The PRWIRE Press Releases https:// 2015-03-31T04:55:51Z Safety first for sailors in OKI 24 hour regatta 2015-03-31T04:55:51Z safety-first-for-sailors-in-oki-24-hour-regatta The OKI 24-hr yacht race on Lake Pupuke, Auckland New Zealand, draws competitors young and old from all parts of the world to come and compete in one of the toughest dinghy races on the circuit. Sailing for 24-hrs non stop in difficult conditions, there is fierce competition amongst sailings elite to see who can last the distance and come out on top. Situation The 2015 event saw over 300 competitors spread across the 24hr Laser and 6hr Optimist events making it an exciting competition to watch but also a real challenge in sailor management. With teams sailing in pairs or triples and switching out every few hours, combined with the hurdle of sailing through the night, it is of critical importance to keep track of exactly who’s on and off the water at any given time. Solution Previous events have seen a manual system of tracking the sailors and their movements, increasing the potential for user error and miscommunication, especially after staying awake all night. So the Murrays Bay Sailing Club decided to work with Comworth Technologies and Zebra Printers to implement an automated ID card and scanner system for the OKI 24-hr regatta. ”We have never had any significant problems arise with our manual system but we wanted to utilise technology to streamline the process.  Moving to the Zebra technology not only makes the process faster but also gives us piece of mind that we know exactly who is on the course”, comments Paul Stock, OKI 24-hr Race committee. Results During the regatta more than 300 full colour and bar-coded Zebra ID cards were printed and issued, then scanned with a Panasonic Toughpad. This provided a simple, waterproof solution that was both low cost and simple to get up and running. “We didn’t have thousands of dollars to invest in technology, especially if it only gets used a couple of times a year. Working with Comworth we were able to put together something that was cost effective, quick to implement and required minimal training for our volunteers,” commented Stock. The decision by Murrays Bay Sailing Club to implement a Zebra ID card solution for sailor management ensured the weather was the primary thing the competitors and organisers had to worry about. Local hero Andy Malone and World Laser Champion Nick Heiner took out this years OKI 24-hr race with a record equalling 120 laps, with ‘hotlap’ appearances from Tony Rae and Rob Salthouse, members of the Team Vestas boat in the Volvo Ocean Race. With this years event being tougher and more exciting than ever, things are looking good for another 30 years of the OKI 24-hr event. Visit: Why Panasonic’s Toughpad makes good sense for New Zealand’s local government 2015-01-11T23:23:44Z why-panasonic-s-toughpad-makes-good-sense-for-new-zealand-s-local-government With the demanding outdoor nature of much of their work, Councils across New Zealand are increasingly turning to rugged technology to get the tough jobs done better, with fewer breakdowns and greater flexibility. That much has emerged with the growing deployment ofPanasonic Toughbook and Toughpad products to key personnel, equipping them with devices capable of going anywhere Council staff do their work. Richard Thomas, IT manager at the Central Hawke’s Bay District Council, explains why tough technology is a better bet for outdoors work: “We decided long ago that a ‘normal’ computer isn’t the best idea on, for example, a building site where you have to cope with dust, potential knocks and drops and other harsh characteristics of these environments. Our Toughbooks have survived just that for over 4 years now with no trouble whatsoever.” At the Wanganui District Council (WDC), Information Services Group Manager Jason Simons is enthusiastic about the Panasonic devices, singling out the 10.1” Windows 8 Pro FZ-G1 Toughpad for particular praise. “Tablets have become very useful tools in the workplace as they allow applications and technology to easily go with personnel in the field. However, for many Council activities, you need something which is capable of handling knocks, drops, spills and splashes – and, while it may not seem a major issue, you really do need something that can be viewed clearly outside.” Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1  Tough tablet technology Simons says WDC initially tested standard tablets but quickly found their limitations, particularly for what he calls ‘infrastructure areas’ – staff members tasked with building inspections and management of drains, roading and other council property. “These are our extreme users; we’ve found the Windows 8 Toughpads to be an ideal solution not only as a tablet device for the field, but as a complete desktop replacement.” That’s because Panasonic’s Windows 8 Toughpads are a complete Intel computer, with RAM, processing power and SSD drive capacity comparable to that of a desktop PC – all self-contained in a device with a 10.1-inch screen. The Panasonic has also been expanding with two Windows 8.1 Pro models now available; the 10.1-inch FZ-G1and the 7-inch FZ-M1, along with a new 7” Celeron model running Windows 8.1 standard. What this means in practice is issuing staff members with a single device which slots into a dock at their office workstation and which also goes with for field work. While delivering considerable convenience for the employee, there is a further benefit, Simons explains: “There isn’t any need for synchronisation or double-keying of information and we have fewer devices to look after, from a support and management perspective. And because these are Windows devices, our enterprise applications work seamlessly on them.” Thomas affirms Simons’ mention of the necessity for a daylight viewable screen and also points out how tablet features such as cameras and dedicated GPS become a major advantage for Council work. “The availability of a camera on the FZ-G1 Toughpad is a real advantage as inspectors can take geotagged photographs of sites where work needs to be completed and include them in reports, saving a lot of hassle. In addition, the visibility of the screen is especially important and something you won’t get with a regular tablet,” he explains. Best tool for the job The flexibility, reliability and performance of the Toughpads has resulted in Wanganui District Council expanding the use of the devices in its environment, Simons confirms. “We’re moving through our field staff to see where Toughpads are the best tool for the job. Wherever we have a need to either capture or retrieve information – and with Council a landlord and property manager, there are a lot of such environments – and whenever we have anyone in a truck or car or environment which isn’t nice and clean, then we look at deploying the Toughpad.” Simons says his staff members’ devices are the envy of employees of neighbouring Councils. “We do a lot of work providing support to our colleagues in adjacent localities