Entries in mcor (22)
by General Fabb
Mcor Technologies, Ltd. announced that its IRIS full-color 3D printers will be used exclusively in Staples’ first “Experience Centre” that has just opened at the Staples Office Center in Almere, The Netherlands.
The Staples Experience Centre provides a hands-on 3D printing experience where consumers can learn all about 3D printing. Visitors will be able to interact with Mcor 3D printers, examine full-color, paper 3D printed models, as well as attend 3D printing presentations and workshops. The Experience Centre is an important first step in the complete 3D printing service that the global office retail giant will offer using Mcor 3D printing technology, including Staples online 3D printing service, “Easy 3D,” announced late last year.
Read More at ENGINEERING.com
At Euromold 2012 we managed to get deep inside the Mcor IRIS color 3D paper printer. This device uses standard paper as it's build material. Each layer (or page in this case) is formed by cutting the outline of each page appropriately. That's perfectly understandable, but how do they print in color?
The answer is flabbergastingly simple. The IRIS sits on a table, but in a secret compartment underneath there's a standard Epson 2D color inkjet.
The inkjet pre-prints color onto a stack of pages. Only a thin outline of color is printed on each page, corresponding to the outer skin of the object. The pages are printed duplex (both sides), with special ink designed to soak into the page, so you won't see "white" page edges on your object.
The pages for the entire object are pre-printed and collected in a large stack. Then this massive sheaf of paper is inserted into the 3D printer, which then pulls out its blade and goes to town.
But wait, you ask, "what if the pages are mixed up/missing/etc.?" We wondered that too and found that not only are the colors pre-printed, but a special bar code also appears on each page. The 3D printer verifies the correct page is in sequence for each layer. If not, it stops for you to print a replacement.
The results are startlingly good. This 3D printed skull looks almost real.
This is the print quality everyone will be able to access when Mcor's deal with Staples enables 3D printing from copy centers.
In a blockbuster announcement, Mcor, the makers of the IRIS color 3D printing system based on plain old paper, say they've struck a huge deal with print services giant Staples to supply 3D printing equipment for their numerous print and copy centers.
This will obviously take a while to implement, so Staples Printing Division is starting the process by rolling it out in Belgium and the Netherlands in Q1 2013 and then "will be rolled out quickly to other countries" according to Staples.
How does it work? Those with printable 3D models can merely upload them to Staples' web site, where they will be transformed into full color 3D objects with Mcor's new IRIS paper-based 3D printers. Printed models will be sent to your local Staples or directly to your address. It's not entirely clear from the announcement, but we suspect the 3D printers will not be located initially in all Staples print shops, but instead centralized in some efficient fashion. Nevertheless, we also suspect the long-term intention is indeed to equip every Staples print center with this 3D printing equipment.
The implications of this move are truly enormous, as it will go a very long way to opening up 3D printing for all. Staples is a massive brand with an astonishing capacity for advertising compared to any 3D printing company. Soon people will receive newspaper flyers explaining the new 3D print service. Perhaps we'll even see discount starter promotions. In any case, many more people will know about 3D printing as a result of this deal.
One issue facing Staples will be the influx of customers attempting to 3D print models that are in fact, unprintable. Staples and MCOR should develop some process or filter that ensures the success rate of printing is high, otherwise the service could be in jeopardy.
Why Staples? It's obvious when you think about it: the MCOR IRIS is a PAPER device. Staples Printing Division is a PAPER company. It's a totally natural fit. Staples staff are already very familiar with paper handling, which is really how you operate an IRIS. In fact, we strongly suspect Staples receives a decent volume discount on their paper purchases, making the production of 3D objects from paper even more economical.
We've all had previous thoughts or written about the "Kinko's" model of 3D printing. This is exactly that. Except it's not Kinko's.
It's Staples. And it's now.
MCOR announced their new Matrix 300+ paper-based 3D printer. This device is similar to the 300, but offers improved performance in how the models are constructed.
They've included a new feature called "Selectable Layer Thickness", in which you could print in either "Draft" or "Presentation". We suspect what might be happening here is that instead of a single sheet of paper per layer, Draft mode would use multiple sheets per layer. This would make printing substantially faster, but produce less detailed prints.
MCOR has also included something called "Variable Volume Deposition", which "enables the production of more complex parts that are even stronger and more durable." We're not exactly sure what this means, but it could be a different method of structuring layers for parts with complex geometries.
Irish-based Mcor announced a new 3D printer: the Mcor Iris. The Iris is a major twist on their unique paper-based 3D printing approach; it provides full color 3D printing.
We examined a sample print (video above) at Rapid 2012 and found it to be an amazingly colorful landscape.
While some 3D printer manufacturers have very complex coloring systems, Mcor's is brilliantly simple: they simply preprint the paper appropriately before the sheets are fed into the cutting chamber. A normal 2D color print mechanism provides the color and you provide the paper.
The Iris provides color of 300 dpi, what you'd expect from a 2D color printer. The printer, like it's predecessor, is accurate to 50 microns. It's not available yet, but Mcor informs us it should appear in 4Q12.
MCOR's 3D paper printer created a rather unique design for a Christmas card: a 3D object emerges from the (thick) card when you open it. As you can see in the image, the sheet-built Christmas tree is surrounded by the excess material, which is normally removed and disposed of. However, in this case the "excess" actually forms part of the final design.
The card was designed in the UK by the Royal College of Art, who showcase the works of their alumni by commissioning a special card each Christmas. This one, as far as we know, is the only one produced by a 3D printer.
We've seen this approach before, where support material becomes part of the art. Could this be a design trend in 3D printing?
We've found out a bit more about MCOR's intriguing free 3D printing program, called "freeDrevolution". As we wrote earlier, the idea is to give you (literally) a free commercial 3D printer (the MCOR Matrix, of course) and then you simply pay a flat fee to cover all printing costs - including maintenance and supplies. In principle this could permit unlimited 3D printing at a fixed cost, but you'll obviously be limited by the capacity of your machine.
We inquired about the pricing and found there there are some discounts available if you confirm a long-term deal. Here's the details (per year equivalent cost):
- One year plan: £9,950 / €11,400 / USD$15,600
- Two year commitment : £7,600 / €8,700 / USD$11,900
- Three year commitment: £6,530 / €7,500 / USD$10,235
At the lowest cost level, this seems to be a pretty good deal. Of course, you must remember that MCOR's 3D printer is fuelled by common paper as its print material, so you'll have to supply that on your own. Nevertheless, could mean you pay only USD$10K per year for unlimited 3D printing!
We wrote about a mysterious program from MCOR in which they hinted they'd be giving away 3D printers at no charge. Certainly this deserves some investigation, and it turns out it's actually true! MCOR now no longer sells their paper-fuelled 3D printers. Instead they simply give them away!
But there's a catch, of course. You must sign up for one of their service plans, the least expensive being under £10K (USD$15,500) per year. That's right - per year. What do you get for this annual fee? Unlimited 3D printing. MCOR will resupply you with consumables in an "all you can eat" fashion. We're seeking more details on the programs now.
This is a business model not yet seen in the 3D print industry, but there are programs like it for 2D printing that seem to work for many companies. Will it work in 3D printing? We'll find out.