Wednesday, 14 December 2011

FDM helps Chipotle get "Back to the Start"

Get a behind-the-scenes look at how FDM 3D printing helped create Chipotle’s popular Back to the Start animated short film.

Fast-forward one minute into the movie to hear Bob Thorne, special effects supervisor at Artem Ltd., explain how his team shaved almost a week off a tight production timeline by using the RedEye technology to create just one character.

There is no limit to the end use of 3D printed parts.

To see the full film, click on the link below:

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Bringing Maps to Llife!

vW Maps and RapidPro have produced an accurate, detailed three-dimensional model of the Beechworth wine region. Made with 3D printing technology, the model maps the locations of vineyards, the official wine region, the roads, rivers and wooded areas. The topographically-accurate base shows the rolling hills that help distinguish the region’s wines.

Cartographer Martin von Wyss of vW Maps said the geography of the wine region comes alive in this format.

“Seeing and touching the landforms makes it easy to understand how wind, rain, and temperatures affect the grapes. Clearly the qualities of the wines differ thanks, in part, to the varied topography. The road rises as you head eastward, up into Beechworth, and undulates from Mount Pilot in the north through Beechworth and up to Mount Stanley in the south.”

The full-colour terrain model was printed by specialists RapidPro of Mornington, Victoria, using additive manufacturing technology, also known as rapid prototyping or 3D printing. The Engineering Manager of RapidPro, Simon Bartlett, said that “the high resolution now possible in 3D from these machines makes for a stunning and informative 3D map. We’re only beginning to realise how many industries, such as cartography, can benefit from this technology.”
RapidPro is an Australian-based rapid manufacturing bureau specialising in prototypes and parts for form, fit and function. RapidPro manufactures from 3D computer-aided design files to produce accurate, repeatable and functional prototypes and tools.

vW Maps is the publisher of the Australian Wine Maps series which includes The Wine Map of Australia by Max Allen, The Tasmania Wine and Gastronomy Map with Breweries and Distilleries and The Wine Map of Victoria by Max Allen. These two-dimensional maps are available at book stores, cellar doors and from the publisher via

For more information contact Martin von Wyss, vW Maps on 0424 127 492 or or call RapidPro on 1300 559 454.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Choose Australia to Manufacture in China

China is a rapidly growing manufacturing powerhouse, with many companies choosing to go offshore to save on manufacturing, tooling and prototyping costs.

Whilst manufacturing in China seems cheaper, the old adage "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth" applies. What may look cheaper on paper, could ultimately end up costing companies much more in the long run.

Using an Australian prototyping bureau, such as RapidPro, takes the guesswork out of this possible mine field.

We liaise for you, using companies and connections which we have developed over time. Companies that we trust. We also act as a Quality Control Agency, making sure that your parts and prototypes meet your requirements and specifications.

We make sure that your parts are delivered on time and that your quote is inclusive (with no hidden costs after the project has commenced).

By contacting RapidPro, you get all the benefits of offshore manufacturing, with the reassurance of dealing with an Australian-based company. We act as the prototyping Division of your business, protecting your interests, your intellectual property and, subsequently, our reputation.
There is nothing wrong with manufacturing in China. It's just good business to get people who understand the industry and who have developed trusted relationships with this booming country, to navigate the road, and to handle the process for you.

Monday, 28 November 2011

An alternative to the Plastic Bottle

Plastic bottles are rapidly becoming a waste problem. Jesse Leeworthy, a talented Swinburne University Honours student, decided to do something positive about this growing problem for his final year project, and the result is Ishke.

In Brief:

Product Name: Ishke

Product Field: Water purifying dispensing system.

Product Conception:
• Every single gram of plastic ever produced still exists, taking 1,000 years to biodegrade.
• 214 million kilograms of plastic are expended in the bottling of 89 billion liters of water each year.
• Plastic water bottles have a devastating effect on the environment, marine wildlife and
on human health.
• In many cases 1 litre of bottled water costs over 1,400 times more than tap water.
Despite all this, the popularity of bottled water increases by 10% every year. Ishke aims to reduce the amount of plastic water bottles effecting our health and environment by presenting a sustainable and convenient alternative.

The Ishke Solution: The Ishke system is designed to dispense purified chilled or ambient water into reusable stainless steel bottles.

The dispenser is inbuilt with a six stage, reverse osmosis filtration system and wireless network connectivity. The stainless steel bottles are embedded with an RFID tag that facilitates cashless payment, communicates bottle specifications and user preferences.