and yep, there is some jealousy that our people have the best tools for the job,” he remarks. And on longevity? “These things are built tough and that means they last. Some are looked after better than others, but with the Toughpad, there are no breakages and that means no business process interruptions,” he concludes. Toughpad: Built Kiwi Tough 3D takes off at The Mind Lab with XYZ Printing partnership 2014-12-18T01:02:16Z 3d-takes-off-at-the-mind-lab-with-xyz-printing-partnership With the surging interest in science, technology and makerspaces,The Mind Lab is paving the way in which technology is applied in education, giving teachers and students the ability to be more creative while broadening their horizons. That’s according to The Mind Lab’s Education Director Chris Clay, who says the organisation has recently put four XYZ da Vinci 1.0 3D printersinto its Auckland facility. The Mind Lab by Unitec is a collaboration between Unitec Institute of Technology and The Mind Lab. It draws on the education expertise of both organisations to provide teachers and their students with the opportunity to learn how to integrate technology, enhance digital capability and activate new teaching practices in the classroom. Clay explains the purpose of The Mind Lab: “We help schools create lessons which are personalised and apply technology in a way that is often not usual in schools and we offer a post graduate qualification for teachers in digital and collaborative learning; we also offer after school and holiday programmes for children which helps broaden their horizons using technology. We want to raise the quality of how technology is used in education, with a particular focus on doing things which simply aren’t possible without technology.” An ideal componentAlong with robotics, coding, film-making, animation and augmented reality, 3D printing is an essential component of The Mind Lab’s programmes. “For example, we’re using the XYZ da Vinci 3D printeras a component of exploring 3-dimensional space and the relationship between X, Y and Z axes. Adding an element of 3D design completely changes the learning experience, moving it away from a purely academic exercise to a practical one. That fits very well with the difference between ‘pure’ learning and ‘applied’ learning; we want to help teachers and pupils to apply knowledge to identify and then solve problems,” he says. The XYZ da Vinci 3D printers, supplied and supported by Auckland headquartered Comworth Technologies, have quickly become a centrepiece for The Mind Lab, continues Clay. “We have a philosophy of doing things which can easily be replicated in the school or the home – that means tools which are accessible and affordable.Included in that is reliability and ease of use, so we also seek solutions which are good quality.” When Comworth suggested the XYZ da Vinci, the fit was ideal. “We work these machines hard, so it provides a very good test bed for Comworth to prove just how robust they are,” Clay says, “And at a retail price of under $1000, backed by local support, they really are accessible to most households or schools, thus fitting perfectly into our philosophy.” Equally important is the ongoing cost of printing and the filament is just as affordable; with 240m filament cartridges priced at around $50, most objects produced by the XYZ da Vinci cost just $2 to $3. Potential for change3D printing is a technology which has the potential to lead enormous change. “By giving students and teachers the ability to create their own object is powerful on so many levels; it can literally change how we innovate. It is a tool to create physical things in much the same way as developing apps is a tool to create virtual ones. Drawing 3D printing into the educational experience broadens horizons; it is used in many fields including prosthetics, the production of large scale items like houses, soon we could have 3D organs printed. These machines open the mind to wonder and ponder what is possible.” The sheer affordability of the XYZ is a major advantage, continues Clay. “Where in the past, students would design an item and it would come back later after being printed overnight [and out of sight], we now have so many more machines because of the low cost, which means the objects are created right in front of the students. Each individual has more contact with the printing process and a far greater opportunity to rapidly create prototypes,” he explains; not only that, but watching a 3D printer in action is itself fascinating. There is a focus on collaborative work, too – Clay says a group of students were tasked with producing plastic construction blocks, “which are no good unless they have specifications which allow them to fit together. That meant three students working together to make sure there was consensus on the size of the blocks, and the way they could be designed in order to ensure they connect.” Feedback to date is overwhelmingly positive – and Clay says the most frequent question is ‘how much does that cost’. “Everyone is blown away with the affordability of the XYZ da Vinci – if we ask them to guess the price, we get anywhere from $2000 to $6000. When we tell them it is under $1000, most can’t believe it. Someone summed it up best when they said, ‘At that price, I can’t afford not to have it – it is less than an iPad.’” XYZ da Vinci 3D Printers help MOTAT look to the future 2014-12-15T23:22:16Z xyz-da-vinci-3d-printers-help-motat-look-to-the-future The introduction of a 3D printer just in time for the third term school holidays has proven a winner for Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology. Supplied and supported by OfficeMax, the new XYZ Da Vinci 1.0 printer has been integrated into the Museum’s existing printing display and provides visitors with insight into the rapidly developing world of 3D printing, and an opportunity to see them in action. The Museum of Technology and Transport (MOTAT) is the largest of its kind in New Zealand. It offers a fun and exciting learning experience for visitors of all ages. With its core vision to ‘use New Zealand’s heritage, kiwi ingenuity, transport, technology and associated stories in a creative and interactive way to educate and inspire the innovators of tomorrow’, the 3D printer is a welcome addition, confirms Andrew McCartney, Experience Concept Developer at MOTAT. “The real value in 3D printers is that they are an important new technology which is in its early stages of awareness. That makes it very exciting to show to people; it is a technology that has the potential to revolutionise our business and personal lives,” he says. With extensive displays of transport and technology over its 40 acres of ground, McCartney says the XYZ Da Vinci has been a welcome addition to the print display section; “This demonstrates early machines, all the way from hand powered letter printers to some of the later mechanical printing presses,” he notes. With a laugh, McCartney agrees that the addition of the 3D printer is something akin to the ‘Evolution of Man’ chart. “3D is a natural and quite remarkable progression of printing technology – and as a museum of technology, we couldn’t wait to get one on display,” he adds. Straight into action Among the ground-breaking features of the XYZ Da Vinci are its low cost and ease of use. With the machine delivered just before the 3rd term school holidays, it took very little time to get it set up and operational in time for the rush of young visitors, confirms McCartney. “We started with a 3D printing experience to demonstrate the machine to the public. Subsequently, for the school children, we’ve embarked on a demonstration of how the additive manufacturing principle works. The kids get modelling clay and roll out sausages to make coil pots – that’s a good way of explaining the concept and the technique which is applied, obviously in a far more refined way, as the XYZ prints models.” Perhaps the highlight to date was the incorporation of the 3D printer into MOTAT’s ‘Invention Nation’ holiday exhibit. Aimed at stimulating interest in New Zealand inventors, and inventors in general, McCartney says Invention Nation aimed to open children’s minds to the possibilities of ingenuity. “The 3D printer was an important part of that; invention isn’t just something that happens in a lab, but everyday people invent things all the time. With technology like the 3D printer now readily available to experiment and test different things, inventors today have amazing tools to help turn vision into reality.” Instant fascination Museums are typically places where imaginations run wild and wonder is found around every corner. That made the XYZ Da Vinci an ideal addition to the exhibitions, agrees McCartney. “People are fascinated by it. Children will sit for half an hour watching it going around and around…and to be honest, it’s drawn very much the same reaction from our staff members. There’s always a lot of interest when we take the finished models out. It’s even quite a therapeutic thing to watch the printer at work,” he says. With the machine already a big hit in the two months it’s been at MOTAT, McCartney says there are plenty of plans for the future. “We’ve got a number of ideas in the pipeline, particularly in terms of ways to get people to interact more directly with 3D printing. Certainly, it is something that we will be using on an ongoing basis, demonstrating and exploring the cool things that can be done with 3D printing.” But perhaps the most amazing thing about the XYZ Da Vinci remains its price, he adds. “This is one of the most common questions we get asked – and people are consistently astounded that they can get a machine like this for their own homes [for under $1000],” McCartney concludes. The must-have gift this Christmas: a 3D printer. 2014-11-20T03:27:51Z the-must-have-gift-this-christmas-a-3d-printer Know a person who already has everything and stumped for gift ideas? With 3D printing taking the world by storm, why not give a gift that captures the imagination and truly keeps on giving. Ideal for hobbyists, blokes who tinker in sheds, schoolboys (and girls) with a bent for the crafts and even anyone with an interest in computers, a3D printer is bound to be the hottest thing under the tree this season. That’s according to Paul Francois, product manager at Comworth Technologies. “Consumerisation of technology means 3D printers, which once cost an arm and a leg, are now truly affordable on the one hand, and easy to use on the other. That makes these devices an ideal gift, especially given the fascination they inspire in almost everyone who gets to see one in action,” he says. While Gran can still knit the Christmas cardies for the smaller children, the bigger ones will be wowed by the XYZ Printing Da Vinci 1.0, a 3D printer which retails at under $1000 and which is already proving very popular in the local market. The XYZ has been a hit with a wide range of users and is sought after by librarians, school teachers and home hobbyists alike. That’s because the Da Vinci is as simple to set up and use as a regular printer, offers an online library of thousands of 3D designs which are free to download, or create your own using free 3D software such as Tinkercad or Google Sketchup. “You don’t have to be a 3D technical whizz, although you might end up being one after using the Da Vinci,” Francois continues. “Export and print out Minecraft creations, design your own robots, print out a Star Wars X wing fighter – the possibilities are as exciting as they are endless.” Watching the machine go to work is a captivating experience. Using heat, it melts the plastic filament and places it with perfect precision layer by layer to create a finished piece; the biggest models are up to 20 cubic centimetres in size. “This machine really is a step up in terms of delivering remarkable technology into the hands of anyone who knows how to use a computer,” says Francois, “It’s priced at little more than a tablet or smartphone, and is a much more exciting and creative gift for the kids. Instead of being glued to the computer screen playing games, they can use the 3D printer to problem solve, design and create. And that’s what makes it ideal as a gift for the guy or gal who has everything.” The consumable filament is a 600-gram drum which is as easy to change as a regular ink or toner cartridge, and a replacement retails for around $50, with a range of 12 colours available. Of course, with the Da Vinci, the biggest problem could be what to do for Christmas 2015. Not only is this a pretty difficult gift to beat, but because the 3D printer can produce a variety of shapes, designs and models, the lucky recipient really could have it all (or they might just print decorations for the tree). But that’s a challenge for next year. Comworth launches OKI A3 MFP range to gain market share in SMB market 2014-11-18T23:46:45Z comworth-launches-oki-a3-mfp-range-to-gain-market-share-in-smb-market Bridging the historical gap in the OKI range and strengthening its hand in the small to medium business (SMB) print solutions market,Comworth has introduced a brand new line-up of modular multifunctional products which combine A3 colour with copier functionality. That’s not all – the new range is versatile, capable of handling line-of-business jobs while also pushing the boundaries of traditional print through the capability to print on a wide range of material and stock types. That much was evident in the promotional material produced byComworth’s marketing staff for the launch of the OKI ES9400 series; vibrant colour posters, cards and flyers, all produced by the new machines, were accompanied by a branded T-shirt printed on an OKIfor every visitor to the company’s Albany head office. OKI Australia managing director Dennie Kawahara noted that OKI has traditionally focused on the small to medium segment – but has not, to date, offered copier capabilities. “Some 70% of the New Zealand business market for multifunctions has copiers as a component; it’s a market that we have not aggressively played in, despite market recognition of