts are ready for finishing or shipping depending on your or your client's needs.  Again, remember the advantage of additive manufacturing is cost-effectiveness and turnaround time.  

In the video below, you can see I am unpacking parts from the HP Multi Jet Fusion.  I am just cleaning the loose powder off the parts as the HP recycles the unused material back into the system for reuse.  The parts are then loaded into the DyeMansion Powershot C and cleaned. 

After using the DyeMansion cleaning system, I would never want to go back to the cleaning process manually again.

Please feel free to give me a call at 800.873.7238 x2735 or send me an email at gene.call@mastergraphics.com with any questions or if you want to discuss post-processing.

Topics: 3D Printing Additive Manufacturing Post-Processing Cleaning
3 min read

How are biocompatible materials revolutionizing medicine?

By Barbara Miller-Webb on Mar 15, 2021 12:07:58 PM

What is biocompatibility and how is it relevant to 3D printing? 

 “Biocompatibility is a general term describing the property of a material being compatible with living tissue. Biocompatible materials do not produce a toxic or immunological response when exposed to the body or bodily fluids. Biocompatible materials are central for use in medical implants and prosthetics to avoid rejection by the body tissue and to support harmonious biological functioning.”

3D printer materials have advanced in the medical field. So much that once what was impossible to imagine is now occurring. 3D printed technologies and materials have developed to the point that they are replacing traditional methods of bone and joint replacements in the human body. Knee replacements are often now printed in metal to replicate the replacement knee (using a scan to print an exact replica of the damaged knee) versus using the traditional method of machining net near shape knee and then working to make it fit. Let’s discuss a few of many applications specifically in the medical field. 

Biocompatible materials are used for 3D printing in various medical applications, including dental and orthopedic implants(spinal), drug delivery, hearing aids, tissue, craniomaxillofacial (CMF), dental, veterinary, and prosthesis. Common biocompatible 3D printing materials include polymers, metals, ceramics, composites, and carbon compounds. 3D printing facilitates the easy production of orthopedic implants, dental devices, surgical guides, anatomical models, medical tools, prostheses, and custom enclosures. Taking it one step further and not limited to the printing of organs, bone regeneration, and drug release.

Below I am highlighting some key application use cases with medical 3D printing:

  • The applications of Anatomic Models is still highly used in 3D printing and Medical image data is the foundation of highly-accurate, patient-specific anatomic models that can be made in a variety of materials to support patient education and surgical planning.  
  • A surgical guide is a medical device that is 3D printed based on the DICOM data which is patient specific. It is used for the accurate placement of the implant in the bone structure. It replicates the exact surfaces of the patient’s intraoral situation  
  • And in today’s Covid 19 environment we are printing PPE devices such as masks, ventilators, swabs, and more...
  • For instance, Align Technology produces transparent dental aligners – 17 million per year. With the help of 3D Systems 3D Printing. Most removable orthodontic appliances, including retainers and positioners, are made from plaster reference models; individual teeth on these models can be manually sectioned and repositioned with wax.
  • Surgical implants and prosthesis is advancing due to innovations in the biocompatible 3D printing materials market.

If you are in the medical space, are you keeping up with the medical advancements in 3D printing?

Biocompatible 3D printing technology is being increasingly used for tissue regeneration in vascular tissue engineering applications. Players operating in the biocompatible 3D printing materials market use the technology to produce patient-specific devices in the biomedical field. 3D printing serves as a resource for the production of devices and systems in biomaterials, and in the field of tissue engineering.  

There are Major Challenges for Biocompatible 3D Printing Materials Market – Why?

Currently, only a few biocompatible materials are widely employed in the healthcare industry. The U.S. FDA (United States Food & Drug Administration) has not yet approved the research in the development of some biocompatible materials. This is restraining the global biocompatible 3d printing materials market.

With 3D printing, the possibility of making health not only accessible but also individually customizable. Each day companies are making exciting discoveries and opening new doors for patients and healthcare professionals alike. The medical world is changing rapidly, and 3D printing will continue to revolutionize the path forward.

Click the link below to read the case study by 3D Systems to see how biocompatible and functional microfluidic components for rapid and portable diagnostics testing were developed.  https://www.3dsystems.com/customer-stories/rapid-diagnostics-device-developed-using-figure-4-standalone

Reach out if you want to discuss other case studies or biocompatible solutions. 

Topics: 3D Printing Medical
2 min read

Complimenting Additive Manufacturing with Subtractive Manufacturing

By Barbara Miller-Webb on Jan 20, 2021 11:10:14 AM

When it comes to advancing manufacturing processes, people pick a team on which to play: the additive manufacturing team or the subtractive manufacturing team.  This meant that people used technologies such as MultiJet, SLA, SLS or FFF technologies for additive manufacturing, or CNC machining for subtractive manufacturing.  The result, companies have a divide with both sides feeling threatened and intimidated by the other.

Additive Manufacturing (AM) rose in the 1990's.  Companies thought this would replace traditional machining and I injection molds. It was realized AM at that time had limited materials tolerances, lower speeds and higher prices. AM adoption was slower with manufacturing as a result.  Traditional manufacturers were offended that a technology could replace their skill set.  On the flip side, additive manufacturers were not impressed by traditional manufacturers refusing to advance product development with speed or diversity.  This division slowed the acceptance to AM technology.

So what has changed today?  Proven successful applications over the years.  With the advancement of material properties, faster print technology, better resolution/tolerances and lower equipment pricing has companies adopting AM to complement subtractive manufacturing instead of competing.  More case studies are being produced today with successful applications.

What are a few applications we see additive manufacturing used successful within companies today?

  • Jigs or fixtures is used to locate, insert or support something.  Also go/no-go gauges.  Traditionally, these items have been machined which involved expense and time to program the work, buy the material and machine the parts.  3D printed parts can be printed overnight for next day needs, ensure repeatability, save scrap costs and lower the cost of production.
  • Mold inserts - low volume injection molds such as up to 200 shots are proving out for companies that want to get to market faster.  The divide is coming together with the designers helping design the fixtures for the tool room manager.
  • Thermoforming used as direct tools or custom 'inserts' within traditional tools
  • Sheet metal forming tools 3d printed will provide an efficient replacement to waterjet and laser.
  • Indirect master patterns save weeks and months with 3D printing.


I work with companies to help educate them about additive manufacturing, to help assure companies will not acquire the wrong technology for their application needs.  The real value of AM technology is found when people take time to learn where the complementing technologies and materials make sense.

A traditional manufacturer should embrace additive manufacturing, because it is truly complementary to their existing processes and adds value.

When customers see these technologies their manufacturers, they feel more comfortable that they are working with a progressive manufacture.  Additive manufacturing is no longer considered "hype".  It is here, and it is staying.  One common comment I hear from manufacturers that have implemented AM, "more applications and cost saving were discovered." While it is unclear if AM will ever fully replace subtractive manufacturing technologies, it seems fairly certain that it will, in the long run, become a significant complement to subtractive manufacturing.

Download the jigs and fixtures eBook for further ideas, or contact Barb Miller-Webb at barbara.miller-webb@mastergraphics.com

Topics: 3D Printing Additive Manufacturing jigs & fixtures
2 min read

Downtime Costing You Productivity, Money, and Stress?

By Gene Call on Dec 22, 2020 1:34:56 PM

I don't know if this has ever happened to you, but working on a big deadline and having your printer go down can cause a lot of stress.  In today's fast-paced world where it is critical to get the latest designs and final drawings to your clients, having a down plotter affects your business.  Downtime not only impairs your productivity and can be expensive, but it could cost you a client.  

Time and material calls (T&M) can prolong downtime, be expensive, and if not budgeted for create delays in generating orders for repair.  One or two T&M calls often exceed what a maintenance plan would cost.

MasterGraphics Inc offers three types of maintenance plans.

MasterGraphics Cost-Per-Copy Plan - (CPC)

This is for new printers and usually is a 36-month contract.  This comprehensive plan provides you with a printer, consumables, along with phone and on-site support that includes labor and parts.  With this plan, you would receive a single monthly invoice listing the base amount plus a square foot click charge for ink and bond paper.

The CPC includes: 

  • MasterGraphics on-site service that includes parts, labor, and travel
  • Meter reading automatically submitted via HP Partner Link or Printer Point tracking S/W
  • Easy online ordering of standard 20lbs. bond paper (specialty papers available for an additional charge).
  • Includes print heads, ink cartridges, cleaning container, and maintenance cartridge.

The Cost-per-Copy plan is our most popular plan for companies looking to get a new printer.  Our CPC comes with no upfront investment and you only pay for the consumables that you use.  You pay in arrears so no need to have your money tied up in supplies inventory. 

MasterGraphics Masterplan

Our Masterplan program is like our Cost-per-Copy plan but is for companies that already own their plotter.  This plan also provides you with phone and on-site support that includes labor and parts.  With this plan, you would be billed a small monthly base fee plus a square foot click charge for ink and bond paper.

The Masterplan includes:

  • MasterGraphics on-site service that includes parts, labor, and travel.
  • Meter reading automatically submitted via HP Partner Link or Printer Point tracking S/W
  • Easy online ordering of standard 20lb bond paper (specialty papers available for an additional charge).
  • Includes print heads, ink cartridges, cleaning containers, and maintenance cartridges.

Again, our Masterplan is for companies that already own their plotter and you only pay for the ink and bond paper that is used.

Full-Service Maintenance Agreement (FSMA)

This brings me to our third maintenance plan,  which is the Full-Service Maintenance Agreement (FSMA). With the FSMA, you pay an annual fee, which includes phone, and on-site support that includes labor and parts.  You would purchase the consumables (ink and media) on your own.

I want to state again that all of the MasterGraphics Maintenance plans come with service and parts priority.

You can have peace of mind knowing our award-winning, factory-certified technicians are on the job.

If you have any questions on any of our large format printer maintenance plans please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-873-7238 or email us at mastergraphics@mastergraphics.com



Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
3 min read

Struggling to improve your innovation around manufacturing and 3D printing?

By Barbara Miller-Webb on Dec 16, 2020 9:47:53 AM

"The pain of Change could be LESS than the pain of NOT changing"

It's often not easy to change − whether it is a personal change or business change. I work with customers and often the path of least resistance is to stay status quo − not implement any changes or new processes because often it's perceived as the path of least resistance. I hear "We have done it this way for years and it works" but does it?  Often if you step back and analyze your areas of PAIN, the steps to address those challenges are often times easier than not changing. You can relate to this concept on a personal level if you think of eating healthy − or at least I can relate.  Often the initial change in diet is challenging − you don't like the food options − you miss eating past favorite foods and often the easiest thing to do is NOT change.  So often we are not determined to see the change through and give up.  The end result, we gain a few pounds and are not as healthy.  As opposed to going through the pain − changing our diet − and in the end having a healthier self!  The change seemed hard but easier than the bad habits leading up to issues later that are even more difficult to address than the current situation.

So how does this relate to 3D Print/Additive Manufacturing?  Often I work with clients that have a difficult time stepping back and looking at their overall processes and addressing the changes needed to avoid larger pains in the future.  Like eating right − they hear 3D printing is the future but think it does not apply to them.  I can tell you first hand the organizations that challenge themselves to be more innovative and focus in process change become class leading.  This ability to take on short term pain for long term gain makes them industry leaders − they look at any and all technologies to sustain continual improvements.  Needless to say their commitment to process change makes them industry leaders.  Ever look around and wonder how your competitors have implemented a change that you know gave them an advantage? Commitment to process improvement no matter how disruptive it may initially have been.

Let me get back to how you should look to see if 3D print may address some of your current or long term pains.  It starts internally to truly understand your current challenges and be honest within your organization.  The next step is to find a trusted partner you can be vulnerable with and work to outline/map a future to address those pains.  This of course is easier said than done − need I bring up dieting again?

As an example on how I personally work to be a trusted partner, I work with customers to understand their specific pains within their existing manufacturing process and then determine (together) if additive manufacturing or 3D printing can bring value to addressing their challenges.  I need to be candid often when there is no solution available − thus you need trust that a partner isn't just trying to sell you things.  My clients also need to trust in the process and be candid with themselves on the changes they need to make.  Many companies fail to recognize that change is a process that makes improvements to the organization, instead they ignore the problems/pains and continue to do the same thing over and over again.

If together we can't find a compelling reason/need to change the current process, or a personal impact, the change will not happen in the company.  We are conditioned to avoid pain and discomfort.  There's always adversity, fear, uncomfortable sensations, problems, distractions and so on.  We need to address the pain together...

How can trusted partners help customers discover the compelling reason?  The following are a few questions that I ask to help discover their compelling reason and you should make sure your vendor is asking you:

  1. What are your current biggest challenges in your manufacturing processes?
  2. Can you be more specific? Give me an example?
  3. How long has that been a problem?
  4. What have you tried to do about that?
  5. How much do you think that has cost you?
  6. How do you feel about that?
  7. Have you given up trying to deal with the problem?

Will the change you are considering:

  1. Speed up your time to market with your products?
  2. Cut costs in you manufacturing?
  3. Reduce your manufacturing downtime with on demand production?

Change will only happen when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.  I encourage you to take a step back from the whirlwind and really look at what current pains that are worth addressing.

My last note, check out Mark Blumreiter's blog 22 Ways Manufacturers are using 3D print to see if his outline sparks any ideas on areas 3D print can address your pains.

Even if we can't help you I am always up for great business discussions so don't hesitate to reach out if you want to chat on pain.

Topics: 3D Printing
3 min read

Affordable and effective way to dye HP 3D MJF Parts

By Kevin Carr on Nov 20, 2020 11:42:40 AM

Are you struggling to produce consistent results on parts dyed from HP’s Multi Jet Fusion printer? The last step in many users of HP 3D’s technology is to dye the parts so the final result is a deep black – well colored part.   Often, we see various set ups such as crock pots or large pots on burners to dye parts black from the various HP 3D printers. We see this system also in place for dyeing SLS parts. A typical example is below. Over time this process gets messy, time consuming, and provides inconsistent results.

pot dye part

Until recently, the current option for automated dyeing was DyeMansion’s DM60. This unit is the Rolls-Royce of dyeing. We have sold this technology for the last few years and truly has been game changing when you talk true Additive Manufacturing being implemented with high standards and measurable output. The DM60 uses a scientific process teamed with a unique dye system to produce unmatched final parts with repeatable and exact dye results – including color. The DyeMansion has a fit.

But…..what if your budget or process does not call for such an exact dye and your main goal is to replace that large pot dying process? Enter OmegaSonics…they are known for their ultrasonic cleaners but have developed a dye tank specifically to dye parts from HP MJF’s technology. The HP 1818 Dye Tank. The biggest advantage of the Omegasonics solutions? The unit starts at $ 14,995! The time saving and part quality improvements make the ROI on the system less than 12 months – in my opinion of course.

We had a client test the beta unit and have used it for over 5 months with great success. They had previously used a messy pot set up and now have an automated dye process with better results. You can view a video we created of the beta unit using the link below. I want to make sure to note that the final production unit has black outer panels (yes some dye will still cause a mess😊) and the mesh basket shipping with the unit has a finer mesh to hold smaller parts than the beta unit. You can view our video here:


Lastly, let me outline some of the key features:

  • Price – I had to mention that again because at 15K the unit is very affordable.
  • Adjustable Heat - Heat up to 200°F with simple – easy to use controls

  • Robust pump - The key feature of the unit (besides the heated vat) is the circulation of the dye.  This is accomplished with a durable Ryton pump.
  • Large volume capable - Basket is 14" x14" x 15"
  • Overall Build Quality of Unit - Not only is the unit built with high quality, strong materials, it is on casters for portability.
  • Dyed Parts Results - One of the challenges typical pot dying has is under sides of parts are not dyed as well as the side.  Envision the part sitting on the bottom of the pot.  With the circulation of the dye, the final parts have consistent dyed surface on all sides.
  • Throughput - The HP1818 Dye Tank increase the number of parts you can dye in a given time.


As many of you know, the hidden challenge of 3D printing is finishing processes. We are excited to see manufacturers such as OmegaSonics entering the 3D post processing equipment game. I believe this system will be sold with a majority of HP’s 4200 and 5200 series printers.