Situated in public areas, Ishke offers the convenience, taste and trust of bottled water, but provides a brighter alternative to the current and destructive plastic container. To find out more visit:

Or, to see this and many other final year student designs, visit The Swinburne University Product Design Engineering Exhibition in the new ATC building at the Swinburne Hawthorn campus. The Advanced Technologies Centre is located at 427-451 Burwood Road, Hawthorn.
The opening night will be Tomorrow, Tuesday the 29th of November, and will run until the 2nd of December.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

BBC examines Direct Digital Manufacturing

Will 3D printing revolutionise manufacturing?
By Peter Day

With the creation of many products, including building materials, now possible at the touch of a button, will 3D printing sound the death knell for mass production?

In a way there is nothing new about 3D printing.

For several decades it has been called "rapid prototyping": a quick way of making one-off items from fused plastic or metal powder, using expensive computer-controlled lasers that are at the heart of the "printers".

But now 3D printing is coming into its own, and is being taken seriously as a manufacturing process by very big corporations.

Read the entire article here.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Top Gear showcases Aussie JOSS!

Well Done Joss! It is a credit to this innovative Australian Company that their Supercar features in this month's issue of Top Gear.

The prototype of the JP1 was on display at this year's Melbourne Motor Show, as showcased in a story by Performance Drive (July 2, 2011).

Now Top Gear are giving this Aussie Supercar it's due credit.

RapidPro proudly built the wind tunnel prototype which featured alongside the full size vehicle at the 2011 Melbourne Motor Show.

The wind tunnel model was built using RedEye Australasia's Australian FDM Build Centre.

The model was made from ABS-M30, with a sparse fill interior. This ensured minimum cost for maximum return. The ABS-M30 prototype was then finished by JOSS to look like the full sized Super Car.

The total size of the completed prototype was 1000x400x300mm. It was built in six parts which were then chemically welded to ensure accuracy and strength for the extremes of wind testing.

To read more about JOSS visit their website, and get yourself a copy of the new issue of Top Gear ... out now.

Printing with the Sun!

Check out this 3D printer which uses the Sahara sun instead of a laser!

Markus Kayser's "Solar Sinter" is a working 3-D printer that uses the sun's rays to sinter solid objects of out desert sand.

Markus Kayser - Solar Sinter Project from Markus Kayser on Vimeo.

"In this experiment, sunlight and sand are used as raw energy and material to produce glass objects using a 3-D printing process that combines natural energy and material with high-tech production technology," he writes.

Sintering is a technical term for "melting powder into solid objects," and selective laser sintering is a common 3-D printing technique. Kayser realized that the world's most powerful laser is right above our heads, and to conduct his experiment at maximum sintering strength, he dragged his rig out into the Sahara Desert near Siwa, Egypt, and got to work.

The results aren't going to win any industrial design awards: the sintered sand congeals in craggy layers that look like a baking experiment gone wrong. But because the device is computer-controlled, the overall shape is preternaturally precise: Kayser printed out an abstract sculpture of intertwined cylinders and a mathematically perfect-looking hemispherical bowl.

Kayser doesn't consider his device necessarily useful in its current form, but rather as a proof of concept for "exploring the potential of desert manufacturing, where energy and material occur in abundance."

To view the original story click here.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

International Design Excellence Award winners

From an impressive line-up, Curve has highlighted just a few of the twenty-eight Gold IDEA winners for 2011.

To view the winners click here: Curve Online

Here's one that stood out to us:

Poetree by Margaux Ruyant, from the DSK ISD School of Design
in Pune, India, won Gold in the student category.

So what is it? Well, ashes are placed in the Poetree urn and covered with soil. The family takes the urn home, or to a desired location and plants a tree in it.

The tree and urn are planted, and over time all that is left is the ceramic top and tree, a living, permanent memorial to your loved one.

Well done Margaux, it is a wonderful, thoughtful idea with an environmental edge.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

FDM prints an entire coffee table in one piece

In a recent article on imaterialise, a FDM printed modular coffee table was featured.

The Module, designed by celebrated designers WertelOberfell–Platform is printed in one piece on a Stratasys FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) Maxum machine.

The coffee table is based on fractal growth patterns in trees and designed specifically to minimize waste. Individual Module coffee tables can be intertwined in order to get just the size of table you need.

To watch the build click on the link below.

The machine used in the video is the Stratasys FDM Maxum, one of the largest 3D printers in existence with a build volume of 600 x 500 x 600 mm. Redeye Australasia has a Maxum on the premises and can make large scale prototypes in a single piece within Australia, reducing waiting time for parts to a maximum of a few days.

The Stratasys 900MC in RedEye's American Build Centre is capable of building prototypes as large as 914 x 610 x 914 mm and can supply them direct to Australia through the Australasian Build Centre. See it in action below.