our capabilities as a provider of quality print solutions,” he said. “With the availability of the ES9400 A3 copier series today, OKI’s ability to meet the needs of this market has taken a big step forward.” Presenting the devices to resellers, product manager Bruce Greenslade said the floor-standing ES9400 series consists of three models: ES9455, ES9655 and ES9475, with print/copy speeds of up to 25, 35 and 50 pages per minute respectively, in colour or mono. “Each machine features a 9-inch touchscreen, bringing familiarity and ease of use to the devices, and is supplied as standard with duplex printing and scanning, hard drive and networking.” Print finishing (stapling, hole punching and booklet making) is incorporated in the available customisation options, allowing organisations to execute even complex print jobs entirely in house; for example, a number of saddle-stitched booklets, produced by the ES9400 series, were included in the press kit. Greenslade added that Comworth was also launching Sendys Output Manager, a complete document control solution for the SMB market, which was developed to complement the new OKI range. As well as a range of accessories such as wireless and IPSEC adapters, card readers, and meta scan/data overwrite enablers. “OKI’s sXP – Smart Extendable Platform – positions these devices for integration into enterprise workflows, allowing them to become an integral component of document-intensive business environments.” OKI now offers a full range of printing and copying solutions to fit the needs of any size business, giving resellers access to a vendor which has, through Comworth, enjoyed over 30 years in the New Zealand market. Excitement as Whangarei Library wins 3D Printer 2014-11-18T23:45:11Z excitement-as-whangarei-library-wins-3d-printer Excitement is running high at the Whangarei District Council after they won a 3D printer at the recent National Libraries conference. Sponsored and supplied by Comworth Technologies, the XYZ da Vinci printer is expected to become a major drawcard for libraries in the region, providing visitors with the opportunity to see 3D printing in action to spark their imaginations. Paula Urlich, Libraries Manager at the Whangarei District Council (WDC), says libraries today are competing with the internet and a range of other attractions. “As a result, it is necessary to up our game by adding attractions, events and technologies that put the library at the centre of the community,” she says. Urlich says the 3D printer has already had a substantial impact: “We’ve seen a lot of interest from the Council engineers who are green with envy; and the Group Manager Infrastructure and Services, who couldn’t stop smiling when we received it. It’s quite a ground breaking development for the library; we never dreamed of getting one and can’t wait to get it set up for visitors to experience.” Not only has Comworth supplied the 3D printer, it is also providing support to help WDC get optimal benefit from it. Paul Francois, product manager at Comworth, says the XYZ da Vinci is ideal for public displays as it is very easy to use. “The machine is supplied with software compatible with a standard PC and which is intuitive to get models set up and ready for printing. There is a huge online catalogue of designs that can be accessed and produced, while using the XYZ is much like using a standard office printer,” he explains. That even extends to the consumables: the da Vinci takes a 600-gram drum, available in a range of colours, which can be swapped out just like an ink or toner cartridge. “Good technology today is easy to use and that’s definitely the case with the XYZ. It puts 3D printing into the hands of anyone who knows how to use a computer, making it a perfect addition to the technology found in the modern library today,” Francois adds. Continuing, Urlich says that while people will always use a library to borrow a book, but there is a lot more on offer today. “There is a revolution going on in libraries today as we work to maintain relevance. We have activities like computer classes, murder mystery night, kids events and events for senior citizens. We’re always open to trying new exhibits and activities and the 3D printer is bound to be a major attraction. “It might even help get more of the Dads in, as we tend to see more Moms,” she quips. The new printer is a first for the libraries of the North, and WDC intends to invite other libraries to share the printer with. “We want to be sure Kaipara and the Far North get to have a bit of the fun, too,” Urlich concludes. The new XYZ Da Vinci printer can be seen in action in the Whangarei Library in the December holidays. St John training provides rural reward 2014-10-08T04:47:10Z st-john-training-provides-rural-reward A St John and Federated Farmers first aid initiative has given rural residents in Waikato life- saving skills. Young Farmers Casey Huffstutler, St John BDM Andrew James and Waikato Federated Farmers Chair Lloyd Downing, present course attendee and prize winner Stephen Needham (from Walton rural Waikato) with the Panasonic Toughpad. “From May through to July a series of workshops were held in association with Waikato Federated Farmers Charitable Society (WFFCS), free of charge to rural communities throughout Waikato,” St John Central Region Business Development Manager Andrew James says. The aim of the joint venture was to prepare rural communities with first aid skills that would make a difference in an emergency. “We were completely overwhelmed by the response all of the courses were fully booked well in advance of their start dates,” he says. The unique two hour workshops were limited to 15 participants and designed specifically for rural communities with practical, hands-on experience in an interactive and fun environment. “It was all made possible by WFFCS who funded the workshops. It was a fantastic opportunity available to everyone that lived and/or works in rural Waikato. The workshops provided something for both experienced first aiders and people with little or no experience,” he says. A bonus for all workshop attendees was going in the draw to win aPanasonic Toughpad valued at $1,799. (Special conditions apply). At the completion of the series of workshops, 201 people had received the first aid training and Walton resident Stephen Needham was drawn as the winner of the Panasonic Toughpad. “First aid skills are vital tools for people who live in rural and remote locations. We are happy that local people got involved and made the most of this opportunity. Congratulations to Stephen Needham for winning the Panasonic Toughpad and to everyone else who took the time to attend the workshops and learn new skills.” Mr James says 3D Printing a new driver for economic growth 2014-09-29T21:41:01Z 3d-printing-a-new-driver-for-economic-growth With its transformational effect on everything from education and manufacturing to construction and architecture and with countless applications in business and medical fields, it should come as no surprise that 3D printing