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2016

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Skriware is a new innovative 3D printing ecosystem on the market and with a new outlook on 3D printing it could really help accelerate personal 3D printers in the average home. Skriware’s new approach revolves around their easy to use Skriware printer and Skrimarket where 3D models can be “downloaded” and printed. “Downloaded” because the same way you download a TV show or movie while you watch it in real time is the same experience you get when printing from Skrimarket.

 

Out of The Box Experience

When opening the box it is clear the printer is made for home use. Its elegant design screams simplicity and intuitiveness that may be comparable to the likes of Apple. Once out of the box there is nothing to connect other than a power cable. Powering on the unit is done by the easy to reach power switch on the rear corner of the unit.

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Figure . Power switch and connections for power and ethernet

 

Once booted, tapping on the setup icon on the touch screen presents a WiFi option. Clicking here displays the available WiFi connection points around the Skriware printer. After selecting an access point all that is left to do is to enter the access point's password and the Skriware is set up, the next step is setting up the computer.



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Figure . WiFi connection steps: Settings -> Connect to WiFi



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Figure . Skriware searching for available WiFi APs: Select AP then enter password

 

In order to print a model, once the Skriware has been set up, a program is run (python script) to find the Skriware printer on the network. Since the program is python based, it runs equally on Windows, Linux and Mac OS, once done we are ready to print. Going to the Skrimarket we are presented with a nice selection of models separated into various categories. Navigate to the category of your choice and select the model you wish to print and press print. When the printer is finished lift the print bed from the printer and peel the magnetic bed from the model.

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Figure . Skrimarket selection and print button

 

Effect on the Average Home User

What makes the Skriware so drastically different is the Skrimarket. With Amazon selling anything and everything online today we have grown accustomed to conveniences not heard of before. From an armchair you can order almost anything and have it delivered in a few hours to a few days. Looking around you though, you will notice a lot of what we use today is made from plastic, opening a new question, why wait hours or days.

 

With Skrimarket if you are baking a cake and need a measuring cup you can easily print one. If you need a micro sim card adapter you can print that too. Anything you need you can quickly and easily print from Skrimarket. After talking with the developers it is apparent there will be two types of models in Skrimarket, free and paid. What they will also be adding is the ability for anyone to upload their models to the market opening the potential for 3D creators to not only show off their models but also make money from them.

 

Easy of Use for the 3D Developer

Since Skriware would like developers to get in on the action, whether for their own use or to share with others through Skrimarket, they have made sharing simple. After you have created your 3D model you can use any 3D slicer of your choosing to generate a gcode file. Currently Cura is used by the Skriware team but a software suite is in the works to simplify this process as well. What ever software you choose Skriware will gladly share their configuration for the printer to help you get a good solid print, although it must be noted that between different reel manufacturers and even different colors, settings may need to be changed.

 

After generating your gcode there are three ways to print your model. With WiFi connectivity the Skriware acts like your any other printer, just send the file to it and the Skriware will do the rest. The second option is via ethernet, for those not wanting to use WiFi or who may not have WiFi, this is another option. Lastly there is a USB interface, USB was chosen for its abundance over SD cards, as almost everyone has a USB thumb drive somewhere . On the home screen selecting browse opens the file explorer for the USB drive. The user can then navigate through the directories to choose the model they wish to print and then press print.

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Figure . Using a USB thumb drive: select Browse -> File you wish to print -> Print



Skriware’s Construction and Reliability

Looking over the Skriware printer, it is not only elegant and beautiful it is also masterfully engineered. Talking with Damian, the lead hardware engineer, it is clear a lot of thought has gone into the design and manufacture of the printer. A simple question does not always give you the simple answer you’d expect. Asking about the size of the print area does not elicit the response “we randomly chose this size”, but rather, we built several working models both bigger and smaller and this is the size that fit  best for a user's needs while still a having a footprint similar to that of a conventional home printer. The noise generated by the Skriware printer is such that we were printing on the same table as the computer we were having our video conference and the ability to communicate was the same as with the printer off.

 

Going deeper into the printer it is clear even small details here have been considered  and that a lot of care and pride has been taken in the Skriware’s construction. The printer itself is made of steel giving a solid and robust feel. In the guts of the printer automotive or high temperature parts have been selected to help ensure product longevity giving the end user peace of mind in the reliability and longevity of the printer. In fact the only part that may pose a problem is the feed tube but this too I have been told has been unexpectedly tested. When needing to shift the Skriware over a few inches this was inadvertently used as a handle (a practice not condoned by the team) with no adverse affects to the printer or subsequent prints.

 

Talking about using the printer and potential issues that may arise, again I am reassured that most issues have been thought of and taken care of. What if the feed tube jams or the print head becomes blocked? This will be detected by the Skriware and will alert the user preventing time consuming print delays. That being said the team has printed a great deal of items and have yet to have any unexpected issues with the print head or with the reel jamming.





Print Features and Quality

Not only is it incredibly easy to select and print models but there are some interesting features as well. The Skriware can be paused at any point without causing any issues in the print process. This is nice if something needs to be adjusted or if you want to place something in the print mid print. I have not tried but, I am told that I can even pause the print change the reel and carry on printing with no issues. A cool benifit of this is the ability to print with multiple colors in the same print. WiFi connection problems are also not an issue as the Skriware stores the full model internally before starting the print reducing the concerns of a mis print.

 

Finally the quality of prints are stunning, a print of Darth Vader is not only smooth but shiny. As for curling, this has not been an issue once all the print setting are set correctly unless the full bed is used in a single print. Printing very large squares have produced some curling but that is to be expected when considering the thermal contraction of the PLA filament during its cooling.

