1 Leapfrog - 3D Printer Creatr with printed objects

Leapfrog Opens New Headquarters: An In Depth Look


Leapfrog 3D Printers, a Dutch company that sells the Creatr, Creatr XL, and Xeed 3D printers, has just recently opened brand new headquarters.

To commemorate the occasion, Replicator World interviewed Saswitha de Kok, Leapfrog’s Commercial Director.

Leapfrog - Saswitha de Kok

Before entering the 3D printing industry, Ms. de Kok worked at an insurance company.  These days, however, Ms. de Kok is “responsible for all marketing and distribution of Leapfrog 3D Printers…needless to say I am really pleased with the transfer, since I get…excited every day about the endless possibilities of 3D printing and the numerous possible applications for different types of users.”

With the grand opening of Leapfrog’s new HQ in April, de Kok explains that “the new space allows us to host many workshops and potential clients [in the Xperience Center.]  At HQ we perform all R&D and marketing and sales activities, [since] we already had our own production facilities elsewhere in Europe.  This is a main asset for us: we are one of the few producers of 3D printers globally that can produce on a large scale and also scale up anytime we need to (and we need to a lot).”

“For the company as a whole we will continue to educate the market and the different user groups on how they can use 3D printing to add value for their businesses, clients, research, patients, or students.  We do this in different ways: we build partnerships with clients in each of these industries so we can help them uncover all the benefits of 3D printing…and we learn from their needs.”

For example, Leapfrog partners with “Airbus in Toulouse and the VU Medical Centre in Amsterdam.  The insights we get from these partnerships we share with people [curious about using 3D printing].”  Leapfrog also shares these insights in workshops (for architects, schools, and retailers) and in retailer reports. 

Ms. de Kok says that in terms of future goals for Leapfrog, they are planning to advance their presence in the filament department.  “Besides a great 3D printer and good software, you need the right kind of filament for your specific business or research needs.  We will [make sure we’re the partner who can] fulfill those needs.”

Creatr starter kit slider s

One of the main features of Leapfrog’s new HQ is the Xperience center.  As Ms. de Kok explains, “the Xperience center is the space where we are now hosting our workshops for different user groups and where we host our Info Afternoons (every last Friday of the month).”  These Info Afternoons are for people who want to learn more about 3D printing.  The Xperience center will also feature “Expert Sessions, where we have experienced 3D printer users come by for discussions and presentations on advanced printing.”


“At Leapfrog 3D Printers, we are committed to helping the next generation of users develop the skills needed for 3D printing, [which] they will surely need in their future.  The types of skills students can acquire from 3D printing are very broad and go beyond mechanical or design skills: our curricula touch upon subjects as wide as history and biology and are based on problem solving cases.  Again, we believe in working with partners and leveraging their experiences so their peers can benefit from it: that is why the curricula (one for primary (elementary) school and one for high school) were developed [in conjunction] with schools that actually developed and tested the lesson plans in schools.  In addition, we offer discounts on our printers for all educational institutes.”

Even though Leapfrog has moved their headquarters, their sister company, AV Flexologic, is still just down the hallway.  We asked Ms. de Kok about AV Flexologic: “AV Flexologic makes machines for the flexographic industry.  Put simply, these machines take care of the different stages in which you prepare flexographic plates and ‘mount’ them on the spools that go into the machines that print packages.  Leapfrog 3D Printers first [originated with] the idea to 3D print these flexographic plates.  While that didn’t work out, the [founders of] Leapfrog 3D Printers did come to two conclusions: a 3D printer could be used to print the specialized parts for the machines and they [the founders] could actually develop a better 3D printer than the one they bought online.  That is how the Creatr was developed and how our company started.”

Creatr XL (2)

Fast-forward to today, and it is clearly evident Leapfrog has come a long way.  Along with the grand opening of the new HQ, Leapfrog also announced the launch of a brand new printer: the Creatr XL this past February.  “It can print three times higher than its little sister, the Creatr, which already had a very good build size to begin with.  Leapfrog 3D Printers believes in offering multiple 3D printers for multiple usage cases: we have the Creatr for semi-professional and professional users and schools, the Xeed for professional users that use the printer in a network setting and have many print jobs done by many people, and now we have the XL which satisfied the need for larger prototypes and products.  Leapfrog always focuses on awesome designs for its printers: any new printer we bring out will have an awesome look as well.”


Along with this announcement, Leapfrog was also able to collaborate with several different creators: “We printed [all 980 buildings of the Forbidden City at scale 1:300]…with museum De Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam for the occasion of their Ming dynasty exhibition.  It took two Creatrs four months of working day and night to get all the buildings ready.  We decided to take on the project for two reasons: one is that we really wanted to showcase 3D printing to the general public and have them become familiar with it, the second reason was that we took this opportunity to show architects the possibilities of developing scale models through this project.”

