Frequently Asked Questions
getting started with 3D printing
+ Is 3D printing difficult?
Usually yes, but not with the Ark. All you need is to design on your CAD software , select what you want to print, select the quality and click print. After this, the Ark will take care of repairing your CAD files, tuning the settings, cleaning and calibrating itself.
If a nozzle gets clogged, you can easily swap it within seconds. Other maintenance tasks like greasing mechanical parts or cleaning extruders have also been automated. In case you have a problem that you are not able to fix, we offer a premium maintenance where we send you a backup printer while we fix yours.
+ Is 3D printing time-consuming?
The time you spend hands-on is minimal with the Ark. The printing process takes only a couple of minutes. Once you have a CAD file, our plugins automatically convert and repair your files to be 3D printable. After you select the quality and click print, the printer takes care of the rest so you can continue focusing on your designs.
The printing time itself can vary significantly depending on the size of your file, and the quality you select. However, we have optimized the printing parameters so you can print as fast as possible without sacrificing quality.
For example a 10x10x10 cm cube can take approximately 3 hours to print in rough quality, 9 hours for medium quality and 12 hours for high quality.
+ I have zero experience with 3D printing, how do I get started?
With the Ark, there’s no need to become a 3D printing expert. We have designed everything so that you just plug in your Ark, download our plugin to the architectural software you are already using, and start printing.
All you need to do is:
- Plug in your Ark (no setting up needed)
- Connect it to your LAN
- Install our CAD plugins on your CAD software
- Open our web-based applications and you’re all set.
+ Do you offer help with getting started?
You will get a comprehensive info package with your Ark that covers everything you need to get started. If you would like to learn more about your Ark, design guidelines, or use cases, we will provide you with supplemental training and video tutorials to make it even easier for you. Just send us an email.
+ Isn’t it just faster to make models using the foam cutter or other manual tools?
It depends on the complexity of the model. Making models with a foam cutter can take from 15 minutes to a full-day of hands-on work. With the Ark the hands-on work takes less than 5 minutes, while the printing time is time that the machine is doing the job and not the architect. As the printing process can be time-consuming, it is always best to leave it overnight and get the models the next day. In this way, architects can focus their time on more value-adding activities, or just go home and rest.
+ I’d like to talk with someone from your company to help me understand if 3D printing is for me. Is this possible?
Definitely, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange a phone call to help you with any questions.
benefits of 3D printing in architecture
+ What can I use 3D printing for?
3D printing is a great tool to automate the creation of study models that improve communication or design analyses.
Study models can easily be printed from a CAD file at each stage in the design process. These can be made to analyze masses in the early stages of a design; analyze other typologies as the design progresses; and make presentation models.
+ I use computer 3D modeling. Why do I also need a 3D printer?
A physical model is an intuitive and easy way to communicate with stakeholders, or better analyze design possibilities. A 3D printer is just a tool to integrate the physicality of scale models into an architect’s design process in an easy and efficient way.
In his book The Eyes of the Skin, renowned author, architect and Pritzker Prize jury, Juhani Pallasmaa says:
"Models are used for a variety of purposes: they are a way of quickly sketching the essence of an idea; a medium of thinking and working, of concretising or clarifying one's own ideas; a means of presenting a project to the client or authorities; and a way of analysing and presenting the conceptual essence of the project. Models are also used to study specific aspects of architectural projects, such as illumination or acoustic qualities. The model both concretises and externalises ideas: the frequently diminutive scale of the model and the observer's externalities invites and permits the identification and judgement of aspects that could otherwise be lost. The model helps the architect to think of the project in its full spatial completeness, as Henry Moore advises.
+ I like to model with my hands. Why do I also need a 3D printer?
In an ideal world, traditional modelling offers a bigger value to architects as they can involve their senses in the design. Architects can elevate their design processes as they can experience a new level of feedback in the same way an artist uses subconscious automation to create a sculpture.
However, in the real world, most architects are so pressed with time that they rarely find time to devote to traditional modelling as it’s too time-consuming. We want to help architects reintegrate the physicality of scale models into their design process and the most efficient way to do that is through 3D printing.
Moreover, if you believe in the value of traditional modelling, you can still use a 3D printer to automate the creation of complex structures, props, or repetitive/time consuming parts for your models. Technology should not replace your traditional techniques, but complement them.
the ark 3D printer
+ What is special about the Ark?
The Ark is the first and only 3D printer developed for architects. The hardware and software are really easy to use, and has been designed to fit into architect’s design process.