 

Conclusion

I would have to say the Skriware is a very interesting and catchy ecosystem. The Skriware team has really put a lot of thought and effort into the printer and market place. Following good design and keeping the whole process simple has really produced a truly user friendly product that is both beautiful and easy to use. If they can get their message out, an ecosystem such as this has the potential to revolutionize not only 3D printing but also how we see buying and selling products on a daily basis. So go out and get your Skriware Printer today and start printing or adding your models to Skrimarket.




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Looking fresh... The NX1 Nexa3D resin printer that is selling for almost half the price (via Nexa3D)


Just when you think the ‘prosumer’ 3D printing trend will diminish, it just gets better… or perhaps just different. This new gadget, called the NX1 by Nexa3D, is set to hit the market in March 2016 will be the fastest 3D printer on the market – boasting a speed of only one minute for each cm at the highest resolution. This is the equivalent to at least 25 times faster than the fastest 3D printers on the market. Their website demonstrates them creating 1 inch high, 3D objects in about 3 mins at resolutions of about 120 microns. It’s certainly very different than the usual hours of waiting for a conventional 3D printer… however it is also more expensive. 

 

It works using a hybrid, resin tank technology that uses light to harden special resin that is slowly extruded from the tank while mechanical arms move the object around – instead of an extrusion hose applying each layer. However, the NX1 does both by depositing resin in layers if the object size become too large. The printer has photo-curing resin in specialized cartridges that are changed in the similar way you would change a toner cartridge on a laser printer. It is also supposed to be self-cleaning and has a unibody construction that should hopefully avoid messy mishaps. It also automatically refills the cartridge with any unused resin.

 

The NX1 can be pre-ordered now on their website (www.nexa3d.com) for €1,599. A pack of 3 resin cartridges and 3 self-lubricating films can be purchased for €300 with free shipping. There is no word on what the price will go up to after pre-ordering closes, but it was suspected to retail at $1,850. While this is not as cheap as a Makerbot, it is surprisingly cheaper than a similar Morpheus 3D printer that recently got funded on Kickstarter. This machine cost early birds a whopping $3,800! The Morpheus shipped out last month, so hopefully happy recipients will have had time to play with their new toy.


 

In addition to requiring resin cartridges, it also requires lubricating film that self-lubricate each sublayer so that your creation doesn’t stick to the build platform. This is what Nexa3D calls their, LSPc technology. The company said that they tested their printer for 500 hours so they are confident that it should work as expected. For now, it seems like the race is on for the next superfast printer. It also seems like what is new for today, is already obsolete as Morpheus 3D printer purchasers may be regretting not holding out for this deal… or the inevitable next deal.

 

The nice thing about the NX1 is that it has Bluetooth and WiFi built-in and already has apps that allow you to design and print from your phone, tablet, or laptop. It also seems to have less moving parts than most 3D printers, which could theoretically mean less opportunities for it to break down – but who knows. I kind of wonder who has the extra time and money to make good enough use of a 3D printer anyway. I suppose the other strange upside to this is that as newer 3D printers get released, you’ll be able to buy an old-gen 3D printer for the price of a Kindle.


Here is an actual build... in real time!




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For Christmas, my wife got me a XYZprinting DaVinci Jr 1.0 3d printer.  I've decided to post some of my experience with the device here so others can benefit.

 

My first impression is that the Davinci Jr is a nice looking device.  However, as soon as I got it out of the box, I noticed something peculiar.  The front cover had a piece of tape on it that had written "broken cover".  I looked at the cover and I didn't notice anything that appeared to be broken.  So, I decided they must have reworked it and forgotten to take the sticker off.

 

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So, I went ahead all pulled out all of the packing material and set up the printer according to the directions provided.  As it turned out the instruction sheet provided in the box was only one page of the manual.  So, I went to the XYZprinting website and downloaded the full manual and printed it out.  I also downloaded the software to my laptop.

 

I decided to try to print the sample object that came pre-loaded on the SD card for the printer.  I immediately had issue trying to get the filament to feed properly into the extruder.  I ran through the load and unload procedure several times with no luck.  I went online to the XYZprinting website again and found a tutorial video on cleaning the filament feeding mechanism.  So, I tried that as well but it still didn't feed properly.  Finally, I removed the guide tube and re-installed it.  The next time I tried to load the filament, I held the guide tube so that it remained straight out from the top of the extruder.  This did the trick and the filament started coming out of the extruder.

 

I started to print the sample object and had further problems getting the material to stick to the bed of the printer.  So, back to the website I went and found another tutorial video which discussed setting the Z axis offset.  After a few tries, I got the Z axis offset close enough to the print bed for the material to stick.  When the print finished, I had my first 3D printed object in hand.

 

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The next thing I tried printing was a snowflake design that I downloaded from XYZPrinting's 3D gallery.  It turned out really well considering it was only my second print.

 

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Since the snowflake turned out so well, I decided to move on to print one of things that really made me want a 3D printer.  So, I downloaded a Raspberry Pi case from Thingiverse and proceeded to print both halves of the case.  Interestingly enough, this highlighted a problem that I didn't know about.  You can see it really well in the following picture.

 

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The X and Y axes on the printer were not perpendicular!  This resulted in a rectangular being a parallelogram and all the round holes being ovals.  I went out in search of an answer, but really didn't find much on the topic.  Luckily, I decided to snoop around a little bit inside the printer because I noticed the problem right away.

 

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The printer's arm was off the track on one side!  I suppose during shipping, the arm got knocked off track and it wasn't obvious until I made a closer inspection.  As you can see, the arm was bowed a little but definitely not perpendicular.  With a little force I was able to persuade the arm back onto it's track.  Doing that showed an obvious improvement in the movement of the arm and the orthogonality of the axes.  After this correction, I printed the sample print again.  Sure enough, the slightly oblong hole at the top of the pendant was now a reasonably round circle!

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