Producing prototypes with a high degree of dimensional accuracy, FDM is becoming increasingly popular for aerospace, automotive as well as art and other creative prototyping. For an instant quote visit

Thursday, 25 August 2011

The world's first 3D printed plane!

The promise of 3D printing has finally taken off with the development of a drone that takes just a week to create.

The plane parts took just two days to design and a further five days to print, making "Sulsa" as it is called, a one-week plane. And customising future variants of this ready made design would take only minutes on automated design software, says Jim Scanlan of the University of Southampton.

Describing the Sulsa's maiden flight, Scanlan said, "We have witnessed some technomagic today. It's very hard to believe this aircraft was just a pile of dust last Friday."

Read the whole story at New Scientist.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

An Excellent Example of 3D Plaster Modelling

We recently stumbled across this project on a Slovenian 3D prototyping website. had built a model of the Soraya 46, a luxury cruiser, for a boat show.

Their pictorial story accurately highlights the benefits of ZCorp plaster composites as form models and the amazing finishes that can be achieved.

Take a look below.

1. The Cad Drawing

2. The ZCorp Plaster model in two parts

3. The completed model proior to painting and finishing

4. The Finished model ready for the show.

Well done This story really showcases teh strength sof ZCorp plaster 3D printing for models, architectural building and any other project where clients woudl like to see what the finished item will look like.

To see if 3D plaster printing is suitable for your next project, call RapidPro on 1300 559 454.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Tip Stool a finalist

We would like to congratulate Adam Weaver from Convert Studio's, one of our valued client's, for making it into the top 15 finalists in this year’s Launch Pad 2011 Design Awards.
His Tip Stool design (pictured) will be judged alongside 14 other worthy products next week, with the winner to be announmced during a VIP night in Sydney.

Launch Pad is an Australian Design programme which helps emerging designers get their name out to both national and international audiences.

Click on the following link to view the finalists online.

You can view the finalists in person at Saturday in Design, August 19 and 20. For more details click here.

Congrats Adam - we will have our fingers crossed!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Tough Plaster Prototypes are here!

Check out this video. It is a 3D printed ZCorp skateboard that is solid enough to be used as a functional prototype. As you watch this, remember - this is made from plaster!

RapidPro also uses ZCorp printers to create rapid prototypes in plaster composites. They can be printed in full colour, up to a build size of 380 x 250 x 200 mm in a single build or larger when built in pieces. Plaster is the most cost effective prototyping available, so call to see if it may be suitable for your next project.

Congratulations Outerspace Design!

Outerspace are celebrating industry recognition at the AIDA last Friday night.

In the Housing & Building Category, the Desert Eco Adapt Advanced urinal cartridge won a Good Design™ accolade for its broad compatibility and ease-of-use.

The Quest duō also won a Good Design™ accolade in the Business & Technology category for its unique versatility.

The Outerspace Packaging Division was excited that the Golden Circle juice bottle for Heinz won both a Design Award™ in the Consumer category and a place in the Powerhouse Museum collection. Products were assessed by an international panel on form, function, quality, safety and sustainability.

RapidPro is proud to work alongside Outerspace during the prototyping phase of their projects. For more information on Outerspace design visit their website at:

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

3D printing in Chocolate!

Whilst this is not a service RapidPro currently offers, it would be nice.

Check out this article that recently appeared on
Mashable and The Age online.

British taxpayers will no doubt be tickled to know that the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the UK government’s leading funding agency for research and training in engineering and the physical sciences, has produced this video about chocolate printing.

As the scientists explain, consumers who download a piece of software will easily be able to sketch the kind of chocolate they’d like to make. Then they can send the 3D CAD file to a machine in a local shop and pick up their chocolate 10 minutes later.

Of course, as we all know, printing doesn’t always go as smoothly as advertised. And a jam in this case could be especially messy.

It's quirky, but clever!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Forbes Story on Manufacturing

This is an article to interesting to miss.

Manufacturing, 3D Printing and What China Knows About the Emerging American Century
by Mark P Mills

Read the story by clicking this link FORBES.

So what do you think? Email us your comments at:

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

ANNO Student Design Competition

Anno is an online design competition for students with dreams as vast as their talent, and for the industry heavy-hitters looking for the next generation of superstars.

The competition and showcase encompasses the disciplines of advertising, architecture, fashion design, graphic design, illustration, industrial design and photography. Anno is open to anyone currently studying and graduates from 2010 - 2011 in any of these categories at a tertiary level.
Work is voted on each month with the Top 25 in each category being showcased for ongoing industry and public viewing.

