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Stratasys Ltd. (Nasdaq:SSYS) announced that Italian Service Bureau, ZARE, has halved production costs for its direct manufacturing customers in automotive and aerospace since investing in a fleet of Stratasys Fortus 3D Production Systems.

Following the longstanding success of using Stratasys PolyJet and FDM 3D printing for prototyping applications, the company now deploys its Fortus 3D Production Systems to expand its direct manufacturing services to customers. This spans a spectrum of traditional manufacturing applications, including injection molding, tooling and the production of final parts.

“After a steady decline in traditional manufacturing business, the introduction of Stratasys Fortus FDM technology has given us a significant edge over our competition and has enabled us to reduce manufacturing costs for our aerospace and automotive customers by 50 percent,” says Andrea Pasquali, R&D Manager of ZARE. “This has been key to revitalizing our direct manufacturing business, as we can quickly produce durable end-use parts for our customers in the final material. We have seen a substantial reduction in iteration costs and turnaround times, and we have reduced the cost per final part by around 30 percent.”

Pasquali explains: “For one customer, we tested a 3D printed prototype of an aerospace pipe that we produced in high performance ULTEM 9085 thermoplastic material. However, with the material’s high strength-to-weight ratio and FST (flame, smoke and toxicity) rating, we quickly realised that we could go beyond functional prototype testing and actually manufacture final-parts that match the strength of metal.

“By replacing metal-manufactured parts with high performance thermoplastics, our customers can meet a vital requirement of aircraft manufacturing by reducing overall weight, while maintaining production quality and adhering to passenger safety requirements. A great example of this is the use of additive manufacturing to directly manufacture lightweight air conditioning ducts for aircraft.”

The expansion of additive manufacturing services to include both prototyping and direct manufacturing has had a positive impact across the business, not only for aerospace, but also automotive manufacturing. According to Pasquali, applications for these two sectors now account for nearly 50 percent of ZARE’s operations thanks to the advanced 3D printing materials available from Stratasys.

Pasquali explains: “The wide range of materials at our disposal enables us to select characteristics that match those of traditional manufactured parts at a fraction of the weight and cost. For example, leveraging its high UV-stability, we now manufacture car bumpers in ASA and headlights in PC-ABS, which combines both the superior strength and heat resistance of PC and the flexibility of ABS.”

Davide Ferrulli, Stratasys' Italian Territory Manager concludes: “As ZARE demonstrates, the use of additive manufacturing for the production of production parts in key industries such as aerospace and automotive offers a fast and cost-effective way to improve areas of the traditional manufacturing process. With our materials advancing, customers are finding that they can build more parts than ever before with parallel strength and durability to those traditionally manufactured.”

For more information, visit: www.zare.it

Published in Stratasys

Oxford Performance Materials announced that it has received 510(k) clearance from the FDA for its first-in-kind SpineFab® VBR implant system.

OPM's SpineFab system is the first and only FDA cleared 3D printed load-bearing polymer device for long-term implantation and represents OPM's third successful OsteoFab® regulatory clearance. OPM's first FDA clearance was for its OsteoFab Patient-Specific Cranial Device in February 2013, followed by its OsteoFab Patient-Specific Facial Device in July 2014.

"Receiving FDA clearance for our SpineFab system is a significant accomplishment for our team and a key milestone for OPM," said Scott DeFelice, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Oxford Performance Materials. "This clearance serves as further confirmation of our ability to repeatedly build fully functional 3D-printed parts and mission critical robust structures. The introduction of our SpineFab system represents exciting news for the Company's entry into the attractive spinal market, and this lays the foundation for future generations of load-bearing OsteoFab implants in the orthopedic industry."

OPM's SpineFab device is a vertebral body replacement (VBR) intended for use in the thoracolumbar regions of the spine to replace a collapsed, damaged, or unstable vertebral body due to tumor or trauma. To gain this FDA clearance, OPM's VBR implant system underwent extensive static and dynamic mechanical testing to assure it meets load and fatigue requirements as well as regulatory guidelines for its intended use. 

"We have built a strategy with the patient in mind by working together with clinicians to bring innovative device solutions that anticipate improved surgical outcomes," said Severine Zygmont, President of OPM Biomedical. "Today we have achieved our goal to build the first 3D printed polymer implant that has been cleared for a load bearing indication. Our OsteoFab process, which combines 3D printing with a unique material chemistry, is causing the industry to rethink how implants are designed and manufactured. We can now envision devices that will promote bone tissue formation while being imaging friendly and anatomically desirable."

OPM's SpineFab VBR System implants will be 3D printed in 48 sizes by OPM Biomedical, an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of medical devices. Using only biocompatible polymer and laser light, the OsteoFab laser sintering additive manufacturing process is an extremely clean implant production method. All SpineFab implants will be manufactured by OPM utilizing the Company's OsteoFab® process, which combines OPM's exclusive 3D printing technology with the Company's proprietary OXPEKK® powder formulation to print orthopedic and neurological implants. The result is a unique and beneficial set of attributes, including radiolucency, bone-like mechanical properties, and bone ongrowth characteristics.

OPM is currently in discussions with a number of distributors regarding sales channels for its SpineFab VBR system as well as partnership options for orthopedic devices in development. OPM's OsteoFab Patient-Specific Cranial and Facial devices are distributed exclusively by Zimmer Biomet.

For more information, visit: www.oxfordpm.com

LUXEXCEL, the first company to 3D print functional lenses, announced a €7.5 million series B funding. The first closure is done and the second closure will be finalized in 3 months’ time. The B-round was led by the Flemish investment company PMV, which included the firm’s existing investors, SET Ventures and Munich Venture Partners.

“We are very pleased to announce the completion of this B-round.” said CEO Eric Tierie. “The strong partners in this funding round share the vision that our technology and worldwide unique 3D printing service will offer new opportunities and novel optical products to many different markets”. With these investments, Luxexcel will be able to accelerate the growth of its 3D printing technology platform and develop extensive additional printing capabilities.

Roald Borré, PMV’s co-Head of Venture Capital, stated: “We’re excited to have the opportunity to invest in Luxexcel. We join Set Ventures and Munich Venture Partners in supporting this company with its innovative and unique 3D Printing capabilities. We’re convinced that the company will change the way optics are designed, produced, and digitally stored across many different market segments. Our team is looking forward to help Luxexcel to accelerate the digitization of optics manufacturing”.

Richard van de Vrie, President and founder of Luxexcel is excited about PMV joining Luxexcel. “This strong investor was already successful in developing companies in the 3D printing space. It is a great asset to have them on board. I am sure that with these investments Luxexcel will enhance its global leadership position in the Additive Manufacturing of lenses and optical components”.

Since the launch of the Printoptical Technology in 2010, Luxexcel has raised a total of € 17.5 million in funding. The company has grown to a team of 25 employees and recently started to build an online ordering platform to provide worldwide accessibility of its service, providing optical designers with a rapid path to lens design, prototyping, testing, refinement and manufacturing of custom optical components in a matter of days.

Luxexcel is headquartered in the Netherlands and offers a 3D printing service for products that demand the highest standard in transparency and smoothness. The company is the only company in the world able to Additive Manufacture lenses, directly out of the printer, without visible layering and post-processing. Luxexcel, has identified and is effectively eliminating the massive inefficiencies that are present in the lens manufacturing and development processes! Momentarily Luxexcel’s scalable technology, has a main focus on optical components for architectural lighting, automotive, aerospace, photonics and medical industries but with the fast increasing printing capabilities, many more markets and products will become able to benefit from Luxexcel’s Printoptical Technology

For more information, visit: www.luxexcel.com

Published in LUXEXCEL

Traditional robots are made of components and rigid materials like you might see on an automotive assembly line – metal and hydraulic parts, harshly rigid, and extremely strong. But away from the assembly line, for robots to harmoniously assist humans in close–range tasks scientists are designing new classes of soft–bodied robots. Yet one of the challenges is integrating soft materials with requisite rigid components that power and control the robot's body. At the interface of these materials, stresses concentrate and structural integrity can be compromised, which often results in mechanical failure.

But now, by understanding how organisms solve this problem by assembling their bodies in a way that produces a gradual transitioning from hard to soft parts, a team of Wyss Institute researchers and their collaborators have been able to use a novel 3d printing strategy to construct entire robots in a single build that incorporate this biodesign principle. The strategy permits construction of highly complex and robust structures that can't be achieved using conventional nuts and bolts manufacturing. A proof–of–concept soft–bodied autonomous jumping robot prototype was 3D printed layer upon layer to ease the transition from its rigid core components to a soft outer exterior using a series of nine sequential material gradients.

"We leveraged additive manufacturing to holistically create, in one uninterrupted 3D printing session, a single body fabricated with nine sequential layers of material, increasing in stiffness from rigid to soft towards the outer body,” said the study's co–senior author Robert Wood, Ph.D, who is a Core Faculty member and co–leader of the Bioinspired Robotics Platform at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, the Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and Founder of the Harvard Microrobotics Lab. 'By employing a gradient material strategy, we have greatly reduced stress concentrations typically found at the interfaces of soft and rigid components which has resulted in an extremely durable robot."

With the expertise of study co–author and Wyss Institute Senior Research Scientist James Weaver, Ph.D., who is a leader in high–resolution, multi–material 3D printing, the team was able to 3D print the jumping robot's body in one single 3D printing session. Usually, 3D printing is only used to fabricate parts of robots, and is only very recently being used to print entire functional robots. And this jumping robot is the first entire robot to ever be 3D printed using a gradient rigid–to–soft layering strategy.

The autonomous robot is powered – without the use of wires or tethers – by an explosive actuator on its body that harnesses the combustion energy of butane and oxygen. It utilizes three tilting pneumatic legs to control the direction of its jumps, and its soft, squishy exterior reduces the risk of damage upon landings, makes it safer for humans to operate in close proximity, and increases the robot's overall lifespan. It was developed based on previous combustion–based robots designed by co–senior author George Whitesides, Ph.D., who is a Wyss Institute Core Faculty member and the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor at Harvard University.