If you want more information on the unit, feel free to visit us at www.mastergraphics.com or contact me directly at kevin.carr@mastergraphics.com


Topics: 3D Printing
2 min read

Overview of 3D Systems MJP Materials Families

By Barbara Miller-Webb on Nov 18, 2020 3:15:18 PM

My work involves working with customers and their application specific needs and trying to determine which materials on the 2500Plus Multi-jet printer are best for specific use cases.  Many once-valid opinions about additive materials are now myths.

The MJP 2500Plus now expands to 10 materials: five rigid class, two engineering grade, two elastomeric and one specialty for high temps.  VisiJet® M2 MultiJet Printing materials are for functional precision plastic and elastomeric parts. The rigid materials offer watertightness for evaluation of fluid flow performance.  Following are highlights and use cases for some of the materials:

VisiJet Armor is a tough, ABS-like impact resistant material.

  • Impact-resistant
  • ABS-like for snaps & drilling, jigs and fixtures, patterns and molds
  • World-class clear finish

VisiJet Rigid Grey

  • Primer Gray finish = exceptional feature detail viewing
  • Simple visual modeling applications
  • Medical Applications

VisiJet ProFlex

  • Durable, Polypropylene-like, High Impact Material
  • Capable of creating living hinge parts with multiple full actuations
  • Exceptional clarity
  • Ideal for applications requiring deformable plastic

VisiJet Rigid M2R-CL and WT; VisiJet CR-CL and WT materials are bio-compatible

USP Class VI - Rigid materials for the ProJet MJP 2500 and 5600 have passed USP Class VI biocompatibility certification.

  • Short term contact with human skin (30 days)
  • Mucosal-membrane (24 hrs)

ISO 10993 - Rigid materials for the ProJet MJP 2500 have passed the following testing criteria:

  • ISO 10993-5 - Cytotoxicity
  • ISO 10993-10 Sensitization Maximization Irritation
  • ISO 10993-10 Intracutaneous Reactivity

VisiJet M2S-HT90

  • Heat resistance with high heat deflection temperature at 90°C
  • Excellent humidity/moisture resistance
  • Rigid and transparent
  • Biocompatible
  • Molds and dies for rapid tooling applications

  -Under-the-hood components
  -Heated fluids and gasses flow analysis
  -Electronics enclosures/cases

  • Medical applications

For a quick look, 3D Systems also created an eBook that provides an overview of the 2500Plus materials portfolio.  In addition to features and material properties, the eBook (http://info.mastergraphics.com/3d-systems-rapid-prototyping-ebook) provides guidance on how to assess additive materials, and what you should be looking for.  
Download the eBook to learn:

  • When to prototype, why and how to achieve faster time to market
  • How to reduce development cycles, lead-time and engineering effort
  • Prototyping for agile manufacturing, and key questions to ask before getting started 
  • How to use CAD data for design verification and types of prototyping
  • 3D printing technologies for rapid prototyping and choosing the best solution
Topics: 3D Printing
1 min read

How much could my business save?

By Barbara Miller-Webb on Nov 16, 2020 9:20:10 AM

Here's a question we're often asked:

"How much could my business save with 3D printing?"

That can vary depending on the application/need your company would be using 3D printing.  But a great place to start is by looking at other companies and how they have successfully achieved large ROI's with additive manufacturing.

  • Figure 4 Standalone enables contract manufacturer to exceed customer expectations with injection-molded quality 3D printed parts. Click here to read case study.

  • True-to-CAD accuracy and quick 3D printing speeds of 3D Systems ProJet® MJP 2500 fast track product development at Bushnell. To read Bushnell case study click here.
Topics: 3D Printing
1 min read

Eggshell Molding with Additive Manufacturing

By Barbara Miller-Webb on Oct 23, 2020 11:23:16 AM

Eggshell molding is 3D printings hidden gem application.  Eggshell molding is a sacrificial technique where a thin mold is printed and then material is injected into the mold.  The resulting mold is then broken away.  

Creating the eggshell mold is relatively simple; a CAD user creates a positive 0 set on the external surface of the model, then removes the original CAD to leave a hollow shell.  The resulting shell is, typically in the 3D Systems Figure 4's case, 0.3 mm thick.  The CAD designer will then add features to allow the injection of the material and some vents to prevent air pockets.

The shell is then printed using Figure 4 standalone and the specific eggshell molding resin 3D Systems has developed, "Eggshell-AMB 10."  The Figure 4 EGGSHELL-AMB 10 material is specifically engineered for the eggshell molding process.  A material like silicone can then be injected in using a syringe and the shell is then broken out with ease by hand because of the elastomeric properties of the usual end-use material.  

- For casting silicone parts in any durometer
     - Elongation at break: 5%
     - Tensile modulus: 2765 MPa
     - Impact strength (notched Izod): 15 J/m
     - Heat Deflection Temperature @ 0.455 MPa: 89°C 

For a quick look at the Eggshell -AMB 10 material properties, review the link:http://infocenter.3dsystems.com/materials/material-library/figure-4/figure-4-eggshell-amb-10

Topics: 3D Printing
1 min read

HP Changing Additive Manufacture with New Materials

By Gene Call on Aug 14, 2020 2:56:52 PM

HP is committed to partnering with 3rd party companies to bring new materials to the additive manufacture industry.  

BASF a partner with HP, recently introduced a new Polypropylene material (HP 3D High Reusability PP). 

Polypropylene is among the most used plastics in manufacturing today, it is one of the strongest plastics on the market and has a high heat tolerance. The Polypropylene used in the HP Jet Fusion will give you similar properties of polypropylene used in the injection molding process. The new material not only delivers high productivity but also reduces waste by enabling up to 100% re-usability of the surplus powder.

You can find Polypropylene used by manufactures in the medical, automotive and industrial areas to name a few. In the automotive industry, the PP can be used in a vehicle’s interior and exterior finishes, not only for prototyping but also for production of final parts.

I was excited to find the article below from Develop 3D, it shows HP’s commitment to bringing new material to the AM world. As well as to learn of HP helping customers with new and expanded 3D Professional Services to continue moving forward in digital manufacturing.


Topics: 3D Printing
3 min read

Create COVID posters with FREE Tool from HP

By Kevin Carr on Aug 13, 2020 10:13:43 AM

How to print your own Covid posters on your HP plotter (wide-format printer)

Companies are spending a lot of money to purchase signage for social distancing, mask requirements, and best hygiene practices. We see this signage every day as we enter a new normal with stores and companies needing to outline their regulations. Often this signage is outsourced but amazingly many businesses can utilize their existing assets – such an HP DesignJet plotter – to create their own signage and utilize specialty media for different applications.

Let’s start with the basics on how to create a sign. You don’t need to be graphic designer to create a sign, the signs are all about communication not marketing. The more concise and direct the better. You can simply use PowerPoint to create signs and use a standard windows print driver to enlarge the output for poster printing. Most Windows drivers are fairly straight forward and easy to us. Simply select the poster size you want – such as 24” x 26” – configure the output to scale to fit and your design will output on a poster size sheet of paper.

In addition, there are free tools and resources to leverage your existing plotter technology.  Below is information on HP's free poster application. This is an example of a template available.Covid HP Image v3

It’s easy to utilize HP's FREE poster application tool to create and print posters.  Designs and officially approved posters for signage are available on
HP Applications Center for all HP DesignJet, PageWide XL, and Latex printers.
HP Poster Application Tool

After creation you can also utilize specialty media. In most cases you can simply print on stand bond – paper – and attach to walls with two sided tape. However, most users don’t know that there is specialty media from vendors such as Canon/Oce that actually have adhesive back for adhering to different surfaces.   Be careful, the adhesive back can be both permanent and removable. Know your application before choosing media. You can simply create, print, peel off the backing, and apply.

One example of an adhesive back material is Canon’s OPPOLYPS. Yes that’s the official SKU! It’s a 6.6 mil Polypropylene Film with Permanent Pressure Sensitive Adhesive.   OPPOLYPS is a 6.6 mil economical, water resistant polypropylene film with permanent, pressure sensitive adhesive.   You can print on it with thermal (most inkjet plotters) or piezo water based inkjet printers. The backside PSA will simplify the mounting and installation process and the water resistant coating means you do not have to laminate when using pigment inks.

Want to learn about other medias?  You can visit Canon’s site for reference at: Canon Plotter Media Selector. You can also visit MasterGraphics’ eStore.   Simply input your plotter model in the left side drop down selection, and see the applicable media for your device. Even though we resell Canon media, the material is applicable to most plotters by various manufacturers.  Plotter Media Selector

If you don't see what you need or want guidance, feel free to contact us at 866-914-9610 or email us at customerservice@mastergraphics.com.


As always, if you have any question or input, don't hesitate to reach out to me at kevin.carr@mastergraphics.com

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
3 min read

What is the number one reason to leverage 3D printing?

By Kevin Carr on Aug 10, 2020 12:21:53 PM

What is the number one reason to leverage 3D printing?  My new answer.....Innovation.

Having been involved in the 3D print industry for over a decade, many people ask me the reasons for implementing 3D print.  My standard answer is usually it's not just one reason but it's the desire for a company to reduce time to market, produce goods not possible before, reduce costs, and be more innovative.  The last item innovation being the one that very rarely people asked me to expand on.  In reading a recent article from Kathleen Gallagher from the BizTimes in Milwaukee I had an aha moment.  We should all focus on innovation!

She wrote a great article on the recent struggles of Briggs and Stratton and their lack of innovation.  You can read her article here:   BizTime Viewpoints: Lack of innovation explains collapse of Briggs & Stratton

I do realize the challenges Briggs and Stratton faced went well beyond innovation but it put it in perspective when I try to work with clients to help explain how best in class companies are leveraging 3D print.  Most people look to 3D printing for prototypes or to replace existing processes directly but what we need to look at is how to be innovative in leveraging game changing technology whether 3D print or something else.  With 3D print technologies from HP and Carbon, now is the time to really look at not only your current challenges but future opportunities.  Look to be innovative.  It won't be fast or simple but look to be a game changer to ensure your future success. 

When I look at the typical design process I break it into 4 basic steps.  

  1. Sales/Marketing - Develop an idea
  2. Design & Engineering - Create the actual design
  3. Test & Validation - The process to produce the good is developed
  4. Manufacturing & Production - Goods are actually produced

This design wheel represents my view.wheel

To me – if you apply “innovative” thinking to each step and how 3D printing can move your company forward – this is the future we desire. Of course we will still have the standard applications where prototypes improve time to market or decrease errors but real innovation will come when you look at additive manufacturing differently. You will need to change old processes, put new standards in place, think differently, etc… This needs to start at a management level so that employees are encouraged to challenge old ways and look at new markets. Often we see the end engineers using 3D print to solve current pains – not develop new applications or markets.

Getting back to Kathleen’s article, it’s tough for any company to survive 100+ years and the only way to do so is evolve and innovate. You can’t be the same company over time. Think of Apple and Microsoft for how they have evolved and innovated. Even MasterGraphics as a smaller company has only been able to survive 70+ years because we have evolved and re-innovated ourselves to be completely different than we were from our origins. Yes, we serve the same industries, but with different solutions.

I encourage you to really step back, to view 3D print anew and how it may be able to move your business forward. At the beginning the end goal is usually a “pipe” dream but as we all have experienced, it does not take long for innovation to deliver on future dreams. Hello self driving cars!

I look forward to any thoughts about what I wrote – even challenges to my thinking. You can take a closer look at the latest 3D print technologies here http://www.mastergraphics.com/3d-printers/ but most importantly if you want to have a discussion around innovation – don’t hesitate to reach out to me.


Topics: 3D Printing
1 min read

Sanitizing Tips for your Printer

By Lynn Milbrath on Aug 7, 2020 8:00:00 AM

In the workplace, devices such as copiers and printers are high-touch areas that should be cleaned and disinfected regularly.  We recently created a new video to share with you on sanitizing a wide-format printer. 
Gene from our Madison office, walks you thru what to use for cleaning and the areas to wipe down to ensure you have a clean printer.  

Here are just a few tips, I wanted to also share that are applicable to all printers, plotters, and copiers.
     1.  Avoid anything containing bleach, ammonia or other harsh chemicals.
     2.  Best thing to use is Isopropyl Alcohol.
     3.  Remember to wipe, do not spray Isopropyl Alcohol, sanitizer or other cleaning solutions on your  plotter/printer/copier.
     4.  Power down and unplug the machine before wiping it down.


Learn how HP's MJF Technology works via Individual Webcast

By Lynn Milbrath on Aug 6, 2020 12:08:39 PM

With the pandemic limiting in-person visits, we have set up a Digital Manufacturing Lab featuring HP's Multi Jet Fusion technology.  We have the ability to remotely demo both the production 5200 series and the Prototype-Lite Production 500 series printers.

To schedule your pre-demo call and lock in your date and time please contact Gene Call at 608-210-2735 or email gene.call@mastergraphics.com.  


Topics: 3D Printing
1 min read

This is what the HP MJF technology is designed to do

By Jim Hill on Jun 15, 2020 4:04:45 PM

One of MasterGraphics' most recent HP 3D customers is graco logo in Minneapolis, MN.  We worked with Graco to add MJF 3D print technology to their arsenal of CNC and machining applications.  They did have 1 large FDM machine but it could not even come close to the capability of their new HP 4210 3D printer.  Kurt Sjodin of Graco is overjoyed at the types of parts being produced on Graco's new addition. 


Here are some recent Linkedin posts that show just some of the applications Graco found for their newest addition to the already state of the art manufacturing plant.  As someone once said "A picture can say a thousand words." Gracolinkedinposts

We have been in the Additive Manufacturing space for 12 years and help our clients understand and effectively implement 3D print.  We look to address the following challenges:

  • Improve Innovation
  • Accelerate Product Development
  • Reduce Costs

Not sure if any of those challenges exist for you? We realize most of the people we talk to don't have an immediate application - however, I believe it's critical to be aware of groundbreaking technology and plan for its impact.

We specialize in HP 3D print technology but also know when different technologies are a better fit and are not afraid to say that we don't have an equipment fit.

Check out two of our previous blogs to understand how we see the market and how HP technology works. 

MG: How HP MJF 3D Printing Works
MG: Why Additive Manufacturing is Unstoppable

Let's setup a call, I promise to keep the conversation short, to the point and worthwhile. Let me know what is a good time and date to connect and I will schedule a call.

Thank you,

Jim Hill 
3D Account Manager

Topics: 3D Printing
1 min read

Miss our webinar on Additive Mfg in Education?

By Lynn Milbrath on Jun 15, 2020 1:55:22 PM

Did you miss our webinar on Additive Manufacturing in Education that we did with HP?  Don't worry I did too,  good thing we recorded it.  I just got done watching the webinar and I am excited to share a few new things I learned.

The first thing I am super excited to tell about (even went home and shared it with my family) was the HP 580 Multi Jet Fusion (3D printer) has 140 3D printed parts inside it.  HP used one of its production machines and printed the parts to be used inside.  I found this so cool!  Think of the opportunities this can lead to for a supply parts business.

Another thing I learned was what great opportunities HP and even my own company have to offer institutions educating our future workforce in additive manufacturing. HP has created a curriculum that is easy for institutions to obtain free, simply by filling out a survey.  And MasterGraphics can train new students on systems or help institutions with fund raising.

I encourage you to watch the webinar for yourself to learn more about how HP and MasterGraphics can help support education for the future.

View the webinar on our youtube channel: 


Topics: 3D Printing Education
1 min read

New opportunities for higher education to train the workforce for Industry 4.0

By Gene Call on May 18, 2020 8:14:13 AM

Kevin posted an eBook for educators previously and I wanted to follow that up with another great HP e-book on how HP Jet Fusion is opening new opportunities for higher education.   We at MasterGraphics have seen how 3D printing is genuinely transformational for manufacturing and believe higher education institutions will play a central role in driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  Together we can change the landscape of design for all manufacturing.  Students with access to innovative technology, such as HP’s Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers, will have the skills demanded by industry when they graduate. 