RapidPro's own Jesse Leeworthy is in the runnning again to be showcased in this year's book with his innovative Chair - Vitis, which is an exploration into the philosophy of sustainable growth and evolution by up-cycling waste into a usable form and function. Vitis is constructed of discarded newspaper, steel and fiberglass.

To vote for Jesse visit Anno Here.

Australian International Design Awards 2011 - To be announced in July!

On Friday July 22 the winner of the Australian International Design Awards will be announced, but don't wait until then to check out the finalists. Get online now and take a look at the projects and designers who are in the running for the top prize.

Over the years we have worked on many prototypes that ultimately end up as products in the AIDA, and with many of the designers involved with this years awards. We would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone the best of luck.

Check out this years finalists click here.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Dan Mishek explains Vista Tek's move from SLA to Polyjet

On a recent trip to the USA, RapidPro was fortunate to meet up with Dan Mishek, Managing Director of Vista Tek, an American based Rapid Prototyping and Tooling business, and get a tour of the facility.

Dan Mishek is a huge advocate for advanced prototyping technologies and company automation.

Below is a recent article published on about his companies move from SLA to Objet (Polyjet) printing.

The Myth of The Gold Standard: Making the leap from SLA

From 1900 to 1971, U.S. currency was based on the gold standard, meaning the U.S. treasury literally held enough gold in reserve to act as collateral for all the nation’s cash.

When Nixon lifted the gold standard in 1971, many predicted a financial apocalypse that never came. Nixon and the Fed [Federal Reserve] educated the financial community about the false necessity of the gold standard and the markets quickly adjusted to a new reality.

Similarly, rapid prototyping service bureaus have relied on stereolithography (SLA) machines even as newer technologies have come along with advanced features at a lower equipment cost. Still, most shops insist on maintaining their expensive SLA machines — just in case.

In 2010, my service bureau, VistaTek, lifted the figurative gold standard by decommissioning the last of its five SLA machines and moving to Objet 3D inkjet based PolyJet technology. Apocalypse? Far from it. In the subsequent months, business picked up and our margins improved due to three main factors:

1.The superior quality of the parts created on our Objet printers.
2.The broad variety of materials (30+) and the added speed that we could offer the industry.
3.The extra business opportunities that we earned from customers who can now use us for all their rapid prototyping and production needs.
Rapid Prototyping & Complex Injection Molds

Established in 1996 with four employees and one SLA machine, Vista Technologies (VistaTek), specializes in rapid prototyping, rapid tooling, and injection molding. The company’s broad mix of capabilities set it apart from other service bureaus — we could produce prototypes fast with virtually any rapid prototyping material.

In the years since its founding, the company grew swiftly. In 2006, the company had 20 employees, 1,200 customers, and five SLA machines. By 2010, it had 30 employees, 1,800 customers – including 3M, SPX Corporation, and Toro – and zero SLA machines.

That’s right, not one SLA machine. In 2010, our company replaced all of its SLA machines with Objet PolyJet 3D printers.

Good Parts, Few Choices

Why did we make the change? Since most of our work is done on the front end of the product development cycle, fit, and form are important. Tolerance and surface finish are also important for molding, and SLA had always been a good fit from that perspective.

But SLA machines were messy and expensive. Material vats cost upwards of $60,000 each, and because they were so large and difficult to swap out, we could only keep two to three materials on hand at any given time. This limited customers’ choices and forced them to use several different service bureaus to meet all their needs.

Upkeep of the machines cost a fortune because, frankly, much of the equipment in the market is old. We had purchased our machines when SLA technology was new, about 10 years prior. It built in thickness layers of 0.004” and 0.006”, which was state-of-the-art circa 2001, but it is considered very crude by today’s standards. Because upgrades to our SLA equipment would cost $500,000 to $700,000 per machine, we were reluctant to make the investment.

In addition, we felt that SLA service parts had become commoditized. With no recent technological improvements, all the service bureaus competed on price. To make up for slim margins, many bureaus began cutting corners such as skimping on finish work, leading to further deterioration of part quality. We didn’t want to get sucked into that game.

So in 2008 we decided to try something new, and we purchased our first high-resolution 3D printer from Objet for about one-quarter the cost of a new large platform SLA machine.

Exponential Increase in Material Choices

We could immediately see that the part quality was unmatched, plus the machines were faster and cost of production was lower. In 2009, we upgraded to Objet’s Connex printer, which gave us the ability to jet multiple materials simultaneously.

By blending Objet’s 10 base materials in different ways, we could now jet 30+ different digital materials, giving our customers unprecedented choice, and enabling a mix of more than 10 different mechanical properties in a single printed part.

That’s when we started to think about making the wholesale switch from SLA to Objet.

