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  #1  
Old 01-10-2005, 11:10 AM
pmoherek pmoherek is offline
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Smile Hello from Accurate 3D Printing

I was passing through and thought maybe some of you might be able to use my services. I am Rapid Prototype Company that can print out 3D models from 3d graphic generated sculptures and designs. We are using the ZCORP printer to create our models.

Feel free to visit are website or call me.

Thanks Phil Moherek

www.accurate3dprinting.com

Accurate 3D Printing
21 Maple Lane
Totowa, N.J. 07512
(973)617-7229
Email pmoherek@accurate3dprinting.com
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  #2  
Old 06-08-2005, 09:17 PM
GaryR52 GaryR52 is offline
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Re: Hello from Accurate 3D Printing

Thanks, Phil. I've seen your site before, while researching RP. I note that you can handle a somewhat larger size model (8"x10"x8"H) than most RP companies. At that size, what is the price range, roughly?

Gary
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  #3  
Old 06-24-2005, 08:43 AM
Morgen_K Morgen_K is offline
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Re: Hello from Accurate 3D Printing

Hi Phil,
I'm normally a lurker but have seen your site myself in my research on 3D printing technologies too. I have a real market for reproducing my 8" high range sculptures in a "mini" size of 3" high. My biggest issue there is (a) cost (as these 3" high minis sell in editions of 200 max usually for only $60ea.. and resin mold and casting costs are more than half of that price), and (b) the resolution of the prototype... if the lines (inevitable some companies tell me?) are obliterating the details I'm trying to reproduce less painstakingly, well, if I have to resmooth and recreate it all, the prototype material used is crucial and the extent of it's fidelity is key...

Personally, I've just been hoping that the output quality would improve over the past few years and that the costs would be more affordable for the small business individual. Where does it stand now? Feel free to email me privately any answers to these! Thanks!
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  #4  
Old 06-24-2005, 11:08 AM
GaryR52 GaryR52 is offline
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Re: Hello from Accurate 3D Printing

Hi, Morgen. I'm just getting started with this, myself. maybe you can give me a few pointers. I'm doing small abstract sculpture via 3D software (mostly 3DS MAX and Rhino) and I'll be using rapid prototyping to produce the final bronze castings (from Thermojet wax patterns).

In my research on RP companies, I've settled on American Precision Prototyping (www.approto.com), of Tulsa (just 100 miles from me). They've been very helpful, so far, in helping me decide which of my pieces can be produced economically enough to make any sales possible, as well as giving me technical pointers, and they appear to be the cheapest I've found, yet. Cheap being a relative term, that is. Oh, sorry, Phil.

For me, the issue has been trying to get my virtual sculptures made "real" at a cost that allows me to stay under $1,000 in price, after my markup. I need to stay in that range because I'm a new sculptor with no track record, as yet, and asking more for my work would get me nowhere. By the way, I'll be selling these online, bypassing the gallery system altogether, so I don't have to include the usual markup for gallery commissions. Nevertheless, I'm finding it's difficult to do the kind of pieces I really enjoy most because they're inherently thicker and heavier and that drives up the volume and, thus, the cost of RP. I got estimates as high as $1,792 on one piece that is only 6.7"x5"x4.9", but that was primarily because it would have had to be done in three parts, then welded together. But the master pattern would have been $999. That's the most expensive quote I've had from APP. The ones I'm going to produce will cost me between $300 and $700.

To bring the cost down a little more, I'm focusing on my more light and airy works, as opposed to the heavier forms. That way, the total volume is less and that's what the cost is based on, of course.

Since I'm doing abstracts that are predominantly smooth surfaced, with no fine details, finishing won't amount to anything more than buffing and polishing, and I'll be doing that, plus the patina, myself. Any sprue removal and chasing is done by APP.

Gary
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  #5  
Old 07-02-2005, 07:37 PM
Morgen_K Morgen_K is offline
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Re: Hello from Accurate 3D Printing

Gary, I don't know what kind of help I'd be... I'm just investigating it myself.