This e-book outlines the transformative effect 3D printing will continue to have on the way we design and manufacture, and the role higher education will play in the process. It covers the basics of Additive Manufacturing, how 3D printing began, how it has evolved, and how it will change the culture of design.

As Kevin mentioned previously, we believe in the potential of 3D printing and the need for higher education to have the right technology in place.  Enjoy the read and feel free to reach out to me if you think we can assist in anyway with your efforts to build the workforce of the future.   

Download Ebook

Gene Call
800-873-7238 x2735

Topics: 3D Printing Education
1 min read

How educators can lead the way with 3D print

By Kevin Carr on May 15, 2020 3:37:09 PM

I wanted to share a great eBook from HP on how educators can lead the way into the industry of tomorrow.  This eBook explores how 3D printing began, how it has evolved, and how it will change the culture of design, as well as the potential of 3D printing for higher education.  The principles outlined mirror many of our other blogs we have posted so make sure to check out the rest of our expert center to learn more.  I truly believe our students are the future for leveraging 3D print and we need to ensure they are learning and applying the technology for the implementing Industry 4.0.  We at MasterGraphics are always looking to support education so don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly with any questions or requests for support.  For now – download this eBook and enjoy.  

Kevin Carr



Topics: 3D Printing
2 min read

MasterGraphics Coronavirus Supply Statement

By Kevin Carr on Mar 18, 2020 9:46:56 AM

As the current situation with COVID-19 (known as coronavirus) continues to evolve, MasterGraphics wants to assure you that we are working to protect our employees, customers and partners. Health and safety remain our highest priority.

We are committed to being responsive to the needs of our customers as this dynamic situation evolves. We are monitoring this situation and want to ensure minimum disruptions, and to make sure we do everything we can to provide you the support you need.  The plans we have in place are designed to ensure our continued service to you.

Here are some steps MasterGraphics has taken to address the risk of COVID-19:

  • Evaluated travel restrictions for associates to eliminate or reduce travel when possible and reviewed facility access for associates and visitors to minimize the risk of exposure
  • Ensured availability of alcohol wipes, sanitizers, tissues, and other needed supplies for use in the workplace
  • Developed contingency planning for alternative work arrangements such as working from home

And, here are some vendor replies regarding the steps they’re taking to minimize the impact to our customers:

HP (SYNNEX): (ink & 3D Supplies) We are increasing our warehouse inventory to ensure continued fulfillment on demand and to minimize the impact to our customers. We are managing our supply chain and making every effort to understand and offset the potential impact of production and delivery delays.

OCE' / CANON (media): We are in close contact with our vendor and supply network as they work through potential supply chain issues resulting from the COVID-19 issue.  Our commitment is to take proactive and proportional steps in accordance with the guidance we receive from government and public health authorities.  These actions are designed to minimize the risk of virus spread among our employees and Canon workplaces while ensuring effective business continuity. 

DIETZGEN (media): We do not anticipate any shortages or delays due to the Coronavirus at this time. We will continue to work with our manufacturing partners to monitor any impact to the supply chain that might cause an interruption or delay. While it is more difficult to confirm available logistics and delivery dates at this time, we believe our global manufacturing and logistics capabilities will keep us well positioned to work through these challenges.  We have taken steps to ensure the safety and wellness of our employees and secure our product supply chains.

MasterGraphics appreciates your business and we remain committed to providing the superior service and support that our customers have come to expect of us.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions or concerns.

Kevin Carr

MasterGraphics Incorporated, with a corporate office located in Madison, WI, is deemed as an “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” based on the recently released guidelines published by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). We are part of the supply chain to various Energy, Government, Communications, Healthcare, and Critical Manufacturing facilities in the United States. Therefore, our continued supply of services, equipment, and other services will continue without interruption.

Topics: News
2 min read

How to Minimize Warpage in HP MJF Parts

By Mark Blumreiter on Mar 6, 2020 11:19:36 AM

The HP Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) printing process is similar to injection molding in a few ways. MJF and molding are both heat-based processes that melt raw plastic to form the final part shape. Because of this, there are similarities in how to properly design and prepare a part for each manufacturing process.

Just like injection molding, we want to control the heating and cooling in MJF printing to ensure good part quality. The MJF process uses a combination of lamps and thermal cameras to do this. By monitoring and controlling the heating/fusing and cooling process we can prevent or minimize defects like warpage.

Figure 1: HP MJF Printing Process

MJF Printing Process


Warpage is a possible defect in any polymer process that involves heat. Warpage is especially common in long, thin, flat parts. (aspect ratio greater than 10:1) When plastic cools from molten to solid, it contracts to take up less space. When one area of a large flat part cools before another area, it can “pull” the part towards it. With small compact parts (as opposed to long thin parts) it is much easier to control the cooling and prevent warpage.

warpage b

For large, thin, flat parts, we recommend placing the parts parallel to the X-Y plane. This causes the part to melt and cool at a consistent rate. To further prevent warpage, align the length of the part in the Y-axis. The lamp carriage moves in the X-axis, so it will fuse the entire part at once when it move across. Along these same lines, try to avoid fast cooling if warpage is an issue. This allows the parts to naturally cool while they’re “held in place” by the surrounding powder.

Parts placed in the center of the build volume towards the bottom will be the least prone to warpage. This is because it will cool the most uniformly (from the outside in)

Figure 2: Avoid warpage by placing parts flat in the center-bottom of the build area


Design Changes

If that still doesn’t work, we have a few more options. One, we could print other parts, or even sacrificial parts, surrounding this large one. This, in effect, cages in the bigger part to hold the heat in and also slows down the cooling so it’s nice and uniform. Just like injection molding, we can’t let one area cool faster than another or it will warp. The other option is to add some ribs or supporting geometry to your part to prevent warping. Depending on your application this may or may not be possible. You can design in support bars to keep a part aligned while it cools, then snip the alignment bars off. This is similar to trimming the plastic from the gate in a molding process.

Material Considerations

PA11 will be most susceptible to warpage. If flatness is a major concern, we recommend using PA12 or PA12 with glass beads. If PA11 is necessary, use the Fast print mode. Regardless of which material is used, the HP MJF parts are usually flexible enough to easily be re-shaped or pushed into their final mounting position.

Keep these best practices in mind when designing and preparing your MJF prints, and you should be able to eliminate or at least minimize warpage in your parts.

Topics: 3D Printing
2 min read

Why is additive manufacturing unstoppable?

By Jim Hill on Feb 10, 2020 2:42:14 PM

As additive manufacturing technologies have advanced, 3D printed parts have moved decidedly outside the Research and Development arena and onto the production line. These pivotal processes are developing and producing concepts previously unattainable in the manufacturing world.

Entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies and large OEM’s have embraced the advanced enterprise of 3D printing to meet their tough performance standards and requirements. As companies have designed for additive manufacturing and utilized it as a compliment to traditional manufacturing, new applications have come to the scene and changed what’s possible.

There are four industries in particular where the amazing capabilities of additive manufacturing have transformed production:

1. Aerospace
Aerospace companies were some of the first to adopt additive manufacturing. Some of the toughest industry performance standards exist in this realm, requiring parts to hold up in harsh conditions. Engineers designing and manufacturing for commercial and military aerospace platforms need flight-worthy components made from high-performance materials.

Common applications include environmental control systems (ECS) ducting, custom cosmetic aircraft interior components, rocket engines components, combustor liners, tooling for composites, oil and fuel tanks and UAV components.

3D printing delivers complex, consolidated parts with high strength. Less material and consolidated designs result in overall weight reduction – one of the most important factors in manufacturing for aerospace.

2. Medical

The rapidly innovating medical industry is utilizing additive manufacturing solutions to deliver breakthroughs to doctors, patients and research institutions. Medical manufacturers are utilizing the wide range of high-strength and biocompatible 3D printing materials, from rigid to flexible and opaque to transparent, to customize designs like never before.

From functional prototypes and true-to-life anatomical models to surgical grade components, additive manufacturing is opening the door to unforeseen advancements for life-saving devices. Some applications shaking up the medical industry are orthopedic implant devices, dental devices, pre-surgery models from CT scans, custom saw and drill guides, enclosures and specialized instrumentation.

3. Energy

Success in the energy sector hinges on the ability to quickly develop tailored, mission-critical components that can withstand extreme conditions. Additive manufacturing’s advancements in producing efficient, on-demand, lightweight components and environmentally friendly materials provides answers for diverse requirements and field functions.

Some key applications that have emerged from the gas, oil and energy industries include rotors, stators, turbine nozzles, down-hole tool components and models, fluid/water flow analysis, flow meter parts, mud motor models, pressure gauge pieces, control-valve components and pump manifolds.

4. Consumer Products

For designers, graphic artists and marketing teams, the time it takes to form an idea and deliver it to the market is everything. Part of that time is simulating the look and feel of the final product during design reviews to prove ideas to key stakeholders. Consumer product manufacturers have embraced 3D printing to help develop iterations and quickly adjust design.

3D printing is great for producing detailed consumer electronics early in the product development life cycle with realistic aesthetics and functionality. Sporting goods have benefited from early iterations delivered quickly and with fine details. Other successful applications include entertainment props and costumes, lightweight models and sets, and finely detailed architectural models.

As 3D printing technology advances in speed and build volume, more consumer products may turn to additive manufacturing for their large volume demands.

Topics: 3D Printing

How the HP Multi Jet Fusion 4200 Works

By Mark Blumreiter on Nov 13, 2019 11:55:38 AM

MasterGraphics Additive Manufacturing Engineer, Mark Blumreiter explains how the MJF works and how this technology is different from other similar 3D Printer technologies.

Topics: 3D Printing
1 min read

3D Printed Robotic Arm Grippers

By Mark Blumreiter on Nov 12, 2019 1:16:43 PM


The final application we’ll look at for fiber reinforced 3d printed parts is robotic arm grippers. Any tool at the end of a robotic arm benefits from being lightweight because it requires less energy to move the arm. The grippers also need to be strong and stiff enough to handle the stresses involved with lifting, assembling, or machining the component. Depending on the part that’s being gripped, the grippers sometimes require unique geometry. For these reasons, 3D printed fiber reinforced are the perfect solution.

A U.S. based fittings and valves manufacturer fully embraced the Markforged 3D print technology in their shop. Their engineers used to spend days or weeks tooling up a robotic work cell with custom machined grippers and fittings. Now they can re-tool the robot grippers in less than 24 hours.

End of Arm Gripper

robotic end of arm gripper


Topics: 3D Printing
1 min read

3D Printed End-of-Arm Vacuum Tooling

By Mark Blumreiter on Nov 12, 2019 1:04:57 PM


Another great example of reinforced 3D printed parts on the shop floor is end-of-arm vacuum tooling. When lightweight, flat parts need to be moved around and assembled, it’s common to use vacuum tooling to use air and suction parts to hold and move them. The image below shows a blue tube that is pulling air through the black tool. This creates the suction necessary to lift and move these lightweight parts.

3D printed end of arm tooling

There are a handful of properties these vacuum tools can require that 3D printing excels at. First, the tool should be lightweight because it is attached to the end of a robotic arm. Second the air suction needs to be routed through internal channels to provide suction at multiple locations. Finally, the tool needs to fit a unique contour of the part it’s picking up. Fiber reinforced 3D printed parts are the perfect solution for strong, stiff, lightweight, custom geometry vacuum tooling.

Keep in mind, these vacuum tools are typically only needed in very low quantities (1-10 parts) which is perfect for additive manufacturing. There’s no need to book time on a CNC mill and fixture an aluminum block for machining. This makes it much quicker to iterate new designs as well.

Using data from another Markforged case study, these numbers show the difference between aluminum and fiber reinforced vacuum tooling.

Part Comparison

vacuum tooling


Topics: 3D Printing
1 min read

CMM Fixtures

By Mark Blumreiter on Nov 12, 2019 12:53:55 PM


CMM fixtures are used to hold parts in place as they are being measured by a CMM. These measurements help ensure the manufacturing process is working as planned, and parts are meeting their dimensional specs. The traditional way parts are held in place for measurement is a combination of clamps, posts, and stops. But with composite reinforced 3D printed fixtures, we can create a lightweight, sturdy, more functional fixture suited precisely for your part.

The below graphic shows real data is from a Markforged case study regarding a US aerospace company.


The reason these time and cost savings could be realized in the first place was because the 3D printed CMM fixture actually worked. This can’t be said for all 3D printed parts. In fact, many other 3DP materials would not meet the strength and stiffness requirements while still providing the cost savings. The Markforged fiber reinforced Onyx parts also provided a non-marring surface for the aerospace components to sit in. This helped prevent the occasional scratched part.

Engineers at this aerospace company had been looking for ways to avoid bottlenecks like CMM fixtures. Once they discovered the fiber reinforced 3D printed parts as a functional, cost effective alternative, they haven’t looked back.


Topics: 3D Printing
1 min read

3D Printed Carbon Fiber on the Shop Floor

By Mark Blumreiter on Nov 12, 2019 11:46:39 AM

3d parts on the shop floor

In the past few years, composite 3D printing has officially hit the main stage. Companies like Markforged, EnvisionTEC, Cosine, and 3Dynamics are looking beyond traditional plastic extrusion machine capabilities and incorporating new materials such as carbon fiber, Kevlar, fiberglass, and ceramics. Combining these traditional fiber and ceramic materials with a proven additive technology creates a reliable and cost effective way to 3D print strong, durable parts for the shop floor.

The primary applications for fiber reinforced 3D printed parts on the shop floor include fixtures, jigs, tooling, and grippers; all of which can benefit from complex geometry and lightweight designs. This is where additive manufacturing excels. Anyone who is familiar with 3D printers knows that complexity is free.

The freedom to explore new design choices and 3D print truly functional parts for the shop floor can be a big time and money saver. Let’s look at a real world examples, 

Ready to get started printing on your shop floor? Lease a Markforged Mark Two for $449 per month.
Topics: 3D Printing
2 min read

What is an HP DFAM event? Should you attend?

By Jim Hill on Oct 2, 2019 12:26:12 PM

Not only is HP changing Additive Manufacturing with their print technology but also in their approach to advance the utilization of 3D print within manufacturing.  HP has a unique perspective since they have built their reputation on top quality and innovative equipment and they are sharing their knowledge on how to leverage 3D print from design all the way to manufacturing.  This series is designed to help companies understand how they can move from prototyping to production using 3D print.  HP currently uses Additive Manufacturing to produce final use parts and have cost justified and proven out the economics.  It must also be noted, after I have attended a number of these sessions, the concepts and training provided are applicable to other 3D print technologies such as SLS and Carbon.  I assure you it’s truly a great educational session.  


Click the link below to watch this YouTube video on what DFAM is.



Some highlights of what you will learn:

  • How and why HP decided to leverage MJF 3D printing technology to manufacture over 140 function parts used in each of our new MJF 500/300 series 3D printers vs. injection molding.
  • How to identify and select the right applications for additive manufacturing across your product lifecycle.
  • Training on the fundamentals of effective design for MJF.
  • How the process works and design strategies for MJF process optimization.
  • How the materials behave and what to consider when designing for each of them.
  • The new design paradigms that are enabled by additive manufacturing and the required mindset change.
  • How to design for value maximization (process and cost).
  • Training on the fundamentals of effective design for MJF.
  • Live Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) demo and application examples to inspire you.

You are always welcome to stay after the scheduled presentations and discussions to consult with technical experts from HP 3D Printing on your own parts.   That could be the most valuable part of the session is the post conversation on your specific challenges and if 3D print makes sense to utilize. 

Feel free to reach out to me to find the next HP DFAM event in your area.