The software can automatically turn a CAD file into a 3D printable file while repairing any internal geometry errors. With any other 3D printer, this is a manual process that can easily take an architect up to 10 hours of extra work to remodel or repair CAD files.
The software also automatically tunes all the settings and parameters according to material used. In this way, the user only has to select the quality desired. With any other printer it can take weeks to optimize the parameters for just one material.
Also the hardware has been designed so it requires as minimal maintenance from the user. There is no need to calibrate, grease mechanical parts, clean extruders or nozzles. In case the nozzle clogs, it can easily be swapped for a new one within seconds.
+ I’m not an architect, will I still benefit from using the Ark?
If you are an engineer or hobbyist who enjoys tuning parameters or upgrading the hardware, then the Ark might not be for you.
If you are a non-technical user looking for a printer that is incredibly easy to use and requires minimal maintenance, then the Ark is your best option. However, if you do, just make sure to buy our Basic package that does not come with the CAD plugins.
+ Can I print shapes that require support structures?
Yes. Even though the Ark only prints in one material it can generate its own support structures that are easily removable. We’re also constantly optimizing the settings so the machine can print roofs or complex structures without any support.
+ Where is the Ark manufactured?
The Ark will me manufactured in Germany by Hefter Maschinenbau. Hefter has been manufacturing some of the best industrial 3D printers for about 30 years. We have been working with them for about a year now on improving the printer’s design and making preparations for mass manufacturing.
+ Can I see a product demo?
Definitely! We've done a livestream on October 17th to show how the printer works and answer any questions that our backers might have. Missed it? Don't worry, you can watch the recorded demo here: bit.ly/PlatonicsLive
+ How much time does it take to print?
The printing time varies depending on the complexity, size and quality of the model. However, it can range from 3 hours up to 36 hours. Hands-on working time required to start the print is a few minutes.
We know how important speed is for all users, therefore we’re constantly optimizing the settings so the users can print the fastest without sacrificing any quality.
+ How accurate can the models be?
Very accurate. The maximum layer height (Z-resolution) we have tested is 50 microns, and at this point you barely can see any layers.
The X and Y resolution is of 100 microns which also mean the printer can make highly detailed prints.
+ Why doesn’t your printer have a heated bed?
A heated bed adds another layer of complexity that takes away the user-friendliness.
Moreover, without a heated bed we are consciously restricting our printer to print only in PLA. This is a biodegradable material that can be composted and is not toxic for the environment. The last thing we want is to create more plastic that will end up in landfills or oceans damaging the environment.
PLA is al the easiest and most reliable material. Moreover, PLA is the safest option for an office environment as it doesn’t release any toxic fumes like other materials like commonly used ABS plastic does.
+ How big can I print?
The maximum size is a 20x20x20cm cube. However, you can perfectly print larger models by splitting them and glueing them after printed. Our software will allow you to automatically split your models if you are want larger prints.
+ Do you have any plans of making a bigger 3D printer?
We do. However, first we need to focus on making the Ark the best 3D printer for our customers.
+ How loud is the Ark?
Although we have made it as silent as possible, there is the possibility that some users might find the noise of the fans a little disturbing.
Although, some of our pilot users have it in their open offices without their staff complaining.
+ I already have a 3D printer, but I would like to use your CAD plugins. Do you sell it separately?
In the future we plan on offering our CAD plug-ins separately, but not at the moment. In the meantime we can recommend another great software that also allows you to convert and repair you CAD files very easily. It is called Magics and is developed by Materialise, a “3D-printing-as-a-service” company from Belgium.
+ Can I use 3rd party slicing software with the Ark?
No, the only way to ensure the quality of your prints is by using our slicer as it has been perfectly tuned for the Ark.
+ Can I optimize parameters myself?
In the future we plan to add an “advanced mode” in our slicing software that will give users more freedom to experiment with parameters.
+ Can I model with your software?
No, you will have to model on your existing CAD software. Once you have modelled there, you can use our CAD plugins to export, repair and convert your files to 3D printable files. Our web-based slicing software will then print your file.
+ Which OS is the software compatible with?
Our plugins are compatible with Windows and Mac OS. Our web-based slicing software is compatible with any OS as long as you have a web browser like Chrome or Safari.
+ Which architectural softwares are compatible with your printer?
We already support:
- Revit 2018
- Archicad 21
- Rhino 5
- Vectorworks 2018
By the beginning of next year we will have finished adding the compatibility for:
- Sketchup Pro 2017, 2016
- Revit 2017, 2016
- Archicad 20, 19, 18
- Vectorworks 2017
+ Which formats are compatible with your software?