"Traditional molding–based manufacturing would be impractical to achieve a functionally–graded robot, you would need a new mold every time you change the robot’s design. 3D printing manufacturing is ideal for fabricating the complex and layered body exhibited by our jumping robot," said Nicholas Bartlett, a co–first author on the study and a graduate researcher in bioinspired robotics at the Wyss Institute and Harvard SEAS.

As compared to traditional mold manufacturing, which uses fixed molds, the nature of 3D printing facilitates rapid design iterations with utmost ease, allowing faster prototyping throughout development.

"This new breakthrough demonstrates the power of combining insights into nature's innovations with the most advanced man–made technological advances – in this case 3D printing technologies – when trying to overcome technical limitations that currently hold back a field," said Wyss Institute Founding Director Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., who is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital and Professor of Bioengineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "This ability to fabricate unitary soft robots composed of gradient materials that emulate natural stiffness gradients of living structures paves the way for mass fabrication of robots that can integrate seamlessly with people, whether in our homes, at work or in operating rooms in the future."

Former Wyss Institute Postdoctoral Fellow Michael Tolley, Ph.D., currently Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering of University of California, San Diego, is a co–first author on the study. In addition, former Wyss Institute and Harvard SEAS Postdoctoral Fellow Bobak Mosadegh, Ph.D., currently Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering in Radiology at Weill Cornell Medical College, is a co–author; Johannes T.B. Overvelde, a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard SEAS, is a co–author; and Katia Bertoldi, Ph.D., who is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Natural Sciences at Harvard SEAS, is a co–senior author.

This research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Images provided by Wyss Institute at Harvard University.

Published in Harvard

Sandboxr teams up with Amazon and 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) to launch Digital to Doorstep™, the first-ever 3D printing experience for fans of game and entertainment companies worldwide.

Utilizing Sandboxr’s unique 3D printing platform, game and entertainment companies can now provide their fans with one-of-a-kind figurines of their favorite characters by customizing them in game, 3D printing them in photorealistic color and delivering them to the consumer’s doorstep. Leveraging 3D Systems advanced ColorJet 3D printing technology on the ProJet x60 series and global fulfillment capabilities, Sandboxr is for the first time making high-quality collectibles available to video game fans around the world at an affordable, consumer price.

“We are incredibly excited to partner with Sandboxr and Amazon to enable gamers everywhere to bring their characters to life with stunning, fully-customizable 3D prints,” said Cathy Lewis, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer, 3D Systems. “Sandboxr’s digital customization and fulfillment model is a perfect example of how our technology integrates into and enhances existing products and experiences, and we believe that their innovative and scalable video game platform will drive further awareness and adoption of 3D printing.”

“I believe the relationship between Sandboxr, Amazon and 3D Systems demonstrates how this disruptive 3D printing technology applies to the individual consumer,” said TJ Young, President and co-founder of Sandboxr. “We started Sandboxr four years ago with the dream of bringing customizable 3D printed content that was meaningful and interesting to millions of consumers worldwide. Launching our 3D printing Digital to Doorstep™ platform with Amazon and partnering with 3D Systems for global fulfillment now makes our original dream a reality.”

Game and Entertainment companies interested in learning more about launching a customizable 3D printing Digital to Doorstep™ offering for their fans can contact Sandboxr’s business development team.

For more information, visit: www.amazon.com/Sandboxr

Published in Sandboxr

Divergent Microfactories unveiled a disruptive new approach to auto manufacturing that incorporates 3D printing to dramatically reduce the pollution, materials and capital costs associated with building automobiles and other large complex structures. Highlighted by Blade, the first prototype supercar based on this new technology, Divergent Microfactories CEO Kevin Czinger introduced the company’s plan to dematerialize and democratize car manufacturing.

“Society has made great strides in its awareness and adoption of cleaner and greener cars. The problem is that while these cars do now exist, the actual manufacturing of them is anything but environmentally friendly,” said Kevin Czinger, founder & CEO, Divergent Microfactories. “At Divergent Microfactories, we’ve found a way to make automobiles that holds the promise of radically reducing the resource use and pollution generated by manufacturing. It also holds the promise of making large-scale car manufacturing affordable for small teams of innovators. And as Blade proves, we’ve done it without sacrificing style or substance. We’ve developed a sustainable path forward for the car industry that we believe will result in a renaissance in car manufacturing, with innovative, eco-friendly cars like Blade being designed and built in microfactories around the world.”

Divergent Microfactories’ technology centers around its proprietary solution called a Node: a 3D-printed aluminum joint that connects pieces of carbon fiber tubing to make up the car’s chassis. The Node solves the problem of time and space by cutting down on the actual amount of 3D printing required to build the chassis and can be assembled in just minutes. In addition to dramatically reducing materials and energy use, the weight of the Node-enabled chassis is up to 90% lighter than traditional cars, despite being much stronger and more durable. This results in better fuel economy and less wear on roads.

The centerpiece of the Divergent Microfactories announcement is Blade, the world’s first 3D-printed supercar. Designed and built using Divergent Microfactories’ technology, the prototype is one of the greenest and most powerful cars in the world. Equipped with a 700-horsepower bi-fuel engine that can use either compressed natural gas or gasoline, Blade goes from 0-60 in about two seconds and weighs around 1,400 pounds. Divergent Microfactories plans to sell a limited number of high-performance vehicles that will be manufactured in its own microfactory.

In addition to unveiling its technology platform and prototype, Divergent Microfactories announced plans to democratize auto manufacturing. The goal is to put the platform in the hands of small entrepreneurial teams around the world, allowing them to set up their own microfactories and build their own cars and, eventually, other large complex structures. These microfactories will make innovation affordable while reducing the health and environmental impacts of traditional manufacturing.

For more information, visit: www.divergentmicrofactories.com

3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) announced that it has partnered with e-NABLE Community Foundation (ECF) to support e-NABLE, the global network of makers, inventors and designers using 3D printing to make functional, prosthetic hands that are donated to people in need. Building upon 3DS’ mission of Making Good, this partnership leverages the company’s 3D digital fabrication products, services and expertise to expand access to, improve the capabilities of, and educate the public about these life-changing assistive devices.

“Our technology unlocks everyone’s potential to transform great ideas into real outcomes,” said Avi Reichental, President and CEO, 3DS. “By teaming up with the e-NABLE community, we are giving more people the means and the skills to improve lives.”

3DS and ECF announced four key areas of collaboration as part of their partnership. Specifically,

• 3DS will collaborate with ECF to design an all-new hand. This design will be free, publicly-shared, customizable for sizing and optimized for printing on the Cube®, CubePro® and EKOCYCLE™ Cube®. To encourage and support greater community participation, 3DS and ECF will publish a video tutorial on how to print and assemble the free hand file.

• 3DS will provide technical advisory, aiding ECF with key industry and technical expertise on 3D technology, prosthetics design and more.

• 3DS and ECF will identify four or more university-based labs to qualify them as e-NABLE partners. These will be equipped with 3DS’ digital fabrication tools, including CubePro 3D printers, premium material cartridges, Sense™ 3D scanners, design software and the Touch™ 3D stylus.

• 3DS and ECF will collaborate to develop learning materials for formal and informal educators, introducing and facilitating 3D design and printing relating to ECF’s mission of sharing 3D-printed assistive technologies.

“We are excited to welcome 3D Systems into partnership with ECF and look forward to leveraging their solutions and expertise to further our reach and impact,” said Jon Schull, Enable Community Foundation President. “It's notable that 3DS has the vision to open-source their K1 hand so that all sorts of people can use it and learn from it."

The 3DS and ECF partnership will be celebrated at the upcoming Capitol Hill Maker Faire on June 11 and the National Maker Faire on June 12 and 13 at the University of the District of Columbia, where ECF will host workshops using 3DS’ Cube 3D printers.

At both Maker Faire events, 3DS will showcase its new prosthetic hand design, which was optimized for printing on the Cube and CubePro 3D printers. The stunning prosthetic was designed by 3DS’ industrial designer Evan Kuester. Kuester also designed the “Iron Man” prosthetic for the University of Central Florida that was presented to a young boy by Robert Downey, Jr. Kuester and other 3DS experts will be on hand to support the e-NABLE workshops and provide technical advice at both events.

For more information, visit: www.enablingthefuture.org

Published in 3D Systems

American Standard Brands has cemented its position as a true innovator in faucet design and engineering with the launch of the first commercially-available faucets created with additive manufacturing, better known 3D printing.

What makes the new DXV faucet designs unique?

Additive manufacturing opens up new possibilities for the design and function of faucets, enabling new ways to present water and completely reinventing the user’s experience.

  • Two of the new faucets are focused on reinventing the way that water is brought to the user. The incredibly high strength of the alloy enables fine structures of concealed waterways that converge at the top, shortly before reaching the aerator. This construction creates the impression that water appears magically out of the faucet.
  • One design is an eye-catching mesh of delicate latticework, while the second faucet has the waterways separated into four thin sections, giving it a more traditional appearance.
  • With the third faucet, the focus was on designing the experience of water. The water is presented to the user as a stream bouncing on rocks in a riverbed. To achieve this poetic effect, the design team used Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) technology to adjust each of the 19 waterways to achieve the proper effect. The rest of the faucet is extremely pure and simple not to distract from the play of the water.


How do you “print” a faucet?


There are different types of 3D printing. The process for printing the DXV faucets is called laser sintering:

  • A computer-guided laser beam fuses, or sinters, powdered metal into the shape of the faucet with high heat and pressure.
  • A solid metal block arises out of powder, hinting at the sculpted masterpiece-to-be.
  • The block requires hand-finishing to smooth extraneous metal and reveal the faucet design.
  • The actual printing—the laser sintering—takes about 24 hours.
  • It is not all about the printing. The DXV faucets go through a butler finishing process for a hand-polished look and feel that mimics the texture found on silver pieces after years of being hand buffed and polished.


Haven’t there already been 3D printed faucets?