Like Nixon, we didn’t treat our move away from the gold standard lightly. For most of our customers, part quality trumps cost, so we analyzed the specs. We produced and tested dozens of parts.

What we found is that the part quality off our Objet printer was always at least on par with SLA, and for certain applications it was much better — with little finish work needed. Objet offers a greater variety of materials, including soft durometer materials, and its overmolding capabilities were a huge advantage.

We now have material choices ranging from 27 Shore A to 90 Shore D, and because we can jet multiple materials in a single tray, we can deliver exactly what each customer wants with no delay (and no lost business). Because it shortened our turnaround times dramatically, our 3D printer also helped lower our cost of production and improve our margins.

Our Taste Test

Before making our final decision to ditch our SLA machines, we did our equivalent of the Folgers Taste Test. You may remember the Folgers Coffee commercials from the 1980s in which the company would stage a taste test in an upscale restaurant, daring customers to identify which coffee was the expensive roast and which was Folgers. Invariably, Folgers came out on top.

In our case, we would take a part order that we traditionally produced using SLA and produce it on our Objet printer. Not one customer noticed the difference, and they complimented us on the material variety we were now able to provide.

We began decommissioning our SLA machines and replacing them with new Objet Connex printers.

By mid-2010, our last SLA machine was taken offline.

The primary benefit is material choice. Objet cartridges are smaller than SLA vats, and the switch out is much easier — about the same amount of labor as changing a regular printer cartridge. Instead of stocking three different materials, now we could stock dozens. That variety means that customers can now come to VistaTek for one-stop shopping and we can earn more of their business. Plus, the cost of ownership is far lower than it was for our SLA machines.

Any Customer Request

Was making this switch the safe choice? No. We gave up what for many years was considered to be the gold standard in our industry, but the bottom line was we felt SLA was no longer meeting customer needs. SLA technology is outdated, the material choices are insufficient, and the cost of production is simply too high. We were willing to take a chance on a newer, better technology.

That chance has paid off. In 2010, our tooling business achieved double-digit growth and our injection molding business showed triple-digit growth. The growth is attributed, in part, to our ability to work more closely with customers on product development and to handle a greater variety of their rapid prototyping and molding needs.

I’m not saying the switch wasn’t nerve-racking — it was. There is a fine line between cutting edge and bleeding edge, but we take pride in our innovative use of technology, which in this case resulted in stronger customer relationships, growing revenue, and higher profits.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Commodore Ute to US: 100,000 votes needed!

According to The Age Drive and an article by Barry Park, we are again set to export our Commodore Ute to the US.

The article is as follows:

US website rallies to GM's Twitter call of 'If you ask for an El Camino ute, we'll do it'.

An off-the-cuff quip from General Motors' newly appointed chief marketing officer could be just the thing to help Holden's cause to sell the Commodore ute in the US.

Joel Ewanick, who made the jump from Hyundai to the US car maker late last year, recently joined the social networking service Twitter. He soon started interacting with Chevrolet fans, with many of them asking for the car maker to re-introduce a vehicle based on a cross between a truck (ute) and a car.

In response to one passionate request for a new-age El Camino, Ewanick wrote: ''Well, we need you and 100,000 more of your best friends.''

Advertisement: Story continues below That was enough for US motoring website Jalopnik, which is now on a campaign to collect the names tally it needs to convince Ewanick to kick-start the ute program.

Former Holden managing director Mark Reuss, who now heads up GM's North American operations, told Drive recently that rising fuel prices and the weak US economy could open up space for the Commodore ute to find a place as low-cost tradesman's transport.

The groundwork has already been done, too. Holden has had one failed attempt to get the Commodore-based ute — the two-seat version has quite a lot in common with the four-door sedan it shares its name with, including the way it drives — into the US.

After building up hype, including a fan-based competition to name the US version of the ute as the Pontiac G8 ST, the program was cancelled in early 2009 as GM collapsed into bankruptcy and diverted it efforts to trying to keep the company alive rather than build new markets.

However, with GM since shelving the Pontiac name indefinitely, the new US version of a Holden ute would need to wear a Chevrolet badge — again spurring hope that the El Camino name could be resurrected.

GM has even shown a more rugged-looking version of the Commodore ute — badged the GMC Denali XT concept — in 2008, but the concept is yet to make it into production.

Jalopnik's call has only been out for a week so far, but already the website has collected more than 3000 names.

''Let's show GM [that] 'Merica wants the only car that's business up front with a party in the back,'' the website says.