Jim Hill
3D Account Manager
3701 Algonquin Rd, Ste 780
Rolling Meadows, IL 60008
847.704.4029 Direct
800.873.7238 Toll-free

Topics: 3D Printing
5 min read

Comparing HP’s 4200 Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) printer to their 5200 Multi Jet Fusion Printer (MJF)

By Kevin Carr on Oct 2, 2019 12:18:17 PM

HP recently announced the expansion of their Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) printer line up to include the new 5200 series.  This has created many questions around the difference between the recently announced 5200 and the existing 4200 since architecturally they look similar.  Let me take a quick step back and provide some background on the 4200 before I get into the differences.  HP launched their ground breaking 3D print technology (MJF) with the 4200 back in 2017.  The 4200 provided revolutionary 3D print technology that moved forward the ability to mass print plastic (PA12 at launch) parts at speeds, cost, and ease of use not seen before in additive manufacturing.  I describe MJF as Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) on steroids.  HP’s MJF technology truly changed the 3D print market and started a further shift from prototyping to manufacturing.  You can see how the 4200 built new service bureaus who grew based on HP’s technologies and how companies now manufacture truly use parts from the 4200 as final parts.  Here are some of those service bureaus who have grown substantially due to HP. 

re3dtech            forcast3d     fast radius

Personally in my 12 years spent within 3D printing, I have not seen any other technology change the 3D print landscape like the 4200.   The 4200 met its promise to bring Additive Manufacturing to the masses.  Earlier this year, HP started shipping the 500 series that added the ability to print color but lacked the throughput of the 4200.  The differentiation between the 500 series and the 4200 was clear.

Now to the introduction of the 5200, how does this fit in the evolution of HP’s technology? The 5200 does not replace the 4200.  The 4200 will stay as a production unit and still provides manufacturing capability.  The 5200 is the next step forward to increase throughput and most importantly provides tools and processes for manufacturers to replicate the manufacturing standards and processes they currently use in production.  It has more advanced software when compared to the 4200 and provides a feedback loop to allow even better control of output quality.  The 5200 is sold at a premium price so depending on your needs, the 4200 still may be a fit. 

hp 5200

Here is an outline of some of the key advancements now offered with the 5200 versus the 4200.  Keep in mind the goal of the 5200 is to bring true manufacturing predictability and standards to Additive Manufacturing and provide even faster throughput.

Breakthrough Economics vs the 4200

Up to a 30% cost per part savings due to multiple machine advancements including:

  • One pass printing (versus two on the 4200) resulting in up to 50% less agent consumption
  • Shorter routine on print head wipes needed as part of the print process
  • 4x longer cleaning roll for better cost efficiency

Improved throughput

Warm up time cut in half versus the 4200

  • Faster print times: 5200 in balanced build mode finishes a full build in 11.5 hours compared to 14 hours by the 4200 in balanced mode.
  • Enabled via 1 pass printing vs 2 passes- creating the true ability to get two full builds in 24 hours
  • Fast build mode reduced to 9 hours from 11.5 hours versus 4200.

Manufacturing standards and controls designed into the printer and software.

  • The 5200 has the capability to reach a Cpk of 1.33 on an IT scale of 13. Process capability index (Cpk) is a statistical tool, to measure the ability of a process to produce output within customer’s specification limits. In simple words, it measures producer’s capability to produce a product within customer’s tolerance range. Cpk of 1.33 equals a process yield of 99.99%
  • The new Process Control Center software focuses on calibrating Z dimensional accuracy for improved accuracy and repeatability to achieve more accurate output.
  • Production software is enabled on the 5200, it uses data feedback from the printer to adjust settings and learn as it prints to improve accuracy and reliability based on the advanced sensor built into the 5200.
  • Improved Heating control: the 5200 now has 22 lamps with 14 zones of control (compared to 20 lamps with 12 zones of control on the 4200) – 5X better thermal camera and improved data feedback to measure more minute heating variations, and therefore provide more precise heating adjustments.

Screenshot of the Process Control Center

3d process control

There are some significant hardware differences to improve manufacturability:

  • Better cooling of the print heads to eliminate print failures
  • Improved Lamp control: The lamps are now engineered to only use about 50% of their capability which allows improved reliability and the printer can now more easily “throttle up” or “throttle down” the lamp control (in smaller increments) to more precisely control the heat to specific areas of the print bed based on the improved thermal readings from the thermal camera.
  • Lamps will now always stay “on” thus allowing for longer lamp life eliminating the cycling of on/off that would reduce lamp life
  • Smaller micron layers than the 4200 – now 110 micron layers
  • Semi-Automated Printhead alignment: This new process assures X&Y dimensional accuracy
  • There have also been improvements in airflow via better seals, fans, and flow-through (via a 2nd “Lung” on top left of machine)
  • Machine now has fans & sensors to mitigate against suction/pressure variations created at customer site

New materials support

  • Machine designed to support materials up to 225C which enables a larger breadth of material possibilities
  • Build unit designed to work with lower flow type materials
  • There are redesigned ramps for the material to better flow inside the build unit
  • Processing station redesigned to be able to unpack materials at higher temperatures
  • Ultrasonic sieve (in processing station) with a wider mesh thus enabling more versatility to supporting new materials
  • TPU Material available from BASF: BASF TPU01
Improved Post Processing
  • HP has developed specific natural cooling units to allow the cooling of builds without leaving them in the build carts.
  • As special Hovmand Forklift allows the moving of the cooling units from the build cart for improved productivity.

hp natural cooling

These are just some of the highlights.   I encourage you to look closer at the 5200 if you are looking to implement true additive manufacturing.  The 4200 still has a place in the prototype and production space but if you want to have a system designed for manufacturing with specific measurable standards in place, the 5200 is worth investigating. 

Feel free to contact me at Jim.Hill@mastergraphics.com or 847-704-4029

Email Jim


Topics: 3D Printing
1 min read

Why are companies buying HP 3D printers to replace their existing 3D printers?

By Jim Hill on Oct 2, 2019 11:33:12 AM

I started working in 3D printing in 2012 and have visited a lot of companies that are using some type of a 3D print process.  I have seen a lot of companies using simple FDM printers for basic prototypes, SLA printers for very detailed parts, larger FDM printers for basic prototypes and fixtures, Ployjet printers for basic detailed prototypes, color jet printers for gypsum powder based prototypes, and SLS printers to get strong prototype parts.  The one thing in common with these above 3D print technologies is that each is a tracing technology.  Tracing technology can only go so fast.  The more detailed the part the slower the process.  I have talked to a lot of people about how long a build can take on a tracing system like FDM and it can take a week to produce a large part. Who has time for that?

HP’s one pass power bed system can produce parts at an inch per hour with a bed size on the 4200 of 13” x 11.5” x 15”.  You can produce hundreds of parts in a full build that will only take 15 hours versus days on the above systems.

Now you know why companies are looking at HP 3D printing!

Need more speed? The new 5200 HP printer can actually run a full build with the same bed size as the 4200 in 11.5 hours.  Need manufacturing standards?  The parts produced on this 5200 printer actually meet a CPK level of 1.33 on I.T. scale of 13.   What does that mean?  It was explained to me by an HP applications Engineer that parts now coming off the 5200 printer are equivalent to injection molded parts coming off soft steel tooling. 

We haven’t even discussed the reduction in material cost to produce parts.  I can tell you that our customers are seeing actual part costs of $3 to $4 per cubic inch of part.  This includes materials, fusing and detailing agents, and all consumables need throughout the year.

To get an idea how your parts could fit into an HP 3D print technology feel free to contact me and we setup a time for me visit your facility, see your part applications, discuss your expectations and setup a process to see if HP 3D printing is right for you.

Topics: 3D Printing
5 min read

What type of images can be printed and what type of medias can be used on a PageWide XL?

By Kevin Carr on Oct 2, 2019 11:24:30 AM

  • Océ 45111 is a 20 lb uncoated bond paper. Ideal for all general purpose copying and printing. The bright white sheet provides strong visual contrast. Océ engineering bond is manufactured to control curl and static. 3" core, untaped, available in 500' or 650' lengths.
  • 24LB Coated Bond – Oce' PM24
  • Océ 24 lb. Bond matte coated with bright white base. Inkjet receptive coating on front-side and anti-curl treatment on the backside. 



Type of Image: Company announcements, Signage, Information Boards

Recommended Media:

  • 48LB Heavy Weight Matte Presentation Paper – HW48 – A 48lb (180 gsm), is an economical, bright white matte coated paper. This heavyweight coated paper is durable for short-term outdoor applications. It delivers water-resistant prints with no need for lamination when using pigment inks. This coating produces crisp lines, dense blacks and vivid colors with a fast dry-time.
  • 24LB Coated Bond with Removable backing – Oce' ABBND; a bright white stock with an acrylic repositionable microspehere adhesive on the back that will mount to a variety of surfaces. This product is an excellent choice for indoor signage. The thin silicone release liner removes easily for quick mounting. Physical properties: 90gsm, 5mil, Opacity 91, Whiteness 94, Brightness 84, 3" core.
  • 7mil Satin Resin Coated Photo Paper – Oce' PHPR7 is a 7mil satin resin coated photo paper. Main Applications are indoor display graphics, POP, posters and presentations.



Type of Image: Project Management Organizations, Construction Site Information,

Recommended Media:

  • 48LB Heavy Weight Matte Presentation Paper – HW48 – Described above
  • 24LB Coated Bond with Remove bale backing – Oce' ABBND – Described above
  • 7mil Satin Photo – Oce' PHP7 is a satin resin coated photo paper. Main applications include indoor display graphics/POP, posters and presentations
  • 8mil water resistant Polypropylene banner – Oce' 6008 is a polypropylene film designed to be used for short term outdoor graphics. Oce' 6008 is weather resistant and virtually waterproof. It can be used outdoors without lamination.



GIS Maps

Type of Image: GIS Images

Recommended Media

  • 24lb Coated Bond Oce' PM24



Point of Purchase (POP) Signs

Type of Image: Retail Signs, Sales Signs

Recommended Media:

  • 24LB Coated Bond with removable backing – Oce' ABBND – Explained Above
  • 7mil Satin Photo – Oce' PHPR7 – 8mil water resistant Polypropylene banner – Oce' 6008 is designed to be used for short term outdoor graphics and is weather resistant and virtually waterproof. 
media 5


Type of Image: Various large format signs

Recommended Media:

  • 5mil Water-resistant Matte Vinyl with PSA– Oce' OPVYNLPS – A 3.5 mil water-resistant, matte calendered vinyl with PSA. Whether you are creating a short term outdoor sign, or a long term indoor banner, Oce' OPVYNLPS is the perfect choice.   Specially designed for use with dye and pigment inks, Oce' OPVYNLPS can be used with or without lamination.
  • 15mil Universil Economy Scrim Vinyl – Dietzgen 90042040 is a bright white scrim vinyl banner. It has scratch and waterproof matte coating and is tear resistant polyester fabric that is sandwiched between two layers of white vinyl.
  • Oce' 10 mil Tyvek banner is a matte inkjet coated, tear resistant Tyvek. Inkjet coating compatible with many wide-format thermal and piezo inkjet printers. Durable and water resistant inkjet-receptive topcoat. Dye and pigment based printing capability for indoor and outdoor banner material. Very high tear strength and easy for grommeting and sewing. 
  • 6 mil Polypropylene film with permanent pressure sensitive adhesive – Oce' OPPOLYPS is a 6.6 mil economical, water resistant polypropylene film with permanent pressure sensitive adhesive. Whether you are printing on thermal or piezo waterbased inkjet printers, the result will be brilliant color every time. The backside PSA will simplify the mounting and installation process and the water resistant coating means you do not have to laminate when using pigment inks.


Gift Wrap – Can you believe this one?

Type of image: Anything you want

Recommended Media:

  • Satin wrapping paper – HP Z6G71A can produce high-quality wrapping paper and posters that provide excellent image quality. The paper dries quickly and stays intact with handling-avoiding smudges and smears.
wrapping paper


Keep in mind if you have other large format inkjet printers we may have similar media to the above but specific to your advice.  Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information. 

Check out more media options at https://estore.masterg.com/

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
3 min read

What is the process for the installation of an HP 3D printer?

By Jim Hill on Oct 2, 2019 9:15:54 AM

I was given a task of writing content for our company blog and the requirements for adding content to the blog are simple, use my day to day experience in 3D printing to share some of the common questions I get on a daily basis.

We have sold a lot of HP 3D printers since we started this journey a few years ago, and one of the most common questions I get on a routine basis is what is the process for delivering and installing an HP 3D printer.

It is a great question and one that requires detailed information to answer.

Purchasing an HP 3D printer can be a quick process but often takes substantial time to get through with the various evaluation and purchasing steps.  This purchasing process can be a whole other topic for another blog. For this blog, let’s assume you have chosen an HP system. 

The first thing we do is go through an in depth pre-site survey with our customers. HP has put this together with a lot of thought and design for not only on how the unit will be used but for servicing as well.  The purpose for the pre-site survey is make sure there are no surprises in the delivery through installation process.

In the pre-site survey there are detailed instructions on things such as delivery plans, uncrating, needed electrical connections, installation expectation by our dedicated service team, etc….

I have been a part of almost all of the installations and I have to admit the pre-site survey covers it all This must be signed by the customer before shipment takes place as this ensures a successful delivery and install. 

What are some of the items on the site survey?

First we need to know is how to get the printer off the truck.  Does the customer facility have a loading dock with a fork lift?  We also need extended forks to remove a crate the size of a small car from a 48-foot truck- this is not a small printer!  We of course will supply this forklift if needed.

Typically, four crates arrive at the customer facility within 3 weeks from the date of the purchase order as well as many boxes and a pallet of material.

We coordinate the delivery date to our customer’s facility and our service manager schedules the installation date around this.  We make sure all items needed for the installation are where they need to be.

We make sure the spot where the printer will be located is in a clean dry location that has a consistent temperature, free from contaminants from other manufacturing processes such as oil and vibrations from stamping presses.

Time to uncrate and begin the setup.  I can honestly say HP does a very detailed job of crating the machines.  These items are bolted down and can take several hours to uncrate. Once uncrated we roll the units into position in the plant.

We instruct the customer of the electrical requirements ahead of time so that they can have an electrician perform the electrical hookup and air required for the post processing station.

Usually at least 2 people from our service group arrive to perform the installation.  It is the mission of our service group to make sure the printer will build parts to HP’s set specifications as well as train the customer’s personnel on best practices.  The training is a very detailed process.

The initial training includes basic printer maintenance and operation of HP’s Smart Stream.  Smart Stream is the HP software that allows the customer to create print builds that you can send to the printer. 

The one thing I have learned about the training is that the amount of training is dependent on what the customer needs and we can adapt the steps accordingly.  However, I have found that normally the installation takes at least a full week. 

That initial training is not all that is included.  HP has realized that additional training is needed beyond basic usage.  The first week of training is basic but this a production unit – clients need to understand best practices.  HP added another training step called “Ramp Up training” which us unique to the industry.  Ramp up training is scheduled by the customer about a month after installation of the printer.  It is designed to make sure the customer fully understands the printer and all of its features.  This is effective because at this time you have a better understanding of the capabilities of the printer and more aware of the needs or questions you may have. 

During the first few weeks of running the printer I have seen a lot of customers able to build basic parts but the ramp up feature is a huge help in fully utilizing the new HP printer.

Installation of the printer is not the only thing we cover in that first week. During the purchasing process we recommend and sell a vacuum system for cleaning the work area and a bead blast post processing station.  Our service group makes sure the customer fully understands the vacuum system and its operation as well as how to properly bead blast parts to remove any excess powder.

In a large nutshell that is the installation process for an HP printer and rest assured HP has transformed training around 3D printing along with their revolutionary technology.  The printer acquisition is just the start, ongoing training and technician support are the real keys to success. 

Topics: 3D Printing
3 min read

Is there a post cure for HP’s Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) parts?

By Jim Hill on Oct 1, 2019 4:23:44 PM

Having been in the 3D print industry since 2012, I have sold various types of 3D print processes including SLA, SLS, FDM, Polyjet, and CJP.  Post processing is one of the key topics clients need to understand.

When I have the initial conversation about HP’s MJF technology, one of the first questions I get from experience engineers who have worked with 3D printing is often about the post curing and processing of parts that is needed.

As a background, let’s go through some of the common 3D technologies and the post processing required.  Then I will go through the HP Multi Jet Fusion process and its unique post processing requirements.