3D printing has been used to create plastic faucet models and concepts for years, using another 3D printing process called fused deposition modeling. It’s the additive manufacturing process most people are familiar with, layering plastic in rows to build an item. American Standard and others have used fused deposition modeling in faucet design concepting for years.

The DXV faucets are the first ready-for-market working faucets to be printed in metal.

Where can I buy one of the new DXV 3D Printed Faucets?

These new DXV faucets will be available through an exclusive network of showrooms, likely within the next 12 months or so. The estimated retail price will be somewhere between $12,000 - $20,000.

Do they meet US code approvals?

All three DXV faucets have received NSF certification. Iconel does not contain any lead, so we easily passed all low-lead code approvals. The faucets meet the water-saving standards of the WaterSense® label, and will be submitting to them for approval.

How will 3D printing impact the design and construction Industry?

3D printing will have a major disruptive effect on the design and construction industry, and DXV by American Standard is the first plumbing manufacturer to introduce a product for commercialization.

The process democratizes design and decentralizes manufacturing, which will eventually upend the design and construction industry, along with many others. A new, more efficient business model for bespoke design could be on the horizon. This would reduce the inventory pressures that arise from mass production of personalized products, while opening up a new world for both design and construction.

For more information, visit: www.americanstandard-us.com

Published in American Standard

When Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse, he didn't give much thought to how he might bring his character to life in the real world. But robotics now puts that possibility within reach, so Disney researchers have found a way for a robot to mimic an animated character's walk.

Beginning with an animation of a diminutive, peanut-shaped character that walks with a rolling, somewhat bow-legged gait, Katsu Yamane and his team at Disney Research Pittsburgh analyzed the character's motion to design a robotic frame that could duplicate the walking motion using 3D-printed links and servo motors, while also fitting inside the character's skin. They then created control software that could keep the robot balanced while duplicating the character's gait as closely as possible.

"The biggest challenge is that designers don't necessarily consider physics when they create an animated character," said Yamane, senior research scientist. Roboticists, however, wrestle with physical constraints throughout the process of creating a real-life version of the character.

"It's important that, despite physical limitations, we do not sacrifice style or the quality of motion," Yamane said. The robots will need to not only look like the characters, but move in the way people are accustomed to seeing those characters move.

Yamane and Joohyung Kim of Disney Research Pittsburgh and Seungmoon Song, a Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, focused first on developing the lower half of such a robot.

"Walking is where physics matter the most," Yamane explained. "If we can find a way to make the lower half work, we can use the exact same procedure for the upper body."

They will describe the techniques and technologies they used to create the bipedal robot at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, ICRA 2015, May 26-30 in Seattle.

Compromises were inevitable. For instance, an analysis of the animated character showed that its ankle and foot had three joints, each of which had three degrees of freedom. Integrating nine actuators in a foot isn't practical. And the researchers realized that the walking motion in the animation wasn't physically realizable - if the walking motion in the animation was used on a real robot, the robot would fall down.

By studying the dynamics of the walking motion in simulation, the researchers realized they could mimic the motion by building a leg with a hip joint that has three degrees of freedom, a knee joint with a single degree of freedom and an ankle with two degrees of freedom.

Because the joints of the robot differ from what the analysis showed that the animated character had, the researchers couldn't duplicate the character's joint movements, but identified the position trajectories of the character's pelvis, hips, knees, ankle and toes that the robot would need to duplicate. To keep the robot from falling, the researchers altered the motion, such as by keeping the character's stance foot flat on the ground.

They then optimized the trajectories to minimize any deviation from the target motions, while ensuring that the robot was stable.

For more information, visit: www.disneyresearch.com/publication/development-of-a-bipedal-robot-that-walks-like-an-animation-character

Published in Disney Research

Materialise launched the 3D Printed DINO clothes rack as an outcome of a recent collaboration with the Finland-based design studio KAYIWA. The DINO clothes rack blurs the line between design and art. While keeping aesthetics at the forefront of their design, the DINO rack serves as a functional furnishing piece that fits in a foyer, lounge, cloakroom, walk -in closet, wardrobe, or a fashion boutique. The sophisticated and eye-catching design of the DINO rack works to aesthetically enhance any space.

“During the last decade, 3D printing technology advanced considerably, which allowed the true vision for DINO to be realized,” says Lincoln Kayiwa, Designer and Founder of KAYIWA design studio. “In line with KAYIWA’s sustainability values, hangers are produced only to meet the exact demand. The remaining polyamide powder from the laser-sintered parts is reused. Nothing goes to waste.”

Suspended along an electro-polished stainless steel bar with spacers in between, hangers remain organized and comfortably swing back and forth and/or move side-to-side for efficient hanging and clothing removal. The hangers can be made in varying heights, leaving hanging space for long coats or making them easy to reach for children and people on a wheelchair. In addition, hangers can be hung on the bar in any order, according to your preference and their textured finish and ergonomic shape ensures the secure holding of clothes.

For this project, KAYIWA worked closely with the design and engineering team at Materialise. “Design is often the key to success for a 3D Printing project. Together with the customer, we modified the original shapes in order to come to designs that are ready for additive manufacturing. This guaranteed a perfect and repeatable quality that meets KAYIWA’s standards,” says Karel Honings, Project Manager at Materialise.

The DINO clothes rack is now available in three versatile models: straight, wavy and modular, and in the eight KAYIWA standard colors (black, blue, green, orange, red, violet, white and yellow). Nevertheless, the DINO rack can also be customized to match your  room’s current style and it is even possible to incorporate your company’s brand identity through a specific logo or color scheme.

For more information, visit: www.kayiwa.fi/product-category/clothes-racks

Published in Materialise

A patient in Argentina required a particularly large cranial implant after stroke-related surgery, placing stringent requirements on the manufacture of the prosthetic. Naturally it needed to fit precisely, but in this case it also had to be permeable to allow brain fluid to pass through. Minimal heat conduction to the cerebral tissue was important, especially in a sunny climate. Additionally, biocompatibility was needed to allow the bone to grow into the edges of the implant.

A titanium alloy lattice structure secured by screws directly into the skull was deemed to be ideal. It was additively manufactured layer by layer from metal powder in a machine produced by German firm, EOS, whose UK subsidiary is on the Warwick Technology Park.

The one-and-a-half-hour surgical procedure was carried out successfully in May last year (2014). The patient left hospital after two days and the wound healed within three weeks. Since that time there have been no complications and the patient has been able to lead a normal life.

Several stringent mechanical requirements had to be met to ensure a successful result and technological advances in additive manufacturing allowed them to be achieved. The pores in the implant are approximately 1 mm across, while the links are about 0.2 mm thick, resulting in 95 percent porosity. To achieve such a fine mesh in a rigid structure to tight dimensional and profile tolerances would be impracticable using conventional, subtractive production techniques.

Time was of the essence in producing the implant. The process was started by Novax DMA in Buenos Aires, which specialises in developing and supplying medical implants for traumatology, orthopaedics and craniofacial surgery. For the 3D design of the implant, software was employed from UK company, Within, which allowed the basic form and porous structure to be defined quickly.

As soon as the CAD work was completed, Alphaform AG, near Munich, manufactured the implant in a matter of hours in an EOSINT M 280 metal additive manufacturing machine from EOS. The implant was in the operating theatre less than three weeks later, with transportation consuming one-third of that time.

Christoph Erhardt, Director of Additive Manufacturing at Alphaform, commented, “We had already successfully completed many additively manufactured products in the EOS system.

“However, we are particularly proud of this implant, not only because of the precise realisation of the form, but also because we were able to optimise the porous structure and the difficult process of cleaning the small interior spaces.

“We developed a multi-step process of abrasive and mechanical cleaning, rinsing and ultrasonics to arrive at the required level of medical purity, which is vital as particles can dislodge with the slightest movement, leading to the possibility of infections or rejection.”

The level of cleanliness was verified by extensive tests, including particle and cytotoxicity testing. Gas-chromatography analysis was also performed. Other tests confirmed that the implant fulfilled the necessary requirements to stabilise and protect the patient's skull.

Daniel Fiz, CEO of Novax DMA, added, “We have been supplying medical implants since 1995. Additive manufacturing represents a new milestone for patients. It offers optimal biomedical characteristics together with the highest levels of compatibility, thereby having a lasting effect on improved quality of life.

“For these reasons, we have applied the technology with success to other areas of the body. Alphaform has also manufactured jaw implants for us, as well as a hip joint and a spinal implant. For the latter, we are currently considering series production using additive manufacturing.”

Christoph Erhardt concluded, “For us, additive manufacturing and EOS are synonymous. We have already produced an enormous number of parts for many companies. Both we and our customers are continually amazed by the application possibilities and the high-quality production that can be achieved.

“That was once again the case here. We were able to help a person to live a normal life, on an ongoing basis, despite their having suffered a very serious injury.”

Published in EOS

When you think of copper, the penny in your pocket may come to mind; but NASA engineers are trying to save taxpayers millions of pennies by 3-D printing the first full-scale, copper rocket engine part.

“Building the first full-scale, copper rocket part with additive manufacturing is a milestone for aerospace 3-D printing,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Additive manufacturing is one of many technologies we are embracing to help us continue our journey to Mars and even sustain explorers living on the Red Planet.”

Numerous complex parts made of many different materials are assembled to make engines that provide the thrust that powers rockets. Additive manufacturing has the potential to reduce the time and cost of making rocket parts like the copper liner found in rocket combustion chambers where super-cold propellants are mixed and heated to the extreme temperatures needed to send rockets to space.

“On the inside of the paper-edge-thin copper liner wall, temperatures soar to over 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and we have to keep it from melting by recirculating gases cooled to less than 100 degrees above absolute zero on the other side of the wall,” said Chris Singer, director of the Engineering Directorate at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where the copper rocket engine liner was manufactured. “To circulate the gas, the combustion chamber liner has more than 200 intricate channels built between the inner and outer liner wall. Making these tiny passages with complex internal geometries challenged our additive manufacturing team.”

