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The Zodiac Nozzle by RevTec3D

The last couple of months were interesting for me when it comes to nozzles for your 3D printer’s hotend. I’m printing quite a few very abrasive filaments from time to time, and a regular brass nozzle is not a tool to be used when it comes to these products. When using carbon or glass filled materials you need something stronger. Luckily some manufacturers make specialized nozzles for the job. The E3D v6 hotend with the standard v6 brass nozzle is one of the most commonly used hotends on the market, and already there are solutions on the market like regular E3D hardened steel nozzles and the new coated Nozzle-X. Other manufacturers came up with great inventions too like 3DVerkstan with the Olsson Ruby nozzle and P3D with their coated aircraft aluminum- and hardened steel nozzle.

Zodiac – High Performance 3D Printing Nozzle

Today we will talk about a new player in the field. I found out about this nozzle on Instagram. I was browsing through my timeline and found this beautiful picture of a v6 style nozzle. The Zodiac high-performance extruder nozzle for 3D printing. It looks great but after some research, I found out it performs great as well. Zodiac is a brand of RevTec 3d, an Austrian based 3D printing service and they were so nice to send me one of the Zodiac v6 nozzles for testing purposes. The nozzle comes in a beautiful, jewelry type of box and ones you’ve opened the box you will find the nozzle, a small sample and it’s number. Every Zodiac nozzle is inspected and numbered before it leaves the factory. My nozzle is number 0201.

The Zodiac has a hardened tooling steel body with a micro-polish finish on the internal bore and is finished with a base- and top-layer coating for adhesive strength, high abrasion and wear resistance. I installed my Zodiac nozzle on my Original Prusa i3 MK3S with MMU2S (Multi-Material Upgrade) by Josef Prusa. The MK3S already is equipped with an E3D v6 hot-end so I only had to change the nozzle and calibrate the first layer again. I did do an additional upgrade to the MK3S and installed a hot-end heater by Maxiwatt but more on that in another blog post.

First I tried some regular materials. I used some PLA, PETG, and ASA to see the performance of the nozzle with these filaments and all prints looked amazing. The only thing I always change with any steel nozzle is the print temperature. I tend to set it around 10 °Celsius higher. Regular brass nozzles are better in heat transfer than steel nozzles. The results were impressive so time to use some more abrasive materials.

I started with PA-CF Pro from FiberThree. A carbon filled filament with major PA 6 content, with very high tensile strength, low warping effect and chemical resistent to many chemicals. This material is printed in high temperatures, around 275 °Celsius and the Zodiac nozzle handles these well. The nozzle can handle temperatures up to 300 °Celsius without problems which is great for most materials on the market. I choose to print all the new extruder parts for my Original Prusa i3 MK3S and the quality of these parts is amazing. They are super strong and look great. And the Zodiac still looked like new after printing 100 grams of this wearable material. I could find NO damage on the outside of the nozzle tip. I do have to push much more material through the nozzle to see how much it does to the outside, and more importantly, the Zodiac® bi-Layer coated inside of the nozzle. So I suggest I use the Zodiac for a couple of months before I report back with more information about the wear and overall performance of this nozzle. I do have some highly abrasive and mostly carbon- and glass-filled materials waiting to get printed so after a couple of hundred hours I will place the nozzle under a microscope to see the potential damage on its inside. I do already recommend this nozzle. The service these guys provide is great. And I am more than sure you will have many hours of pleasure with this upgrade.

Press HERE for Zodiac v6 Technical Data Sheet in my Knowledge Base.

Zodiac Nozzle on YouTube.

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RevTec 3D (In German)

The Zodiac Nozzle is available at 3D Jake

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UK

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FELIX BIOprinter

FELIX BIOprinter

Dutch 3D Printer manufacturer FELIXprinters released their desktop BIOprinter this January and I am delighted to tell you more about this amazing new product that literally can save lives soon. The greatest importance of bioprinting lies in the resulting tissue-like structures that mimic the actual micro- and macro-environment of human tissues and organs. With this new technology, we can reduce the need for animal trials for example. The main goal is tissue repair and organ replacement using BIOink. Using BIOink instead of donor material also have the benefit of being much more ethically justified. 

So what is BIO printing?