Beginning with SLA:   Most engineers are familiar with SLA since it started 3D printed and are aware the SLA process uses a laser to cure photo curable polymers in a vat.  After the build is complete, the parts are then cleaned using alcohol to remove remaining liquid material that was not hardened.  Support structures are needed for printing and often at this point they are removed either by breaking them off or using tools to remove.  The parts are then post cured in a UV oven for a period of time to ensure the part is fully hardened now that the excess material has been cleaned off.  Finally,  the parts can then be hand sanded, painted, or plated or provide the final finish.

SLS:  The SLS process uses a laser and a powder bed system.  The laser traces the part into a bed of powder.  The printer lays down one thin layer at a time, traces the parts as needed for the layer wit the laser, and continues this process until the build is finished.  The support material for the SLS process is the powder itself which eliminates the need of removing any support material.  Since the process uses heat to actually melt the material, the parts need to cool over a period of time.  After the cool down process, parts can be removed and any remaining powder is cleaned using a bead blast system.  The SLS parts can then be sanded and/or infiltrated to improve density and then painted if needed.

FDM: FDM is a tracing technology using various types of extruded materials from a spool.  Often you have one spool of part material and one spool of support material.  After the FDM printer has finished you must remove the support material used in the build process.  This can be done by hand or using pliers depending on the how small or dense the support structure needs to be.  Hand sanding often is done now to remove any of the remaining support attachment points or to ensure a smooth surface.  In many cases, the parts are washed with a caustic material to smooth the layer lines that are apparent due to the process steps.

Polyjet:  In my opinion, Polyjet is by far the messiest 3D print technology when it comes to post processing. This a printing process that uses an industrial print head to jet material versus extrude like FDM and has some advantages such as speed and surface finish.  However, once the part is printed you must place the part into a part washing system to remove the support material versus breaking off like FDM.  The support material is literally a blob that must be washed out.  It has many challenges such as the melt material is caustic and if not careful fine detail on the parts can be washed away during this process.

CJP:  Color jet printing is a process that uses a liquid binder jetted into a bed powder bed.  The powder is actually gypsum.  Since you are jetting a liquid you can actually add color to the parts as you print them.   The parts, full color even, are printed in a “green” state and must be moved from the printer very carefully since they are not fully solidified.  You must clean the excess powder off and very carefull infiltrate the part with super glue to make the parts firm.  Even though solidified, these parts are fragile. 

Having worked with all of these technologies before HP introduced the Multijet fusion technology I was very curious to see how this HP process stacked up.  Most people don’t spend enough time understanding post processing before they implement technology.  I knew this had to be an area HP addressed to improves usability. 

MJF:  First of all I must note, MJF parts are not chemically bonded, they are actually fused parts melted with a combination of agents and heat.  HP jets fusing agents into a powder bed system much in layer process like SLS, but then instead of a laser used to melt the powder a heating lamp applies the needed heat.  The proprietary fusing agent actually intensifies the heat from the lamps to actually melt the material and melts up to that3 layers deep to create parts are almost 100% as strong in the Z axis as in the X and Y axis.  Another result of using fusing agents is a very dense part.  No infiltrating need to make the parts dense.

Post processing for the MJF parts is a quick bead blast in a cabinet using common glass beads. This is the real advancement from HP – the post process improvement.  Once completed the parts can be dyed, painted, and plated if needed. There is no post cure needed, no infiltrating to make the parts dense or support structure removal since the powder is the support structure.

Topics: 3D Printing
3 min read

Comparing the differences of Ink versus Toner

By Terry Frisk on Oct 1, 2019 4:07:39 PM

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
2 min read

What materials are not a good fit for HP’s Multi Jet Fusion technology?

By Gene Call on Oct 1, 2019 3:56:01 PM

If you are looking for a production 3D printer that can print in plastics such as PA12, PA11 and PA12 Glass Bead, the HP Multi Jet Fusion is likely the right fit for you.

If you are in an industry that is looking to use the following materials for 3D printing, then the HP Multi Jet Fusion would likely not be the right fit since currently HP’s technology will not print in these materials.


3D sand printers commonly use a binder jetting technology to produce accurate 3D print casting molds and cores from sand. This is typically used in foundries and there are a few options out there.  ExOne is one such company worth checking out at www.exeone.com.


If you are looking to print in ceramics.  This process either uses a sintering process to partially melt ceramic particles to create a finished ceramic part or lays down ceramic material that is later sintered.  This technology is commonly utilized in pottery and dental industries to print molds. We see more entrants into this category at an affordable level – although often detail is not strength in these entry level printers. 

Clear resins

Resins are one of the most common material to 3D print with and offer the unique ability to print clear parts with.  Often this is an SLA (stereolithography) and utilized to print models where you want to see what is inside or need transparency for things such as a lens.  Powder type materials don’t allow transparency at this point. 


Industries that are looking to 3D print in stainless, bronze, steel, gold, nickel steel, aluminum and titanium would not want to look at the HP Multi Jet Fusion at this time. Metal 3D printing, like ceramics, require sintering of metal materials at a very high melting point.  Metal 3D printing is used for prototypes, functional parts and by jewelers.  HP will be entering the metal 3D print world in 2020. 

Continuous Composite Fibers

If you are looking to reinforce your 3D part with continuous composite fibers like carbon fiber, kevlar, and fiberglass, HP does not offer this capability.  You can check our Markforged 3D printers that offer parts with strengths similar to aluminum parts.  

Bioprinting is an up and coming technology that prints with cells for the medical industry.  Obviously this is a very advanced form of 3D printing and one leading is Envisontec who actually manufacturers a bio plotter. 

Topics: 3D Printing
2 min read

What are the main differences between Contex Wide Format SD One Scanners and Contex IQ Quattro Scanners?

By Joe Fuller on Oct 1, 2019 3:16:49 PM

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
1 min read

Where can I buy the HP 3D Printer?

By Mark Blumreiter on Oct 1, 2019 2:47:32 PM

HP’s new Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers are available through HP’s extensive partner network, sometimes called Resellers. The benefits to using a reseller network are not always clear, and there can be some confusion as to where the reseller fits in.

Similar to other large OEMs, HP specializes in the design and manufacturing of their technology, and leaves the sales, installation, training, and service to local experts. At MasterGraphics, we are one of those local experts.

Every market is different. Industries can be heavily located in one region over another. A local team of salesman and engineers typically has a much better understanding of their own regions. Take for example medical devices in Minnesota, or the automotive industry in Detroit. Having an understanding of the products, companies, and general “way of business” in your region is hugely beneficial throughout the sales process. Plus it cuts down on travel time and remote communication, allowing more face to face and on-site visits.

The sales, training, and service are all performed by a local team of experts. HP’s machines have next business day service, which is only possible because of the trained technicians in every state (or country) Since HP is a worldwide company, it would not be practical for HP to train and hire technicians in every location a machine is installed. The entire process of install and training can take up to a week, followed by extra training or troubleshooting, on an as-need basis. Once again, this is all possible because of the local engineers and technicians.

Many times, we speak with companies to insist on working only directly with the OEM. While this may work in other industries, it is not practical in the professional additive machine market. As mentioned, companies like HP do not have the local resources in every possible region. The HP MJF 3D printers are complex machines that require serious effort and education to run smoothly and cost effectively. This is only made possible by the local presence of certified partners in each region.

Orders are processed and fulfilled by the local reseller, but regional HP managers stay involved throughout sales processes. As a reseller, we stay in constant communication with managers and engineers from HP to stay up to date on the latest technical advancements, pricing, promotions, and future outlook of HP additive technology.

Topics: 3D Printing
2 min read

How much does an HP DesignJet Plotter service plan cost?

By Joe Fuller on Oct 1, 2019 2:35:13 PM

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
3 min read

How much does the HP 3D printer cost?

By Mark Blumreiter on Sep 12, 2019 11:12:37 AM

HP released their Multi-Jet Fusion technology about 4 years ago and have shipped a handful of machine configurations. These various machine configurations come with different hardware price tags, operating costs, and yearly maintenance costs. It can be overwhelming for someone new to the technology, or who needs a “ballpark” price range.

The goal of this article is to provide a high level overview of the costs associated with HP’s Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers. There are three families of machines that we’ll look at.

Printer Family #1 – HP 300 / 500 Series

HP has 4 machines in their 300 / 500 series lineup. The printer functionalities differ by two variables – build volume and color capabilities.

HP 340:  White parts only              10 x 7.5 x 9.8 inch build volume

HP 380:  Color parts                         10 x 7.5 x 9.8 inch build volume

HP 540:  White parts only              13.1 x 7.5 x 9.8 inch build volume

HP 580:  Color parts                         13.1 x 7.5 x 9.8 inch build volume

The cost range of hardware across these machines is $57,000 - $110,000, with the HP 340 at the low end and the HP 580 at the high end.

The variable operating costs across the 300/500 series are all the same. We classify “variable costs” as all the consumables required for a build; powder, agents, cleaning roll, lamps, and filters.  The variable cost per cubic inch of printed part ranges from $4 to $8 depending on build height and packing density. A tall build with a high packing density has a lower $/in3 than a short build with low packing density.

The yearly maintenance ranges from $10,000 - $15,000 per year. This includes remote problem diagnosis and support, onsite hardware support with all parts and labor included, and all firmware updates.

Printer Family #2 – HP 4200 Series

The original line of machines HP released is the 4200 series, which includes the HP 4200, HP 4210, and HP 4210B. Each of these machines has the same printer capabilities and specifications. The primary difference is in the material delivery method.

The HP 4200 uses 300L boxes of powder, while the HP 4210B uses large 1400L bins to deliver the powder. The reason this is important is that the cost of consumables is lower on the HP 4210B, which accepts material in bulk. (Similar to an HP paper printer, where small ink cartridges are priced higher on a per unit basis than industrial printers buying ink in bulk)

The hardware price range for the 4200 series is $270,000 - $430,000. Because this is a higher end machine than the 300/500 series, your cost to print is less expensive. The 4200 series can achieve $2 - $4 per cubic inch of printed part. Once again, this includes all variable costs such as powder, agents, filters, lamps, and cleaning rolls. The yearly maintenance is dependent on the exact hardware configuration (number of build units, printers, and processing stations), but typically runs between $35,000 and $43,000 per year. Remember, this includes remote diagnosis and support, next business day on site repair, and all updates.

Printer Family #3 – HP 5200 Series

The HP 5200 series of machines is the latest advancements in HP’s Multi Jet Fusion technology. These machines are aimed at true production work. The hardware costs are higher, but the reliability, accuracy, and low cost per part are unrivaled in the industry.

The 5200 machine ranges from $350,000 to $500,000. With optimized builds, we can achieve a cost per cubic inch under $1 including all variable costs. The yearly maintenance for this high end production printer is $35,000 - $53,000.


The Multi Jet Fusion additive technology from HP is raising the bar for both prototyping and production 3D printing. Whatever the needs are, HP likely has a solution whether it be an R&D lab, a university, a tool room, or a production line. The machines with a lower up front hardware investment typically have a higher cost of operation. Conversely, the higher cost machines will have a much lower cost of operation for higher quantity production runs.

For specific pricing details or information, get in touch with one of our additive manufacturing experts.

Topics: 3D Printing
3 min read

Industries impacted by 3D printing

By Gene Call on Sep 12, 2019 10:41:46 AM

3D printing is touching many industries. Here are four key industries that are taking advantage of what additive manufacturing has to offer, and how it is impacting their business.

Automotive Industry

The automotive industry has invested heavily in additive manufacturing for a long time and has been a leader in leveraging 3D printing for product development. Some of the areas that the automotive industry is using additive manufacturing include:

1 Rapid Prototyping: Traditionally where 3D printing has been used in automotive is to develop new products and automobiles. They have utilized 3D printing to make faster design changes, be more cost effective and create less waste. They have truly leveraged AM to reduce design cycles and speed time to market.

2 Spare Part Replacement:  This is a relatively new application where the industry is printing parts for older models on demand. This saves money on stocking costs, warehouse space, and avoiding the need to order thousands of parts from an outside vendor to make it cost effective to have needed parts on hand. 

3 Tooling and Fixtures: Parts are being printed for usage on the assembly line. In the past if the line had a fixture or tooling failure and the plant did not have a spare part, it could take days or weeks to get that line back up and running. Often this would cost the company money in labor expenses and lost vehicle production. Now the company can often print a replacement tool or fixture on demand.

4 End Use Parts:  This is probably the most recent utilization as automotive manufacturers and suppliers are printing parts used in final assembly. Over the past 12 months there has been a big investment (not only from the OEM vendors but the 3D printer suppliers) to develop, certify, and produce end use parts. 


Aerospace Industry

Much like the automotive industry, the aerospace industry has been a leader in leveraging 3D printing.  GE Aerospace being one of the most well-known users of leveraging Additive Manufacturing. Engineers are taking advantage of the new freedom for design concepts that 3D printers offer to explore new designs.  For example, they are working with lattice structures to make parts stronger and lighter than traditional manufacturing would allow and this lighter weight leads to reduce cost of operating planes.   3D printing also allows them to make design changes quickly. Engineers can now produce highly complex parts in low volume, and if a replacement part is needed, it can be printed from the file on demand.

3D printing is changing the supply chain for the aerospace industry as well; for example, if a part is needed for an aircraft for the military or on the space station, the file could be sent to that location and printed onsite saving time and money.



3D printing has had a big impact on the Medical and Dental fields.

In the Medical field, 3D printing is used for everything from surgical preparation to actual implementation into the body. The Doctor can now use a 3D scan of the patient’s heart or joint to 3D print the model and show the patient how the surgery is going to take place. This gives the patient a complete understanding of the procedure. It also helps the doctor to understand how to proceed with the surgery for the best outcome for the patient.

One step further is joint replacements, such as knees, are being printed in metal to replicate the existing joints structure. This not only improves fit but increases the success rate of joint replacement.

Prosthetics is another area where 3D printing is making a big impact. In the past, prosthetics have been expensive and uncomfortable. Now with 3D scanners and 3D printing, doctors can print custom fitted prosthetics at a more affordable price with a custom fit. This is making prosthetics more accessible to the rest of the world.

In the dental field, dentists are now able to 3D scan and print a 3D model of a patient’s teeth and jaw. The 3D scan is sent to the dental labs where they can create a customized 3D print for the patient’s orthodontics, crown, cap, bridge or dentures faster and more accurately. The needs of the patient are met with a more comfortable piece, while also reduces the cost. 



All manufacturers are looking for ways to produce their products faster, less expensive and reduce costs and 3D printing is the perfect tool to accomplish addressing these challenges. As an example: To help reduce costs, manufacturers are 3D printing customized fixtures, grips, tooling and jigs which helps reduce cost and eliminate excessive waste. 3D printing will only use the minimal material needed to create the part versus traditional subtractive methods that create a large amount of wasted material.

 Additive manufacturing is also helping manufacturing companies get their product to market faster.  In traditional manufacturing, a company would create a prototype of the product using traditional manufacturing processes. These prototypes would often take key resources, extended time, and high costs.  If the part was not right?  The process would start all over again and delays ensued. 3D printing has changed all of that; what would take weeks or months is now down to days saving the company time and money.

Some companies avoid getting into short run production of products because of the cost.  Setting up tooling and molds often is not cost effective to do short runs. Additive manufacturing gives these companies the ability to do short runs in a cost-effective way and quickly.


I have talked about four key industries that are using additive manufacture today in this post. However, it must also be noted that other areas are starting to leverage additive manufacturing such as jewelers, architects, education, and the military to name a few.

Topics: 3D Printing
1 min read

What printer driver should be used for wide format printing

By Joe Fuller on Sep 12, 2019 10:08:58 AM

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing

The Evolution of 3D Print and Additive Manufacturing

By Kevin Carr on Sep 6, 2019 1:26:15 PM

In this episode Kevin Carr, President of MasterGraphics shares his view on the Evolution of 3D Print & Additive manufacturing over the past 30 years.



Topics: 3D Printing
3 min read

HP Multi Jet Fusion 5200: Predictable Manufacturing

By Mark Blumreiter on Sep 6, 2019 12:52:00 PM

A manufacturing process needs to be predictable if it is to be trusted with “money making” parts. True manufacturing has stricter requirements than prototyping in terms of predictability. This is one (of many) reasons 3D printing has struggled to break into the production space. HP’s new MJF 5200 3D printer is a new and improved version of their MJF 4200, which launched about 3 years ago. Most of the improvements in the 5200 are directly targeting production work by addressing print speed, part cost, part quality, and machine reliability.