A selective laser melting machine in Marshall’s Materials and Processing Laboratory fused 8,255 layers of copper powder to make the chamber in 10 days and 18 hours. Before making the liner, materials engineers built several other test parts, characterized the material and created a process for additive manufacturing with copper.

“Copper is extremely good at conducting heat,” explained Zach Jones, the materials engineer who led the manufacturing at Marshall. “That’s why copper is an ideal material for lining an engine combustion chamber and for other parts as well, but this property makes the additive manufacturing of copper challenging because the laser has difficulty continuously melting the copper powder.”

Only a handful of copper rocket parts have been made with additive manufacturing, so NASA is breaking new technological ground by 3-D printing a rocket component that must withstand both extreme hot and cold temperatures and has complex cooling channels built on the outside of an inner wall that is as thin as a pencil mark. The part is built with GRCo-84, a copper alloy created by materials scientists at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, where extensive materials characterization helped validate the 3-D printing processing parameters and ensure build quality. Glenn will develop an extensive database of mechanical properties that will be used to guide future 3-D printed rocket engine designs. To increase U.S. industrial competitiveness, data will be made available to American manufacturers in NASA’s Materials and Processing Information System (MAPTIS) managed by Marshall.

“Our goal is to build rocket engine parts up to 10 times faster and reduce cost by more than 50 percent,” said Chris Protz, the Marshall propulsion engineer leading the project. “We are not trying to just make and test one part. We are developing a repeatable process that industry can adopt to manufacture engine parts with advanced designs. The ultimate goal is to make building rocket engines more affordable for everyone.”

Manufacturing the copper liner is only the first step of the Low Cost Upper Stage-Class Propulsion Project funded by NASA’s Game Changing Development Program in the Space Technology Mission Directorate. NASA’s Game Changing Program funds the development of technologies that will revolutionize future space endeavors, including NASA’s journey to Mars. The next step in this project is for Marshall engineers to ship the copper liner to NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, where an electron beam freedom fabrication facility will direct deposit a nickel super-alloy structural jacket onto the outside of the copper liner. Later this summer, the engine component will be hot-fire tested at Marshall to determine how the engine performs under extreme temperatures and pressures simulating the conditions inside the engine as it burns propellant during a rocket flight.

For more information, visit: www.nasa.gov

Published in NASA

The University of California, San Diego chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS@UCSD) conducted two hotfire tests of their second 3D printed rocket engine on April 18, 2015 at the Friends of Amateur Rocketry test facility in the Mojave Desert.

The rocket engine, named Ignus, was sponsored by and completely metal 3D printed at the facilities of GPI Prototype in Lake Bluff, IL. The rocket engine utilized liquid oxygen and kerosene as its propellants and was designed to achieve 750 lbf of thrust, a stepping stone in the club’s goal of producing larger and more powerful rocket engines. The design and testing of this engine is part of a larger project for the students guided and mentored by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center along with Dr. Forman Williams of UCSD.

As members of UC San Diego’s Gordon Engineering Leadership Center, leaders of the club were encouraged to pursue tough and challenging projects to prepare them for their lives post-graduation.

The engine was the product of a year and a half of work that the students put in to design and fabricate both the engine and the test system. This is the students’ most notable headline since they made national news with the first test of a 3D printed engine by a university, in October 2013.

“Seeing the engine roar to life was real validation to the thousands of man hours and sleepless nights designing, building, and preparing the rocket engine and the test stand. It was a testament to our determination and passion for space technologies”, said Deepak Atyam, Club President and Gordon Fellow.

“We aim to align our research so it is compatible with the needs of the aerospace industry. 3D printing has significant benefits including huge cuts to the cost, time to fabricate, and weight of rocket engines.”

The SEDS chapter conducted this research with the support of various organizations including GPI Prototype, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Lockheed Martin, the Gordon Engineering Leadership Center, and XCOR Aerospace.

Jeremy Voigt, design and test engineer at XCOR, assisted with the testing procedures and explained “There are not many people that can do what they have done, let alone as students, in regards to successfully test firing an engine on the first try. They not only accomplished that, but did it twice in one day, and with the new technology of 3D printing. That’s nothing short of amazing.”

Ignus is the first engine that was tested in a series of hot fires of different engine designs that the club plans to do in a lead up to their eventual rocket launch later this year at the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition. The competition will be held in Green River, Utah June 24-27, 2015. That rocket, named Vulcan1, would be one of the first rockets powered by a 3D printed engine in the world. In order to fund the fabrication and launch of their rocket, the students have launched a KickStarter campaign.

The club would like to personally thank Carl Tedesco of Flometrics; Jeremy Voigt, Patrick Morrison, and Tony Busalacchi of XCOR Aerospace; and Wyatt Rehder of Masten Space Systems for their help during the testing procedures.

For more information, visit: seds.ucsd.edu or www.3d-rocket.com

A new type of graphene aerogel will make for better energy storage, sensors, nanoelectronics, catalysis and separations.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have made graphene aerogel microlattices with an engineered architecture via a 3D printing technique known as direct ink writing. The research appears in the April 22 edition of the journal, Nature Communications.

The 3D printed graphene aerogels have high surface area, excellent electrical conductivity, are lightweight, have mechanical stiffness and exhibit supercompressibility (up to 90 percent compressive strain). In addition, the 3D printed graphene aerogel microlattices show an order of magnitude improvement over bulk graphene materials and much better mass transport.

Aerogel is a synthetic porous, ultralight material derived from a gel, in which the liquid component of the gel has been replaced with a gas. It is often referred to as “liquid smoke.”

Previous attempts at creating bulk graphene aerogels produced a largely random pore structure, excluding the ability to tailor transport and other mechanical properties of the material for specific applications such as separations, flow batteries and pressure sensors.

“Making graphene aerogels with tailored macro-architectures for specific applications with a controllable and scalable assembly method remains a significant challenge that we were able to tackle,” said engineer Marcus Worsley, a co-author of the paper. “3D printing allows one to intelligently design the pore structure of the aerogel, permitting control over mass transport (aerogels typically require high pressure gradients to drive mass transport through them due to small, tortuous pore structure) and optimization of physical properties, such as stiffness. This development should open up the design space for using aerogels in novel and creative applications.”

During the process, the graphene oxide (GO) inks are prepared by combining an aqueous GO suspension and silica filler to form a homogenous, highly viscous ink. These GO inks are then loaded into a syringe barrel and extruded through a micronozzle to pattern 3D structures.

“Adapting the 3D printing technique to aerogels makes it possible to fabricate countless complex aerogel architectures for applications such as mechanical properties and compressibility, which has never been achieved before, ” said engineer Cheng Zhu, the other co-author of the journal article.

Other Livermore researchers include Yong-Jin Han, Eric Duoss, Alexandra Golobic, Joshua Kuntz and Christopher Spadaccini. The work is funded by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program.

For more information, visit: www.llnl.gov

Published in LLNL

Stratasys Ltd. (Nasdaq:SSYS) announced that its technology is illuminating the stage in the opening song of US pop star, Katy Perry’s Prismatic World Tour with vibrantly colored 3D printed mohawks produced by leading Hollywood special effects company, Legacy Effects.

Inspired by the plume of an ancient Roman’s imperial-centurion helmets, the mohawk’s main structure is manufactured using Stratasys 3D printing and features captivating colorful programmed lighting in the peak. With the prominent theme of color running throughout the tour, the headpiece wows audiences with a spectrum of bright lights, igniting an explosion of spectacular pyrotechnics in the opening song.

Set to feature throughout the year-long world tour, the mohawks are personalized to perfectly fit the individual backing dancer, ensuring that they remain in place throughout the renowned opening song, Roar.

“When Katy Perry’s art assistant gave us the brief with such a short turnaround time, we knew instantly that creating something so complex and visually striking, with the need for durability, could only be achieved with 3D printing,” explains Jason Lopes, Lead Systems Engineer at Legacy Effects. “Traditionally, it’s virtually impossible and very costly to produce such complex personalized pieces by hand, taking into consideration the time to work out the programming of the lighting elements. With Stratasys 3D printing technology, we were able to develop fully-illuminated pieces with a lightning fast turnaround of under a week. For developing one-off props for the music industry, this is revolutionary.”

Given the need of the eye-catching headgear to withstand continual use throughout the world tour, Legacy Effects opted to 3D print the outer crest in robust ABS-M30 FDM thermoplastic, ideal for holding the whole unit together. Similarly, thanks to its high dimensional stability and fine detail visualisation, the inset of the mohawks was produced in Stratasys’ rigid VeroGray material.

“We wanted to amplify the bright colors of the mohawks to complement the dance routine and lighting throughout the performance and we knew that PolyJet’s ability to house a sheet of acrylic inside would ensure that the contrast in colors was emphasized regardless of the spectators’ position in the arena,” explains Lopes.

Lopes concludes: “This is hugely exciting for us as Katy is such a high profile client, but it also represents how 3D printing is enabling us to meet the complex demands of projects like these immediately and providing our clients results within a day. To see 3D printed end-use parts in action during a live concert performance is something else!”

Gilad Gans, President of North American Operations, Stratasys, concludes: “We are seeing more and more of our customers using 3D printing beyond just a prototyping tool, but as a way to directly manufacture some of the most complex parts as final products. In the case of Katy Perry’s head pieces, the ability to 3D print personalized one-off parts, customized to each dancer, is a perfect example of how the future of manufacturing is moving towards mass customization.”

For more information, visit: www.stratasys.com

Published in Stratasys

Monster Mascots has discovered a way to combine desktop 3D printing with traditional manufacturing to produce collectible figures in the USA. On January 28, co-founders Natalie Mathis and Quincy Robinson launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowd-fund the first batch of their licensed University of Kentucky Wildcat Monster Mascots.
 
Robinson has over ten years of experience inventing and sculpting for the toy industry. Using software, Robinson created a negative of each section of the UK Wildcat figure. He then 3D printed each negative section in square blocks on desktop 3D printers. The blocks were taken to a local aluminum sand casting facility, where they were turned into a metal mold.
 
