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From Brexit and the Chinese import ban to the recent demonisation of plastics by media and politicians, the PDM 2018 conference programme will tackle the most challenging issues facing the industry today. Taking place at the Telford International Centre on June 19-20, 2018, the free-to-attend PDM conference will feature expert speakers from the British Plastics Federation (BPF), CEEMET (the European Employers’ Association) and Made in Britain, and include a panel discussion on how the industry can improve plastic’s image.

Philip Law, Director General, BPF will provide an opening address on where the plastics industry is headed. Mike Baxter, Director of External Affairs, BPI will then present a session on the Chinese ban on plastic waste exports and the implications for the British recycling industry. He will be followed by Kinza Sutton, Marketing Manager, Plastipak who will explore why plastic has become “enemy number one,” looking at how myths and negativity being perpetuated by the media and politicians are affecting public opinion. Her presentation will remind delegates of the positive role plastic plays in our everyday lives, and call for a joined-up approach across the industry to redress the balance.

By way of example, the BPF recently issued a statement in a response to recent government announcements on plastic waste. It said: “We are very disturbed that the tone of language used does not recognise the important benefits that the plastics industry brings to the UK, including 170,000 jobs.

"Plastics themselves save energy. They are low carbon materials, crucial in the fight against climate change. Their light weight and durability cuts fuel consumption in vehicles and aircraft and reduces pollution. They provide protection for products and prevent food waste.

By encouraging plastic-free aisles, the government is creating an impression that the use of plastics is inherently wrong. Typically, food waste in stores increases by a third without packaging. For example, a wrapped cucumber lasts 14 more days than one that is not. Cutting out plastic packaging for fresh produce will actually harm the environment through increased CO2 emissions because the energy used to produce food is much greater than in the packaging protecting it.”

Matt Barber, event director for the PDM Event says: “We have a really strong line-up of speakers who will not shy away from tackling the difficult issues facing the plastics industry. The conference sessions and panel discussion will provide an important opportunity for the industry to find solutions and set an agenda for action.”

Both upstream and downstream waste management solutions will be discussed during the conference. The Sustainability sessions on day two will include a presentation on stopping ocean plastics by Professor Ed Kosior, CEO and Head Consultant, Nextek, and another on the use of recycled materials in the future, led by Stephen, Mancey, CEO Europe, Logoplaste. In the Design and Differentiation sessions, Keith Freeguard, Director, Axion Consulting will explain the importance of “circular thinking” in sustainable product design.

PDM 2018 is the perfect place for plastics and design professionals to network, learn and do business. Industry associations supporting PDM 2018 include: the BPF, plastics recycling organisation RECOUP, the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), the Gauge & Toolmakers Association (GTMA) and the Scottish Plastics & Rubber Association.

Physical bones and other artifacts hold valuable clues about past civilizations or ancient animals, but those resources aren’t always available or might be too fragile to be handled routinely. Now, work by Stanford University Libraries to scan artifacts in three dimensions is bringing the experience of handling those physical objects to the computer screens of students or researchers working across the world.

In a pilot project, the library’s Digital Production Group has scanned almost 100 animal bones and bone fragments for Krish Seetah, assistant professor of anthropology, who used the 3-D models for the first time during his course Zooarchaeology: An Introduction to Faunal Remains in the 2017 winter quarter.

“The 3-D model doesn’t replace the original, but it gives you a digital surrogate to make analysis, evaluation, instruction on those objects easier both in the classroom and at home,” said Stuart Snydman, associate director for digital strategy at Stanford Libraries, who is leading the 3-D scanning effort. “Digitization is one way we can not just preserve our heritage and our history but also make these really important objects or works of art available to our students and faculty and researchers in the world at large.”

The venture into 3-D scanning started around 2014, when Seetah received a Hoagland Award grant from Stanford’s Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning.

Seetah, who has been teaching a class on zooarchaeology for more than 12 years, said he has always been on the lookout for how to improve his students’ learning experiences. Working closely with Claudia Engel, the Libraries’ academic technology specialist for anthropology, Seetah wanted to take advantage of 3-D scanning because of how prevalent and inexpensive the technology has become in recent years. Previously, Seetah and Engel worked together to integrate tablet computers and digital notebooks into Seetah’s teaching. Exploring 3-D technology was a natural next step.