A friend/competitor is doing this with on of her sculptures and I've gotten quite a bit of customer "encouragement" to pursue it with one or two of my own... I would LOVE to be able to sell editions in multiple sizes as it would increase the # of derivative works I could offer and thus squeak around the copyright cap on "limited edition" that is a rampant issue in the hobby market I sell to... and foremost, there are a lot of copycats in my market who make individual reproduction knock offs in smaller scales of other artist's larger pieces.... so part of 'staking my claim' to the rights of that piece is the right to reproduce a derivative in different scales... and being able to satisfy that consumer demand while thwarting knock off artists from selling virtually identical (for all practical purposes) "mini versions" for 5x the amount a mini casting edition piece by me would sell for (they don't often dare to cast their knock offs, but there are plenty of uninformed buyers who snatch them up on eBay for 5x the amount castings by the REAL conceptual / larger version's artist would sell for).

Anyhow, other artists in my market are following suit and another one has actually had the CAD version of a larger work done up and is going to produce her scaled prototype soon. I would absolutely love to find a prototype maker that could give me a resin or wax prototype that was malable enough to replace any detail lost or resolution lines in without montns and months of reworking... (otherwise, the "free" technology of pointing it down is a better option).

What I would REALLY love these 3D printers to offer is a material sample of something scaled down quite small - or at least even a sample of the resin or wax used in a raw chunk I could fiddle with.. because I just can't dump 3K into finding out I can't work with a material in minute scale enough to create a production master in 3" tall sculptures... I've actually already spent a good deal of money on another 'shrinking' material that didn't cut it for me (wasn't as proportional as promised..). So I am apprehensive but VERY hopeful.
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  #6  
Old 07-03-2005, 01:13 PM
GaryR52 GaryR52 is offline
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Re: Hello from Accurate 3D Printing

Sounds like a real headache, alright. In your niche market, I'll bet that's far more prevalent than in the larger market for fine art sculpture.

Now that I've seen your work (excellent horses!) and know what market you're addressing, I can see how the cost factor is a huge problem for you. RP is going to be very expensive, even at ridiculously small sizes, unless you can supply a 3D model that is hollow and, even then, it's not cheap. I just had a quote delivered on a piece of jewelry I designed, which is an inch-long pendant: $105 for a Thermojet wax pattern. By the time I add in the cost of the fine silver I'm wanting to cast it in, the cost is at around $120 to $135, depending upon how much silver it takes. So, if my margin is 200%, we're talking about a price of $405 or less, which, I guess isn't too bad for artist-created jewelry. But, trying to do small abstract sculptures at under 10" in any dimension, I'm bumping up against an RP cost of from $400 or so on up to nearly $3,000 and it's harder to stay in the under $1,000 price bracket unless I either do the model hollow or stick to lighter, more open forms that don't interest me as much.

Another option is to buy or lease your own wax printer (yeah, right!). With the cheapest one on the market selling for around $29,000, that's a pipe dream. I asked Bathsheba Grossman if she bought one or is leasing one and she said she had bought one slightly used and then sold it and said that was a few years ago. I'm wondering how much she makes, since a few years ago these machines were even more expensive than they are now, with price tags around $100,000 and up. But, even so, if I could get my hands on my own printer, I could produce my pieces much more economically because I'd be paying only for the wax medium (and the amortized cost of leasing the machine). Not an option, though, at this point.

By the way, I read an article in which the author speculates that we might, in a few more years, see wax printers at Kinko's. That'd be something! Imagine sending your files to Kinko's, then going over to pick up your wax patterns. If the market for it was sufficient enough, that could both drop the cost of the machinery and the cost of the 3D printing service, as well. Given the number of jewelers using RP now, it doesn't seem so far fetched.

Oh, about the wax. I've been told it's really a composite material and is more brittle than microcrystalline wax, thus, not as workable.