Karim Rashid

Another collaboration Leapfrog began was with high-end designer Karim Rashid.  Ms. de Kok says, “for now, this wonderful collaboration is all about ‘democratizing design’ as Karim Rashid himself calls it.  The beauty about it is that if you now want a high-end design, you do not have to go to a designer store: you can just print it yourself and vary the shapes and colors just to your liking.  People can print seven Karim Rashid original designs on their Leapfrog 3D printer.  All designs can be used directly in your [home’s] interior, whether it is the lamp, vase, or the phone speaker.  We are very proud of this project.”  So proud in fact, that Ms. de Kok’s favorite Leapfrog 3D printed products “are the Karim Rashid designs because I actually can use them myself: the lamp and the vase are part of my own [home’s] interior.  This was really the first time for me as a personal user that I could see 3D printing add value for my own private situation.”

That is the power of Leapfrog, and 3D printing in general, according to de Kok.  “We see that for most people 3D printing is still quite abstract: they have heard of it but they still cannot relate it to their own situation.  Whenever we demonstrate the printer, they get very excited since they finally grasp how they can use the technique to their advantage.  We even had quite a few multinational companies coming by here that are globally known for their innovative edge, that just light up seeing the Creatr at work and think of a dozen ways [they can use the printer].  That is truly amazing to see happen in front of you.”

Photos and Quotes Courtesy of Saswitha de Kok and Leapfrog 3D Printers

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The First 3D Printed Tattoo


The Daily Mail reports that the famous French design school ENSCI les Ateliers hosted a challenge set by France’s Cultural Ministry, “which challenged people to remix images and sounds in the public domain.”

Pierre Emm, Piotr Widelka, and Johan Da Silveira “set about creating tattoos from a bank of images…[they] had eight hours to make use of their digital materials and managed to ‘hack’ the printer so that it could draw a perfect circle on skin, using a normal pen…they chose the circle to demonstrate the precision of the technology as …circles are incredibly difficult to draw accurately.”

In order to practice with the printer, they “borrowed a manual tattoo-machine from an amateur tattooist” and used artificial silicone skin.  Mr. Emm told NPR that “the big difficulty was to repeat the same exercise on a curved surface and on a material that has much more flexibility than silicone.”

The students finally settled on a tube with an open area where the skin was to be marked in order to hold the skin taut.  It didn’t take them long to find a volunteer and viola: the first 3D printed tattoo. 

Photo and Video Courtesy of The Daily Mail     

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Staples Launches Additional 3D Printing Services


Ubergizmo recently wrote about Staples increasing presence in the 3D printing industry. 

The chain store has previously “sold select 3D printers in their stores…[as well as] selling print-by-mail services in Europe.”  However, Staples has recently announced an in-store 3D printing service, which will give US customers a chance “to print out objects on-demand as well as on-site.”

“Walk-in customers will have access to up to seven kinds of printers as well as half a dozen types of materials in store.”  These include 3D Systems printers like the Cube and Cube X, which are already on sale at Staples.  “Those who need to work with larger jobs will see their order outsourced to 3D Systems.”  If customers “do not have the technical know how or background when it comes to a 3D printable file…Staples…has made provisions [and will] train graphic design consultants so that customers can model their vision.”

Staples has yet to announce prices for these services.

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of Ubergizmo

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Stratasys Helps Develop Blood Recycling Machine


Stratasys has announced successful patient trials using “a revolutionary blood recycling machine called the Hemosep.”

Brightwake Ltd created the Hemosep.  Brightwake is a Nottingham, U.K.-based “family-run creative development, engineering, production, and research company specializing in innovative manufacturing solutions.”

The device “recovers blood spilled during open heart and major trauma surgery, concentrating the blood cells ready for transfusion back into the patient.  This process, known as autotransfusion, reduces the volume of donor blood required and the problems associated with transfusion reaction.”

The Hemosep “prototype device features a number of Stratasys 3D printed parts, including the main filtration and cooling systems, enabling the Brightwake team to functionally test the system in its intended environment, before the final device is produced from metal.”

Steve Cotton, Brightwake’s Director of Research and Development says “the Hemosep consists of a bag that uses chemical sponge technology and a mechanical agitator to concentrate blood sucked from a surgical site or drained from a heart-lung machine after surgery.  The cells are then returned to the patient via blood transfusion.  In a climate of blood shortage, this recycling methodology has the potential to be a game-changer within the medical industry, saving the (U.K.) National Health Service millions.”

