Rize Unveils Smart Spaces for Innovation
Dr Jody Muelaner posted on April 11, 2019 |

Rize, an innovator in additive manufacturing, has created Smart Spaces for Innovation. It is claimed that these will allow the company’s next-generation 3D-printed parts to digitally connect to augmented reality, virtual reality, Blockchain and intelligent systems. Smart Spaces are a hot topic, identified by Gartner as one of the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2019.

Rize’s unique 3D-printing technology is a hybrid of fused deposition modeling (FDM) and inkjet printing. It uses two jetting heads, one which prints full-color images onto parts and the other which prints a release agent. The release agent makes it easier to remove parts from the build plate. What makes the release agent really useful is that it can also be deposited between the part and support structures. This enables support structures to be easily removed without any sanding or finishing. Read more about Rize Augmented Deposition in this interview.

Rize shot to prominence last month with the announcement at SolidWorks World 2019 that it has formed a strategic business partnership with Dassault Systemes. This will mean that SolidWorks software will become integrated with Rize 3D printers, with the aim of making additive manufacturing more inclusive. SolidWorks have indicated that Rize will become their primary 3D printing partner.

Smart Spaces

Smart spaces are digital or physical environments where humans and digital systems are able to interact in a collaborative environment. They are evolving along five key dimensions:

  • Openness: The degree of accessibility to the elements within the smart space.
  • Connectedness: The depth, breadth and robustness of the links between the elements.
  • Coordination: The depth and robustness of coordination between the elements.
  • Intelligence: The use of machine learning and other AI techniques to drive automation and augment humans within the space.
  • Scope: The breadth of a smart space and its participants.

Smart spaces may exist at widely different scales, from entire smart cities to an individual workstation.

A smart space is a physical or digital environment in which humans and technology-enabled systems interact in increasingly open, connected, coordinated and intelligent ecosystems. It brings together people, processes, services and things.

“This trend has been coalescing for some time around elements such as smart cities, digital workplaces, smart homes and connected factories. We believe the market is entering a period of accelerated delivery of robust smart spaces with technology becoming an integral part of our daily lives, whether as employees, customers, consumers, community members or citizens,” David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow.

Digitally Augmented 3D Parts

Last year Rize began referring to its ability to print ink markings onto parts as enabling Digitally Augmented Parts. What this means in reality is that a QR code is printed onto a part which can then be scanned with a smartphone to display associated digital information. This enables design changes to be consistently tracked.

"The moment the part gets printed on the machine it's a physical part and there is no digital element left in it. The break of the digital link is a big issue for this industry overall to realize the promise of what is called Industry 4.0,” says Andy Kalambi, President and CEO of Rize.

Smart Spaces for Innovation

Rize makes some dramatic claims for its Smart Spaces for Innovation, claims you could be forgiven for thinking go well beyond simply printing QR codes onto parts.

“These spaces integrate innovative approaches in design with safe, easy and full-color 3D printing, creating intelligent parts which can be digitally connected to AR/VR technologies, Blockchain and intelligent systems. With Smart Spaces, companies can accelerate innovation, improve productivity and cut costs by up to 90%.”

At first it may appear that Rize is talking about embedding actual digital processing capabilities into 3D printed parts. Looking a little deeper at what is being promised, this does not appear to be the case. This is simply about printing digital information onto parts. QR codes provide a link between a physical printed part and a digital environment made up of SolidWorks CAD and Dassault Systemes PLM. What makes the somewhat dramatic claims carry some weight is the deep partnership with Dassault Systemes that was announced at SolidWorks World last month.

Clearly, more than just QR codes can be printed onto parts. An obvious application is printing functional product design prototypes for consumer testing. The complete finished graphic design of products ranging from cosmetics bottles to trainers can be printed in a single operation.

Figure 1: Graphic design elements can be included in products designs for consumer testing.
Figure 1: Graphic design elements can be included in products designs for consumer testing.

Another application is printing finite element analysis (FEA) gradients onto the surface of a part. It is also possible to imagine that instructions for assembly and structural testing—including sensor locations and many other items of digital information—may be usefully printed onto parts.

Figure 2: A 3D-printed part with FEA Stress Contours plotted onto its surface.
Figure 2: A 3D-printed part with FEA Stress Contours plotted onto its surface.

Rize hasn’t released a huge amount of information about their Smart Spaces for Innovation yet. I can imagine that printing a combination of QR codes and something like photogrammetry targets onto parts might be the key to linking them to augmented reality and virtual reality environments. 

It took me a little while to get my head around what Rize is proposing with their Smart Spaces for Innovation. Once I saw some examples of 3D-printed parts with digital information printed on them, the vision started to become clearer. I can imagine product development and manufacturing teams using these parts to seamlessly move between the digital and physical worlds. With the serious heavyweight backing of Dassault Systemes behind them, there is every chance of this vision becoming a reality.

If you want to find out more about this exciting technology, Rize will be presenting Smart Spaces for Innovation at the 2019 AMUG CONFERENCE next week in Chicago.


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