Another year flew by like it was nothing. Wasn’t it only yesterday that it was 2015? And a little over week from now it’s 2017! It is time for our annual recap. If you want to see what we did before, catch up with 2014 and 2015. Then, get ready for our 2016 recap!
As they say, time flies when you are having fun. What a year it was: here at colorFabb we cannot recall one day that was boring or unexciting. Every day brought something new and exciting and we have no doubt that 2017 will bring even more excitement. To give you a quick overview, here is colorFabb by the numbers right now:
- Over 430 stock keeping units (individual articles)
- Over 30 printers in two printlabs for testing
- Nearly 20 shows so far we have exhibited on (and met a lot of you)
- 17 distributors worldwide and counting, with a lot more resellers
- 6 production lines
- 5 years since the first idea for colorFabb took shape
- 4 years active!
- 3 article groups (co-polyesters, PLA/PHA and specials)
- 2 hours of sleep we get on average every night
- 1 kick-ass team to bring colorFabb filaments to your printer!
You can find the timeline of the past four years here. Below are the highlights of last year in a more or less chronological order. Grab that cup of coffee, sit back and scroll down! Enjoy!
Let’s start at the beginning: January. As is tradition in the world of tech, the first week of the year all eyes (biological and digital) are focused on Las Vegas. Aleph Objects, producer of the highly rated Lulzbot Mini and Taz 3D printers invited us to join them at the Sands convention centre for the entire show, an invitation we gladly accepted. Aleph’s printers and our then recently launched nGen filament are a great match. nGen is available at the Lulzbot store, as well as other colorFabb filaments.
During this show we also launched nGen in a big way. nGen is of course our all-round filament for 3D printing. We introduced it in a limited capacity at the end of 2015. At the core of its reliability is the special chemical make-up of the Eastman Amphora™ AM3300 3D polymer, which results in a good melt stability. From pellet to filament to 3D print, nGen retains its material properties very well, meaning more stable results with less waste of time and material.
One of the first, widely shared, reviews about nGen was from 3D Printing For Beginners. Click here to re-read this glowing review, which still holds up to this very day. nGen is currently available in 17 exciting colors.
In January and February we also held our time-lapse contest. Over 80 valid entries entered to win the grand prize of 48 spools of filament. You can find the full list with all entries by clicking here. Slovenian company AKLIH won this contest with the following entry:
To learn more about AKLIH and their work, look no further than the blog we recently wrote about them.
And then it was March and we attended the RapidPro show again. This show is where it all started for colorFabb 4 years ago, early 2013. After several months of preparations we announced our first products there. Now, for the fourth time there, we announced another exciting new product at the show: colorFabb_HT.
ColorFabb_HT is a low-odor and styrene-free material uniquely suited for advanced 3D printing users, particularly those who need their models to exhibit excellent durability, toughness and high temperature resistance – which is over 100 degrees C. ColorFabb_HT empowers professional users to create more durable and useful items, making prototyping truly functional. ColorFabb_HT is made with BPA-free Eastman Amphora HT5300 3D polymer. You can read all about this excellent engineering material on our dedicated landing page.
Another feature that can be achieved with colorFabb_HT is a certain degree of transparancy. You can read our blog about this here or marvel at the see-through print we made:
In April we geared up for what is claimed to be the biggest industrial trade show in the world: The Hannover Messe. Like the year before we were there with the Eastman Amphora based filaments and of course the Stacker S4 3D printer. The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, even visited us!
In May we held a poll to see what you fine people really think of us. The results surprised us! Here are some figures:
- Over 86% of our customers rate our products and services a 8 or higher!
- Over 95% of our customers would definitely recommend our products to other users!
- Over 91% of customers who contacted our support desk rated the service as “Awesome”!
These are quite staggering numbers and we are proud of them. This is by no means a sign that we can sit back and relax. We have taken your feedback and are working on this. One of the issues that we heard most (“Shipping costs!”) are being worked on as we speak. Keep an eye out in the coming weeks to see an exciting announcement regarding shipping of our filaments!
Aside from a lot of work behind the scenes to future-proof colorFabb for the future, all efforts were aimed at the AM Show in Amsterdam. Originally part of the 3D Print Show in London, the AM Show was completely re-branded and held for the first time in the RAI in Amsterdam in the last week of June. Although debates still go on about the quantity of the visitors we can safely say that the quality of the visitors was high.
We announced a new material at the show: steelFill, our fourth metal based filament. After succesfully launching bronzeFill in 2014, copperFill later that year and brassFill in early 2015, steelFill has already seen a rapid adoption. As with these other filaments, the key is post-processing and you can use similar techniques as with our other special metal based filaments (more on that later, keep scrolling).
Design by Geoff W. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:571321
One of the biggest draws during the AM Show was the huge Saturn V rocket, which was printed by Korneel Bullens. Entirely printed with nGen the total build took over 3500 hours on a total of 4 Ultimaker 2+ printers, 1 of them being a Ultimaker 2+ Extended. The rocket stands at 2.5 meters high. You can read all about this huge print in September’s blog.
After the AM Show summer holidays started all over the northern hemisphere. We took some time off, one by one, and this is also a good place to talk about post-processing (since everybody has a bit more time during their vacation, we think). This year we wrote several blogs about post-processing our materials. Of course, it is our aim to release materials that look awesome straight from the printer but we know there is a need for post-processing in certain cases, especially with our special filaments.
Below is a summary of post-processing resources:
- Post-processing our metal filled filaments with the now famous gCreate rocket (see image below) as a prime example
- A collection of blogs about post-processing metal filled filaments
- Painting nGen prints
- Post-processing co-polyester filaments
One request we are still working on is a blog on glueing 3D printed parts. This will be published soon.