Cotton added, “Previously we had to outsource the production of these parts which took around three weeks per part.  Now we’re 3D printing superior strength parts overnight, cutting our prototyping costs by 96% and saving more than £1,000 ($1,673) for each 3D printed model…3D printing has not only enabled us to cut our own costs, it has also been crucial in actually getting a functional device to clinical trials.  The ability to 3D print parts that look, feel, and perform like the final product, on-the-fly, is the future of medical device manufacturing.”

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of Stratasys and Brightwake Ltd.

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Leapfrog Opens New HQ


Friday, April 4th, 2014, was the scene of much jubilation at the brand new headquarters of Dutch 3D printing company Leapfrog. 

“In less than 2 years a small young company grew into one of the world’s key players,” they boast, “the grand opening of our new office was our ‘cherry on the pie’.  The past year we’ve been able to realize some amazing projects: opening our own production facility…the launch of the Creatr’s tall sister: the Creatr XL…[and the] opening [of] the Online Educational Store, offering schools a complete starter kit including free curricula.”

The new headquarters has its own ‘Xperience Center’ where Leapfrog “will host [their]…information afternoons, Expert Sessions, and future workshops.  It is also possible for future customers that are interested in [Leapfrog] printers to schedule an appointment.”

Saswitha de Kok, Leapfrog’s commercial director, kicked off the grand opening with a speech: “Of course we are glad that we now have beautiful new office space.  But, the opening of this new building means much more to us: it literally marks the enormous growth we achieved in the past years.  It also sends a signal to the world: we have been doing extremely well and we are certain we will continue to be great in the future.  Leapfrog’s brand slogan ‘Create the Future’ is literally made reality here.”

Photos and Quotes Courtesy of Leapfrog

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Yet Another 3D Printed Drone

Design News recently added a report on another 3D printed drone.  These UAVs, or unmanned aerial vehicles, are popping up more and more in the additive manufacturing industry. 

“Engineers at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) designed, built, and successfully tested the UAV as a radio-controlled, slope soaring glider.  The small wingspan, fixed-wing craft was created on a Stratasys Fortus 900mc FDM printer…the parts snap together and the total drone weighs less than 2.2 lb, with a wingspan of 4.9 ft.”  The drone itself was printed out of ABS plastic.

The AMRC’s Design & Prototyping Group chose Fused Deposition Modeling over other forms of 3D printing due to the fact that it has a “lower initial investment, lower material cost, and [a] simpler process when printing relatively large components like the drone’s airframe.”  With 3D printing, the team was able to create the design in 24 hours, as opposed to the more traditional way of manufacturing, which would have taken 24.

“The idea is to enable 3D printing of unmanned, disposable aircraft that could be sent on one-way missions for reconnaissance, search and rescue, or delivery.”

Video, Photo, and Quotes Courtesy of Design News & The University of Sheffield

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$299 Micro 3D Printer Raises More Than $3m on Kickstarter


The Micro 3D Printer was developed in Bethesda, MD by co-founders Michael Armani and David Jones. 

According to TechCrunch, “the Micro originally sold for $199 for early birds and has since risen by $100.  It’s a tiny printer…with a 4.5 cubic-inch build volume and a special internal spool that holds the filament inside the printer’s case.  It can build objects 4.5 inches high.”

Supposedly, “you’ll be able to search for an open-source object and print it right from the app.  The app resizes the object and prepares it for printing and the wee printer does the rest.  It also has a self-leveling print bed.”

Update: The Micro 3D Printer has now been funded more than $3m on Kickstarter in just three days.

Video Courtesy of Micro 3D

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of TechCrunch

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Shanghai’s 3D Printed Houses

U491P886T1D109096F12DT20140411171853Last month, we reported on an ongoing project in Amsterdam which aims to 3D print a canal house.  We claimed that it would be the first fully 3D printed house.   But apparently, we were mistaken. 

Shanghai has beaten Amsterdam to the punch. 

According to ECNS, these houses were “created entirely out of recycled materials….the small community of 10 houses printed within only one day.”  They premiered in Shanghai’s Qingpu district.

The 3D printer used in the operation measures “32 meters long, 10 meters wide, and 6.6 meters deep….Ma Yihe, CEO of the Shanghai-based decoration design and engineering company that built the houses, said he and his team finished the design of the special printer several years ago.  ‘We purchased parts for the printer overseas, and assembled the machine in a factory in Suzhou.’”

The houses were printed “with special ‘ink’ that has been transformed from industrial construction waste…Ma pointed out that construction waste accounts for more than a third of the urban waste in China’s cities.  The 3D printed houses can reduce dust and waste at construction sites.”

