Gene Call

Gene Call


Recent posts by Gene Call

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
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.

https://develop3d.com/3d-printing/hp-polypropylene-3d-printing-material-expands-applications/

Topics: 3D Printing
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
gene.call@mastergraphics.com
800-873-7238 x2735

Topics: 3D Printing Education
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.

Sand

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.

Ceramics

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. 

Metal

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.  

Cells
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
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.

 

Medical/Dental

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. 

 

Manufacturing

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
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

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