Sign up here.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Building a 3D model or Rapid Prototype from Zbrush

Zbrush has taken the design industry by storm. A digital sculpting and painting program, Zbrush has revolutionized the 3D industry with its powerful features and intuitive workflows. Used by animators, studios, artists and designers, a 3D model is easily created on screen. However, these can also be built, or printed, using rapid prototyping technology.

Building a physical 3D model is different to creating a 3D image on screen. On screen it doesn't matter if parts do not actually touch. When building a physical model, this is paramount. All items must touch, they must be able to be physically built and weighted to stand (if necessary).

An excllent article about this can be found at

Josh Harker, in an article at Zbrush Central, suggests 10 key factors when using Zbrush to create models for 3D printing:

1. Avoid extreme “wrinkles” in your mesh that overlap into a mess of polygons. Your surface does not need to be smooth but take care not to compromise the skin into a crumpled mess. This does not translate well into 3D and can render the file useless for printing.

2. All parts need to be “closed”. There can be no open holes or gaps in meshes. The .ZTL “Demo Head” for instance is not buildable as is. The bottom is completely open and the printers cannot read a zero thickness open skin. I had to close the bottom in another program and create an .STL from that.

3. When working with subtools you must combine all subtools before exporting. In a nutshell: “Make Polymesh 3D” of each subtool, then insert those PM3D’s (see “insert mesh” under “Geometry”) into a single tool & save the .ZTL or export as an .OBJ using the Quads setting. Subtools or components that can be separated from the model and attached physically after the build (swords, bases, guns, extended arms, hair, etc.) can all lower the models poly count by spreading it out over a few parts. This can also decrease the dimensional extents of the model which directly effects the printing costs.

4. Subtools need to overlap. If they are “line to line” or floating, they will lift off the model when its printed. This has not been a problem as far as overlapping meshes and multiple shells regarding file corruption since the intersections are clean and make sense as opposed to a wrinkled or crumpled mess of polygons. This is very apparent in the DemoSoldier file (see picture). If you take a close look at the .ZTL file you can see where the shoulder pads, goggles, backpack straps, etc are not well attached or are floating. The picture shows how those features ended up lifting off or breaking in the printed part. Image courtesy Josh Harker and

5. An exception to overlapping subtools is when you want the parts to be “attached” but not cohesive (i.e. chain links or other interlocked assemblies).

6. The lower the poly count the better. 2 million polys has proved to be nearly the maximum workable amount. Again, less is better. Model sizes should be 250MB MAX. There are a few ways to keep the file size (poly counts) under control:
- Decimate the poylgons/triangles data using Softimage XSI, Geomagic Studio or similar. We use Magics & MeshLab. MeshLab imports & exports .OBJ & .STL, effectively decimates the data, & is free! Unfortunately it likes to crash with larger files which kind of defeats the purpose but you can't really complain when it's free.

7. Try to foresee areas that may not need the mesh density of highly detailed areas & avoid dividing them. Technically speaking, the poly count or mesh density makes no difference to the machine as far as ability to build but the file sizes & processing times like to crash even the most robust workstations.

8. There is a point where, even when printing on a high resolution Objet Polyjet printer, the extreme detail of a highly subdivided model will never be reproduceable unless you were to create a monumentally large part from the file. You can always lower the resolution slider of highly subdivided models to a level appropriate for printing. A SDiv level of 4 or 5 seems to be plenty for even finely detailed models. Much lower SDiv levels (2 or 3) can be fine for simpler shapes.

9. What seems like a perfect fix is to create a new topology of the model without losing any details. I believe that is what Plakkie covers in his thread Topology & Flow Lab but I have had difficulty making use of this in any kind of reasonable time frame. Hopefully I’m simply missing the crux of how to effectively apply it. Anyone who is adept at this please post your secrets! It could help make the final prepped file infinitely better.

10. From there, import your OBJ into whatever software you may have and convert to an .STL. ready to be built using a RP processes.

If you have a project you would like to discuss, if you need further help converting files or you have a project ready for rapid prototyping, contact RapidPro at or call us on 1300 559 454.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Importance of Professional Maintanance

RapidPro and RedEye Australasia have just had Daryl Baumgartner, a service engineer from Stratasys, to our build centre to service all the FDM machines.

This major service is part of our Quality Control Program.

We feel very fortunate to have had someone of Daryl's calibre to our build centre because not only does he work for Stratasys in the United States, he actually wrote the service manual!

Try FDM for your next prototyping project and rest assured your project is being built by professionally serviced and maintained machines operating at their optimal capacity.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Announcing the 1st Pacific Additive Manufacturing Forum

Additive Manufacture (AM), also referred to as 3D printing, is now playing an ever increasing role in a range of industries such as aerospace, automotive, medical and defence because of the many benefits if offers compared to traditional subtractive technologies.

