by John Hitch
In this age of the digital twin, Rize, Inc. is using its innovative 3D printing ink feature to reconnect physical
objects with its digital record.
By now, we all know the advantages of 3D printing parts. From proto- types to end-use parts, you can
make anything you need, anytime you
need it... so long as it fts in the build area.
There are no geometrical restrictions,
no limits to complexity—the extruder will
manifest anything your CAD skills allow
you to design, from spherical latticed
doodads to spiraling, Escher-inspired
blocks. Plus it also lets you get by with
a virtual inventory, as a reserve can be
The process isn’t quite as easy hitting
the old Windows command “CTRL + P”
to spit out the part, at least not yet. The
problem is, like when a conventional 2D
printer converts the digital to physical,
growing a brand new 3D-printed part has
an unavoidable consequence.
“Once the part is printed, in some
ways the digital link is broken,” says
Andy Kalambi, CEO of Rize, Inc.
Severing the lifeline to the digital twin
removes all the benefts that being digital
offers, he explains. An entire enterprise,
and beyond, can track a part in cyberspace from the CAD drawing to the umpteenth revision, knowing who designed it,
who manufactured it, and how to maintain it. It’s accessible on PLMs and other
databases, and provides precise design
and material attributes all the way downstream to the assembly person.
But once you make it real, it loses that
power. You could throw a 3D-printed wid-
get in a pile with similar, but not identical
pieces and not really be sure which is
supposed to be for the front or back of
a subassembly, or which was the old
version with the defect, or how old it is.
“If you open a piece of equipment
and look at a part, it’s not talking to
you,” says Kalambi, which is a problem
when so much investment is going on
to make plants and factories smart. “If
it fails and you need to replace it, you
need to have some intelligence on how
to dismantle it or how to remove it. If
you need to make it again, you need to
know the material.”
Additive manufacturing is a crucial
cog to the digital transformation and
lingering questions like these are huge
impediments. That’s simply not some-
thing Kalambi can abide. So he and his
company are doing something about it.
Rize is a recent addition to the addi-
tive industry, manufacturing desktop 3D
printers known for nearly non-existent
postprocessing, isotropic Z-strength, and
voxel-level ink printing on the part.
Kalambi, however, is no newbie. He
worked for ERP developer SAP in the
1990s and Dassault Systèmes—maker
of 3D modeling and PML software—until
last winter. Which means he has been in
this fourth industrial revolution, and the
digital transformation it requires, since the
From this perspective, he sees an ab-
solutely inextricable relationship between
manufacturing and the digital world. And
additive parts cannot lose that connection.
The solution Rize has come up with is de-
ceptively simple: jetting QR codes onto the
print to create a Digitally Augmented Part.
Integrating QR codes onto these physical pieces creates a unique signature
...which is then linked to digital data
via a smartphone or tablet.