Originally, the co-creators set out to create the USA-made figures using only traditional manufacturing techniques. "We priced a facility in New York, and the cost of manufacturing them was prohibitive for small quantities," Mathis said. “3D printing the blocks ourselves reduced the cost of the mold by thousands of dollars and enabled us to afford-ably produce small batches of the Wildcat.”
 
Next, the local rotational molding facility attaches the mold to a large metal disk, puts a plastic powder inside, and rotates the mold. After baking at a high temperature, the UK Wildcat is pulled out, cleaned, and assembled by hand, adding to each figure’s uniqueness.
 
After the Kickstarter ends on March 3, Monster Mascots plans to continue to acquire licenses from other universities to produce more figures in the series. “We started with UK because Natalie and I are both from Kentucky,” Robinson said. “We hope people love these guys and that eventually we can make other teams' Monster Mascots!”

For more information, visit: www.kickstarter.com/projects/3dkitbash/university-of-kentucky-wildcat-monster-mascots

Published in Monster Mascots

In 1941, Arthur M Young demonstrated a model helicopter flying on a tether while working for Bell Aircraft Corporation and just five years later, Bell Helicopter received the first-ever certification for a commercial helicopter. The Texas company has now made and sold more than 35,000 of the aircraft worldwide.

For some years, the company has used additive manufacturing (AM), otherwise known as 3D printing, to produce prototype components but wanted to use the technology to build functional parts. It turned to nearby AM bureau, Harvest Technologies, which uses more than 40 AM machines, to provide the expertise.

Before production could begin, Bell Helicopter and Harvest needed to prove out the processing capabilities of the latter’s EOSINT P 730 plastic laser-sintering machine from EOS that would be used to make the helicopter parts and to certify the platform for use in the aerospace industry. Heat distribution, powder degradation, dimensional accuracy, repeatability, component quality and performance, and the economics of manufacture were all examined.

Elliott Schulte, Engineer III at Bell Helicopter said, “We characterised the mechanical properties of each additively manufactured build so that we could confirm that the EOS system met our specification requirements and produced the same quality product each time.

“The systematic testing was done with a number of different materials and across a series of individual builds to establish that EOS technology was robust and highly repeatable.”

Subsequently, Bell Helicopter and Harvest began the meticulous process of manufacturing aerospace hardware, taking advantage of the freedom of design that comes with applying AM.

Christopher Gravelle, head of Bell Helicopter’s rapid prototyping lab commented, “Material characterisation is a critical consideration for us during design. For instance, if we are creating bosses for attachment points in additively manufactured nylon rather than metal, it is a new material and process and you cannot just use the same configuration.”

After a final review of the first component design for producibility, Bell Helicopter sent a 3D CAD model to Harvest to develop a build strategy. Before each batch was produced, rigorous pre-production inspections were carried out by Harvest, including checking that nitrogen leak rate was low, which is important for reducing waste and ensuring part quality.

Caleb Ferrell, quality manager at Harvest added, “After every build, we test for tensile and flexural properties of the components. This is a requirement for process assurance that we continuously monitor.

“The parts that we get have very good feature definition and the mechanical properties have been good as well. We are especially happy with the larger platform size and the nestability we are achieving.”

Currently, the helicopter manufacturer 3D prints parts mainly for its environmental control system (ECS) using EOS technology, but AM production is expanding. Bell Helicopter is interested in employing 3D printed components throughout the aircraft systems of its commercial helicopters.

Schulte added, “The ECS engineers who have gained experience with the material and the process are now communicating with teams involved in other functions, and those teams are starting to incorporate additively manufactured hardware into their assemblies.

"The EOS technology produces a robust and highly repeatable process that complies with our specification. We have done a number of conversions of aircraft parts from previous processes to AM. With the EOSINT P 730, we often discover that the production cost per piece is substantially reduced compared to conventional manufacturing methods.”

Bell Helicopter will also be evaluating AM of high-temperature plastics intended for more demanding roles and environments.

Ferrell explained, “In addition to the design advantages, there are significant manufacturing benefits with EOS technology. Tool-less manufacturing means you do not face certain limitations or up-front costs.

“If you need to change something, you can build new revisions simply by changing the CAD file – no moulds, no new machining tool paths and very little wasted time and money.”

“Because of the large build platform in the EOSINT P 730, we can print bigger components in one piece rather than in sections, eliminating assembly costs.”

Another advantage of the EOS system is the clean surface it produces, according to director of business development at Harvest, Ron Clemons. He explained that the EOSINT P 730 incorporates a software fix that provides crisper detail and smoother surfaces. As a result, there is relatively little peripheral powder melting and adhesion, so the desired quality of finish is achieved. There is consequently a saving in post-processing cost compared with the bureau’s other AM systems and lead-times are shorter.

An important secondary benefit of EOS technology is increased recyclability of the plastic powder. Other AM processes used by Harvest leave behind a significant amount of partially melted and therefore unusable powder, whereas more of the EOSINT P 730’s leftover powder can be reused.

Harvest has since acquired a second EOSINT P 730 and an EOSINT P 760 and is currently working with Bell Helicopter to implement the manufacture of one-off or two-off orders for spares, nested within the build volumes of existing batch production.

For more information, visit: Aerospace Case Study - Bell Helicopter

Published in EOS

With a 3-D printed twist on an automotive icon, the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory is showcasing additive manufacturing research at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

ORNL’s newest 3-D printed vehicle pays homage to the classic Shelby Cobra in celebration of the racing car’s 50th anniversary. The 3-D printed Shelby will be on display January 12-15 as part of the show’s inaugural Technology Showcase.

Researchers printed the Shelby car at DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL using the Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine, which can manufacture strong, lightweight composite parts in sizes greater than one cubic meter. The approximately 1400-pound vehicle contains 500 pounds of printed parts made of 20 percent carbon fiber.

Recent improvements to ORNL’s BAAM machine include a smaller print bead size, resulting in a smoother surface finish on the printed pieces. Subsequent work by Knoxville-based TruDesign produced a Class A automotive finish on the completed Shelby.

“Our goal is to demonstrate the potential of large-scale additive manufacturing as an innovative and viable manufacturing technology,” said Lonnie Love, leader of ORNL’s Manufacturing Systems Research group. “We want to improve digital manufacturing solutions for the automotive industry.”

The team took six weeks to design, manufacture and assemble the Shelby, including 24 hours of print time. The new BAAM system, jointly developed by ORNL and Cincinnati Incorporated, can print components 500 to 1000 times faster than today’s industrial additive machines. ORNL researchers say the speed of next-generation additive manufacturing offers new opportunities for the automotive industry, especially in prototyping vehicles.

“You can print out a working vehicle in a matter of days or weeks,” Love said. “You can test it for form, fit and function. Your ability to innovate quickly has radically changed.  There’s a whole industry that could be built up around rapid innovation in transportation.”

The Shelby project builds on the successful completion of the Strati, a fully 3-D printed vehicle created through a collaboration between Local Motors and ORNL.

The lab’s manufacturing and transportation researchers plan to use the 3-D printed Shelby as a laboratory on wheels. The car is designed to “plug and play” components such as battery and fuel cell technologies, hybrid system designs, power electronics, and wireless charging systems, allowing researchers to easily and quickly test out new ideas.   

The ORNL booth at NAIAS highlights additional research and development activities in manufacturing and vehicle technologies including displays on energy absorption, composite tooling, printed power electronics and connected vehicles.

The project was funded by the Advanced Manufacturing Office in DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and ORNL’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program.

For more information, visit: web.ornl.gov/sci/manufacturing/media/news/detroit-show

Published in ORNL

Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp (NYSE:GY) company, has successfully completed a hot-fire test of its MPS-120™ CubeSat High-Impulse Adaptable Modular Propulsion System™ (CHAMPS™). The MPS-120 is the first 3D-printed hydrazine integrated propulsion system and is designed to provide propulsion for CubeSats, enabling missions not previously available to these tiny satellites. The project was funded out of the NASA Office of Chief Technologist's Game Changing Opportunities in Technology Development and awarded out of NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center. The test was conducted in Redmond, Washington.

"Aerojet Rocketdyne continues to push the envelope with both the development and application of 3-D printed technologies, and this successful test opens a new paradigm of possibilities that is not constrained by the limits of traditional manufacturing techniques," said Julie Van Kleeck, vice president of Space Advanced Programs at Aerojet Rocketdyne.

"The MPS-120 hot-fire test is a significant milestone in demonstrating our game-changing propulsion solution, which will make many new CubeSat missions possible," said Christian Carpenter, MPS-120 program manager. "We look forward to identifying customers to demonstrate the technology on an inaugural space flight."

The MPS-120 contains four miniature rocket engines and feed system components, as well as a 3D-printed titanium piston, propellant tank and pressurant tank. The MPS-120 is designed to be compatible with both proven hydrazine propellant and emerging AF-M315E green propellant. The system is upgradable to the MPS-130™ green propellant version through a simple swap of the rocket engines. The entire system fits into a chassis about the size of a coffee cup.

"Demonstrating the speed at which we can manufacture, assemble and test a system like this is a testament to the impact that proper infusion of additive manufacturing and focused teamwork can have on a product," said Ethan Lorimor, MPS-120 project engineer at Aerojet Rocketdyne. "The demonstration proved that the system could be manufactured quickly, with the 3D printing taking only one week and system assembly taking only two days."

The MPS-120 demonstrated more than five times the required throughput on the engine and several full expulsions on the propellant tank. This demonstration test brought the system to Technology Readiness Level 6 and a Manufacturing Readiness Level 6. The next step in the MPS-120 product development is to qualify the unit and fly it in space.

This application of Additive Manufacturing (AM) is one example of Aerojet Rocketdyne's numerous efforts to apply existing AM techniques. It's a fully integrated cross-discipline effort ranging from basic process development to material characterization. The application also uses rigorous component and system level validation, enabling the benefits of AM with the reliability expected of traditional Aerojet Rocketdyne systems.

