“People Print Things that Are Difficult to Buy at the Store,” Mikhail Yuzhakov from VORTEX
Local 3D printer developer VORTEX will participate in the seventh exhibition of additive technologies 3D Print Expo. Read the interview with the chief construction engineer of VORTEX Mikhail Yuzhakov about peculiarities and differences of Vortex DUAL and Vortex GIANT 3D printers as well as new products of the company.
VORTEX was founded by a group of IT professionals. They have been developing a series of innovation projects in the field of additive technologies since 2013. VORTEX specializes in the production of affordable 3D printing hardware and software intended for commercial and personal use.
Interviewer: 3D Print Expo (3DPE)
Respondent: Mikhail Yuzhakov, chief construction engineer at VORTEX (M.Y.)
3DPE: Initially, VORTEX specialized in the production of CNC machines and related products. Why did you decide to start the development of 3D printing hardware and software?
M.Y.: At first, we needed a 3D printer for personal needs: we developed our first delta printer and off we went. We started taking orders for 3D printers from our partners with whom the company worked before. They were mainly customized orders: customers were telling us what print area, number of heads they needed, what plastics they would use.
With time, we had a certain understanding of user needs in 3D printers, or to be more specific, an image of an ideal 3D printer. The machine has to be fast working, accurate, with a big print bed, simple maintenance, and easy access to functional elements.
3DPE: Tell us more about Vortex DUAL and Vortex GIANT. What are the peculiarities and distinctive features of these models?
M.Y.: These models have a closed case, replacement levers, and changeable print area. They use two independent, interchangeable print heads and a Bowden extruder that can heat plastics up to 340 degrees. Besides, they have a heated bed made of hardened glass which heats up to 140 degrees, undergoes hardly any deformation when heated and excellently holds heat.
An embedded web camera allows monitoring the print remotely. Models of 2019 have new proprietary electronics based on 32-bit ARM Cortex M4, optical axis sensors, an autonomous mode that ensures up to 15 minutes of operation upon power interruption. New, better-elaborated construction of the print head allowed reducing its weight by 150 grams, while the maintenance and access to important elements got easier.
Now both models come with shorter, 10mm wide belts. It allows improving impulse response of movements, increasing acceleration rate. In its turn, it increases print accuracy and speed.
DUAL and GIANT models have different print areas. Giant allows printing items up to 550 mm in diameter and up to 950 mm high. Dual allows printing items up to 320 mm in diameter and up to 500 mm high.
3DPE: How popular is 3D printing in the Russian market? In what fields are additive technologies used most often?
M.Y.: The popularity of 3D printing is growing day by day. Today it is difficult to surprise someone with a 3D printed item. The technology is a part of our everyday life. People print things that are difficult to buy at the store, from unique pendants, souvenirs, works of art, extremity prostheses to modified parts for equipment and cars.
Printers are popular in education, medicine. A growing number of engineers that graduate from universities acquire skills of 3D modelling and printing. 3D printers are in great demand in production when it is required to receive an experimental prototype of an item or product in the shortest term in order to assess how the item or product will look like.
In medicine, 3D printers are required to see bones in real scale before difficult surgeries. 3D printers allow printing rigid non-disposable bandages in case of fractures (as an alternative to classical plaster bandages).
Our customers are mainly plants, higher education institutions, sculptors, advertising agencies, 3D printing studios, enthusiasts.
3DPE: What 3D printing consumables are in demand today? Which of them are better to use in production and which for house use?
M.Y.: PETG has been gaining popularity lately. As a replacement of the traditional PLA PETG. It is less caprice, has a very low shrinkage similar to PLA. Our partner Strimplast can tell more about this and other materials they produce.
3DPE: Which tasks can business representatives solve by implementing and using 3D technologies?
M.Y.: The most important and perhaps the main benefit of 3D printers is the possibility to get samples in the shortest term. Besides, 3D printing is irreplaceable in small-scale production, when it is economically unviable to order a batch of parts from the plant.
3DPE: In your opinion, what will the Russian 3D printing market be like in 5 years?
M.Y.: With every year, technologies are improved, new materials appear, and printers are upgraded technically, being adapted to new requirements. Materials are getting more affordable and the printing process becomes easier year-by-year.
I think that in five years, 3D printers will be at home of every tenth person. New cloud services with readymade models appear. Mobile apps will arrive, using which people will be able to print the needed item in several clicks, having no 3D modelling skills.
3DPE: What projects will you present at 3D Print Expo?
M.Y.: It will be a new ultra-light print head, motion sensors, filament presence-sensing devices that allow detecting problems with material supply during the print, for example, tearing, shortage, or lodging of filament. When a mistake is detected, the printer shifts to the plastics changing mode. When the problem is solved, the printer keeps printing.
Besides, we will present our new and unique autonomous printing technology at the exhibition. We analyzed the statistics of print failures and concluded that in most cases, the reason is the momentary interruption of 220 V power supply.
Usually, printers halt the printing process and offer to continue the last interrupted print. If the print was with ABS plastics, it is impossible to continue printing, as the print bed cools down and the item comes off due to shrinkage.
Our printers rely on another approach. We provide a possibility to keep printing up to 15 minutes after supply disconnection. When electricity is on again, the printer keeps printing as if nothing had happened. Only when the self-contained supply module discharges, the printer goes into the sleep mode, after the end of which it offers the last print.
We will also present our new board based on 32-bit ARM Cortex M4 micro controller STM32, series 4. What is peculiar about our board? Primarily, it’s circuity engineering of industrial controllers, support of up to six axes, load control 220 V, powerful MOSFET transistors intended to connect a load of up to 20А, protection of motor drivers against counter emf, possibility to connect individual power supply for motors, Ethernet and micro-SD ports.
This controller can serve as a base for almost any CNC machine. Now we negotiate with developers of open source firmware (Marlin, Repetier) to include our controller to the list of supported. We are preparing it for retail sale as a standalone product.
We will also announce the launch of the section “Electronics for CNC” on our website, where customers will be able to buy electronics for 3D printers (controllers, all-possible sensors, protection boards, and engines, original guidance rails Hiwin).
Assess products of VORTEX in the exhibition area of the 3D Print Expo!