The plugins will generate the format needed by the printer so this is not a problem. At the moment the web app only accepts STL but in the future we can easily implement file conversion so the user can drop most common file formats into the app and instantly convert it to stl
+ Can I print in other materials than just plastic?
We know how important it is for architects to convey the materiality of buildings through the materials used in the model. Therefore, we made the Ark compatible with other materials.
The Ark prints different types of wood composite (olive, cedar, birch and pine wood), stone composites (terracotta, clay, concrete and granite) and metal composites (copper and bronze).
Please bear in mind that these materials are not pure wood, stone or metals but are composites with a varying percentage of these materials. Our wood composites have 40% powdered wood. Our stone composites have 50% powdered stone. Our metal composites have 80% powdered metals. This is required for making printing these materials technically possible while maintaining a realistic look.
+ Where are your filaments manufactured?
Our filaments are manufactured in partnership with Polymaker in China, and FormFutura in the Netherlands.
+ Can I use third party filaments with the Ark?
Yes. However, please remember that you will have to tune and optimize the parameters of your other materials which will require time and effort. With our filaments this is done for you.
+ Why should I buy your filaments instead of using other suppliers?
We know how painful and frustrating is to waste weeks tuning parameters for a new material. Users have to almost become 3D printing experts and understand the 100+ parameters needed to print at an optimal quality. Therefore, we decided to remove that guesswork from the user so they can always print with the highest speed and quality.
The Ark has an NFC reader that reads which of our filaments is inserted. Depending on the material, it automatically tunes the parameters according to the quality you selected. Moreover, users can be sure that they are using some of the best filaments in the market as we have sourced our materials after testing dozens of suppliers.
maintenance & support
+ Does the printer need maintenance?
Most of the routine maintenance tasks in the printer have been automated such as calibrating the build plate, cleaning the nozzle, lubricating rods or cleaning extruders.
Although this will seldom be the case, it could be necessary to change fans, motors or electronic parts due to a malfunctioning or manufacturing issues. These scenarios are covered by your first year warranty or premium support after the first year. If you are not covered by the warranty, we will sell the spare parts and provide tutorials of how to do it yourself.
+ How do I maintain my printer?
You don’t need to do almost any maintenance. The following is a list of the most common maintenance tasks and how the Ark takes care of them.
- Printbed calibration: The Ark has an auto-bed leveling system that automatically levels the printbed so you always print with reliability.
- Nozzle cleaning: The Ark has a cleaning station composed of a trash basket, a brush and silicon wiper. Before printing, the printer automatically extrudes excess material and wipes it from the nozzle.
- Clogged nozzle: In case a nozzle gets clogged, you can swap it for a new one in seconds. As part of our premium support we offer unlimited nozzle replacements.
- Lubricating rods: Not needed as we are using linear rails that do not require greasing or lubrication.
- Changing fans, motors, cables, belts or electronical components: All these routines are covered in our warranty or premium maintenance. However, if you’re not covered by our maintenance, we will sell replacement parts and provide tutorials for the you to do it.
+ What if I don’t know how to do the maintenance?
You will get a comprehensive info package with your Ark that covers everything you need to maintain. We will also provide with video tutorials on how to do maintenance on the Ark. If all else fails, you can reach us through our customer support channels.
+ What type of customer support is included in your three pricing options?
All our printers come with 1-year warranty that covers malfunctions or manufacturing defects. After your first year you can opt in a yearly premium support that offers you:
- Customer support within 8 hours. By phone, chat or email.
- Dedicated account manager. You will get a central point of contact in the company who will be your support representative. Moreover, your account manager will make sure that you successfully implement 3D printing in your design process through advice and training.
- Nozzle-replacements. In case your nozzle clogs, we will ensure that you have a set of backup nozzles available in your office and that more are sent to you by mail.
- Automated filament-restocking. Our software always knows how much you have printed of which filaments. Thus we can automatically send you more filaments without you having to order online.
- Printer replacements. In case an issue happens with your printer that you are not able to fix, we will send you a replacement printer by the mail while we fix yours.
- Plastic lifecycle management. We know how rampant waste can be at an architecture office, and the last thing we want is for more plastic to end up in landfills or oceans. Therefore, we offer to recycle your old prints for new filaments every 6 months.
+ Can I return the printer if I’m not pleased with it?
Definitely. If the Ark is not what you expected, you can return it to us within 10 days of receiving it.
+ Is shipping included?
Shipping is not included.
+ How much does shipping cost?
Shipping costs an extra of 95€. This is due to the extreme care with which we need to ship your Ark to ensure that it arrives in a perfect condition.
+ Why can’t I buy outside of Europe?