This use of recycled material to print houses also cuts costs for construction companies in half.  According to Ma, “compared to traditional construction materials like concrete and steel, the new material is lighter and more durable.”

“Ma’s next plan is to open 100 recycling factories in China and continue transforming waste into cost-effective ‘ink’ for 3D printers.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of ECNS

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RepRap Community Ponders Standard 3D Printer Spool Size


Recently, Richard Horne, (also known as ‘RichRap’) one of the prominent members of the DIY 3D maker community RepRap, suggested that the 3D printing industry “agree upon a standard spool size.  [Horne also described] what he sees as the biggest problems with current spool design.”

Gigaom discusses the possibility at length.  “Since their origin about a decade ago, desktop 3D printers have for the most part not been built with the filament spool in mind.  As long as the spool [sat] close enough to the printer that the filament that wraps around it can easily find its way in, it is deemed good enough…The emerging generation of desktop 3D printers is gorgeous.  The spool is no longer a side thought; instead, it’s designed right into the printer.”

Not only is this more aesthetically pleasing, but also “a lot of these printers with integrated spools tend to jam less.  You don’t have to babysit the spool to make sure it is turning nicely and feeding enough filament into the printer.  The filament is less likely to twist at odd angles and snap.”

While more thought has gone into incorporating filament and spools into the design of the latest generation of 3D printers, there still remains the glaring problem of non-standardization of spool size.  Filament “has become somewhat standardized into two sizes (1.75 mm and 3 mm).”  However, “spools still come in a crazy amount of sizes.  3D printer makers can’t design their printer to beautifully integrate a spool unless they’re willing to cut down on users’ choices.”

Gigaom contacted MakerBot, “perhaps the one company that could make the greatest impact on the movement for a standardized spool,” but MakerBot did not respond.    

Photo Courtesy of RichRap (Richard Horne)

Quotes Courtesy of Gigaom

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Sneakerbot II: Back to the Future of 3D Printing


Pocket-Lint reports that Recreus has developed a 3D printed shoe that is heavily influenced by the Back to the Future films.

“The company has managed to create a 1.75mm filament that will print without the usual clogging issues while still remaining flexible after hardening.”

This flexible material gives the sneakers the ability to fold and bend into small sizes.  “They can spring back into shape ready to be worn offering balance, support, and comfort.”

You can even print the shoes from your own desktop 3D printer, using Recreus’ very own extruder and hot end.  “The Sneakerbot II design file is free to download.”

Photo, Video, and Quotes Courtesy of Pocket-Lint    

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3D Printed Face: An Update


In a previous issue, we reported on a pioneering surgery that had been conducted in the UK (Swansea, Wales) by the Centre of Applied Reconstructive Technologies in Surgery (Cartis), “which is a collaboration between [doctors in Swansea] and scientists at Cardiff Metropolitan University.”

The BBC ran a recent update on the outcome of that surgery.  When Stephen Power (29) had a motorcycle accident in 2012, he suffered multiple trauma injuries.  “Doctors at Morriston Hospital, Swansea, had to break his cheekbones again before rebuilding his face.”

In order to fully rebuild Mr. Power’s face, they used 3D printed parts, including “custom printed models, guides, plates, and implants to repair impact injuries months after they were sustained…the surgical team used CT scans to create and print a symmetrical 3D model of Mr. Power’s skull, followed by cutting guides and plates printed to match…a medical-grade titanium implant, printed in Belgium, was then used to hold the bones in their new shape.”

Maxillofacial surgeon Adrian Sugar explained the impact of using 3D printing for this operation: “I think it’s incomparable – the results are in a different league from anything we’ve done before.  What this does [is] it allows us to be much more precise.  Everybody now is starting to think in this way – guesswork is not good enough.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of the BBC

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MakerBot Ships New Replicator


MakerBot announced their new lineup of 3D printers all the way back at CES, but at that time you could only pre-order the latest edition of the Replicator. 

But now, according to Tech Crunch, those pre-ordered Replicators have begun to ship. 

“To recap, here’s what the new (fifth generation) replicators do that the older ones don’t: “Built-in webcam for monitoring prints,….smart leveling system, which can detect when the print surface is properly leveled (the print bed has to be very, very level on a 3D printer,…you can send prints to the Replicator over your network.”

MakerBot has launched pr-eorders for the Replicator Z18, with “its max build volume (read: the largest object you can 3D print) of 12”X12”X18”…The Z18’s price scaled up along with its build volume.  At $6,499, it’s over twice the price of anything else MakerBot sells.”

The Replicator Z18, according to MakerBot, should ship “sometime this spring.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Tech Crunch

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