can have a significant positive impact on economies as a whole. And as the consumerisation of technology puts once costly devices within the grasp of small businesses and even home users, that macro-benefit is on the verge of becoming a reality. That’s the observation of Paul Francois, product manager atComworth Technologies which distributes the XYZ range of 3D printers that retail under $1000. “Individually, all the applications of 3D printing make for incremental improvements in a variety of processes and activities which are fundamental to modern economies,” he says. Cumulatively, those improvements mean the economy gets a boost on a macro-scale – and that has caught the attention of analysts, market watchers and professional services companies, with Gartner noting ‘3D printer investments can be modest yet offer organisations significant advantages and has benefits for enterprises, governments and educational institutions today’. Such is the potential for 3D printing that Canalys predicts the global 3D printing market will grow from $2.5B in 2013 to $16.2B by 2018 – a compound annual growth rate of 45.7%. Professional services company PwC predicts that within three to five years 3D printing technologies will be used for producing military, commercial and complex weapon parts and system components. It observes that ‘as quality and speed continue to improve, 3D printing will become a viable process for an ever-increasing number of applications, including traditional production parts. No one knows how rapidly the technology will take to mature, but most experts believe it will make significant strides within the next five years’. With entry-level devices like the XYZ Printing Da Vinci 1.0, which Francois says retails for $899 and takes a 600-gram consumable which costs $45, the commercial application is predominantly in prototyping and modelling. “Locally, we’ve had architects, packaging manufacturers and marine manufacturers take great interest in this device because it allows them to create models on-demand in a fraction of the time it would previously have taken and at a fraction of the cost,” he adds. Looking deeper into the phenomenon of 3D printing, Francois says the benefits only amplify as the technology is applied further up the value chain. “Prototyping is one thing, manufacturing quite another. Industrial-scale 3D printers are increasingly being used to produce complex components which would once require laborious sand-mould casting or machining – processes which not only take time, but also produce a great deal of wasted material.” For example, jet engine manufacturer GE is hoping to use metal 3D printers to produce fuel nozzles which once required welding of 20 discrete parts. By printing them with a machine that uses a specialised metal, cobalt chromium, GE expects a nozzle 5 times more durable and which takes a fraction of the time to make. With items like engine blocks still made by sand-casting – where a mould is made from sand, filled with molten metal, then manually machined – 3D printing can revolutionise the cost base of motor manufacturers. “With 3D printers, complexity which has always required manual labour, is no longer an issue. A simple object costs relatively the same to print as a complex one, and that takes a massive amount of cost out of manufacturing, where complexity has always come at a serious premium,” Francois notes. But while industrial applications for 3D printers still require considerable investment and specialised equipment, Francois says even the entry-level devices can and are having an economic impact. “For under $1000, inventors, entrepreneurs and people with good ideas can get started. The XYZ Da Vinci 1.0 is as easy to use as a regular printer, too, allowing anyone to set it up and start producing models.” Simply put, says Francois, as quality and speed increases and cost decreases, 3D printing will shift from prototype to mass production usage. However, while 3D printing can revolutionise the economy, he adds that there is a caveat. “Ours is not the only economy with a vibrant manufacturing sector. Competition means there is a window of opportunity which needs to be taken advantage of; before long, 3D printing won’t mean a competitive advantage, it will be a competitive necessity.” 3D printing creating new waves for boat builders 2014-09-17T23:25:41Z 3d-printing-creating-new-waves-for-boat-builders New Zealanders have a fascination with boats which doesn’t just mean a lot of them on the water. The country is also home to a vibrant marine industry which employs over 10 000 people and generates over $2.2-billion in annual sales. But it is a competitive environment, which means the arrival of affordable 3D printing technology gives this industry the opportunity to transform the way it operates. That’s according to Paul Francois, product manager at Comworth Technologies, who notes that custom boat builders and component manufacturers often deal with unusual shapes, bespoke designs and experimental deck layouts. “The ability to very quickly print out ideas and see how things will look in real life, as opposed to on the drawing board or computer screen, gives manufacturers a major boost,” he says. Instead of relying on building balsa models, a time consuming and costly process, boat builders and subcontractors can 3D print their designs on the spot. “That’s made possible with the availability of affordable 3D printing technology like the XYZ Printing Da Vinci. This device retails for around $900 and can produce models of up to 20 cubic centimetres,” says Francois. Angus Small, who has 12 years’ experience as a marine production manager, says the ability to rapidly produce models directly addresses one of the major challenges facing boat builders – the cost of labour. “New Zealand’s industry has to compete on a global stage, but our labour costs are substantially higher than those of countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or China. A low-cost 3D printer reduces the time and cost required to build models of objects using wood – and in this industry, there are a lot of small items and components which can be prototyped before handing them over to the stainless steel or composite fabricators,” he explains. Small says the ability to have a physical object to work with provides a further distinct advantage. “When the cost of producing a model is a $900 device with inexpensive consumables, I think you’ll find a lot more prototyping going on. A lot of items which would ordinarily only be presented on a 3D onscreen drawing can now be printed out, giving members of design teams a far better way of understanding how different components will look and whether or not they will work together.” With a shorter time frame for development, Small says the marine industry can get a major boost in its competitiveness. “Being able to do this in-house at the early stages of product development is a leap forward. Typically, good designs are copied by outsiders within a year or less, so if you can accelerate the time from