The 1st Pacific Additive Manufacturing Forum (PAMF) aims to bring together industry professionals, engineers, researchers, and equipment and material suppliers to hear the latest developments and trends in Additive Manufacturing (AM) technology from international speakers and local industry players.

The one-day Forum in Melbourne will serve as the opening for half day presentations in Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane from 8 to 15 June 2011 organised in partnership with the Defence Materials Technology Centre.

Registrations and information:

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Pay your invoice online with PayPal

RapidPro now accepts online payment of invoices via credit card to make paying invoices even easier.

To process a credit card payment via PayPal, simple click on the contacts and fill in the details under the PayPal link.

The payment will be securely processed via PayPal.

Of course, you can still call us direct if you would prefer to process a payment over the phone by calling 1300 559 454.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

RapidPro catches Grand Prix Fever!

With our proud history of automotive prototyping and expertise in automotive engineering, it was wonderful to be invited to the FI Grand Prix to watch Brad Jones Racing and Team BOC compete in the V8 Supercars .

Brad Jones Racing

Brothers Brad and Kim Jones have tasted success with their own team in just about every category they have raced in. Whether it was AUSCAR, NASCAR, production cars or two-litre Super Tourers, the Jones brothers from Albury know what it takes to be successful. BJR moved into V8 Supercar racing in 2000. It grew to a two-car team in 2002 with the signing of John Bowe and made one of its biggest ever switches for 2008, moving from Ford to Holden with a pair of ex-HRT Commodores.

Team BOC results at Albert Park 2011

Broken drive pegs on Jason Richards' Team BOC car denied everyone a fairytale ending at Albert Park on the weekend, eventhough the team had finished second the previous day and looked set to go one better on the final day. But while Richards retired on lap five, team-mate Jason Bright finished 10th overall after damaging a front tyre trying to pass Will Davison and limping home with a respectable finish. Richards, who is suffering from a rare form of cancer, will now focus full-time on his recovery and Jason Bargwanna will return to Team BOC for the Hamilton 400 in three weeks' time.

Driver's Quotes:

Jason Bright (#8 Team BOC Commodore VE II – 10th)

"I went to go down the inside of Will Davison; he'd left enough room but as soon as we got on the brakes he shut the door. I was already committed so had to mash the brake pedal pretty hard to avoid a pile up. It destroyed my right-front tyre. There'll be a flat spot on it like never before.

“I considered pitting but it held in for a lap so I thought I would hold onto the pack in front but ended up more competitive than I thought. Having said that, it certainly wasn't as strong as what we've come to expect after Abu Dhabi and Adelaide.”

Jason Richards (#14 Team BOC Commodore VE II – DNF)

“It would have been beautiful to stand on the podium, and I had a very real chance today, but the way the race unfolded with the safety car early on went against our strategy.

"I'm disappointed in a micro way. Spearing off at Turn One was not ideal but I got out of the weekend what I came here to get; I got more out of it. I got the energy that I wanted and my fan base is growing from all the supporters here this weekend. It's broken down all the barriers between Ford and Holden and I have to thank everyone for their support. It's been unreal.

"I've had a fantastic weekend; it's been amazing."

RapidPro would like to thanks Andrew Campbell, Brad Jones Racing and Team BOC for taking the time out to show us around Pit Lane and allowing us to share in the incredible experience of V8 Supercar racing at it's best.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Bringing the best prototyping services to you

RapidPro has always been a one stop shop for all your rapid prototyping needs, but in an effort to improve our already extensive range of services, we are now acting as an agent for the long standing and highly reputable Perth-based rapid prototyping firm of Solid Concepts.

Specialists in SLA and SLS prototyping, as well as vacuum casting, metal casting and rapid tooling, Solid Concepts also has an office in Singapore with CNC capabilities.

No matter what your project, RapidPro has the expertise and technology to meet your needs. Call us to discuss your next project on 1300 559 454.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

RapidPro launches New Website

We are pleased to announce that RapidPro has a new look website!

It is social media savy, packed full of rapid prototyping information and still provides you with all the links you need to contact us for your next prototyping job.

Check it out at RapidPro.

If you have a story you would like to include on our blog or information you would like to share, please send content and pictures through to us. If suitable, we will be happy to link your page or showcase your products.

Email story ideas here.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Prototyping: From Idea to Completion

Designers, artists and engineers come to RapidPro with a concept or an idea. Sometimes it is a sketch, but most often it is a CAD file.

From the CAD file a rapid prototype is built (sometimes referred to as printed).