Gary

Last edited by GaryR52 : 07-03-2005 at 01:22 PM.
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  #7  
Old 07-05-2005, 03:24 PM
Morgen_K Morgen_K is offline
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Re: Hello from Accurate 3D Printing

Hey Gary, could you explain why a hollow object is easier to scan to me? Because I have the original sculptures hollow cast (rotocaster in resin) with steel rods. It's nothing for the casters to leave out supporting rods (this is to prevent long term shelf warping for spindly horse legs and tails). In fact, they did this for me for a casting I used as a master to send to a fine bone china mould maker.

Anyhow, I haven't totally written it off as a possiblity. See, I have one sculpture that is current in the works but is just a tad out of the typical collector's scale. I have been musing over the idea of finishing it in the slightly larger scale and selling it as an extremely limited edition. Where typical edition sizes run from 50-200, an edition of under 20 can be pretty sought after. I've got a lot of very eager feedback about this piece and after asking a few buyers, some say the larger scale doesn't daunt them. Still, the casting costs for me are higher, and either I cut into my margin or make it higher cost per piece... selling a very limited edition at a significantly higher cost is better recieved by my market than selling a large edition.

What I'm really thinking would be cool, would be to offer it in 3 or 4 sizes - like 10 of the large size to be auctioned off finished by sought after painters (helping to raise enough funds to pay for the mold and casting costs with so few castings to meet those costs) - and 50-100 at a more typical hobby size, and an "open edition for a specific year" at a very small affordable typical hobby size. I'd really have to have good ideas of the wax printing costs though.

I had to laugh about the Kinko's thing. That sounds dubious at best!
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  #8  
Old 07-05-2005, 11:14 PM
GaryR52 GaryR52 is offline
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Re: Hello from Accurate 3D Printing

We may be talking about two different things, Morgen. The process I'm talking about doesn't use any scanning. It doesn't work from an existing three dimensional model, it works from an STL file and creates a wax model via selective laser sintering (SLS). I'm talking about the CAD model being hollow. But, you're sculpting by hand and then scanning your original into a digital format, for reproduction via rapid prototyping, right? In your case, you might find it cheaper to use an RTV rubber mold of your original and cast your own wax models. But then, you're ultimately casting in resin, so you could just make an RTV rubber mold and cast your final resin copy. That would be a lot cheaper than using rapid prototyping. The only reason I'll be using it is because my "original" is virtual and doesn't have any physical existence until the prototype is made. If you're doing sculpture the traditional way, you don't need rapid prototyping at all and it would be far cheaper to produce reproductions the usual way. You might then ask why I'm not doing it that way and the answer is that I can do things with this technology that can't be done otherwise. But, I will be going back to traditional methods and using them alongside the digital medium.

Gary
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  #9  
Old 07-06-2005, 09:47 AM
Morgen_K Morgen_K is offline
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Re: Hello from Accurate 3D Printing

Gary, I'm talking about taking an existing traditionally made sculpture and scanning to get the CAD file, and then outputting/printing it back out in 3 or 4 difference scales.

I have no experience with this, but I can't just get a mold to cast me different scales (as I've said, I tried uniformly shrinking casting material and it's not as 'uniform' as it needs to be), so to shrink (or enlarge) an existing work, I need a virtual file and then a printer, right?

I just have an additional step before yours. But the "hollow part", I'm guessing that must be what I've misunderstood then.
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  #10  
Old 07-06-2005, 11:59 AM
GaryR52 GaryR52 is offline
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Re: Hello from Accurate 3D Printing

If you're looking for reproductions at different scales, then rapid prototyping makes more sense, yes. The cost factor wouldn't be as big a problem for you once you have a digital model that can be rescaled. As for doing that, I would recommend using your largest size for scanning, and then digitally reducing from that, otherwise, the resolution of the digital model will be adversely affected and you'll have artifacts (triangular bumps) all over the surfaces of your prototypes. As long as you reduce from a larger size, you'll avoid this and, in fact, even benefit from better detail. Scaling up from a smaller size would give you the artifacts.