During the summer we also started warehousing filaments in the US. colorFabb USA, Inc provides our distributors in North America with our filaments. It is our aim to have our products faster and more efficiently available in the US through our distributor network.
Early September we also revamped our tutorial site: https://learn.colorfabb.com/ Originally intended as a site for tutorials, we have expanded the scope a bit by adding a News section where all the latest news (including this blog) can be found. The most active part is the Featured Print section where we regularly post prints we make in our print lab or feature prints that we found made from our materials. Keep an eye out on this blog for all the latest and greatest colorFabb related items!
The post-holiday 3D printing season cannot start without attending the TCT Show. You can read the full recap here, but we want to highlight two things from that show.
First of all the release of our first semi-flexible filament: nGen_FLEX. nGen_FLEX is a new elastomer material added to our existing range of co-polyester functional 3D printing filaments. It is made from Eastman Amphora™ Flex 3D Polymer FL6000 and the fourth filament in our range of Amphora based co-polyester, following colorFabb_XT, nGen and colorFabb_HT.
It is best described as a semi-flexible material with good printability on most 3D printers eliminating the use for specialized flex extruders. It’s rated at a Shore A hardness level of 95. By adjusting infill and perimeter settings it’s possible to influence how flexible a part should feel after printing.
It is chemically resistant and has a temperature resistance of over 120 degrees C. We have released this material in two colors: black and dark gray. We are looking at making skintone colors commercially available. nGen_FLEX was very well received. We have assembled the initial reviews.
Another highlight of the show was our Open RC Formula 1 project release. Designed by Daniel Norée (for the design, click here), we scaled his design 250% and used our entire range of co-polyester filaments, including nGen_FLEX for the wheels, to print this beast of a car! Check out the accompanying video:
October was a relatively quiet month, but only because we knew that come the end of the year it would be extremely busy. And we were right.
Starting in November we celebrated our fourth birthday. It had been four years in November since we started with colorFabb. It has been a roller coaster ride ever since and we could never ever have anticipated the success that colorFabb has experienced! We celebrate this with offering a great discount in our webshop: Buy 4, but Pay 3! The the exception of PLA Economy spools and samples, this applies to all other filaments. This promotion lasts until the end of this year, so there is still time to take advantage of this great deal!
Wait, we skipped a beat… We mentioned PLA Economy without properly introducing it here. In recent years we were asked quite regularly if there would be a colorFabb branded filament available in a more competitive price range. We have taken our time to source a raw material that would still be high quality, but which we would be able to offer at a much lower price. We found that PLA formulation with an impact modifier with our new PLA Economy range. Available in 4 colors and on 2.2kg spools only, this new filament offers a great value for your money.
As we did last year, we participated in the consumer madness called Black Friday. On top of the Buy 4, Pay 3 promotion we granted a 15% discount on all filaments, which resulted in longer delivery times and some serious overtime for our production and logistics teams.
Let’s take a step back and appreciate the awesome team we work with here. Everybody working at colorFabb – from production to finance, from IT to logistics, from material development to sales and from our team in the print lab to the management team – we all have one single goal: to bring the best possible 3D printing filament to your printer. It’s a simple goal, but also an ambitious one. Every day the entire team improves the processes and tries to find ways to improve our products and services. The result is always a team effort. With the best individual input we can bring in, we accomplish the best possible product and service as Team colorFabb.
Design by Tony Short (more info here)
It’s a small step from Team colorFabb to Team 3D printing. Of course we are talking about 3D Printing Day, which is becoming an annual event. December 3rd has been announced 3D Printing Day by 3D Hubs for eternity now. 3D Hubs is one of our partners and they recently released a great blog to explain what 3D printing exactly is. Of course you know it, but we find it a very handy tool to explain to new customers the possibilities of 3D printing. In this link you can also find some of the best prints we have made and seen this year so far.
3D Hubs also opened their new office in the middle of Amsterdam recently and we were there during the grand opening. We also made them a little present: The I Amsterdam logo which can be found on the Museum Square. If you are a 3D Hubs, print one yourself! You can find the design on Thingiverse.
As the year is ending, the days are at their shortest and the festive lights are everywhere we found that our filaments are being used in more and more practical ways. We started a series of regular blogs about companies who use our filaments in new and innovative ways. In the past weeks we have written three of them and we have quite a few more lined up. Below is a short summary of the companies we have highlighted so far:
AKLIH Design, making 3D printed design products with woodFill
Spectra3D, using PLA/PHA Natural for investment casting
Mathis Orthopédie, printing with colorFabb_XT to make prototype prosthetics
Almost at the end of the year and this blog. What we want to share is Tom Sanladerer’s video review of our PLA/PHA. This review is part of Tom’s Filaween review series. We started with PLA/PHA four years ago and it is always good to see that a product that is already in the market for four years is still highly appreciated.
It is good to look back sometimes and appreciate what we have.
That said, we are gearing up for 2017. A lot of great things are being prepared and we will keep you updated! For your information, we will not close next week, although some of our staff will be on a short break. Webshop orders will ship daily from Tuesday till Friday and as from January 2nd we are back in full operation again.
If you happen to be in Las Vegas at the CES, please drop by at the Aleph Objects booth in the Sands: Hall A-D, Booth 42524 where we will be as well!
The entire colorFabb team wishes you a merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!!
For one more week, until the end of the year you can benefit from the Buy 4, Pay 3 promotion! Use coupon code colorfabb4you on our website to get the fourth spool you order for free! Some conditions apply though: cheapest spool is for free and samples and PLA Economy are exempt from this part of the promotion.