Bioprinting is a 3D printing process where biomaterials such as cells and growth factors are combined to create tissue-like structures that imitate natural tissues. The technology uses a material known as BIOink to create these structures in a layer-by-layer manner like the FDM 3D printers you already know. In this instance, however, a living cell suspension is utilized instead of a thermoplastic or a resin. When working with BIOink and BIO 3D printers, having a sterile printing environment is crucial for maintaining accuracy in complex tissues, requisite cell-to-cell distances, and correct output. The process principally involves preparation, printing, maturation, and application. 

BIOprinted human ear.
Source: Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine

FELIXprinters approach to BIOprinting

The FELIX BIOprinter can be used for medical, scientific and research applications. The FELIX BIOprinter is flexible and adaptable and is characterized by: 

1. Dual head printing: The FELIX BIOprinter operates a dual syringe system that allows the users to print with two different material types within the same print. Alternatively, this system set-up also permits Petri dishes to be filled with multiple objects using different materials in a single print run, which can speed up specific research activities and avoid time-consuming material changeovers. 

2. Retraction mechanism: High precision motor offers significantly improved material dosage and more accurate material flow vs traditional air pressure systems. 

3. Build plate: specifically designed to secure Petri dishes and wells for stability and accuracy. 

4. Compatibility: compatible with all viscosities and wide range of materials

FELIX BIOprinter printing BIOink

5. Open source system: The FELIX BIOprinter consists of a flexible & adaptable ecosystem to ensure it can meet the needs of a wide range of research applications without generating unnecessary costs. The FELIX BIOprinter has been designed to use any standard 5 ml syringes, meaning it is not restricted to expensive branded products that drive up operating costs. Similarly, standardized Petri-dishes and culture plates are easily accommodated ensuring no limitations on the type of instruments and materials to be used. Modular system – caters to your needs (e.g. the UV light, bed add-on, cover unit) 

6. Automatic bed leveling: The bed leveling system works via physical probing of the nozzle against the print surface. Different lengths and size nozzles/needles can be used and easily exchanged to meet specific needs. A perfectly calibrated print bed results in a perfect first layer, leading to accurate results. 

7. Sterilization protocols: Print heads are easy to clean, keeping them sterile, for the ideal environment that you demand. The heads are modular units that can easily be exchanged. Additional print heads on-hand simplify quick change-overs to print different materials in quick succession.

FELIX BIOprinter complete with optional enclosure at Formnext 2019.

The FELIX BIOprinter frame and functionality is based on the existing and established FELIXprinters product line. FELIXprinters leveraged the current trusted technology to minimize the cost of development, making the FELIX BIOprinter accessible to a wider user base to deliver exceptional value. The FELIX BIOprinter is launched with the same reliability and strong 9- year reputation FELIXprinters has earned. The user-friendly touch screen provides intuitive navigation of each print job and project. 

The FELIX BIOprinter is available in my webshop and I’m happy to announce that we are launching the bioprinter at an introductory launch price of €7,950.00 ex VAT. You can find the FELIX BIOprinter by pressing HERE. For more information please send me an email or contact me through my social channels.

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Prototype Hubs – The New Global Manufacturing Hub

A while ago I was contacted by Prototype Hubs to be a part of the beta test team for the new Prototype Hubs website. The nice thing is that they started around the same time I was changing from 3d printing as a hobby to a legit business with 3D printing services, web-shop and as a journalist/blogger in the 3D printing industry. I was already looking into this topic for a while, so I was very excited to start working with the cool people from Prototype Hubs. I was ones a part of the 3D Hubs system, but they decided to stop working with hobbyists in general and are only working with professional 3d printing services, so ultimately I had to quit providing my services through them. Many people (including me) thought that it was a shame that 3D Hubs stopped working with hobbyists and that we did not have a proper option anymore to provide our services on one central site. Luckily the people behind Prototype Hubs came in and started a brand new platform where everyone is welcome, even hobbyists with a small print farm- or CNC cutting shop.

The brand new PrototypeHubs website.

Prototype Hubs Beta test

During the beta test period, users got to test all features on the new website from the registration process to test orders. I have to say that these guys have built a brilliant website and everything worked great from the start. Sure, there were some issues but nothing out of the ordanary. We just had to point out the things that were not working like they were supposed to or when we found links or buttons that didn’t work properly. The only thing I’ve experienced problems with was that I could not find A REAL PROBLEM. All the issues they had were gone before the launch of  the Prototype Hubs website which is awesome. It is always great fun to be part of a test team to be able to help out by providing feedback for new companies like this.