Rapid prototypes can be built using many different prototyping processes and materials. The material and process chosen is usually based on:
1. The requirements of the prototype
2. It's purpose
3. The timeframe
4. The budget

Plaster prototypes such as this can be chromed to look like metal if required. They are much cheaper than metal prototypes and much quicker to build. However, they are not as strong and cannot be used for strength testing, only form studies.

The rapid prototype is then made to the specifications outlined by the designer.

It can then be finished to look like the final product or left in it's raw state depending on the clients requirements.

The designer then receives approval for the project, wins the tender or the contract and proceeds with manufacturing or building of the final project.

Take the guesswork out of your next project with a Rapid Prototype. They are inexpensive and may just turn your idea into a reality.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Pixar uses 3D Printing in Toy Story 3

A recent article in Time Compression highlighted how Pixar used ZCorp 3D full colour printing to capture some of their characters for the recent Toy Story 3 movie.

A detailed rapid protoyping technique producing full colour models from a plaster/epoxy composite, because the model is printed in colour, there is no detialed painting or finishing required. Just look at the colour and surface texture of Lotso (Pictured Right).

A popular rapid prototyping technique offered by RapidPro, ZCorp 3D printing is cost effective, quick and ideal for form studies, models, figurines and mass models.

For more information on 3D printing, visit our website.

To read the article by Time Compression click here.

Small Scale Model to Large Public Open Space Artwork

Working with artists is always a lot of fun, especially when their projects are converted from a small model into a large scale artwork for Public Open Space. We recently worked with renowned Queensland artist and designer Russell Anderson ( on his most recent piece for the Springfield Lakes Corporation. Read all about it below, and be sure to click on the link to watch the video.

The NanO Harvester

Russell Anderson is a very talented artist and designer currently located in Brisbane. His most recent project is a spectacular water feature installed at Springfield Lakes called the NanO Harvester.

How does it work? The green cup or bucket holds around half a tonne of water, which moves and spills water several times a minute from the bucket onto the umbrella type wings below. The water then cascades down to the ground where it is recycled and reused.

The main feature of a new water park at Springfield Lakes, it is a dramatic, interactive artwork which is an eye-catching focal point, even when not in use.

A place to play and an iconic landmark for the Springfield Lakes area, the NanO Harvester is not just art, it is an outstanding engineering achievement.

To watch the NanO Harvester in action, click this link: NanO Harvester

The Rapid Prototyping RapidPro's role in this project evolved as the artwork progressed. Originally we were engaged to build a small scale replica in plaster/epoxy which helped Russell to win the contract. This prototyping process was chosen as it is quick, inexpensive, ideal for form studies and could be easily painted and finished to Russell's specifications.

When the final design was determined, RapidPro prototyped several parts using RedEye Australasia's FDM build centre to build parts from ABS for use as foundry patterns. FDM is a layer by layer additive manufacturing technique ideal for functional components and accurate patterns in the thermoplastic materials used in manufacturing such as ABS and PC.

RapidPro also machined many of the finished metal parts for the final sculpture using CNC prototyping.

A wonderful addition to the Springfield Lakes area, we look forward to visiting it ourselves one day soon.

Russell has many more projects in the pipeline, and we will be sure to keep you up to date with how Russell's works are progressing and where you can see them for yourself.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

There's more to prototyping than processes

All too often the focus on rapid prototyping is placed on the various rapid prototyping processes, however it is the desired end use of the prototype which should really dictate how the part is built and what materials are used.

There are many ways to build rapid prototypes, some take longer and cost more, requiring several steps, while others are a quick cost efficient solution. These may not always be right for your project, but it is important to understand the pro's and con's of each process when selecting the right rapid prototyping technique and material for your project.

That is where the professionals at RapidPro can help. We will present you with the options best suited to your project, with relevant timelines and costs so that you can make the best decision for your company, client and project.

There are lots of different prototyping processes, each using very different materials, with a wide array of finishing techniques available. So speak to an expert and get them to help you make the right choice for your next project.

Need a part that looks like metal but is only for a form study?
A machined metal part would be great .... but this takes weeks and involves a high cost. Instead, you could build the part in plaster and get it chromed to look just like the finished part. While it will not be as strong as metal, it is perfect for form studies and will be delivered to your door in days with very little financial outlay.

Need a transparent bottle or vial?
Yes, you could get the part machined from acrylic, taking a least 5 days at a high cost, or you could build it using WaterShed XC for SLA and have a transparent water tight part in days at a much lower cost.

The Moral of the Story:
Do not get too caught up in rapid prototyping terms and pre-conceived notions. Instead, speak to the professionals at RapidPro about your next project and let us guide you through your options. We will present you with the most cost-efficient and timely solutions to your rapid prototyping needs.