initial design to production, you’re on to a win,” he adds. Continuing, Francois says the Da Vinci offers ease of use, so any CAD operator will have no difficulty using the machine. “This is a plug n play device and even changing the 600 gram consumable is as simple as changing a toner cartridge,” he says. “And, while more detailed models might be sent offsite to specialist 3D printers, a low cost machine like this is ideal for initial prototyping and evaluation of experimental designs on site and at very low cost. That takes out development time and eliminates the need for expensive testing of designs which won’t work.” Distributed exclusively by Comworth and available from resellers nationwide, the XYZ Printing Da Vinci 1.0 is available immediately. Comworth Group founder hands over the reins 2014-09-11T22:29:12Z comworth-group-founder-hands-over-the-reins Thirty one years after laying the foundations for the Comworth Group of companies, founder and CEO David Charlesworth is retiring, effective October 1. As he steps down, the Group companies are instituting a reorganisation which positions each of the three business entities well for future growth and prosperity. The Comworth Group is comprised of technology hardware distributorComworth Technologies, cloud software developer Virsae and integrated contact centre, collaboration and telecommunications solutions specialist Agile. Each business gains more focus and dedicated leadership in the reorganisation, while continuity is ensured through the promotion of proven senior managers. Comworth: Long-serving member Mark Charlesworth is appointed Managing Director of the Comworth Group while continuing in his role as GM of Comworth Technologies Agile: Previously General Manager Services, Robyn O’Reilly is appointed CEO. Virsae: Tony Jayne, who has served as CEO across Virsae and Agile, becomes dedicated CEO of the cloud software company. Although stepping down from the day to day executive management of the Comworth Group subsidiaries, David Charlesworth remains as Chairman of the Group. “While the technology industry has changed immeasurably since our first day of trading over three decades ago, some constants have remained. Those are a focus on customers, dedication to innovation and the ability to flexibly respond to rapidly evolving markets. In taking retirement, I have every confidence in the proven skills of the executives who are stepping up to take the Comworth Group businesses to new heights,” says David Charlesworth. Mark Charlesworth has an established reputation with staff and clients of the group, having proven his capabilities as general manager of Comworth Technologies over the past seven years and management roles at Clear Communications and Nokia. Virsae, which provides cloud software for unified communications service management, gains the dedicated leadership of Tony Jayne, who formerly split his time between Virsae and Agile Integration. His 25 years of executive experience is now focused on Virsae as the company seeks to expand its global reach. Robyn O’Reilly is elevated to CEO of Agile, a natural progression for a career which started in 1996 at the forerunner to the company. The Comworth Group was founded as family business in 1983 and steadily grew under David Charlesworth’s leadership, ably supported by his wife Bronwen. Today, each of the three companies provide technology solutions to customers across New Zealand and around the world. Headquartered on Auckland’s North Shore, the Comworth Group has offices in three locations across New Zealand and an office in Sydney. It employs over 100 people, many of whom have been with the business for over 20 years. Awards that the company has won over the years include recognition from Microsoft in the form of several Solutions Awards, Reseller of the Year awards from OKI and Zebra, and the inclusion of founder David Charlesworth as a member of the Enterprise North Shore Business Hall of Fame. Charlesworth was also named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, winning in the Technology, Communication and Biotechnology category in 2004. As an avid sailor and prominent member of the local sailing scene, Charlesworth and Comworth have long supported the sport, starting with Peter Blake and Steinlager 2’s Round the World campaign, to the OKI 24 Hour Race, heralded as the world’s toughest dinghy race, and the World Match Racing Series with the RNZYS. David has worked closely with the local community, having been an active member of East Coast Bays Rotary for over 30 years whilst also supporting organisations such as Mairangi Arts Centre, Rangitoto College and Murrays Bay School. The Comworth Group looks forward to sound growth by building on the solid business principles and ethos established by David Charlesworth, while benefiting from his continued oversight as Chairman. 3D Printing and the library of the future 2014-08-26T22:59:53Z 3d-printing-and-the-library-of-the-future There’s a traditional picture of the library of the past as a quiet, somewhat musty room filled with books and a stern, bespectacled middle aged librarian behind the counter. But what does the library of the present look like? And where will it go in future? The answers are becoming clear as these repositories of community knowledge are changing with the times to feature more digital and technology based resources as drawcards for visitors young and old. Already, libraries across New Zealand and the world are equipped with computers, internet connections and ebooks. With the arrival of low-cost 3D printing, these forward-looking facilities can add a further attraction for the library, providing visitors with the ability to engage with, experience and use a fascinating new and game-changing technology. That’s according to Paul Francois, product manager at Comworth Technologies. “Putting a 3D printer in every library nationwide is now a distinct possibility. It’s not just a question of cost, either – but also one of ease of use which allows any librarian or even visitor to set up and print an object with minimal training,” he notes. Francois points to the XYZ Printing Da Vinci, which retails for well under $1000. “Not only is this device affordable, but it is almost as easy to set up and use as a standard printer is. Capable of producing models of up to 20 cubic centimetres, the consumable pack is affordable, too, priced around $45. That means a model the size of a pack of cards costs around $1- $2.” With plenty of free 3D software from the likes of Microsoft, Google and many others, 3D printing isn’t just about the device; it is a an exciting world of technology which is accessible and affordable for libraries and, by extension, the communities they serve. A recent One News report[1] confirms that libraries are undergoing a transformation in response to the rise of the internet; Upper Hutt Library says physical book lending decreased by 10% in the last, while E-book lending grew by 90%, a trend which is believed to be taking hold across the country. Appearing in the report, Auckland Council libraries manager Allison Dobbie points out that libraries have always moved with the times to provide services additional to book lending: “Once upon a time we provided type writers and cassette players; now we provide computers and scanners. In the future we will be providing 3D printers and other creative technology.” Internationally, librarians recognise the necessity to incorporate emerging technologies to broaden their appeal. Publishersweekly[2]notes, ‘Technology plays an important role in helping school librarians teach, and in helping students learn. In fact, the modern library is no longer a repository for books—it has been transformed into interactive “makerspaces” where patrons can connect, create, and utilize technology. Many public libraries now offer the option of checking out tablets for reading e-books, and they allow users to create objects via 3-D printers.’ Francois says quality, ease of use and affordability means a real opportunity for libraries to provide 3D printers to run workshops in the weekends or school holidays, capitalising on the growing trend and interest in science and technology. “Providing on-demand facilities for students , hobbyists or small businesses means libraries can cement their value and draw in new segments of the community. It’s a further opportunity for the libraries of the present and the future to lead the way in embracing new technology.” The more a library can offer, the more it stays relevant and provides services that people want, he continues. “Books have always been the central business of any library and the principle of providing access to other technology, including 3D printing, ensures libraries will continue to hold a vital role in the collating and sharing of community knowledge,” Francois concludes. [1] [2] 3D Printing set to transform New Zealand’s manufacturing industry 2014-08-20T00:01:11Z 3d-printing-set-to-transform-new-zealand-s-manufacturing-industry Even as New Zealand’s manufacturing soars, the introduction of low-cost, quality 3D printing promises to further ignite and ultimately transform this crucial industry sector. By providing even small-scale operators with the ability to prototype, experiment and test in their own offices, value chains are considerably compressed and accelerated. The result is that better products can be developed faster and at lower cost, delivering competitive advantages to New Zealand’s innovators. That’s according to Paul Francois, product manager at Comworth Technologies. “Very expensive and complex 3D printers have been used for some time by large manufacturers. The introduction of low cost options which require no special expertise to use opens this technology up to smaller, more niche manufacturers on the one hand, while on the other, large manufacturers can use an inexpensive device alongside their high-end 3D printer as an interim step in the prototyping process, controlling costs,” he says. Just how affordable is it? Francois points to the XYZ Printing Da Vinci 1.0, which retails for well under $1000. A plug n play solution, it is simple to use, making it easy to set up and get started. The machine is capable of producing quality models of up to 20 cubic centimeters, making it particularly useful for small products, though larger composite models can also be created in stages. Even the consumables are inexpensive: a 600-gram cartridge costs around $45, and a finished model the size of a wallet uses around $2 of material. “The Da Vinci is ideal for anyone who is already using 3D software, such as CAD, as it takes standard STL file formats, so no additional learning is required,” Francois remarks. While the sector, which employs some 234 000 Kiwis, is performing exceptionally well, any opportunity for improvement should be capitalised upon, notes Francois. “Gains in manufacturing means gains for the economy as a whole,” he comments. “By empowering new manufacturers with inexpensive technology, they are able to compete more effectively, domestically and abroad.” Thomas Flinn, design director at Juice 3D has had hands on experience with the Da Vinci. “I’ve been getting my designs done from a professional 3D printing outfit which obviously has superior machines. However, having a low cost device right here in my office is hugely helpful, especially when working on designs where a particular detail can be difficult to understand.” Drawings can lie, says Flinn, whereas a physical object is far easier for anyone to understand. “Designers tend to understand forms well – that’s what we do. Clients who commission things might not,so being able to show them something they can hold in their hands not only impresses them, but gets the process moving a lot faster.” Flinn adds that, having spent a week testing a Da Vinci, he already misses it. “It helps make decisions, it makes prototyping far quicker as you can see if new parts will fit with existing products and a 3D printed object beats hands down a drawing or a computer rendered model.” Another company which has seen the value of 3D printing is Auckland’s Roam Creative Limited. While this organisation is primarily a mobile app developer, it recently created a proximity-aware solution called dropin which requires a ‘beacon’. The beacon is a physical device the size of a wallet which transmits a signal; when Roam couldn’t find a suitably ‘cool’ beacon on the open market, it designed its own. Director Ben Morreau explains: “Design is integral to everything we do, so more than a purely functional device, we wanted our beacon to look awesome.” With 3D printers still costly when it developed dropin, Roam’s answer was to go to Auckland University of Technology (AUT) to design and prototype the droplet, as it calls its beacon. “If we had a 3D printer in the office, it would undoubtedly have made this process faster and easier, particularly at the earlier phases where a high-end 3D printer, like that at AUT, wasn’t required,” Morreau agrees. Roam’s droplet is now in production; its dropin solution is being put to use in New Zealand businesses and marketed to companies in Europe and the USA. Morreau’s colleague and fellow Roam director Chris Moore shares the advantages delivered by 3D printing: “Probably most remarkable is the speed of iteration at fraction of the cost. We built 5 different prototypes and identified a number of manufacturing issues without having to do any injection moulding. You can also build shapes with 3D printers that can’t be easily accomplished with traditional injection moulding.” Moore says there’s a further advantage, too. “Amazement. All our customers’ faces light up when we say we’ve used 3D printers and they can’t believe the quality. It’s quite a talking point.” Francois says 3D printing is opening new frontiers for a range of sectors. “Whether it is manufacturing, schools, architecture or even good old Kiwi blokes adding a new tool to their sheds, affordable 3D printing is a game changer that makes modeling, prototyping and creating faster, easier and, with low cost products, now accessible to almost anyone,” he concludes. 