“The ideal situation would be for each one of my students to take an entire skeleton home and study it, but that’s just not realistic because of the fragility and limitations of the collection,” Seetah said. “Before, I used photographs, and two dimensions versus three is a completely different situation.”

Giving access to 3-D models of fragile archaeological remains through a seamless database improves students’ learning experience but also can help researchers working at remote sites if they need a fast reference point, Seetah said.

As part of Seetah’s class, students have to memorize bones of different animals in such a way that they could identify a bone just from its fragment. The students also learn to distinguish specific grooves and marks on those bones to determine if an animal experienced trauma during its life.

Graduate student Ryan Merritt took Seetah’s class in the 2017 winter quarter, when the professor first piloted the use of 3-D models. Students could pull up the 3-D models digitized by the Libraries on a computer screen or a tablet through a special platform, then rotate or annotate those images. Merritt said the 3-D models helped him learn the course material without needing to be in the lab for long hours working with physical bones.

“The models give you all of the angles,” he said. “And for someone who was learning about these artifacts for the first time, that was really useful.”

Taking Seetah’s class also made Merritt think about the future application of 3-D scanning, which could be used to share the resources and artifacts Stanford has via virtual databases with the rest of the world.

“I think we’re lucky to have access to all the things that Stanford has,” Merritt said. “Being able to let other universities and scholars across the world have access to our resources would be super valuable.”

That same idea is also on the minds of the staff at the Libraries. Snydman said he hopes to expand the Libraries’ existing 3-D scanning efforts and make those digitized materials easily available through the Stanford Digital Repository to scholars across the world. Seetah said he encourages Stanford faculty in other disciplines who could find 3-D models helpful during teaching, such as cell biology and architecture, to partner with the Libraries on the 3-D scanning project.

“This is not being done to coddle the students,” Seetah said. “It’s all about finding ways to make sure we are responsive to how students learn best in today’s digital environment.”

The TCT Group announced that submissions for the TCT Awards 2018 are now being invited. The winners will be announced, during the 2018 edition of the TCT Show, on the evening of Wednesday 26th September at the prestigious Hilton Metropole, Birmingham, on site at the NEC.

Following a hugely successful inaugural event the TCT Awards 2018 will once again celebrate design-to-manufacturing innovation across a range of industries including medical, aerospace, automotive and consumer products. Technology innovations will also be in the spotlight along with a further three inductees to the prestigious and coveted TCT Hall of Fame.

Duncan Wood, CEO, Rapid News Publications Ltd, owners of TCT, comments: "After such a fantastic evening last year we are really looking forward to seeing which projects are submitted for 2018 and who makes the exclusive Hall of Fame.  We encourage companies to reflect on the amazing work they are doing and the incredible technology they are developing and get their entries in as soon as possible.

"The TCT Awards are the most important and prestigious celebration of design-to-manufacturing innovation and we look forward to recognising amazing individuals, technology and applications in September."

Information for Entering the TCT Awards

The TCT Awards 2018 are open to companies across the entire design and manufacturing technology ecosystem and may be entered online; a full list of categories, submission criteria and deadlines can be found on the TCT Awards website.

The awards will be judged by an independent board of experts, analysts, journalists, and academics. The nominees for the Hall of Fame will be selected by this panel and then a free and fair public vote will be held to determine the three inductees for 2018.

TCT Show 2018 takes place 25-27th September 2018, NEC, Birmingham, UK.

Microsemi announced its AcuEdge™ Development Kit for Amazon Alexa Voice Service (AVS) won the “Internet of Things (IoT) Product Innovation Award” at the Elektra European Electronics Industry Awards. The prestigious annual award recognizes a semiconductor reference design or system-level product which demonstrates the capabilities and usefulness of the IoT.

Microsemi’s AcuEdge Development Kit for Amazon AVS delivers enhanced audio processing to improve voice recognition rates in adverse audio environments for emerging human to machine (H2M) applications in the IoT, industrial IoT and automated assistance markets. The kit enables third-party developers and original design manufacturers (ODMs) to evaluate and incorporate Alexa functionality in H2M applications, while interfacing with Microsemi’s Timberwolf™ ZL38063 multi-mic audio processor.