Are you going to be doing your own CAD work, or is that going to be sent out, also? The more you can control yourself, the better...and cheaper.

About the hollowing of the digital model; when you have a 3D model (digital), unless you've hollowed it out, it will be interpreted as a solid. This means the volume will be greater and you'll be paying for all that additional material at the core, which gets very expensive very quickly. So, you'll want to hollow the digital model out to avoid this, while still leaving a wall thickness that is structurally sound. I'm not sure how to do this, exactly. If you have a simple geometric solid, such as a sphere or a cube, it's a pretty simple matter of making a negative boolean copy of the model and reducing it, keeping it centered at the core, so that it "cuts" the core out (mathematically subtracts the smaller shape from within the larger one). However, well you have a complex organic form like a horse, reducing the negative copy doesn't work because there will be parts that protrude through the wall of the outer shell and there will be areas where the walls will be too thick or too thin. This would result in a sculpture full of holes, and you don't want that, of course. I'm not sure what your alternatives, if any, would be, however. I had the same problem with a couple of peices that would have been terribly expensive to produce without hollowing (over $2,700!) and these were only 6" tall. I just wound up abandoning them, for want of a solution.

Another good reason for hollowing the model, if you can, is to avoid excessive weight. One of my little 6" high peices would have weighed about 19 lbs. if done as a solid (in cast bronze).

If you can find or use a CAD program that can produce a hollowed model from the start, so much the better. It may be that you can do the boolean operation I mentioned above, but reduce the negative part to a smaller size, so it creates a more or less hollow core (though a non-uniform one) without protruding through any walls. You can supplement this by using a negative sphere or other simple primitive shapes, in conjunction with the main one, to cut out more of the unwanted bulk from inside without cutting into the walls. The only thing about this technique is that you will wind up with a non-uniform wall thickness, which could be structurally unsound in the final piece, and you will also find it difficult to cut away enough material to reduce the cost enough. If you're not doing this yourself, you'll need someone who is a real expert at it to get it done properly.

Gary

Last edited by GaryR52 : 07-06-2005 at 12:09 PM.
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  #11  
Old 07-06-2005, 07:51 PM
Morgen_K Morgen_K is offline
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Re: Hello from Accurate 3D Printing

Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryR52
About the hollowing of the digital model; when you have a 3D model (digital), unless you've hollowed it out, it will be interpreted as a solid. This means the volume will be greater and you'll be paying for all that additional material at the core, which gets very expensive very quickly.
Ok, that density aspect kinda throws me. I didn't see any of the digital reduction companies I looked at mention the option even of material costs varying that much..

I'm not so sure that 3" tall horse would be capable of the hollow core. Anyhow, another artist beat me to the punch using this technology..

Now I'll be a copycat. Hahaha! (not really, just being sensitive to buyer reception) Oh well. I will wait until it catches on and I get an idea of if customers are really as "ok with it" and enthusiastic as they are right now.
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Last edited by Morgen_K : 07-10-2005 at 08:25 AM.
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  #12  
Old 07-06-2005, 10:03 PM
GaryR52 GaryR52 is offline
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Re: Hello from Accurate 3D Printing

None of them are going to tell you that, Morgen. It's more work for them - and less money, too. I've been dealing with American Precision Prototyping (www.approto.com) in getting estimates for my sculptures and they've been pretty noest and helpful because, seemingly unlike their competitors, they want my business and they want me to come back again. One thing I was told was that I could cut my cost down by making the model hollow. Unfortunately, my attempts to get my models hollowed out didn't pan out and I had to opt for reducing their size, instead. That was simply because the demo modeling software I was using at the time was feature limited and couldn't handle the task.

