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3D Printing

January 21, 2016 Previous day Next day

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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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