While the MPS-120 is Aerojet Rocketdyne's first 3D-printed integrated propulsion system, the company has previously conducted several successful hot-fire tests on 3D-printed components and engines. Those tests include an advanced rocket engine Thrust Chamber Assembly using copper alloy AM technology in October 2014; a series of tests on a Bantam demonstration engine built entirely with AM in June 2014; and a series of tests in July 2013 on a liquid-oxygen/gaseous hydrogen rocket injector assembly designed specifically for additive manufacturing.

For more information, visit: www.rocket.com/cubesat/mps-120

Published in Aerojet Rocketdyne

3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) announced that it has successfully outfitted Derby the dog with 3D printed prosthetics, allowing him to run down the street for the first time ever. Derby was born with a congenital deformity characterized by small forearms and no front paws. While always cheerful, Derby was, until now, only able to get around on soft surfaces. Hard surfaces, like sidewalks, cause severe abrasions on his front extremities.

Having fostered Derby through the dog rescue group Peace and Paws in Hillsborough, N.H., Tara Anderson decided to help. Tara, as a 3D Systems employee, knew that 3D printing afforded an unmatched level of design freedom, functionality and speed. Using 3D technology, she knew it would be possible to rapidly design and manufacture prosthetics customized to Derby's morphology.

Marshaling help from Derrick Campana, a certified Orthotist at Animal Ortho Care in Chantilly, VA, and 3DS designers, Kevin Atkins and Dave DiPinto, data of Derby's forearms and 3D scan data of a cup design, created by Campana, were used to create the 3D design. The team utilized Geomagic Freeform, 3DS' digital sculpting platform, which allowed them to create perfect organic shapes and smooth curves for Derby's shape.

The ProJet 5500X delivers multi-material 3D printing in a single build, so Tara and the designers could build complete prosthetics with comfortable cups in rubber and rigid spokes and base. Ready in a few hours, the prosthetics were shipped to Derby for testing.

"The beauty of 3D printing is that if the design needs to be adjusted, we don't have to wait for time-consuming and expensive traditional manufacturing processes, we can simply print out a new set," said Buddy Byrum, Vice President of Product and Channel Management, 3DS. "The dovetailing of 3D scanning and design with the ProJet 5500X multi-material 3D printing allowed for the creation of complete prosthetics printed in a single build, custom-fit to Derby."

Through the power of 3D, Derby is now able to run alongside, and sometimes past, his newly adoptive owners, Sherri and Dom Portanova.

""He runs with Sherri and I every day, at least two to three miles," said Dom Portanova. "When I saw him sprinting like that on his new legs it was just amazing."

For more information, visit: www.3dsystems.com

Published in 3D Systems

History was made on the International Space Station (ISS) early Tuesday morning when the first 3D printer built to operate in space successfully began manufacturing. This is the first time that hardware has been additively manufactured in space, as opposed being launched from Earth.

“When the first human fashioned a tool from a rock, it couldn’t have been conceived that one day we’d be replicating the same fundamental idea in space,” said Aaron Kemmer, CEO, Made In Space, Inc. “We look at the operation of the 3D printer as a transformative moment, not just for space development, but for the capability of our species to live off Earth.”

The first part made in space is a functional part of the printer itself - a faceplate for its own extruder printhead. “This ‘First Print’ serves to demonstrate the potential of the technology to produce replacement parts on demand if a critical component fails in space,” said Jason Dunn, Chief Technical Officer for Made In Space.

For the entirety of the space program, tools and parts have been built on Earth and required a rocket to get to space. The presence of a 3D printer onboard the ISS will allow hardware designs to be made on Earth and then digitally beamed to the space station, where the physical object will be created in a matter of hours. “For the first time, it’s no longer true that rockets are the only way to send hardware to space,” said Mike Chen, Chief Strategy Officer for Made In Space.

The “3D Printing in Zero-Gravity Experiment” is being jointly conducted by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and Made In Space, which designed and built the 3D printer for NASA through their Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

“The ISS has provided us with an ideal laboratory for demonstrating this game-changing technology that will not only benefit the station, but will also enable sustainable deep space missions,” said Niki Werkheiser, program manager for the project at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Following the initial printing phase, NASA and Made In Space will be conducting additional additive manufacturing experiments onboard ISS. A second printer will be launched to the ISS next year, which will serve as an invaluable tool for astronauts, government and also commercial businesses on Earth.

“In 1957, Sputnik became the first man-made object in space and, 12 years later, that led to humans setting foot on the moon,” said Kemmer. “Now, in 2014, we’ve taken another significant step forward – we’ve started operating a machine that will lead us to continual manufacturing in space. Decades from now, people will look back to this event…it will be seen as the moment when the paradigm of how we get hardware to space changed.”

For more information, visit: www.madeinspace.us/nasa-and-made-in-space-inc-make-history-by-successfully-3d-printing-first-object-in-space

Published in MADE IN SPACE

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have developed an efficient method to measure residual stress in metal parts produced by powder-bed fusion additive manufacturing.

This 3D printing process produces metal parts layer by layer using a high-energy laser beam to fuse metal powder particles. When each layer is complete, the build platform moves downward by the thickness of one layer, and a new powder layer is spread on the previous layer.

While this process is able to produce quality parts and components, residual stress is a major problem during the fabrication process. That’s because large temperature changes near the last melt spot -- rapid heating and cooling -- and the repetition of this process result in localized expansion and contraction, factors that cause residual stress.

Aside from their potential impact on mechanical performance and structural integrity, residual stress may cause distortions during processing resulting in a loss of net shape, detachment from support structures and, potentially, the failure of additively manufactured (AM) parts and components.

An LLNL research team, led by engineer Amanda Wu, has developed an accurate residual stress measurement method that combines traditional stress-relieving methods (destructive analysis) with modern technology: digital image correlation (DIC). This process is able to provide fast and accurate measurements of surface-level residual stresses in AM parts.

The team used DIC to produce a set of quantified residual stress data for AM, exploring laser parameters. DIC is a cost-effective, image analysis method in which a dual camera setup is used to photograph an AM part once before it’s removed from the build plate for analysis and once after. The part is imaged, removed and then re-imaged to measure the external residual stress.

In a part with no residual stresses, the two sections should fit together perfectly and no surface distortion will occur. In AM parts, residual stresses cause the parts to distort close to the cut interface. The deformation is measured by digitally comparing images of the parts or components before and after removal. A black and white speckle pattern is applied to the AM parts so that the images can be fed into a software program that produces digital illustrations of high to low distortion areas on the part’s surface.

In order to validate their results from DIC, the team collaborated with Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to perform residual stress tests using a method known as neutron diffraction (ND). This technique, performed by LANL researcher Donald Brown, measures residual stresses deep within a material by detecting the diffraction of an incident neutron beam. The diffracted beam of neutrons enables the detection of changes in atomic lattice spacing due to stress.

Although it’s highly accurate, ND is rarely used to measure residual stress because there are only three federal research labs in the U.S. -- LANL being one of them -- that have the high-energy neutron source required for this analysis.

The LLNL team’s DIC results were validated by the ND experiments, showing that DIC is a reliable way to measure residual stress in powder-bed fusion AM parts.

Their findings were the first to provide quantitative data showing internal residual stress distributions in AM parts as a function of laser power and speed. The team demonstrated that reducing the laser scan vector length instead of using a continuous laser scan regulates temperature changes during processing to reduce residual stress. Furthermore, the results show that rotating the laser scan vector relative to the AM part’s largest dimension also helps reduce residual stress. The team’s results confirm qualitative data from other researchers that reached the same conclusion.

By using DIC, the team was able to produce reliable quantitative data that will enable AM researchers to optimally calibrate process parameters to reduce residual stress during fabrication. Laser settings (power and speed) and scanning parameters (pattern, orientation angle and overlaps) can be adjusted to produce more reliable parts. Furthermore, DIC allowed the Lawrence Livermore team to evaluate the coupled effects of laser power and speed, and to observe a potentially beneficial effect of subsurface layer heating on residual stress development.

“We took time to do a systematic study of residual stresses that allowed us to measure things that were not quantified before,” Wu said. “Being able to calibrate our AM parameters for residual stress minimization is critical.”

LLNL’s findings eventually will be used to help qualify properties of metal parts built using the powder-bed fusion AM process. The team’s research helps build on other qualification processes designed at LLNL to improve quality and performance of 3D printed parts and components.
 
Wu and her colleagues are part of LLNL’s Accelerated Certification of Additively Manufactured Metals (ACAMM) Strategic Initiative. The other members of the Lawrence Livermore team include Wayne King, Gilbert Gallegos and Mukul Kumar.

The team’s results were reported in an article titled “An Experimental Investigation Into Additive Manufacturing-Induced Residual Stresses in 316L Stainless Steel” that was recently published in the journal, Metallurgical and Materials Transactions.

For more information, visit: acamm.llnl.gov

Published in LLNL

RedEye, a Stratasys Company (Nasdaq:SSYS) has partnered with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to 3D print 30 antenna array supports for the FORMOSAT-7 Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate (COSMIC-2) satellite mission.

Scheduled for launch in 2016, the COSMIC-2 mission marks the first time 3D printed parts will function externally in outer space. The antenna arrays will capture atmospheric and ionospheric data to help improve weather prediction models and advance meteorological research on Earth.

In order to keep the project on time and on budget, JPL needed an alternative to machining the parts out of astroquartz, the material traditionally used for the arrays. They turned to RedEye to produce 3D printed parts that could handle the complex array designs and also be strong enough to withstand the demands of outer space.

RedEye built the custom-designed parts using Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), the only additive manufacturing process able to meet the project’s strength and load requirements. JPL chose durable ULTEM 9085 material, a thermoplastic that has similar strength to metals like aluminum but weighs much less.

“Using FDM for a project like this has never been done before and it demonstrates how 3D printing is revolutionizing the manufacturing industry,” said Jim Bartel, vice president and general manager at RedEye. “If this technology can be validated for use in the harsh environment of outer space, its capabilities are seemingly endless for projects here on Earth.”
                                                                 
While ULTEM 9085 has been well-vetted in the aerospace industry and is flammability rated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), it has not previously been used or tested for an exterior application in space. The material passed qualification testing to meet NASA class B/B1 flight hardware requirements. To protect the antenna array supports against oxygen atoms and ultraviolet radiation, a layer of NASA’s S13G protective paint was applied to the parts.