“Microsemi is honored to be recognized with an Elektra Award, as our AcuEdge Development Kit for Amazon AVS leverages our state-of-the-art Timberwolf solution to enable truly innovative H2M applications at a time when this market is experiencing exciting growth,” said Roger Holliday, senior vice president and general manager at Microsemi. “Our team prides itself on our ability to tackle the most difficult challenges facing those in the IoT market. As the industry addresses growing demand for reliable, scalable platforms, this device enables developers to quickly and cost-effectively achieve their design criteria.”

Judges of the Elektra Awards described Microsemi’s AcuEdge Development Kit for Amazon AVS as a “massive leap forward” for developers looking to integrate Alexa functionality into their products. Its features enable voice control and speech recognition both from a distance and in the presence of noise and audio sounds. The kit has a development board that connects directly to a Raspberry Pi and plastic frames to help position microphones and speakers in targeted applications, providing an ease of setup the judges appreciated. As one judge stated, the device is “a clear winner that will help drive development in this fast-growing market.”

The Elektra European Electronics Industry Awards showcase the finest new products, technology innovation and company performances of the year for the European electronics industry. Established to celebrate the achievements of individuals and companies across Europe, they present best practices in key areas including, innovation, sales growth and employee motivation. An independent panel of judges assessed the quality of all entries and winners were recognized at a gala dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London in December 2017.

BigRep GmbH and Thought3D have cooperated to bring first-layer adhesive Magigoo to large-scale build area FFF industrial 3D printers, with the aim of increasing printing reliability and maintenance convenience.

BigRep is one of the world’s leading providers of large-format 3D printers, making them affordable and reliable tools for additive manufacturing for various industries. Today the printers are adopted by many automotive, construction, furniture, design and architecture companies who have a growing need to prototype and run small-scale production worldwide.

“BigRep customers expect high-quality end products," said Moshe Aknin, Chief Technology Officer at BigRep. “Magigoo is a reliable product that helps our dependable workhorse printers to achieve great large-scale results.”

With a consistent increase in new adopters and their requirement for novel materials, it is a great challenge to provide ubiquitous hardware that works equally well for each material, since every material requires different printing conditions. With all this, it is still vital to provide customers with solutions that work reliably and allow them the flexibility to print with any material without requiring regular change in hardware.

Magigoo is a smart adhesive designed specifically for 3D printing. It is designed to work in par with a heated bed. It has been designed to stick when the bed is hot and to release as soon as it cools down, increasing reliability as well as throughput. Its solvent-free and environmentally friendly formula makes it easy to ship and safe to work with. The new big bottle developed with BigRep in mind allows for easier and faster application on a large print area.

In one particular instance, BigRep was printing a cross-section of its creative team’s bionic propeller design on The ONE printer. Given the propeller model’s area of contact was rather small, the BigRep team needed Magigoo on the print bed to aide in printing the large part’s challenging geometry. Moreover, the object’s overhangs and sharp details could have led to object detachment, but with the Magigoo adhesive, BigRep was able to successfully print several cross-sections of the model for prototyping.

“We enjoyed working with BigRep to extend our product range for large format 3D printers and we are glad to provide a product that meets high demands of industrial clients.” said Dr Keith M Azzopardi, Co-Founder and R&D Lead at Thought3D. “We hope to continue this collaboration with BigRep. Magigoo’s development road map is underway. We are expanding our product portfolio to include even wider spectrum of smart adhesives targeting engineering materials”.

NASA is on a mission to inspire young minds to become the next generation of critical thinkers. By engaging students in space exploration at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, NASA encourages learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in a way that fosters hands-on learning and discovery.

"As more states incorporate STEM-focused education into their standards, we assist teachers by developing curriculum support materials that help them meet the standards while making learning fun for their students," said Susan Currie, education specialist at Marshall.

One example of how Marshall achieves this goal is through collaboration with the Oak Ridge City School System in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Marshall staff assisted in curriculum development that incorporated unique NASA resources, and then trained teachers to use the resources for a new elective engineering course called NASA Project-Based Learning. Marshall engineers also serve as mentors to students in the course. Patrick Hull, technical assistant for the Structural and Mechanical Design Branch of the Engineering Directorate at Marshall, assisted with this collaboration in the community where he grew up.

"We sought to invest in our community and influence middle school students by exposing them to exciting STEM careers at NASA" said Hull. At many schools, this type of unique experience in STEM fields was only available in an extracurricular environment.