This article takes a look at how the HP MJF 5200 improves on both part quality and machine reliability to achieve greater manufacturing predictability. When we say “part quality”, we are referring to all aspects of the final printed part; accuracy, repeatability, surface finish, strength, uniformity. When we say “machine reliability”, we are referring to the printer itself. How will one build differ from the next? How often will it break down or have a failed build? Can the machine be relied on 24/7/365 to sustain a business?

Improvements in Part Quality
The HP 5200 can achieve IT=13 tolerances (accuracy) with a CpK of 1.33 (repeatability). This is comparable to soft mold tooling.

These improvements primarily come from HP’s new “Process Control Software”. The new software takes into account machine specific parameters when processing the build file. It uses calibration data specific to the printer to scale and compensate part geometry accordingly. The 5200 now processes and “slices” the build file internally, instead of with external “one size fits all” software.

The HP 5200 also has a much higher resolution thermal camera and a greater number of heating lamps, both of which are located centrally above the build volume on the hood of the printer. After each layer the camera takes a thermal snapshot of the surface temperature. It uses this as feedback for the lamps to deliver the proper amount of energy to each specific “heating zone”. The HP 5200 has 5120 pixel thermal camera resolution vs. 992 pixel resolution on the HP 4200 (5x improvement). This gives the printer the ability to detect more minute temperature variations.

The thermal camera is surrounded by 22 heating lamps with 14 distinct control zones (The HP 4200 only has 20 lamps with 12 control zones) This increased lamp and zone number tie in with the improved thermal camera resolution to carefully control the surface temperature of the build, layer-by-layer.

The MJF process is driven by temperature control and the amount of energy required to melt powder. This is why these improvements are so critical to achieving better tolerances and repeatable builds.

Improvements in Machine Reliability

When a machine goes down in a production environment, it is immediately costing the company money by not producing. The HP MJF 5200 has multiple design changes to improve overall reliability.

A third fusing lamp was added for redundancy. Only two are required at any time. If a lamp dies mid-print, the 3rd lamp kicks in immediately and the build continues. Once the print is complete, the dead lamp needs to be replaced.

The heating lamps are also higher powered lamps. During normal operation, these are now running around 50% power, as opposed to near 100%. This allows more throttle-up and throttle down capability, and less on/off operation. This extends the overall life of the heating lamps.

Temperature control is a critical aspect in the Multi-Jet Fusion process. Because of this, the printer’s surrounding environment can play a role in build-to-build consistency. The 5200 printer has improved seals, fans, and sensors to prevent pressure/suction variations in the environment impacting the airflow and powder internally. The incoming air is also preheated to 40°C to further reduce potential failures or variability.

Finally, one area of manufacturing predictability we haven’t touched on, and may be the most important, is the cost of manufacturing.  The HP 5200 improvements in hardware and software lead to a more accurate picture of overall cost. Software can track consumable usage (variable costs) and the reliable machine can predictably build in the cost of maintenance items and service contracts (fixed costs) into your process.

The HP Multi-Jet Fusion 5200 3D printer is the latest advancement in additive manufacturing. It’s a great push in the right direction towards true production 3D printing. These improvements in part quality, machine reliability, and predictable cost structures will certainly open up more applications to use this technology.

Topics: 3D Printing
2 min read

How much does an inkjet plotter cost?

By Joe Fuller on Sep 6, 2019 12:36:54 PM

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
7 min read

What are the primary 3D print plastic technologies?

By Jim Hill on Sep 6, 2019 12:14:21 PM

What are the primary 3D plastic print technologies available and how does HP’s new multi jet fusion technology stack up?

Having worked in the 3D print industry in a part sales role and equipment sales role for 7 years, I have been asked many times by engineers and non-engineers what are the technologies used for 3D printing plastic type objects and what materials are used. Most recently, many people also ask me about HP’s technology since they are the largest player ever to enter the 3D print market.

In my opinion, the immediate challenge I see for newcomers to 3D printing is distinguishing between the different processes and materials available.

It can be pretty confusing. There are many different acronyms so the first thing to understand is that 3D printing is actually an umbrella term that encompasses a group of different 3D printing processes. It’s important to first understand the various technologies.

In this post we are going to look at what each primary type of 3D printing is such as: SLA, FDM, SLS, DLP, Material jetting and the newest technology MJF by HP.

SLA: Stereolithography Apparatus
I am beginning with this technology since SLA holds the historical distinction of being the world’s first 3D printing technology.  Chuck Hull is the inventor of SLA (1986) and founded 3D Systems one of the largest players in 3D printing. On a side note, I have had the pleasure of meeting Chuck Hull on several occasions and have to admit he is the humblest person I have ever met considering he is credited with starting the whole 3D print industry. 

I will try to put things in laymen’s terms, but this is a technical industry so there will be some technical terms and explanations used.

An SLA printer uses mirrors known as galvanometers or galvos, with one positioned on the X-axis and another on the Y-axis. These galvos rapidly aim a laser beam across a vat of resin, selectively curing and solidifying a cross-section of the object inside this build area, building it up layer by layer.

When the process starts, the laser “draws” the first layer of the print into the photosensitive resin. Wherever the laser hits, the liquid solidifies. The laser is directed to the appropriate coordinates by a computer-controlled mirror.

At this point, it’s worth mentioning that most desktop SLA printers work upside-down. That is, the laser is pointed up to the build platform, which starts low and is incrementally raised.

After the first layer, the platform is raised according to the layer thickness (typically about 0.1 mm) and the additional resin is allowed to flow below the already-printed portion. The laser then solidifies the next cross-section, and the process is repeated until the whole part is complete. The resin that is not touched by the laser remains in the vat and can be reused.


After finishing the material polymerization, the platform rises out of the tank and the excess resin is drained. At the end of the process, the model is removed from the platform, washed of excess resin, and then placed in a UV oven for final curing. Post-print curing enables objects to reach the highest possible strength and become more stable.


FDM: Fused Deposition Modeling
This is also known generically as material extrusion and these devices are the most commonly available — and the cheapest — types of 3D printing technology in the world.

The way it works is that a spool of filament is loaded into the 3D printer and fed through to a printer nozzle in the extrusion head. The printer nozzle is heated to a desired temperature, whereupon a motor pushes the filament through the heated nozzle, causing it to melt.

The printer then moves the extrusion head along specified coordinates, laying down the molten material onto the build plate where it cools down and solidifies.

Once a layer is complete, the printer proceeds to lay down another layer. This process of printing cross-sections is repeated, building layer-upon-layer, until the object is fully formed.

Depending on the geometry of the object, it is sometimes necessary to add support structures, for example if a model has steep overhanging parts.


SLS:  Selective Laser Sintering or Powder Bed Fusion
Powder Bed Fusion is a 3D printing process where a thermal energy source will selectively induce fusion between powder particles inside a build area to create a solid object.

Many Powder Bed Fusion devices also employ a mechanism for applying and smoothing powder simultaneous to an object being fabricated, so that the final item is encased and supported in unused powder.

Creating an object with Powder Bed Fusion technology and polymer powder is generally known as Selective Laser Sintering (SLS).

How it works, again I am going to get technical.

First, a bin of polymer powder is heated to a temperature just below the polymer’s melting point. Next, a recoating blade or wiper deposits a very thin layer of the powdered material — typically 0.1 mm thick — onto a build platform.

A CO2 laser beam then begins to scan the surface. The laser will selectively sinter the powder and solidify a cross-section of the object. Just like SLA, the laser is focused on the correct location by a pair of galvos.

When the entire cross-section is scanned, the build platform will move down one-layer thickness in height. The recoating blade deposits a fresh layer of powder on top of the recently scanned layer, and the laser will sinter the next cross-section of the object onto the previously solidified cross-sections.

These steps are repeated until all objects are fully manufactured. Powder which hasn’t been sintered remains in place to support the object that has, which eliminates the need for support structures.


DLP: Digital Light Processing
Looking at Digital Light Processing machines, these types of 3D printing technology are almost the same as SLA. The key difference is that DLP uses a digital light projector to flash a single image of each layer all at once (or multiple flashes for larger parts).

Because the projector is a digital screen, the image of each layer is composed of square pixels, resulting in a layer formed from small rectangular blocks called voxels.

DLP can achieve faster print times compared to SLA. That’s because an entire layer is exposed all at once, rather than tracing the cross-sectional area with the point of a laser.

Light is projected onto the resin using light-emitting diode (LED) screens or a UV light source (lamp) that is directed to the build surface by a Digital Micro Mirror Device (DMD).

A DMD is an array of micro-mirrors that control where light is projected and generate the light-pattern on the build surface.


MJ: Material Jetting (commonly known also as Polyjet)
Material Jetting (MJ) works in a similar way to a standard inkjet printer. The key difference is that, instead of printing a single layer of ink, multiple layers are built upon each other to create a solid part.

The print head jets hundreds of tiny droplets of photopolymer and then cures/solidifies them using an ultraviolet (UV) light. After one layer has been deposited and cured, the build platform is lowered down one-layer thickness and the process is repeated to build up a 3D object.

MJ is different from other types of 3D printing technology that deposit, sinter or cure build material using point-wise deposition. Instead of using a single point to follow a path which outlines the cross-sectional area of a layer, MJ machines deposit build material in a rapid, line-wise fashion.

The advantage of line-wise deposition is that MJ printers are able to fabricate multiple objects in a single line with no impact on build speed. So long as models are correctly arranged, and the space within each build line is optimized, MJ is able to produce parts at a speedier pace than other types of 3D printer.

Objects made with MJ require support, which are printed simultaneously during the build from a dissolvable material that’s removed during the post-processing stage. MJ is one of the only types of 3D printing technology to offer objects made from multi-material printing and full-color.


MJF:    Multi Jet Fusion Technology
MJF does laser based powder bed printing one better and it’s a natural move for HP to improve on powder based printing with its heavy-duty 2D printing know-how. The new process has the speed and technologies of a printing press, as its print head and heater arms sweep across the full print area for each layer of the part.

Like binder jetting, MJF uses inkjet printing to define part geometry, but then it diverges in how it fuses the powder into a part. Each fraction of a millimeter layer is created with three steps:

  1. A layer of powder is spread across the bed.
  2. Inkjet print heads sweep across the powder, depositing millions of drops of light-absorbing ink called fusing agents. These define which voxels to keep and which will fall away as powder. Additional inks called detailing agents help mark a crisp part boundary and can provide other properties, including color.
  3. An infrared heater sweeps across the bed. The ink-marked areas absorb enough of the IR energy to sinter to the underlying part, and the rest remains as full-color powder.

I have to admit having been in the industry since 2012, MJF is my personal favorite technology because it answers so many manufacturing needs from prototyping to production. It was introduced to the market about 3 years ago by Hewlett-Packard.  MJF is helping company’s cut their time to market and reduce product development costs.  Often it’s also utilized to reduce tooling cost.  No other technology offers the array or various advantages to that of MJF.

What are some of HP’s MJF Advantaged?

  • Builds on the advantages of powder bed 3D printing for industrial use.
  • Offers the lowest part cost of any 3D printing technology.
  • Produces high-quality parts.
  • Eliminates manual steps and scales for small production runs.
  • Offers the flexibility of fusion and detailing agents to add new material properties.
  • Brings the name recognition and manufacturing clout of HP to 3D printing.
  • Introduces HP’s Open Platform for new material certification.

MJF is already supported by a range of printers. This includes the color-capable HP 300/500 series as well as the production-scale 4200 printer.  Recently HP introduced the injection mold quality 5200 series 3D printer. Lastly, with HP’s recent release of a binder jetting metal printer (Metal Jet) they are making it clear that MJF is part of larger HP strategy for additive manufacturing. The era of supposed 3D printing hype is over… the additive era of manufacturing is here.

Given that these machines are targeted at industries, it’s not unusual that you wouldn’t have access to one.  However, HP’s initial success has been with 3D print service providers who may offer what you need to get your production going.  Often a first step is to utilize a service provider before implementing a unit in house. 

The above are just some of the reasons why I believe HP’s MJF technology is my personal favorite 3D print technology.



Topics: 3D Printing
2 min read

Top 6 Reasons Why HP PageWide XL is Best in Class Wide Format Printer

By Joe Fuller on Sep 4, 2019 3:38:03 PM

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
3 min read

Color vs. Black & White printing on plotters

By Terry Frisk on Sep 4, 2019 3:28:15 PM

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
2 min read

Is resolution important when exporting to a .STL 3D printing file?

By Gene Call on Sep 4, 2019 2:26:25 PM

When I hear a client say they are just not getting the quality parts they need from their 3D printer, I wonder how the 3D model was created, what resolution the model export was set at and what type of 3D printer the part was printed on.

Today I am going to talk about the STL file format and why resolution matters.

The STL file format is the most widely used file format for 3D printing. There is some debate on where STL extension came from - some sources say STL stands for Stereolithography and others say it stands for standard triangle language. What is important is that the STL file is the most commonly used format in 3D printing today. Another key point is most 3D CAD programs have the ability to export to a STL file. The STL format is the connection between the 3D model and your 3D printer.  An STL file eliminates the need for interpreting various CAD file formats and provides a consistent 3D print format for print manufacturers to work with. The STL file is imported into a 3D print manager software where the 3D model is sliced into hundreds or thousands of layers and sent to your 3D printer. You can think of the STL file as the interface between your 3D model and the 3D printer.

Why is the STL file resolution so important in producing a good 3D printed part?

The STL file is a data format file that uses linked triangles to create a surface geometry of a solid model. The higher the resolution, the smaller the triangles, meaning more triangles will be used to create the surface of your 3D model showing greater detail. Too low of a resolution will mean larger triangles creating less detail on the surface of your model.  

res1 res2 res3


Two things to consider when exporting to a STL file:

  1. Too high of a resolution will create a large file size making it hard to upload and send to others on your team. It can also create such fine detail that your 3D printer cannot print (remember more triangles create a larger file).
  2. Too low of a resolution will lead to your 3D part not printing a smooth surface, good angels or clean curves. We often find clients think their printer is not outputting fine enough detail when in fact, it’s the print file resolution.

Beyond resolution, there are other things to look at when exporting your 3D modeling software to a STL file are:

  1. Cord Height: The maximum distance from the surface of the original 3D model to the STL Mesh.
  2. Wall thickness: This is the distance between one surface of your model and its opposite side surface.
  3. Angle tolerance: sets the angle between the normal's of adjacent triangles.

It is also important to know what type of 3D printer you are going to be sending the file to; for example, FDM, SLA, SLS or MJF to name a few. Know your technology and what type of detail and smoothness it has the ability to print.  This will help determine your resolution choice.

In conclusion it is important to set the right resolution of the STL file for your 3D printer. If the STL file resolution is sent too high or too low, it could result in the 3D printed part not meeting your specification or needs.


Topics: 3D Printing
2 min read

Big Change in Plotter Service: Proactive vs. Reactive - Service & Support

By Terry Frisk on Sep 4, 2019 1:50:25 PM

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
2 min read

Is HP changing the world of 3D printing?

By Jim Hill on Aug 30, 2019 3:27:45 PM

To answer this question, I have to go back a few years when they first entered the Additive Manufacturing space.  I was working in the 3D print arena for a different 3D print manufacturer during the spring of 2016 when rumors were rampant of HP getting into the 3D print industry. The industry was speculating two things – one that they were going to buy an existing 3D print technology company or two they would develop their own 3D print technology based off of existing technologies. In the end, they actually developed their own new technology to take the 3D printer a huge step forward. The technology is known as Multi Jet Fusion (MJF).  During a large 3D print related trade show (rapid+tct), HP introduced MJF on a series of YouTube videos showing the process at work.  Did it cause a stir at rapid+tct?  The answer is yes it certainly did. And this from an industry that has seen its share of over hyped technologies.  It’s also important to remember the core technologies at the time were FDM, SLA, SLS and a few other jetting based technologies.  The common theme with all 3D print technologies at the time was one off, tracing type processes that produced good detailed parts but lacked the ability to run volume. 