My profile page on PrototypeHubs

What is PrototypeHubs

Prototype Hubs is a new global manufacturing hub for 3D printing and CNC cutting. In other words, a marketplace for manufacturing partners providing their services to a worldwide audience. This can be anything from 3D printing, laser cutting, CNC carving and much more. Whether you need rapid prototyping, 3D printed figurines or a nice wooden CNC cut nameplate for your front door, there will always be a partner available to help you out. You can get instant pricing and select one of the trusted partners for your job. The process is super easy and the best part of it all is that anyone can apply, from 3D printing professionals to makers/hobbyists with one or two smaller 3D printers which is great in my book! So even if you own a three-in-one machine like the Snapmaker Original, or something similar with 3D printer, laser cutter, and CNC carver you can become part of this great new community of manufacturers. Also, Prototype Hubs is the ONLY web-based platform that lets manufacturers list their services and communicate directly with clients.

The Registration Process For Manufacturers

The registration process is easy for both clients and manufacturers. If you’re a manufacturer you’ll need to press Log In in the top right corner of the site or go to the bottom of any page on prototypehubs.com and press “become a manufacturing partner“. This will bring you to a new web page where the “Sign up now” button is located. You’ll need to fill out some forms including your address, what kind of machines you use for your jobs and you can use Stripe to receive payments for your work. Prototype Hubs guarantees your transactions are secure and your uploaded designs remain protected. After completion of the registration process, you’ll need to a few photos of a Prototype Hubs test model for verification. The model needs to be manufactured on the machine you will be using for your Prototype Hubs jobs.

Creating a new client account is a piece of cake too. You can push the Get Started button in the top right corner of the screen, which will bring you to a page where you can choose to start a new 3D printing– or CNC cutting project.

Using The Prototype Hubs Site

Ok, so you now have access to your manufacturing partner account dashboard after logging in. Here you can find the manufacturer’s knowledge base, support links, and you can submit feedback if you like. But the most important thing is your profile setup. This is where you can add, change, or delete your machines, materials, and post-processing. You can edit your public profile here as well and add some pictures of your work. AND…… This is also where you can find your orders! So make sure your profile looks good and check if all your information is displayed correctly so potential costumers feel at home when they find you. The layout of the dashboard is great and it shows your order information and requests. You can see how many new messages there are and the total account revenue in the blink of an eye.

From a client’s perspective, the site is very easy to use as well. Clients will upload their desired files and the files will get checked for faults. Once the files are checked, you can press “configure order” and from the online file viewer screen the client can choose the material, color, infill, and layer height, as well as another technology like SLA instead of FDM. After that process is completed, they can find the nearest manufacturer and send the order so they can find the order request on their client dashboard.

The complete process is very easy for both manufacturers and clients, with all the features I tried working great. I am sure that Prototype Hubs is going to bring many people together. I am very happy to be manufacturer on the site already and I can’t wait to get my first order. It’s great that Prototype Hubs is here for anyone who loves to make stuff and not only for the pros. An Original Prusa i3 or an Anycubic Photon can do a great job at a hobbyist level, you just have to know your machine and materials like with any other type of work. Huge respect for the team behind Prototype Hubs for all the hard work they have put into the concept. I will keep you updated on everything they do in the future and I hope to print something for you sometime.


LINKS

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Visiting Prusa Research in Prague

This trip was on my bucket list for a while already. Visiting Prusa Research in Prague, the factory where all the awesome Prusa printers and the spools of Prusament come from. I’m a huge admirer of what Josef Prusa and his team did and does for the international 3d printing community and obviously, for the city of Prague. Many people don’t know this but Josef actually started with 3d printing because he wanted to build his own designed add-ons to his Dj set and because he needed a 3d printer for the job he also builds his first Mendel. In 2010 he made his own heated bed and finished the design of the Prusa Mendel, a simpler design of the normal Mendel 3d Printer. In 2011 he had designed and built the second iteration of the machine called Prusa Mendel I2 and in February 2012 the time had come to start his own small business and Prusa Research was founded and the rest is history! From Hanka, the first Prusa Research’s employee to now a large 3d printer and filament manufacturer with over 450 employees. That’s pretty impressive in my book.

