Platonics Ark: World's First 3D Printer Designed For Architects

The instruments for presenting the concepts of architects have been revolutionized through the development of Platonics Ark. It is the world’s first 3D printer designed specifically to meet the needs of architects.

The developer, Platonics, is based in Helsinki, Finland. The company has been creating the first 3D printer for architects for almost two years. Its goal is to make 3D printing efficient, easy, and fast for architects, and now, the company has come up with the first 3D printer that would transform architects’ ideas into reality.

The Ark could print drawings made directly from the Archicad, Revit, Sketchup, Rhino, and Vectorworks. It can print fast and easy in 3D in just a matter of minutes with its time-saving software. The printer requires minimal maintenance, self-calibrates, self-configures, and automatically cleans itself. Its software could also convert the CAD files into 3D printable STL files and fix any errors. Its web application is compatible with all OS and it is an open filament system, according to Platonics’ website.

Platonics Ark printer is best for printing a model for a certain drawing such as a house or any edifice or its part. This could properly present the architect’s design to clients, in which they could better understand the concept of the architect for the proposed project. It will definitely help the architects as well as the clients to determine the best ideas for the project resulting in a successful development.

Platonics explains that a model in three dimensions says more than a thousand renderings and drawings; traditional modeling often takes a lot of effort and time and it is mostly done only once or twice during a project. Platonics added that with 3D printing, you can use scale models at each stage of your design process efficiently.

“2D drawings and 3D renderings transform an idea into a project, but scale models turn a project into a reality in the mind of the beholder,� said Platonics.

According to 3Ders, the printer could use various materials in printing the models. These include wood, matte, transparent, clay, terracotta, copper, concrete, granite, and bronze materials.

Currently, Platonics has launched an Indiegogo campaign for the crowdfunding of the printer. As of now, the printer is only available in Europe through Indiegogo. The pricing for first backers starts from €2,095 or about $2,472. The deliveries for early backers are slated in April 2018.

[Featured Image by RachelHughes2202/Thinkstock]

Stratasys Seeing "Confirmation That 3D Printing is Finding Usage Among a Variety of Sectors"

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I first met Stratasys‘ Andy Middleton, President EMEA, at formnext 2016, where he led a presentation regarding the company’s growing technologies and applications partnerships. Over the last year, Stratasys has continued to make headway into an increasing array of applications, in addition to bringing focus back to 3D printing’s roots in rapid prototyping. 2017 has been a busy year for the mainstay 3D printing company, and it’s not over yet as we can expect more to come over the remaining months.

“We are smart in developing technology. Our customers are much smarter than we are in developing applications,� Middleton said last year at formnext.

Keeping to that same user-aware sentiment, Middleton was engaged throughout the recent TCT Show in the UK, where I had the opportunity to sit down with him to learn more about recent announcements and what we can expect next from Stratasys’ global activities. During a busy week in product introductions, Stratasys announced new application-specific 3D printing materials at TCT Show focusing on eyewear, a market increasingly coming into focus for additive manufacturing. Eyewear is a fast-moving industry in its own right, bringing together vision correction with a sense of personal fashion, and 3D printing is keeping new seasons of designer frames coming to market to meet demand.

The busy Stratasys booth at TCT Show 2017

“I knew nothing about the eyewear industry a year ago,� Middleton told me with a laugh as he shared some of what he’s learned as Stratasys has become involved.

“The fashion side is so driven by season, it’s so short a time to create and release new designs; if for a promotional photo a company can use a prototype pair rather than the final glasses, because it looks exactly the same, they will save weeks just on that end. During design, they can print four iterations in one run to choose different models quickly.�

From concept to market, streamlining new product development has long been a strong point in favor of 3D printing, and it is in this go-to-market area that Stratasys has been focusing efforts in its solutions offerings. Tailoring new products to specific uses has been a rising theme across the 3D printing industry, and Stratasys has been working to keep up.

“It’s a general trend within the 3D printing market; all suppliers and vendors are developing for specific uses. For the new VeroFlex material, its use is eyewear — which is a huge market, not only driven by an aging population, but, for example in Germany, as a standard accessory,� Middleton explained of the move into eyewear. “End users are looking for more customization; manufacturers are trying to keep up with shortened development cycles. They need the look, the feel, the fit to make decisions: go with this model, go with this model. They need to make a confident decision. This can shorten up to a year in development.�

The recently introduced VeroFlex material is, Middleton told me, a first-generation introduction, noting that “there will be other generations of this material.� Previously, to attain properties of both flexibility and strength within one build, two materials had to be mixed; VeroFlex offers both in one. Such properties will see use in applications beyond eyewear and medical, Middleton said, will be the next area to see this type of material.

As eyewear continues to benefit from a smoother prototyping process, Stratasys is doubling down on its commitment to rapid prototyping — and is seeing results. Early this year, the company introduced its F123 series of prototyping-focused 3D printers. Two months ago, Middleton said, they had shipped 1,000 units worldwide, and will be “scratching 2,000 by the end of 2017.�

“These are the best selling 3D printers Stratasys ever did,� he said. “They offer simplified operation, taking away barriers for customers to invest, and at an aggressive price point.�

Going along with the strong unit sales has been what Middleton described as a “great first half of the year� in terms of overall company performance. While as we talked we were in “the dreaded third quarter,� he is “confident in seeing high single- or low double-digit growth over 2016� for this year.

Andy Middleton, President, Stratasys EMEA, with an F370 3D printer at TCT Show 2017

TCT Show 2017 proved a place for some interesting conversations, and my chat with Middleton was certainly that. He noticed an uptick in “great new technologies, and more startups,� which he noted as “confirmation that 3D printing is finding usage among a variety of sectors.� Coming up next in terms of big shows for Stratasys is the industrial-focused formnext, held next month in Frankfurt. While Middleton wouldn’t let slip too much of what we can expect to hear from Stratasys this year, it is clear that we should be expecting some interesting announcements ahead. I’ll look forward to attending that show to see first-hand the latest product introductions and business moves.

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[All photos: Sarah Goehrke]

TS Wittelsbach – Sculpting, 3D Printing, & ZBrush 4R8 – Episode 4

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