Hull partnered with Robertsville Middle STEM teacher, Todd Livesay, to create a project that tasked students with designing and 3-D printing a small one-unit cube satellite, or 1U CubeSat. Once completed, the students presented their project at Marshall in front of Hull and a panel of fellow engineers. "To have had an opportunity in junior high to work with a group of engineers from NASA would have been very motivating to me," said Hull.

"The value of skills learned by our students in this program spans more than just STEM disciplines," said Holly Cross, career and technical education supervisor for the Oak Ridge City School System. "The mentors from NASA encouraged our students to talk about their project in a conversational manner rather than memorizing for a presentation. Our English teachers have commented on how their presentation skills have developed and matured as a result of their interaction with the NASA engineers."

For the 2017 class mission, students chose a cause that is near to their hearts. In 2016, wildfires ravaged communities in nearby Gatlinburg, Tennessee, taking the lives of 14 residents and leaving more than 2,500 homes and businesses damaged or destroyed. To assist Gatlinburg and other communities impacted by wildfires, the students set out to develop a CubeSat capable of deploying a camera and radio in space to observe and communicate the regrowth pattern of vegetation after a widespread fire. This information can be used to help communities regrow after destruction.

The students submitted their completed project in proposal form to NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative to compete for a spot to fly on a future launch. Through the initiative, NASA provides universities, high schools and non-profit organizations access to a low-cost pathway to conduct research in the areas of science, exploration, technology development, education or operations. NASA is planning to make their next round of CubeSat selections in February. Selected experiments will be considered as potential payloads on agency launches or for deployment from the International Space Station beginning in 2018 through 2021.

3DCompare is a comparison platform for 3D printing that links companies with verified, professional and experienced 3D printing businesses around the world. Already active in North America and Europe, 3DCompare is rapidly expanding into a worldwide network. There is growing demand for 3D printing. In 2020 experts estimate the 3D market to be 28.9 billion U.S. dollars from 13.2 billion in 2016. Industries such as jewellery, architecture and dentistry have realized 3D printings potential for cheaper and better quality objects.

Current partners include industry leaders such as iMaterialise, Shapeways and Makexyz. 3DCompare users have immediate access to the latest range of additive manufacturing technology including FDM, SLA and SLS, and a wide array of metal, plastic, resin and ‘multi-colour’.materials. 3D printing bureaus who partner with 3DCompare get a uniquely designed, easy to use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) interface.

“3DCompare is constantly evolving its software to reflect the needs of this innovative and evolving industry with new tools, functions and features being constantly added. This is not a static platform; 3DCompare is committed to providing our service partners with software that adapts to their needs,” said Jerome Charvet CTO of 3DCompare.

"Being listed on has connected us with a whole new range of potential customers from all sorts of industries, helping us to grow our 3D printing service. It has put us in front of customers and all without having to spend huge amounts on marketing." William, CEO at Proto 3D - Beta Tester.

The rise of additive manufacturing as a proven commodity means that the 3D printing industry is now attracting a great deal of interest. The market for CAD software and on demand parts services is expected to triple in the next 2 years. “ We firmly believe that with the right support and information, far more businesses will take advantage of the speed, cost efficiency and unique applications that 3D printing allows. 3DCompare is the right platform at the right time,” adds Alex Ziff.

“ is to provide the best 3D printing services to professionals looking to 3D print a model at high quality via a Comparison Platform. It connects a curated selection of services bureau from around the world with a growing demand of professionals looking to get their files 3D files printed” - Alex Ziff CEO of 3DCompare

The last few years have seen an explosion of new materials for 3D printing applications. Each material has its own strengths and weaknesses, so choosing the right one can be a daunting task. After more than a year of research and development, Simplify3D has published an extensive 3D Printing Materials Guide that explores all of the popular filaments in use today, providing expert tips to improve your results with each material. In addition to in-depth articles on more than a dozen different filament types, the Guide also includes a detailed Properties Table for comparing the physical and mechanical properties of one material against another.