3D Printing: A whole new world of possibilities for architects 2014-08-12T23:27:22Z 3d-printing-a-whole-new-world-of-possibilities-for-architects Architects have long relied on technological tools to ply their profession, including CAD and sophisticated 3D modeling technology, to bring their designs to life. But with the growing accessibility of 3D printing, architects today have a whole new world of design opportunities opening up to them – and their customers. Whakatane-based architect Martin Jackson, of Martin Jackson Architecture, is unequivocal about the value that a 3D printer has for the industry: “I would kill for a 3D printer; it would make architectural model-making much faster and more affordable; and as printer technology becomes the norm in the consumer market, you could email designs through to clients to 3D print at home. You could also use 3D printers to send models of building components, furniture and so on, to sub-trades and builders,” he says. Some of Jackson’s wishes are already coming true, with Comworth Technologies’ introduction of the XYZ Printing Da Vinci 3D printer to the market. The device retails for under $1000, putting it well within the reach of architects and even the more savvy home users envisaged by Jackson. Paul Francois, product manager at Comworth, points out that most architects currently rely on paper or onscreen 3D fly-throughs to showcase their designs. Or when a physical model is required, they have relied on crafting skills to build models of buildings and other projects. “Now it is possible to create physical  models and floor plans in far less time and at a substantially reduced cost and effort. For example, the XYZ Da Vinci can produce models or components up to 20 cubic centimetres; with a 600 gram consumable pack costing $45, meaning a model the size of a pack of cards costs around $1- $2.” Affordable 3D printers have a further benefit: they are as easy to use as a standard printer, with plug n play setup and intuitive software. “Any architect already using 3D software can readily use it. All that’s required is to output a standard .stl file and press print; no technical printer expertise is required,” adds Francois. Internationally, architects are putting 3D printers to work:[1] explains how New York’s SHoP Architects was an early adopter even when the technology was ‘massively expensive’. When prices fell, the company invested in its first in-house 3-D printer in 2004, transforming how the architects worked. They now work in an iterative loop (versioning) rapidly moving between the design on the screen and the prototype, determining the larger form and minute construction details. In addition to models, architects can use 3D printers to produce scaled layouts of floor plans and even complete mock-ups of homes and other projects which haven’t previously allowed for modelling owing to budget constraints. This provides architects with a powerful tool to add further value to their customers and differentiate their services. While ‘macro’ 3D printing is also possible, with whole houses being produced, Jackson doesn’t expect this notion to be the biggest winner for architects or even builders. “I don’t expect whole houses to be built by 3D printers en masse, but items like light fittings could be specifically produced for projects depending on available and desired materials,” he notes. While the larger-scale applications of 3D printing in the architectural field remain somewhat exploratory and experimental, there is little doubt that at the consumer end of the market, the capability of low-cost, simple devices has immediate appeal. More importantly, agrees Jackson, it has immediate practical applicability. “If I had one today, I could put it to work right now,” he concludes. First mover advantage for 3D printing 2014-08-07T03:53:54Z first-mover-advantage-for-3d-printing The pace of development in the technology industry is often measured using Moore’s Law. The gist of it is that ‘the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit approximately doubles every two years’. But there is another yardstick which is becoming apparent with the rapid consumerisation of 3D print technology. Just a year ago, a 3D printer in the home, small office or every school was an unlikely prospect. That’s because a $3000-plus price tag made it too dear. However, today a good quality, reliable and capable device can be had at a retail price point of below $1000. If we apply the concept of Moore’s Law to printers and dollars, you can buy more than double your 3D printer after the passage of just 12 months. What a difference a year makes! What this means for resellers is two significant things: The first is that inexpensive 3D printers mean the addressable market has expanded enormously, moving from niche- to mass-market. The second is that as this emerging market matures (and it is likely to do so quickly), the initial hardware opportunity will quickly shift to supporting services and expanded offerings. 3D printing has arguably achieved something in hardware that was last seen with the introduction of the smartphone: a device which has captured the popular imagination, and along with it, headlines everywhere. This reality considerably eases the task of marketers and those who are reselling 3D printers, particularly if: The device is affordable Delivers quality output Has the reliability expected of any consumer IT device today The widespread public fascination with 3D printing even extends to the Green Party, which is promoting the use of 3D printers in schools, universities and business to position New Zealand as a global technology leader. The window of opportunity – and how to take advantage of it There is therefore a window of opportunity which has opened for resellers which hasn’t been seen in printing of any kind for the better part of two decades. But that window will only remain open for a relatively short space of time (and remembering that this is the fast paced technology environment, predictions on that timeframe should be made with caution). Resellers interested in adding 3D printing to their inventory only have a handful of recognised brands to choose from, such as Makerbot, XYZ Printers and UP, and therefore need to focus on the basics in selecting a suitable product line. Choose a proven distributor which offers good sales and technical support to educate your team and local end-user support to minimise post-sales issues. Make sure the product is up to the task in terms of reliability, performance and quality. For those devices priced for schools, small and home office, and hobbyists, be certain it is as easy to set up and use as a regular printer (and therefore will provide customer satisfaction and reduced requirement for first line support). But probably most important of all is to act now. After all, practically brand-new market segments don’t open up every day, and the opportunity won’t last forever as inexpensive products will soon saturate the market.