I started this journey back in 2014 surfing the internet for a 3d printer. I ran across several videos demonstrating 3d additive manufacturing, and in my position as a Tooling Specialist I am always looking for innovative technology that I can incorporate into our process. So began the search for a 3d printer that could stand the rigors of a manufacturing environment. Our facility was currently subtractive machining with a CNC mill producing welding fixture parts made out of UHMW. There are 25 parts per fixture that are machined on 3 to 4 sides. The whole process was very labor intensive and costly, not to mention it tied up machining time needed for other engineering projects in the plant. By doing a cost analysis machining versus 3d printing I was able to show enough savings to justify the purchase of a 3d printer. I spent countless hours surfing and comparing products that were available and on the market at that time. From what I had gathered from all the searching was 2 categories of FDM printers. On the high end commercial grade was the Stratasys brands that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or there were the RepRap type that were cheaply made and would fail 90% of the time mid printing.
There was one company that stood out from the rest of the consumer printers. Hyrel 3D was light years ahead of the competition with modular printing heads that could print with four different materials. They even had the ability to print with clay, plasticine and much more on an EMO-25 extruded that they designed. The System 30 at first glance is technological marvel in design. Its feature rich capabilities with the embedded pc, multi head print capability and semi enclosed build chamber with heated bed give it the look and performance of a high end printer at a fraction of the cost. After talking with Davo, Carl and Daniel it was an easy decision to go with Hyrel 3D.
It has been almost a year now with the Hyrel System 30. I can say that I am seasoned in the operations of 3D printing. The learning curve is a bit longer but well worth it. Hyrel 3D has always been there for me with technical support, live broadcast, and numerous help videos on their website. They are very professional and highly knowledgeable in electronics, software, and the 3D printing industry. The system 30 is my go to printer. Out of three printers that I use the Hyrel System 30 is the most reliable printer with zero failed prints due to mechanical failures, it just works simple as that.
We are graduate students at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and we have been using a Hyrel 3D printer since April of 2015. Over the past few months, we have been very pleased with the performance of our machine.
Although we now know that Hyrel offers good products, we did have some concerns, including buying a 3D printer from a small company that began as a Kickstarter project. Being a small company, we were unsure if Hyrel would have the necessary resources to assist us in troubleshooting issues when they arose. However, Hyrel has been helpful in resolving any technical difficulties we have encountered over the phone or via Skype.
Before discovering Hyrel, we had been using the Afinia H480 3D printer. The Afinia machine was first acquired due to its low cost and robustness, but only limited filament diameter variations were tolerated on this machine. For our research, we make our own filaments from pellets to use as feedstock in 3D printers. Since it is difficult to create filaments with consistent diameters, we were unable to print parts on the Afinia printer. In contrast, one of the rollers in the printhead on the Hyrel machine is spring-mounted so it takes a larger range of filament diameter including our filaments. With a Hyrel 3D printer, we also have better control over the extrusion process. There are many settings that are adjustable, such as temperature, speed, fill patterns, fill density, and layer height. These adjustable settings have allowed us to print with a variety of materials instead of just the common 3D printing materials, such as ABS.
We would recommend Hyrel 3D printers to other universities. Although there are cheaper, commercially available 3D printers, the superior control of various settings and parameters makes Hyrel 3D printers the obvious choice for our research.
Emily Fitzharris – MSE Ph.D. Student
School of Materials Science and Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology
We were looking for a versatile solution for additive manufacturing research that would be suitable for synthetics and biologics, and allow a high degree of control on a budget. We intentionally tried to avoid the popular vendors in the market in favor of unrestricted material selection. We are a plastics engineering department, with ties to biomedical engineering and chemical engineering entities around Massachusetts, and material selection/development is one of our core capabilities. The Hyrel printer offered a controlled yet decoupled material deposition unit, which meant solid plastics and waxy materials could be printed using plug and play print heads, and liquids can be deposited using a luer lock kit. We also ordered the microscope attachment to examine prints on the fly. All on our budget.
Early in the purchasing process we already enjoyed online hands on (yes) training with the equipment, and were able to access plenty of guides and recommendations through the company’s YouTube channel and forums. After unboxing and a quick setup (1 hour), we had already printed our first FDM part. The software that controls the unit (Repetrel) can be run from the provided tablet computer or a laptop over USB. It integrates Slic3r as the GCode generating engine and with the latest version of Repetrel, supports multimaterial printing.
Naturally, we did encounter questions and technical challenges, but received close support from Davo or Karl with accurate solutions and rapid response. On several occasions we voiced our needs from the software and were provided with temporary workarounds while features are being developed. In general, we have found that the software is constantly making strides towards meeting the users’ needs, providing precise control and high performance. For example, we are currently looking into printing FDM and waxy materials side by side. In 30 minutes, Davo instructed us on how to proceed, and offered to follow up when we are ready to test.
The most attractive feature in our opinion is that there are no factory settings. Anything can be changed, tweaked and controlled. The plug and play print heads are definitely an attractive feature as well. In other popular printers we have found that the lack of flexibility in material selection can be solved by upgrading to a $500,000 piece of equipment and even then, we are uncertain what the material deposited by the machine is, only its mechanical properties.
As a manufacturing tool, Hyrel measures up well to other solutions in the market: but for research purposes it surpasses them. This is partly because of the features mentioned earlier and partly because of the close support and expertise of the Hyrelians. As such, I would recommend this solution as a research tool to any lab considering additive manufacturing materials research, or one that requires customized parts in low manufacturing volume without the need for metal machining.
If you are around Massachusetts and would like to check the printer out. Feel free to drop me a line at: Eliad_Cohen@student.uml.edu
Bioplastics Research Center,
University of Massachusetts, Lowell