“The intricate design of the arrays and the durability of ULTEM 9085 made additive manufacturing a perfect choice for this project,” said Joel Smith, strategic account manager for aerospace and defense at RedEye. “Not only did it prove the strength of 3D printed parts, but using FDM to build these supports significantly reduced time and cost.”

Learn more about how RedEye and JPL used FDM to build parts to meet these unique specifications by reading the case study.

For more information, visit: www.redeyeondemand.com/3d-printing-case-studies/nasa-3d-printed-satellite

Published in Stratasys

Today’s innovations in science and technology are being driven by new capabilities in additive manufacturing.  Also known as 3-D printing, this approach is changing the speed, cost and flexibility of designing and building future machines for space and earth applications.

NASA’s Game Changing Development Program in the Space Technology and Mission Directorate has been actively funding research in 3-D printing and co-funded a recent groundbreaking test series with Aerojet Rocketdyne (AR) at NASA’s Glenn Research Center. Recently, AR in partnership with NASA, successfully completed the first hot-fire tests on an advanced rocket engine thrust chamber assembly using copper alloy materials.  This was the first time a series of rigorous tests confirmed that 3-D manufactured copper parts could withstand the heat and pressure required of combustion engines used in space launches.

In all, NASA and AR conducted 19 hot-fire tests on four injector and thrust chamber assembly configurations, exploring various mixture ratios and injector operability points and were deemed fully successful against the planned test program.

“The successful hot fire test of subscale engine components provides confidence in the additive manufacturing process and paves the way for full scale development,” says Tyler Hickman, lead engineer for the test at Glenn.

The work is a major milestone in the development and certification of different materials used in this manufacturing process.  According to AR, copper alloys offer unique challenges to the additive manufacturing processes.  The microstructure and material properties can be well below typical copper. So they have worked through a regimented process to optimize and lock down processing characteristics and have performed rigorous materials tests to know how the alloy performs structurally.

“Additively manufactured metal propulsion components are truly a paradigm shift for the aerospace industry,” says Paul Senick, Glenn project manager. “NASA and its commercial partners continue to invest in additive manufacturing technologies, which will improve efficiency and bring down the cost of space launches and other earth applications.”

For more information, visit: www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn/home

Published in NASA

CSIRO, St Vincent's Hospital and Victorian biotech company Anatomics have joined together to carry out world-first surgery to implant a titanium-printed heel bone into a Melbourne man.

Printed using CSIRO's state-of-the-art Arcam 3D printer, the heel bone was implanted into 71-year-old Len Chandler, a builder from Rutherglen Victoria, who was facing amputation of the leg below the knee following a diagnosis of cancer of the calcaneus, or heel bone.

St Vincent's Hospital surgeon Professor Peter Choong was aware of CSIRO's work in titanium 3D after reading about our work producing an orthotic horseshoe in 2013, and contacted CSIRO's John Barnes in early June about his vision for a metallic implant which would support the body's weight.

At the time, CSIRO happened to be working with the Victorian-based biotech company Anatomics on metallic implant technology and CSIRO brought Anatomics into the discussion with Professor Choong to draw on their experience as a certified custom medical device manufacturer.

Working from Anatomics' schematics for the calcaneus heel bone, teams at Anatomics and CSIRO developed the design requirements with Professor Choong's surgical team.

Included in the design were smooth surfaces where the bone contacts other bone, holes for suture locations and rough surfaces to allow tissue adhesion. Anatomics and CSIRO produced three implant prototypes in the days before the surgery.

In the space of two weeks, from first phone call to surgery, CSIRO and Anatomics were able to custom-design and present an implant part to the St Vincent's surgical team, in time for the surgery on the second week of July.

Mr Chandler returned to St Vincent's Hospital this week for a check-up and said he was recovering well, and able to place some weight on his implant.

"The customisation of 3D printing is good in emergency situations such as these," a member of CSIRO's titanium printing team Dr Robert Wilson said.

"Custom designed implants mean job opportunities in this area as these types of surgeries become more commonplace."

CSIRO is working with a number of major companies and SMEs across Australia to build capacity in biotech and manufacturing.

"3D printing is a local manufacturing process, meaning Australian companies produce implants for our own patients for our own doctors to use," CSIRO's Director of High Performance Metal Industries John Barnes said.

"We would no longer have to rely on imported parts that slow the process down and is less personal for the patient.

"At some point in the future we expect that local for-profit businesses will have the capacity to work on projects like this, and meanwhile the CSIRO is here to help local industry grow and build momentum."

For more information, visit: www.csiro.au/Organisation-Structure/Flagships/Future-Manufacturing-Flagship/Ti-Technologies.aspx

Published in CSIRO

History will be made when the world’s first 3D-printed car drives out of McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. During the six-day IMTS – The International Manufacturing Technology Show 2014, the vehicle will be printed over 44 hours then rapidly assembled by a team led by Local Motors with the historic first drive set to take place the morning of Saturday, September 13.

Called the Strati, the vehicle will be 3D printed in one piece using direct digital manufacturing, (DDM), which is the first time this method has been used to make a car. Mechanical components, like battery, motor, wiring, and suspension are sourced from a variety of suppliers, including Renault’s Twizy, a line of electric powered city cars.

“The Strati was designed by our community, made in our Microfactory and will be driven by you,” said John B. Rogers, Jr., CEO of Local Motors. “This brand-new process disrupts the manufacturing status quo, changes the consumer experience and proves that a car can be born in an entirely different way.”

The innovative and bold vehicle uses the material science and advanced manufacturing techniques pioneered at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

“This project represents the unique opportunity DOE’s National Laboratory System offers to the industry, to collaborate in an open environment to deliver fast, innovative, manufacturing solutions,” said Craig Blue, Director, Advanced Manufacturing Program and Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL. “These partnerships are pushing the envelope on emerging technologies, such as large scale additive manufacturing, and accelerating the growth of manufacturing in the United States.”

“The Strati will be showcased in AMT’s Emerging Technology Center.  The ETC was created to present manufacturing ‘technologies of the future’ from leading companies, universities and government research labs,” notes Peter Eelman, Vice President – Exhibitions and Communications, AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology. “This feature returned IMTS to its roots as a forum where the latest technologies are first seen. This year is no exception, and we are confident that this will be the most exciting ETC effort yet.”

“The BAAM (Big Area Additive Manufacturing) machine can be used for actual production.  The deposition rate of 40 pounds per hour of carbon reinforced ABS plastic and the large size mean that large parts, like a car, can be produced using additive technology,” said Andrew Jamison CEO of Cincinnati Incorporated.

The vehicle proves the viability of using sustainable, digital manufacturing solutions in the automotive industry. Local Motors plans to launch production-level 3D-printed vehicles that will be available to the general public for purchase in the months following the show.
 
For more information, visit: www.localmotors.com/3dprintedcar

Published in Local Motors

Oxford Performance Materials, Inc. (OPM), a leading advanced materials and additive manufacturing (3D printing) company, announced that it has received 510(k) clearance from the FDA for its 3D printed OsteoFab® Patient-Specific Facial Device (OPSFD).

OPM's facial device is the first and only FDA cleared 3D printed polymeric implant for facial indications, and follows FDA clearance of the first and only 3D printed polymeric implant, OPM's OsteoFab Patient-Specific Cranial Device, which was granted in February 2013.

"There has been a substantial unmet need in personalized medicine for truly individualized - yet economical - solutions for facial reconstruction, and the FDA's clearance of OPM's latest orthopedic implant marks a new era in the standard of care for facial reconstruction," said Scott DeFelice, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Oxford Performance Materials. "Until now, a technology did not exist that could treat the highly complex anatomy of these demanding cases. With the clearance of our 3D printed facial device, we now have the ability to treat these extremely complex cases in a highly effective and economical way, printing patient-specific maxillofacial implants from individualized MRI or CT digital image files from the surgeon. This is a classic example of a paradigm shift in which technology advances to meet both the patient's needs and the cost realities of the overall healthcare system."

The OPSFD will be 3D printed by OPM Biomedical, an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of medical devices utilizing the company's OsteoFab® process, which combines laser sintering additive manufacturing technology and OPM's proprietary OXPEKK® powder formulation to print orthopedic and neurological implants. These implants are biocompatible, mechanically similar to bone, radiolucent, and support bone attachment (i.e. osteoconductive).

OPM technology is also designed to reduce the overall "cost of ownership" to the customer by decreasing operating room time, hospital length of stay and procedure complications. In addition, OsteoFab customers do not pay a premium for the individualized 3D printed implant.

"An exciting aspect of our technology is that additional complexity does not increase manufacturing cost, and having both cranial and facial devices cleared now enables us to answer ever more complex cases where upper facial structures can be incorporated with cranial implants as a single device," added Severine Zygmont, President of OPM Biomedical. "As a result, additive manufacturing has the potential to not only improve patient outcomes, but fundamentally improve the economics of orthopedics on a global scale – for developed and developing countries. These are disruptive changes that will allow the industry to provide the finest levels of healthcare to more people at a lower cost."

Biomet, Inc., a leading distributor of advanced technologies for the treatment of arthritis, joint and spine related injuries and facial reconstruction, will be the exclusive global distributor of OPM's OPSFD. Biomet is also the exclusive global distributor of OPM's OsteoFab Patient-Specific Cranial Device.

Oxford Performance Materials (OPM) is a recognized leader in 3D printing and high performance additive manufacturing (HPAM™). OPM has developed a range of advanced materials technology focused on a high performance polymer, poly-ether-ketone-ketone (PEKK), and delivers enterprise level, functional end-use products to the biomedical, aerospace and industrial markets as the first company to successfully apply additive manufacturing solutions to PEKK. A pioneer in personalized medicine, OPM became the only company to receive FDA clearance to manufacture 3D printed patient-specific polymeric implants for its cranial prostheses line in February 2013, and its Biomedical division received a second 510(k) for its patient-specific facial implants in July 2014.