In front of the Prusa Research facility.

We (Me and my wife Erica) arrived in Prague early in the morning on Monday, August 26 and because we couldn’t check-in in the hotel until midday so we decided to go to the center of Prague for some breakfast. We took a long walk through the old center and after that, we walked to the Prusa Research building for a picture. It was great to see the headquarters in real life for the first time and after the photos were taken we walked all the way back to the hotel for some well-deserved rest.

The second day we had an appointment with Jennes de Schutter from Prusa Technical Support. I got to know Jennes after I contacted Prusa for a minor issue I had with my Original Prusa i3 MK3 and after that first talk we had on the chat we became friends and had several long conversations about 3d printing related stuff. The crazy thing was that when I told him that we were coming to Prague he shared the news with us that he was going to leave Prague after two great years at Prusa Research. He is born in Belgium and it was time for him to go back and start a new career back home so it was great to meet him in Prague in his final week there. He gave us a tour through the awesome PrusaLab, the incredible maker space with everything available from the Prusa SL1, Prusa i3 MK3, CNC machine, laser cutter, and more impressive tools.

The lab was closed for a renovation during our stay but we could have a tour around the place anyway which was really cool. After the Lab, we went up in the building to the Prusa Print farm where over 500 Original Prusa i3 MK3’s print all the parts for the new machines. The Print Farm is one of the most incredible places you can visit if you love 3d printing (and Prusa Research) as much as I do so a dream came true for me. He also showed us the top-level where Prusa Technical Support is based and all the cool stuff he printed while working there. I’ve seen some amazing prints during my stay and a couple of my favorites were the awesome weaponry Jennes printed.

The cool thing is that next to the amazing 500 printers in the print farm, there are another 400 Prusa i3’s placed throughout the building, and Prusa employees are free to use them whenever they like. Obviously a great way to test new printers and materials too. And with the in-house Prusament production lines there’s always enough material to test and use for awesome projects. They also print many cool things for events like MakerFaire which is awesome. I would be so happy to work in a place like that. It’s like Charlie’s Chocolate Factory but even better.

After we saw the Technical support department it was time for us to leave so we went back to the hotel for some food and went back to visit some beautiful sites in Prague. From Prague Castle to Charles Bridge and from the Jewish Cemetary to Vyšehrad we have seen it all. But thats another story! Also, I highly recommend to visit Prague yourself one day if you haven’t done that already. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to and I want to go back so bad.

On the third day, we had to return to Prusa Research ones again for a meeting with Josef Prusa himself. When we arrived at the HQ we went up to the 3rd floor to meet Josef in his office. We shook hands and he introduced us to his personal assistants and after that, we went for a drink on the rooftop terrace and enjoyed the views for a bit. After that, he gave us another tour through the complete factory and showed us everything. I also finally met a couple of people I got to know during the Prusa SL1 beta testing which was great. We were in contact for quite some time already but never talked face to face. I can’t show you anything more about the tour because some parts of the factory are closed off for the public but luckily the amazing Joel Telling aka. The 3D Printing nerd made an awesome video for his YouTube channel during his stay in Prague for the Prague Maker Faire. He had kinda the same tour so please take some time to check out his video if you would like to know what ive seen. Joel is much better at video’s than me and he’s more handsome too.

Prusa Factory Tour with Joel Telling aka. 3D Printing Nerd

We also went to the studio where the guys at Prusa Research shoot all their awesome content for the websites and social channels. I think you’ve seen the studio on video a couple of times before like myself but being there in person is just something else. Great time for a photo with Jo.

De3DPrintman & Josef Prusa in the studio at Prusa Research

After the tour, we had seen the Filament production lines, SL1 department, Development, PrusaLab, The Prusa i3 manufacturing facility, Technical support and everything else in the building so it was time for us to say goodbye.

We had the greatest time in Prague and the Prusa Research building and I’m sure we will go back next year to visit Prague Maker Faire and our friends over at Prusa Research. We want to thank Josef Prusa, Jennes, Ondrej, Simon, Lubomir, Vladimir and all the other great people who took some time to meet us. You guys are the best at what you do and it was an honor for us to come and have a look at your work. I became even more obsessed with the Prusa brand and have mad respect for these guys.