Here is where HP changed the world of 3D printing: They had developed a process using a power bed system (eliminates support structures) using fusing agents to produce final use nylon parts (true fused and functional parts).   Although the powder bed concept was not new, several manufacturers were already using a powder bed system (namely SLS Selective Laser Sintering), the significant difference is HP is not using a laser.  Remember, as I mentioned before, the SLS process utilizes a laser tracing technology to solidify parts.  The laser can only go so fast – throughput is limited.   HP utilizes a one pass fusing system that jets fusing agents to form the parts in layers. The jetting agents are not used to form a chemical bonded part but to truly fuse parts.  The other critical advancement, HP developed a detailing agent (jetted in the same one pass) that stops the fusing process to limit thermal bleed.   Basically, the MJF process spreads powder in a thin layer, the fusing agent is laid down by HP’s patented print heads, an intense infrared light system activates the fusing agents to fuse the nylon plastic together.  With the detailing agent helping to create a crisp and definitive feature by stopping the fusing process.  The system prints one layer, one pass at a time to form very detailed and dense parts with no speed degradation no matter the volume of parts printed. 

This process also produces truly isotropic parts which means the part is as strong in the x and y as it is in the z. This jetting of fusing agents is ground breaking enough but when you look at the size of the print bed you will see that volume is another game changer.  The bed size of 13 inches in the x, 11.5 in the y and 15 inches in the z gives you a large volume to use. The print speed is approximately 1 inch per hour which allows fast complete builds.  Hundreds of parts can be produced all at the same time with precision accuracy – often this is 10-20X faster than previous technologies.  But that’s not all: HP recently introduced a new printer to their lineup that has the ability to print with a cpk level of 1.33 with an I.T. scale of 13. What does that mean? It means parts printed on an Hp 3D printer are equivalent to parts coming off soft steel injection mold tooling. 

Wow, that’s game changing.

Topics: 3D Printing
1 min read

Can I print more than just CAD documents on a wide format printer?

By Joe Fuller on Aug 30, 2019 3:14:32 PM

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
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Can you 3D print Fixtures and Grips effectively?

By Gene Call on Aug 30, 2019 2:54:29 PM

EndEffectorsI spend a lot of time calling on Machine shops and Manufacturers seeking to understand their thoughts on how 3D printing technology may be effecting their manufacturing workflows.  I will introduce myself and explain why I am calling which often leads to responses such as “I don’t see how we could use a 3D printer”, “we do not need a 3D printer’’, or “3D printing does not fit our processes”.   These are typical responses often based on past experiences with 3D printing when the technology was geared more towards prototyping versus final use parts.   Since I know often our clients past experience with additive manufacturing has been poor, I ask if they use fixtures or grips to focus more on the application, not 3D print technology.  Almost all of the time the answer is yes to one or the other. I then ask how they manufacture their fixtures or grips which leads to the traditional answers such as “we machine them in house “ or “we send out for them”.

Next I ask them how that process is working for them and I get responses such as “it ties up one of our CNC machines”, “it takes too long”, or “it is expensive”. This is a common theme – every business is now under pressure for faster time to market with less resources where utilization of equipment is at an all-time high. This is creating bottle necks and delays that impact their profitability. Fixtures and grips have traditionally been machined from steel or aluminum on CNC machines that take up valuable resources needed for production.  Many times these metal fixtures and grips are stronger than what they need to be, but using a CNC machine to manufacture the part was the easiest and most cost effective way to produce them.

This is where the conversation turns to 3D printers. Now I am not talking about hobby 3D printers. The printers I am talking about are commercial printers like Markforged, HP and Carbon to name a few. The plastics used in these printers are strong enough for most fixtures and/or grips and in some cases in-lay Carbon to add even more strength.  The real advantage of 3D print?  There is no machine set up or programming, just adding the print file to the build software and sending to the printer.  No question 3D printing is not for every application.  There are still advantages to traditional grips and fixtures such as material choices and strength. 

Here are a few advantages you should consider when looking at 3D printing fixtures and grips.

  1. Costs of materials – This is one of the biggest ROI’s vs. machined part.
  2. Reduce time to market - You can often cut the manufacturing time of fixtures down to hours versus days or a weeks to machine.
  3. Design Flexibility - The ability to create new designs not able to be produced in traditional ways.
  4. CNC Utilization - You can often free up your CNC machine for other projects.
  5. Fast Redesign - Designers have the ability to make changes fast and resend the print file to the printer.
  6. Reduced Waste - Less waste with 3D printing compared to machining a part.
  7. Material Options have expanded - Use of a wide variety of materials like plastics, and fibers such as fiberglass and carbon fiber to choose from to meet your requirements.

So if you are looking to improve your process, and save time and money on your fixtures and grips, take a look at the new 3D printers and what they have to offer.  The technology has evolved, cost of operation has lowered, and applications are expanding. 

Topics: 3D Printing
5 min read

HP DesignJet T830 MFP and HP DesignJet T3500ps MFP

By Joe Fuller on Aug 30, 2019 2:33:07 PM

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
13 min read

22 Ways Manufacturers are using 3D Printing in their Business Today

By Mark Blumreiter on Aug 30, 2019 1:55:52 PM

3D Printing, also known as Additive Manufacturing, has been around since the mid 1980s. It was primarily used for high value prototyping, but in the past decade has grown dramatically. This was due in part to many more companies developing their own unique machine or print technology, and thus offering lower cost hardware, a wider array of material options, and printers built for specific applications.

For manufacturers, the 3D print applications are seemingly endless. The only reason a manufacturer of any size isn’t using 3D printing is either they don’t understand it, or they don’t know about it. If you fall in one of those categories, here are 22 ways manufacturers are using 3D printing in their business today.

  1. Test form, fit and function – Prototyping is the traditional use for additive manufacturing. Chances are, the 3D printed part will not be the same material as your production part. It won’t have the exact same surface finish, weight, or durability. But what it does have are the same approximate dimensions, and overall spacial representation of your production part… no machining or tooling required!  It’s much quicker and cheaper to 3D print your CAD file overnight to do a rough fit-up before cutting any metal.

HP Jet Fusion 3D Printed Part with PA12_Credits Needed_58Help Understand size/scale – If you’ve ever designed in CAD software, all parts look to be about 6-12” long… depending on the size of your computer monitor. That is the beauty of 3D CAD design – whether you are designing a skyscraper or a microchip, you can view your part at a comfortable scale. But once that part gets sent to the shop floor or 3D printer, it may shock you to see how big or small it really is. When I worked as a design engineer, I was always surprised at how small my parts ended up being. By 3D printing them before even machining a metal prototype, I was able to notice details like potential difficulties in assembling such a small piece.

  3. CNC fixture planning – Communication between the design engineers and machinists (or shop manager) is very important. One of the first steps to being a good designer is to understand the manufacturing process, and a big part of that is fixturing. Once the engineering drawing makes it to the shop floor, they need to figure out how to make the part. Sometimes designing and building fixtures can take weeks. Providing a 3D printed part to the machinists can help them plan their fixture technique and speed up the overall process. 

HP Jet Fusion 3D Printed Part with PA12GB_Credits Needed_71Feel ergonomics – Ergonomics (from the Greek word ergon meaning work, and nomoi meaning natural laws), is the science of refining the design of products to optimize them for human use.
Any component that a human needs to physically interact with requires some design consideration for how this interaction happens. Typically when we hear “ergonomics” we think of chairs or desks, but let’s not forget all handles, knobs, toys, remotes, furniture, tools, just about anything to do with an automobile… the list goes on. The best way to test the ergonomics of a design is to physically interact with it, and that is one thing a CAD visualization cannot provide. 3D printing provides a quick and effective way to hold a handle, for example, in your hands to see if it feels comfortable and usable. Pass the part around to multiple employees to get their feedback and suggestions. 


Shadow boxes – A shadow box provides a visual cue for where tools or components need to go. This is big for shops implementing lean manufacturing practices. In many cases, programming and machining a shadow box to the exact curves and angles of the tool/component placement is not worth the time or effort. 3D printing a shadow box from cheap plastic overnight with no operator supervision required makes more sense.


cmmCMM Fixtures – One of our best customers, an injection mold company in Wisconsin, 3D prints all their CMM fixtures. The fixtures are designed to match the exact contours and angles of the part so they fit perfect every time. They also design the part numbers right into each fixture, so when they need to use one, they have the fixtures arranged by part number on shelves. If and when a fixture wears out, they simply use the same print file to create another overnight. Their machinists no longer have to spend time machining aluminum CMM fixtures.


Reaction Injection Mold printed with HP Jet Fusion 3D 4200 and HP HR PA 12 - Data courtesy of Arcesso Dynamics_03Short run tooling for injection molding – Injection mold tooling might be the holy grail of 3D print applications. Hard steel molds are expensive and take weeks or months to machine. If there are design changes, you can multiply that timeline many times over. While a handful of companies are attempting the move to directly 3D print production parts, the reality is injection molding is (for now…) superior in terms of material options, surface finish, accuracy and repeatability. We now see company’s directly 3D printing short-run molds in both plastic and metal in a fraction of the time.  Even if there is clean-up machining or polishing required, it still drastically cuts down on the cost and time compared to traditional methods.


sales teamDemo pieces for the sales team – If a picture is worth 1,000 words then a physical model is worth 1 million. Giving the sales team a part to show off in meetings or pass around in a presentation, it makes their job of selling much easier. Presenting a physical prototype for a client to hold in their hands is better than almost any computer generated image. The sales team brings in the money for the company, which pays everyone’s salary… so give them the best tools possible!

  9. Low to mid-volume production parts – As mentioned previously, many companies are turning to additive manufacturing for their primary means of production. As printer technology improves and more materials become available, not only is the part quality good enough, but it makes financial sense. If the EAU is in the millions, injection molding is the way to go. But if we are in the 1,000s to 10,000s, depending on geometry, it can be a financially sound option. That’s not to mention design freedom (organic shapes, hollow parts, etc.), part customization, and on-the-fly design changes.

Validation before tooling investment – Imagine being a young engineer, designing your companies latest new product which happens to be a complex plastic part. You’ve finished the design and management is asking for the go-ahead to purchase the tooling for $60,000. You hope the design is perfect because if it needs a design change for whatever reason, they may have to remake the tooling which costs another $60k and 2 months. In 2019, 3D printing your plastic part before purchasing the tooling is a critical step in the design phase. Test as much as possible before investing in the tooling. Get every kink and potential failure point out of your design to ensure the maximum chances of success.

  11. Custom assembly tools – Whether it is a robot of human hands assembling parts, often times unique custom tools are required for the job. There could be a screw in a tight space, or an oddly shaped part that needs to be precisely placed. Similar to CMM fixtures, an assembly tool can be 3D printed to perfectly fit your part with its unique geometry. This is also another perfect example of something that is low volume (maybe only 1 or a handful are needed) and it’s not worth a machinist operators time to set up and machine an assembly tool using a mill or lathe. 3D printing is a great fit for custom one-off applications like assembly tools.


Space claim planning – Planning a new shop or office takes careful planning to ensure the space is both safe and efficient. 3D printing the footprint of each machine, desk, room, etc. allows a physical layout of the proposed idea. Decision makers can stand around the scale mode, physically move the pieces around, and discuss their options. This can be a more effective way than using a computer generated model on a computer screen in which one person has control, or emailing revisions back and forth.

  13. Trade show giveaways – While most companies wouldn’t give away their product or service for free at a trade show, a miniature of useful trinket can be a practical marketing piece. At MasterGraphics, we 3D print hundreds of bottle openers with our name on it. It serves multiple purposes. It shows off the strength, surface finish, and level of detail of our HP Multi Jet Fusion parts. It shows the ‘MasterGraphics’ name, so our customers remember who they got it from. Finally, the bottle opener is actually a useful for the prospect! Personally I keep mine with me on my keychain at all times, as it acts as a great conversation starter as well.


Fluid flow – One of the biggest benefits of additive technology is the design freedom to create complex geometry for free. By “free”, I mean that the 3D printer does not care what your design is, in the same way a paper printer doesn’t care how complex your words are. It just prints what it is told. Fluid flow (whether gas or liquid) is a very complex area of study, and one where “simple” is not always better. 3D printing can create fittings, ducts, and passageways with unique bends, curvature, and internal geometry that would otherwise be impossible to create. The benefits of this are to reduce fluid turbulence which causes noise, vibration, and system inefficiency. This is especially critical in the aerospace and automobile industry.

  15. Replacement machine components – Spare parts and replacement parts are a fast growing application for additive manufacturing. If a production machine goes down, you are losing money every minute and hour it sits idle. Sometimes waiting for a repair technician or replacement part is just not an option. By having a 3D printer on site, it can be ready to print any broken component immediately. One of our customers purchased a $500k+ metal 3D printer for that sole purpose. Their production machines were extremely old (80+ years) and the original tooling and drawings no longer existed. (or never did)  The potential loss in revenue from a broken machine was not worth the risk so they invested in a high end 3D printer to quickly address any needs.


EndEffectorsRobotic Grippers/End Effectors – Assembly lines are becoming more automated due to lower cost, higher quality robots. The “end effector” is the modular “hand” at the end of the robot. The strength-to-weight ratio of the end effectors is very important because heavy grippers are more energy intensive to move, especially at high speeds. 3D printing is the perfect solution for robotics. 3D printed parts can be hollowed or printed with a lattice structure for weight reduction. They can also be printed with precise geometry for your application. Markforged makes 3D printers with continuous carbon fiber, Kevlar, or fiberglass capabilities to achieve an incredible strength-to-weight ratio.

  17. Print wear parts that have a lifecycle – Many parts have a planned lifecycle until they fail or are no longer effective. Additive manufacturing can provide on-demand replacement parts on an as-needed basis. No need to stock shelves full of minimum order quantities or keep shelves of “just in case” parts labeled and organized. Instead, build up a digital inventory of CAD files for your normal wear and tear parts, so a new part can be 3D printed the same day they are needed.

  18. Reduce inventory (print on demand) – Inventory can be a huge financial burden for manufacturers and OEMs. As mentioned in the previous section, 3D printing eliminates the need for minimum order quantities to sit on shelves for years. In many cases these stocks of inventory become obsolete, and end up as a financial write-off, with the parts headed for a landfill. “Industry 4.0” and “Digital Manufacturing” are becoming common terms. Replacing physical inventory with digital inventory is a main component of that.


New and unique design constraints – All manufacturing methods have design constraints, 3D printing included. CNC machining is constrained by the drills, mills, cutters, fixtures, and machine capabilities (3-axis, 5-axis, etc). Injection molding is constrained by die draw, press size, and wall thickness. Stamping, extruding, and forming each have their own constraints. 3D printing is just another tool in the manufacturing toolkit. It eliminates a vast majority of traditional design constraints, but we’re left with constraints such as overhang supports, print orientation, powder removal, and stair stepping, to name a few. Additive manufacturing opens up the possibility of organic shapes, topological/generative design, and mass customization.

  20. Service bureau for customers – Along with the numerous benefits already mentioned for manufacturers, providing 3D printing as a service for customers is a quick way to pay for your 3D printer purchase. There are so many different types of 3D printers for various applications, and no company can own them all. Many times a manufacturer will have a unique machine or material that someone else could benefit from. Typically this stems from sales demo pieces (#8), trade show giveaways (#13), or functional prototype testing (#1, #10). Once customers see your additive manufacturing capabilities, they will want to benefit from it as well on an as-needed basis.

  21. Take write off – The end of the fiscal year means the tax man comes knocking. Excess profits can be invested into additive manufacturing capabilities to grow your business and cut down on corporate taxes. With all the reasons listed here, it should be clear that a 3D printer, whether it’s $500 or $500,000, can be a solid financial investment to grow your business.


To say you have one! – This may not be the case anymore, but back in the early 2000s it was a big deal to tell your customers you owned a 3D printer. Some companies purchased one for their lobby to show how innovative and forward-thinking they were. In 2019, most manufacturers are using additive technology in some form, whether directly or indirectly. It is almost an expectation to have additive capabilities of some sort for quick prototyping, even if it’s a $300 hobbyist FDM machine from Amazon. It is so easily integrated with the near universal 3D CAD design programs used, there really is no reason not to be using additive in some form.