Our company values are based on quality and user experience. In order to provide the best possible quality and user experience, we first need to test logistics, distribution, sales, and support processes within a small market. Otherwise, scaling up too soon would make us have less control over our processes that could result in less satisfied customers. However, we have plans to ship outside the EU very soon.
+ To which countries will the Ark ship to?
For the moment only to countries within the European Economic Area, plus Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland.
+ Do I have to pay taxes and customs for my Ark?
For businesses and consumers within the EEA, the taxes are a 0%. Moreover, as we are only shipping within the EEA, there is no need to pay customs.
Finnish customers have to pay 24% of taxes. However, just for this pre-sale we are assuming the VAT. In other words, the VAT will be included in the final price.
+ When will my Ark arrive?
The first batch of printers is expected to ship around May 2018.
payments, pricing & upgrades
+ How can I support you as a business?
In the checkout page, just use your company's debit/credit card and contribute with your company's name rather than your personal one. After you do that, send an email to email@example.com so we issue an invoice for your bookkeeping.
+ I will need an invoice for tax purposes, how can I get one?
Although Indiegogo does not give invoices, we can make you one. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and he will send an invoice of your purchase for your bookkeeping.
+ When will my credit card be charged?
When you decide to purchase the Ark, Indiegogo will make a reservation on your credit card. Your card is only charged if we reach our goal of 50 000€. If we do not reach our goal, your credit card will not be charged.
+ What’s the difference between Basic, Ark and Ark+?
The Platonics Ark Basic is ideal for anyone who wants a easy-to-use 3D printer and does not want to spend any time maintaining the printer or optimizing parameters. It comes with our 3D printer and web-based slicing software.
The Platonics Ark is ideal for architects who want the same as above, but also our CAD plugins that automate the conversion and repair of CAD files to 3D printable files.
The Platonics Ark+ is ideal for architects and architecture firms that want the same as above, but also want a premium service. This extra layer of service and support offers a dedicated support representative available within 8 hours, printer replacements in case of issues, nozzle replacements, automatic filament re-stocking, and a waste recycling service.
+ What is the retail price of the Ark?
The suggested retail prices are:
- Platonics Basic: 3990€
- Platonics Ark: 4995€
- Platonics Ark+: 5990€
+ What are other costs do I need to pay for?
- Filaments: 50€/750g spools. To give an oversimplistic estimation of how much filament this is, 750g is enough to make approximately 10 massing models that are 10x10x10cm.
- Premium support: 1017€/year. Premium support is only for the Ark+ package.
+ What is the funding going to be used for?
For manufacturing, assembly, testing, certification and logistics.
+ I accidentally bought the wrong product, can I upgrade or downgrade?
Definitely, just send us an email to email@example.com
+ I would first like to test the Basic package and maybe upgrade in the future, can I do that?
Absolutely. Just purchase the package you want, and if you decide to upgrade, just send our customer support an email.
+ How does the referral program work?
If you share our campaign page to your social networks we will offer for each friend who purchases:
- 100€ discount if you haven’t yet purchased a Platonics Basic, Ark or Ark+.
- 100€ credit for future orders if you already purchased a Platonics Basic, Ark or Ark+.
- 100€ discount to each friend who purchases a Platonics Basic, Ark or Ark+.
- If 10 of your friends purchase, you get a free Platonics Ark.
+ How can I participate in your referral contest?
- Create an Indiegogo account
- Go to the Platonics campaign page
- Share directly from Indiegogo’s social links
Indiegogo will generate a link with a tracking number for you to share to your networks. Whenever a friend of yours decides to support us, it will use that tracking link to register it within your Indiegogo account.
For more info please visit: https://support.indiegogo.com/hc/en-us/articles/203660683-How-to-Participate-in-a-Referral-Contest
+ How do I find out how many referrals I have?
- Log into your Indiegogo account.
- Click on your user name beside the search box at the top right of the page.
- Select the “My Profile” option.
- Click on the tab that says “Referrals” for the latest totals of referrals and contributions.
- Count the number of funders.
For more info please visit: https://support.indiegogo.com/hc/en-us/articles/203660683-How-to-Participate-in-a-Referral-Contest
careers & partners
+ I would love to work with you guys! Are you hiring?
We are looking for people passionate about 3D printing and architecture. We have job openings in customer service, software development, marketing and sales.
If you think you’re the right person, send us an open application to firstname.lastname@example.org
+ I would love to resell the Ark! Can we have a talk?
We’re currently not looking for resellers, but are open to the possibility of establishing channel partnerships in the future. Please send an email to email@example.com