At 3" tall in resin, you probably won't need to make it hollow, anyway. Keep in mind that my sculptures are to be cast in bronze, which is heavier and more expensive than resin. Looks like your competitor cast hers solid, by the way.

You could use rapid prototyping to make your resin sculptures directly and it would cost less than it would cost for me to do bronzes. A standard SLA (stereolithography) uses a photopolymer (liquid resin), which is evidently what your competitor is using, and it's cheaper than the rapid metal casting process I've been jawing on and on about. Now that I understand what it is you're trying to acheive, I should have told you that to begin with and saved you the worry.

Gary
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  #13  
Old 07-07-2005, 12:19 AM
Morgen_K Morgen_K is offline
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Re: Hello from Accurate 3D Printing

...[morgen makes mental note to investigate companies that do rapid prototyping with photopolymers...]

Any reason photopolymers? And not ordinary polyurethane liquid resins? Or what seems simplest to me: wax (which I've heard is used too)

What I am STILL trying to figure out off of her prototype is why its so smooth... one company I spoke with showed me (proudly ) an 8" tall sculpture that was output as a reduced prototype that was covered in resolution lines from the printing being pretty rough... it was ok at 8" (not too glaring..) but at 3", that same resolution would mangle all detail.

I'm wondering if she had to do what I feared I would.. smooth it out and then put the detail back in. Although, if I did this, I might modify the work a little anyhow so some fiddling wouldn't be so bad...
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  #14  
Old 07-07-2005, 02:12 AM
GaryR52 GaryR52 is offline
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Re: Hello from Accurate 3D Printing

Well, I don't know the full technical details of the medium, but I think the photopolymer is laser cured, and since they use a laser to sinter the model together in very thin layers, the substance used has to be fusible by a laser beam. Ordinary polyester resin doesn't cut it, apparently. Same goes for microcrystalline wax, which is why the Thermojet wax printer uses a wax-like composite material that is stronger than wax and burns out at a slightly higher temperature.

You can change the resolution of the print, both in your model (by outputting at a higher resolution; i.e., smoothing it to the max) and at the printer, you can set the layer thickness to two or three different settings, the thinner yielding the best resolution. She may also have done some finishing (polishing?) by hand, or her service bureau did after the sculpture was printed.

Gary
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  #15  
Old 07-07-2005, 11:34 AM
Morgen_K Morgen_K is offline
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Re: Hello from Accurate 3D Printing

Thank you Gary. Really. I guess what I need to do now is find a company that can send me some samples of the resin they output to. Even un-printed (raw) samples would work as I need to know if I can add back in some detail or if it'll be too hard or brittle to work... polishing/smoothing is one thing, carving back in tiny details in some types of resins is excruciating and almost impossible.. especially if very small areas like ears and nostrils are filled in...

Anyhow, that artist, thankfully, joined a public discussion I posted and I hope she's open to sharing some of her resources/findings with the rest of us who are sharing our experiences. It really only benefits all of us not to taint the market with substandard (poor resolution) mini versions of our work and errode buyer confidence in a product that will cost more than average.

I've been surfing the American Precision Prototyping company's site but will need to contact a rep. I have two works I'd love to release in at least the small size, if not also have a 5" prototype made to offer. But I very much want to modify them a little... if only for sanity's sake in seeing photos on buyer's sites and sales and not knowing if it's the 3" version or the original 8-9" size!
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  #16  
Old 07-07-2005, 01:25 PM
GaryR52 GaryR52 is offline
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Re: Hello from Accurate 3D Printing

That would be a good idea, Morgen. I would think most would be willing to accomodate a request for a sample. As I understand it, the photopolymer is pretty strong and resilient, once cured by the laser, so I don't think brittleness would be a problem, but, you never know. It's the synthetic wax that is usually brittle and unworkable.

Feel free to email APP with any question you have. They've been very helpful toward me, so far. The person to contact there would be Sherry Langston (slangston@approto.com). Good luck!

Gary
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