This Guide is the latest educational resource from Simplify3D, the same company that published the highly referenced Print Quality Troubleshooting Guide, which addresses common printing defects and their solutions.  “We know that 3D printing involves a balance of hardware, software, and materials”, said Simplify3D CEO, Clayton Webster.  “We have addressed the hardware challenges by partnering with manufacturers all over the world so that Simplify3D can support over 400 different 3D printers, but we also want to provide resources to help our customers succeed with the wide array of new materials that are available.  We are constantly testing the latest printers and filaments to make sure our software is optimized for each scenario, so we are excited to share our findings with the community”.

The Materials Guide starts with a grid of images, showcasing actual prints that were created with each material.  You can use tags to quickly filter the images based on specific applications or needs.  After selecting a material from the grid, you can view an in-depth article containing pros and cons, hardware requirements, best practices, troubleshooting solutions, and pro tips for advanced users.  Each article also includes a helpful “Get Started” section with sample models to provide inspiration for your first print.

Along with this Guide, Simplify3D has published a robust Filament Properties Table that compiles 25 different properties and characteristics for each material.  The Table includes detailed metrics such as strength, stiffness, density, and other mechanical properties that could be useful when designing your next part. A built-in comparison tool can be used to select specific materials for side-by-side comparison. Having all of this information in one place greatly simplifies the challenge of selecting the best material for a specific application.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $3 million prize competition to reenergize innovation in U.S. solar manufacturing. The American Made Solar Prize will incentivize the nation’s entrepreneurs to develop new processes and products that will reassert American leadership in the solar marketplace. This prize is in addition to total DOE funding of up to $400 million for solar projects and technologies in 2017. It will lower barriers American innovators face in reaching manufacturing scale by accelerating the cycles of learning, while helping to create partnerships that connect entrepreneurs to the private sector and the network of DOE’s national laboratories.

“The United States possesses the talent, expertise, and vision to surpass the rest of the world in solar technologies and forge a new solar energy landscape around the globe,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “The American Made Solar Prize will galvanize our country’s entrepreneurs, allow them to utilize technologies and innovations developed through DOE’s early-stage research and development, and, ultimately, bring new American-made products to market.”

This solar prize brings together America’s world-class research base with its unparalleled, entrepreneurial support system consisting of universities, energy incubators, and DOE’s 17 national laboratories to create a sweeping portfolio of innovations primed for private investment and commercial scale up. The prize will connect these diverse stakeholders in a process that opens the full panorama of next-generation solar technologies that are needed by private industry, as well as amplify opportunities for revolutionary innovations to be tested that could potentially obsolete the status quo.

This newly formed network will leverage cutting-edge technologies and facilities, such as small batch prototyping to speed cycles of innovation. Testing and development capabilities of DOE’s national labs will put the foremost research expertise and analytic tools at the fingertips of U.S. entrepreneurs, and deliver immediate insights that improve research prioritization. Finally, the program will catalyze early and ongoing connections with both corporate and venture capital sources, which is key to bringing the crucial investment and financial instruments needed in the later stages of commercial scaling.

This program is funded by DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

MyMiniFactory is back with another design challenge and incredible prizes. This time, they have partnered up with petroleum giant ESSO, who have sponsored and conceived the brief for MyMiniFactory’s latest design challenge. This is the first time Esso and MyMiniFactory have decided to collaborate on a design challenge, hoping the community will surprise and impress them with this fun and ecological task.

In this upcycling-themed challenge, participants must find new uses for the iconic 250ml can, utilizing 3D printing. The winner will have a chance to win a BCN3D Sigmax 3D printer worth over $5000 and a there is also a STARTT 3D printer for the runner up!

Christophe Fay, Esso EAME Marketing Communications Manager, said “We sell a lot of drinks at Esso stations, we also believe at Esso that every details matters and that if upcycling can help reuse cans for the benefit of our customer, we should help.” He adds, “Objects proposed could end up being offered to our customers in a promotion.”, which is the first time such an opportunity has been on the table for the MyMiniFactory community.

The winner of this upcycling challenge will receive a BCN3D Sigmax worth over $5000. BCN3D also sponsored MyMiniFactory’s halloween competition in partnership with Autosdesk’s tinkercad awarding MyMiniFactory community member Clockspring with their Sigma 3D Printer.

BCN3D’s Sigmax is the larger model of the existing Sigma desktop 3D printer with some additional features such as two independent heads capable of simultaneous dual extrusion and duplicate printing.

The competition is open to enter until the 14th of February 2018, and is only open to residents of Australia, Europe and USA who are over the age of 18.

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