Feel free to contact me at Mark.Blumreiter@MasterGraphics.com or 414-559-360

Email Mark

Topics: 3D Printing
4 min read

Top 5 Problems with InkJet Plotters

By Joe Fuller on Aug 29, 2019 12:07:19 PM

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
1 min read

MasterGraphics installs one of the first HP MJF 3D 5210 Printing Solutions

By Kevin Carr on Aug 29, 2019 11:54:11 AM

re3dtech-1MasterGraphics installs one of the first HP Multi Jet Fusion 5210 3D Printing Production  Solutions at Illinois based Service Provider RE3DTech.

Madison, Wis., August 13, 2019 – Last week, Re3DTech solidified its commitment to HP’s 3D print technology by adding the new HP Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 5210 to its growing portfolio of HP 3D Printers. The Illinois based service provider has been a proponent of HP’s 3D print technology since its introduction three years ago. The 5210 installation compliments the multiple HP MJF 4210 and HP MJF 580 printing solutions already in place at Re3DTech.   Re3DTech has seen increased market demand in the mid to low volume production space since the inception of their business, which is built on HP’s MJF technology. The 5210 system builds off the core 4210 technology and adds software and print technology that brings traditional manufacturing practices and standards to additive manufacturing. These enhancements ensure repeatable and predictable results.  

Kevin Carr, President of MasterGraphics, explains “the capabilities of the HP MJF 5210 are game-changing. This new technology creates more scenarios where it is cost-effective to utilize additive manufacturing versus traditional manufacturing processes such as injection molding. As the market is changing and adapting to new 3D print technologies, digital manufacturing is a term we continue to hear more and more. Manufacturers want to be more innovative, cost-effective, and quicker to market. The HP MJF 5210 helps enable achieving these goals. We have seen a more flexible manufacturing process and reduction in overall inventory to produce specifically what you need.”

“We see clients such as Re3DTech not as a service bureau but as a manufacturing hub. We are at a true tipping point where innovators such as HP are providing technologies that production houses like Re3DTech are building businesses on by providing unique and cost effective manufactured goods”, says Carr.

Learn more about Re3dTech.


Topics: 3D Printing
2 min read

5 Reasons why now is the time to Trade in your KIP/Oce/Xerox LED System for an all-in-one color solution

By Kevin Carr on Aug 28, 2019 2:44:35 PM

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
2 min read

Printer Security Issues to Address

By Joe Fuller on Aug 28, 2019 2:37:59 PM

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
1 min read

The End of Curled InkJet Prints

By Joe Fuller on Aug 28, 2019 2:25:42 PM

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
2 min read

HP PageWide vs Toner

By Joe Fuller on Aug 28, 2019 2:09:52 PM

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
2 min read

Why not a subscription for your printers too?

By Joe Fuller on Aug 28, 2019 1:03:20 PM

For some time now, consumers have found it easier to manage their time and resources by subscribing to products and services ranging from entertainment to cell phones to household essentials like detergent and pet food.

Businesses are finally becoming more comfortable with subscriptions as well; software, online training, IT support, etc.

Pay as you go has a better value proposition than a large, up front investment. It’s certainly more flexible. For example, you may be a subscriber to Adobe DC for content design. When you’re position changes from Marketing Assistant to Sales Engineer, and you no longer need the Adobe software, the subscription’s either transferred or discontinued. Then, you just connect with Autodesk instead and subscribe to one of their CAD suites.

Why can’t the same work for your technical printers? Well, it can. In fact, cost-per-copy (CPC) programs are a form of subscription. The CPC plans started with office copiers in the 90s and were based on the average monthly impressions your copier made.

As digital LED plotters, like the Xerox 8830, became more standard, CPC plans were put in place for these engineering printers because they had meters that could track the square footage of printed plans.

Cost-per-copy was eventually re-branded as “Managed Print Services” or “MPS”.

Most recently, HP figured out how to accurately track content usage on DesignJet and PageWide printers. They’re separated into 4 print categories; mono CAD lines, color CAD lines, low density images, high density images.

Monitoring square footage for both small format and wide format printers has historically been a rather tedious process and required a combination of multiple software tools and manual processes for collecting monthly meter readings.

Software technology has since evolved though, along with the printing technology, so that now, a single cloud-based software can securely monitor usage, supply levels and potential service issues on an entire fleet of various-sized technical printers. Even accounting systems have improved functionality to use the meter readings for invoicing.

Managed Print Services, or printer subscription, has finally matured as a smart business model for deploying technical printers within your business.

Simply put, a Managed Print Service is a monthly invoice that includes: the printer (s), supplies, on-site repairs, and remote services. The term of the agreement is typically 36 to 60 months and may have the flexibility to add / remove printers and scanners to match your workflow. 

Obviously, as with anything, if you put some time and energy into comparing subscription with a traditional cash purchase, you may find the subscription seems to cost more over the entire term. But really, think bigger picture here. The subscription frees you from ending up with old, unreliable printers that seem to always incur a costly repair and downtime at the most inconvenient time.

Maintaining the equipment and supply levels are your provider’s core business; not yours.

A few more benefits to seriously consider; easier budgeting, fewer accounting transactions (invoices, purchase orders, credit card charges), tax advantages, working with a single provider, maintaining cash reserves for things like payroll and inventory. And lastly, using current printer technology that’s more productive, efficient and eco-friendly.

As you evaluate your next printer,  spend some time evaluating how a Managed Print Service Plan will work for you.

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
2 min read

3D WOW on Steroids

By Kevin Carr on Aug 28, 2019 12:54:55 PM

HP Jet Fusion 3D Printed Color Design with PA12_12HP recently announced their new, sub-$100k, 500 series of 3D printers utilizing their innovative MJF (Multi Jet Fusion) 3D print technology. This is the same technology being used in HP’s revolutionary 4200 production-level 3D printers that were released in 2017. I should also note that HP MJF uses HP PageWide print head technology, which is also used in their 2D line of printers.

The 500 series of HP’s first expansion of their portfolio, at a lower acquisition price, and in the case of the 580, the ability to print true color. These are all-in-one systems, that produce nylon plastic white parts (HP 540), or full color (HP 580). For those familiar with traditional SLS, let me just repeat, these are all-in-one systems. Both printing and processing are contained in a single unit.

HP is positioning these units to not only produce traditional prototypes, but also short run production parts. While the HP 4200 is slotted for full production, the 500 series is intended to provide ramp-up capability for 3D print production.

The color technology integrated in the 580 is attracting most of the attention and, yes, although certainly industry changing, I believe the market is missing what the non-color version actually provides. Let me explain…

The base 540 systems starts below $90k and, although it does not offer color output, it prints utilizing HP’s Multi-Jet Technology. MJF melts PA12 nylon material, which on the 540, results in a smooth, white finish for outstanding visual appeal. More importantly, these are truly functional parts. In fact, I often refer to HP’s MJF technology as SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) on steroids. SLS has been the standard for high quality, durable parts and HP has created a process to increase productivity – up to 15 times faster – with less waste. Historically, SLS systems were north of $250k. In addition, you had to set up special environments and have highly trained operators. The HP 540 system is completely self-contained, office-friendly and easy to use.

In the past, our clients have spent more than $100k on 3D printers to produce prototypes; 3DS Projet 3500 for example; that were slow and expensive to run. Now, with the HP 540, you can make a similar investment and get the returns that, in the past, were only possible on systems costing well over $350k.

Our client’s previous investments around 3D printing clearly offered business advantages and financial returns but, with this new 500 series, offers a return on investment – also steriod size.

As a manufacturer, product designer, etc., this new printer truly offers a new way to be more innovative and get to market even faster. How fast? Within 24 hours you now have the ability to produce an end-use part – not just a prototype. Our smaller clients can compete with larger ones – in fact in most cases they are able to implement the process changes faster – this is the world we are living in.

In the past 18 months – we have helped two startup companies leverage HP Technology to create brand new businesses that are thriving.

I encourage you to look at the new HP 500 series 3D printers – look past the cool factor – and at the true design/manufacturing capabilities possible. we are in a Manufacturing revolution and HP has now provided a unique tool to help you be more competitive. Let’s build the future of manufacturing in the U.S. We are excited to have one of the first 500 series units installed at our facility and invite all to come visit.



Topics: 3D Printing
2 min read

What Defines a Wide Format Workgroup Printer?

By Joe Fuller on Aug 28, 2019 12:31:59 PM

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
1 min read

Finally a vertical trimmer is standard on a Wide-Format Printer

By Joe Fuller on Aug 28, 2019 11:21:50 AM

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
2 min read

HP’s Color 3D Printer will be a Good Fit For Wide Segments Of Manufacturing

By Kevin Carr on Aug 28, 2019 11:02:09 AM

Admittedly, Zprinters produced good quality color models for marketing or design concepts. They made a big impact on product development for consumer products like toys, hand tools and items where the visual appeal was just as important as functionality. The problem though, was the models were limited in their use. They couldn’t reliably be used for fit or function because they basically consisted of glued drywall powder. This made the parts fragile, heavy and brittle.

Conversely, HP’s Jet Fusion output is engineering-grade thermoplastic. The parts are actually created from fused (melted) plastic using the same process as the current production-focused HP 4200 3D printer. Currently, the color material is Nylon PA 12, which is a very durable, rigid plastic. And, parts printed on the HP Jet Fusion are extremely precise – very similar to SLS units costing over $350k.

The HP Jet Fusion 580 | 380 print in full color so they can be used for marketing or concept models. But, think bigger picture here. Think end-use parts like prosthetic devices, CMM fixtures for inspection, or labeling for unique customization per part.

Let’s look at CMM (coordinate measuring machine) fixtures as an example. The CMM measures the geometry of objects using a probe. It’s supports are traditionally manufactured using CNC machining and multiple iterations are usually created because the measured object might change during the design phase.

The CMM Fixture holding the the object needs to be precise and durable as aluminum. Typically, they will have labels and coded supports added for the inspecting engineer to know tolerances, dimensions and other important specs to make sure the inspected part being held by the CMM fixture matches the required geometry.

Just imagine the time and cost savings being able to print these fixtures in-house, in a few hours, while freeing up valuable CNC production time. And, in full color.

The new HP 300|500 series printers will start shipping in Q2 2019 and offer never seen before final use parts in the sub $100k price level AND offer color. It will be exciting to see the new markets and uses this new technology will offer.

Topics: 3D Printing
2 min read

Printing True Neutral Grays

By Joe Fuller on Aug 28, 2019 10:49:42 AM

Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
3 min read

PDF is critical to wide format Workflow

By Joe Fuller on Aug 28, 2019 10:40:22 AM

Adobe PostScript
Another critical piece that’s often misunderstood is the Adobe PostScript printer driver for direct PDF printing.
The PostScript driver communications directly with the application, so it receives different shapes, texts, images, details and dimensions that the application contains. This interpretation is key – correctly taking the file and combining the raster and vector data into an intelligent PSF file. This enables the driver to perform changes outside of the application you have used for viewing / printing. A good example of these changes are scaling up or down.
Best Practices for PDF Wide Format Workflow
Replace Your Plotter with New Technology
Expecting older or outdated plotters with little or no manufacturer support for current Adobe PDF files is unrealistic. PDF files require up-to-date processing controllers and print technology to print wide format documents effectively.
There is often no driver support for outdated plotters. And, the older plotters simply don’t have the power to print PDFs correctly.
Another key best practice; keep your operating system, design software and printer drivers up to date.
Does Your Plotter Have Genuine Adobe PostScript?
Printer manufacturers like Océ and HP use genuine Adobe PostScript because they understand the importance of producing PDF prints without errors for the manufacturing and construction industries.
Certified PostScript controllers or the Adobe PDF Print Engine are licensed and generally at a slight premium over non-PostScript printers – but, keep in mind, this ensures proper and correct prints. Using a third party interpreter (GhostScript) can be less expensive, but when compared with the cost of errors on the shop floor or in the field because of missing dimensions or scaling issues, a true Adobe processor becomes extremely cost effective.
Make Sure Your PDF Files are Print-Ready
There’s nothing inherently wrong with applications that create PDFs, or a contractor’s network like iSqFt for downloading PDF files for bidding. It’s just that they’re usually using PDFs created for collaborating on the screen, not the printer. An extra step may be required to “optimize” or “flatten” the PDF. This step takes elements like external links, layers, and embedded objects, and makes them print-ready. More and more companies now maintain a license of Adobe Acrobat Pro or Bluebeam Revu for flattening PDFs.
Consider Professional Printing Software
HP SmartStream, HP Click, Océ Publisher and Canon Direct Print & Share are examples of software that can be deployed on your workstation, in your workgroup, or company-wide, to provide a standardized method for submitting PDFs for printing.
I’ve been using HP Click software on a daily basis for over a year. It’s a free download from HP. I can’t recall the last time I had to use the cumbersome Acrobat Reader for printing PDFs.
The first thing HP Click software does when you drag and drop PDFs into it, is complete an error check and present a warning banner if something might not print correctly. The preview screen is accurate and it uses a direct print process that bypasses the windows print driver. Not only does bypassing the windows driver help reduce print problems, it speeds up the processing and gets to the printer faster. HP got it right with this one. 
A software solution for wide format that can process multiple file types, resize, check for errors and previews BEFORE being sent to the plotter, can drastically improve workflow efficiency and reduce project costs. 
Topics: Technical & Graphics Printing
2 min read

3D Print and the Total Cost of Ownership

By Kevin Carr on Aug 27, 2019 4:08:11 PM

The recent introductions from both HP and Carbon have not only affected how we can produce functional parts in new print processes but they are also approaching the investment in two very distinct ways.  Carbon only leases their solutions for a specified period of time with no true ownership – similar to the way software licenses have gone to subscription models.  HP has chosen to create an open powder platform that they believe will drive down consumable prices to lower the cost per print.  At a lower cost per print, along with the output being functional, the goal is for new opportunities and applications to displace and/or augment traditional manufacturing processes while speeding up design cycles.

What these new pricing models mean, is the way you look at the total investment for 3D printing, or cost of ownership has changed.  As an example, I’ll discuss the HP model, since I am familiar with it.

Currently, HP’s consumable cost is around $3 per cubic inch and can go as low as $2, based on efficiencies.  I’ll assume the $3 going forward to err on the higher side.   Although this pricing is not uncommon in the production 3D print space with SLS and SLA, it’s more typical that part costs are upwards of $8 per cubic inch on traditional jetted technologies – plus the cost of support material.

The traditional jetted 3D printers we implemented had an initial investment of just about $ 110,000 and running cost for material was $8- $9 per cubic inch.  Let’s assume you are running 500 cubic inches per month of build and support material – that’s $4,000 per month in consumable expenses.  Compare this to HP which currently has an initial investment of about $240,000 for the print system and, at $3 per cubic inch, the monthly consumable expense would be $ 1,500.  This is an estimated $2,500 savings in the material by running HP.  Spread out over time, that would have a breakeven point of somewhere around 56 months.

Now, this may seem like a long period, but the real advantage is the new applications that HP (and Carbon) open up, along with the fact that system pricing and consumable pricing will continue to lower as machine adoption grows.  Traditional prototype machines are often limited by throughput and material properties, with the production output from these new technologies the breakeven point is often moved up considerably through new applications.

For an example of throughput, take the example of 500 cubic inches of printing per month. The HP technology can print this in a matter of days, where often the typical jetted or FDM technologies would take weeks.

Now, I realize all these numbers are examples, and everyone’s true numbers may be different. But, the point I am trying to make is the way we look at total cost of ownership and payback is shifting.  Beyond the initial equipment investment, it’s important to understand all the costs of supporting a printing process.

Lastly, my example only covers one portion of cost because you also need to look into things such as support contracts, finishing equipment, software resources, etc… so there is more to it and that’s the trick – looking beyond machine acquisition expense to fully understand the true investment over the life of the unit.

The game is changing for manufacturing and in my opinion, this is a good shift that will open up new processes and markets for 3D printing.

Topics: 3D Printing