In addition to manufacturing its gMax Series of large format 3D printers, gCreate runs a 3D printing service bureau. The gCreate Print Service creates runs of large 3D printed objects for its professional client base. gCreate has implemented Palette 2 into this service to increase its material efficiency, decrease labour costs, and improve their print farm’s effectiveness.
gCreate was founded in 2013 after its co-founders discovered a lack of accessible large format printers. Anna and Gordon, gCreate’s founders, come from architecture and fashion backgrounds and repeatedly needed to print large objects - they experienced the lack of options provided first hand. Knowing that there was no product serving the market with needs similar to theirs, they launched their first printer: the gMax 1.0. Within two years, gCreate’s revenue and manufacturing operations had already tripled. From there, they went on to release the gMax 1.5, 1.5+, 1.5 XT+, and most recently the gMax 2.
A CAD design for a 3D printed part by one of gCreates automotive clients. 3D printed parts can be a great way to test dimensions, aesthetics, along with many other aspects of a design with a drastically faster lead time.
As one of the leaders in large format printing, gCreate attracts a unique set of clients who require large format, small to large batch (or custom) production parts. Customers ranging from automotive companies, architecture firms, and product manufacturers come to gCreate in order to produce large runs of prints in short periods of time. Given the number of printers in their service arm, gCreate is able to offer low lead times and higher volumes compared to many other services.
Running a 3D Printing Service
There are a few important aspects to running a successful 3D printing service bureau.
Metrics such as machine utilization rate, print failure (%), material cost, material efficiency, labour costs, and printer maintenance are crucial in determining the operational effectiveness and overall success of a 3D printing service.
Optimizing these aspects of a service company will decrease costs and increase profitability while maintaining fair prices for the customer. Currently, businesses in this sector experience significant inefficiencies in machine utilization rate, material efficiency, and labour costs that can be addressed.
Improving the Manufacturing Process
Although order sizes from gCreate clients greatly vary, all orders have one thing in common: they require a significant amount of material.
Given the gMax 2.0 bed size of 18” x 18” x 24”, filament runout detection became a key aspect of their printing service. A single 1 kg spool of filament may not be enough for a single print, meaning gCreate had to implement a runout detection system to pause their print job when the material spool ended.
Palette 2 inside of gCreate's 3D Printer farm where the company fulfills printed parts for their clients.
On larger jobs, having a print pause overnight because it ran out of filament meant that the machine was idle for hours on end. This could double the length of time the printer was tied up on a specific job, significantly decreasing the machine utilization rate.
Additionally, there would often be 100-150 grams of filament left in the spool at the end of a printing job. This amount was too little to allow gCreate to use the unfinished spool on another print. If gCreate decided to use one of these near-empty spools for a new job, their labour costs would rise as someone would have to intervene to swap in a new spool of material soon after the print job was started.
Reducing Material and Labour Costs
gCreate implemented Palette 2 into their workflow to improve their machine utilization rate, decrease their labour cost per project, and decrease their material costs.
gCreate has been using Palette 2’s Filament Runout Detection (FRD) feature which immediately detects when one spool of filament runs out and automatically switches to the next spool in line. This feature enabled gCreate to effectively eliminate waste and use leftover filament from past projects.
An example of a large 3D printed part which was able to be completed in a more efficient manner due to Palette 2's Filament Runout Detection.
During one project, gCreate used the Filament Runout Detection to feed multiple partial spools into Palette 2, which spliced one partial spool to the next when the initial spool ran out. gCreate was able to put over 40 partial spools of filament to use, a direct savings of $1,250 USD in material for this particular project.
Optimizing Machine Utilization Rate
Previously, if a spool of material ran out overnight and triggered gCreate’s filament runout sensor, the printer would shut down and wait until the operator arrived the next business day. The time from shut-down to operator intervention was considered lost time, decreasing the company’s machine utilization rate.
This downtime occurred because there was no automated way to change from the empty spool of filament to a new one. With the implementation of Palette 2 into its workflow, gCreate’s printers can continuously receive material. When the first spool ran out, Palette 2 would splice to the next spool of filament and allow the printer to print without interruption.
By increasing their machine utilization rate, gCreate is now able to take on more jobs and complete them in a faster time period.
Looking to learn how you can use Palette 2 for your 3D printing service company? Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in learning more about gCreate, their printers, or their printing service? Contact them at email@example.com.