For more information, visit: www.oxfordpm.com

By the end of September, NASA aerospace engineer Jason Budinoff is expected to complete the first imaging telescopes ever assembled almost exclusively from 3-D-manufactured components.

“As far as I know, we are the first to attempt to build an entire instrument with 3-D printing,” said Budinoff, who works at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Under his multi-pronged project, funded by Goddard’s Internal Research and Development (IRAD) program, Budinoff is building a fully functional, 50-millimeter (2-inch) camera whose outer tube, baffles and optical mounts are all printed as a single structure. The instrument is appropriately sized for a CubeSat, a tiny satellite comprised of individual units each about four inches on a side. The instrument will be equipped with conventionally fabricated mirrors and glass lenses and will undergo vibration and thermal-vacuum testing next year.

Budinoff also is assembling a 350-millimeter (14-inch) dual-channel telescope whose size is more representative of a typical space telescope.

Budinoff is developing both to show that telescope and instrument structures can benefit from advances in additive manufacturing. With this technique, a computer-controlled laser melts and fuses metal powder in precise locations as indicated by a 3-D computer-aided design (CAD) model. Because components are built layer by layer, it is possible to design internal features and passages that could not be cast or machined using more traditional manufacturing approaches.

The goal isn’t to fly them, at least not yet. “This is a pathfinder,” Budinoff said. “When we build telescopes for science instruments, it usually involves hundreds of pieces. These components are complex and very expensive to build. But with 3-D printing, we can reduce the overall number of parts and make them with nearly arbitrary geometries. We’re not limited by traditional mill- and lathe-fabrication operations.”

In particular, the 2-inch instrument design involves the fabrication of four different pieces made from powdered aluminum and titanium. A comparable, traditionally manufactured camera would require between five and 10 times the number of parts, he said. Furthermore, the instrument’s baffling — the component that helps reduce stray light in telescopes — is angled in a pattern that instrument builders cannot create with traditional manufacturing approaches in a single piece.

When he completes the camera’s assembly at the end of the fiscal year — ready for space-qualification testing — the project will have taken a mere three months to complete for a fraction of the cost. “I basically want to show that additive-machined instruments can fly,” he said. “We will have mitigated the risk, and when future program managers ask, ‘Can we use this technology?’ we can say, ‘Yes, we already have qualified it.’”

Budinoff also wants to demonstrate that he can use powdered aluminum to produce 3-D-manufactured telescope mirrors — a challenge given how porous aluminum is, which makes it difficult to polish the surfaces. Under his plan, a 3-D-manufacturing vendor will fabricate an unpolished mirror blank appropriate for his two-inch instrument. He then will place the optic inside a pressure chamber filled with inert gas. As the gas pressure increases to 15,000 psi, the heated chamber in essence will squeeze the mirror to reduce the surface porosity — a process called hot isostatic pressing.

“We think this, combined with the deposition of a thin layer of aluminum on the surface and Goddard-developed aluminum stabilizing heat treatments, will enable 3-D-printed metal mirrors,” Budinoff said.

Should he prove the approach, Budinoff said NASA scientists would benefit enormously — particularly those interested in building infrared-sensing instruments, which typically operate at super-cold temperatures to gather the infrared light that can be easily overwhelmed by instrument-generated heat. Often, these instruments are made of different materials. However, if all the instrument’s components, including the mirrors, were made of aluminum, then many of the separate parts could be 3-D printed as single structures, reducing the parts count and material mismatch. This would decrease the number of interfaces and increase the instrument’s stability, Budinoff added.

Next year, he also plans to experiment with printing instrument components made of Invar alloy, a material being prepared for 3-D printing by Goddard technologist Tim Stephenson. The 100-year-old iron-nickel alloy offers extreme dimensional stability over a range of temperatures. The material is ideal for building super-stable, lightweight skeletons that support telescopes and other instruments.

“Anyone who builds optical instruments will benefit from what we’re learning here,” Budinoff said. “I think we can demonstrate an order-of-magnitude reduction in cost and time with 3-D printing.”

For more information, visit: www.nasa.gov

Published in NASA

Army researchers are investigating ways to incorporate 3-D printing technology into producing food for Soldiers.

The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center's, or NSRDEC's, Lauren Oleksyk is a food technologist investigating 3-D applications for food processing and product development. She leads a research team within the Combat Feeding Directorate, referred to as CFD.

"The mission of CFD's Food Processing, Engineering and Technology team is to advance novel food technologies," Oleksyk said. "The technologies may or may not originate at NSRDEC, but we will advance them as needed to make them suitable for military field feeding needs. We will do what we can to make them suitable for both military and commercial applications."

On a recent visit to the nearby the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory, NSRDEC food technologist Mary Scerra met with experts to discuss the feasibility and applications of using 3-D printing to produce innovative military rations.

"It could reduce costs because it could eventually be used to print food on demand," Scerra said. "For example, you would like a sandwich, where I would like ravioli. You would print what you want and eliminate wasted food."

"Printing of food is definitely a burgeoning science," Oleksyk said. "It's currently being done with limited application. People are 3-D printing food. In the confectionery industry, they are printing candies and chocolates. Some companies are actually considering 3-D printing meat or meat alternatives based on plant products that contain the protein found in meat."

A printer is connected to software that allows a design to be built in layers. To print a candy bar, there are cartridges filled with ingredients that will be deposited layer upon layer. The printer switches the cartridges as needed as the layers build.

"This is being done already," Oleksyk said. "This is happening now."

"It is revolutionary to bring 3-D printing into the food engineering arena," Oleksyk said. "To see in just a couple of years how quickly it is advancing, I think it is just going to keep getting bigger and bigger in terms of its application potential."

Oleksyk believes her team is the first to investigate how 3-D printing of food could be used to meet Soldiers' needs. The technology could be applied to the battlefield for meals on demand, or for food manufacturing, where food could be 3-D printed and perhaps processed further to become shelf stable. Then, these foods could be included in rations.

"We have a three-year shelf-life requirement for the MRE [Meal Ready-to-Eat]," Oleksyk said. "We're interested in maybe printing food that is tailored to a Soldier's nutritional needs and then applying another novel process to render it shelf stable, if needed."

Oleksyk said they are looking at ultrasonic agglomeration, which produces compact, small snack-type items. Combining 3-D printing with this process could yield a nutrient-dense, shelf-stable product.

"Another potential application may be 3-D printing a pizza, baking it, packaging it and putting it in a ration," she said.

Currently, most 3-D printed foods consist of a paste that comes out of a printer and is formed into predetermined shapes. The shapes are eaten as is or cooked.

Army food technologists hope to further develop 3-D printing technologies to create nutrient-rich foods that can be consumed in a warfighter-specific environment, on or near the battlefield.

Nutritional requirements could be sent to a 3-D food printer so meals can be printed with the proper amount of vitamins and minerals, thus meeting the individual dietary needs of the Warfighter.

"If you are lacking in a nutrient, you could add that nutrient. If you were lacking protein, you could add meat to a pizza," Oleksyk said.

Scerra said individual needs could be addressed based on the operational environment.

"Say you were on a difficult mission and you expended different nutrients...a printer could print according to what your needs were at that time," Scerra said.

In the future, making something from scratch may have a completely different meaning.

"We are thinking as troops move forward, we could provide a process or a compact printer that would allow Soldiers to print food on demand using ingredients that are provided to them, or even that they could forage for," Oleksyk said. "This is looking far into the future."

Oleksyk, who was skeptical when she first heard that 3-D printers could be used to engineer food, now marvels at the possibilities.

"I've been here long enough to see some of these 'no ways' become a reality. Anything is possible," Oleksyk said.

This article appears in the July/August issue of Army Technology Magazine, which focuses on 3-D printing. The magazine is available as an electronic download, or print publication. The magazine is an authorized, unofficial publication published under Army Regulation 360-1, for all members of the Department of Defense and the general public.

The Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.

RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.

For more information, visit: usarmy.vo.llnwd.net/e2/c/downloads/354586.pdf

Published in Army

Stratasys Ltd. (Nasdaq:SSYS) announced it has collaborated with the Stan Winston School of Character Arts,  Legacy Effects, Condé Nast Entertainment and WIRED to create a 14-foot tall giant creature which will be showcased at the Comic-Con International 2014 conference. The conference takes place July 24-27 in San Diego, California.  

The giant creature was designed by artists at the Stan Winston School. Engineers and technicians at Legacy Effects — the studio that brought to life Iron Man, Avatar, Pacific Rim and RoboCop characters — worked closely with Stratasys to build dozens of 3D-printed parts to create the character.

“Everything about the giant creature project was ambitious, including size, weight, delivery schedule and performance requirements,” said Matt Winston, co-founder of the Stan Winston School. “Without the close involvement of our partners at Stratasys, whose 3D printing technologies are, in our view, revolutionizing not only the manufacturing industry but the entertainment industry as well, none of it would have been possible.”

More than one third of the giant creature was 3D printed, including the chest armor, shoulders, arms and fingers. A variety of Stratasys 3D Printers were employed in the build process, including the Fortus 900mc which uses FDM 3D printing technology to build durable parts as large as 36 x 24 x 36 inches.

The parts were created using ABS-M30 thermoplastic material, which has excellent mechanical properties suitable for functional prototypes, jigs and fixtures and production parts.

In addition to 3D printed parts, the creature integrates a variety of video and sensor technologies to offer attendees at the event, as well as fans online, a unique interactive experience with the character.

“The main advantage to 3D printing was going directly from a concept design to an end use, physical part, helping avoid any interpretation by hand or casting in a different material,” said Jason Lopes, lead systems engineer at Legacy Effects. “There is a reason why Legacy Effects has always been a Stratasys house, and this giant creature build shows why.”

"We are excited to debut the series, How to Make a Giant Creature on The Scene with our partners. With last year’s success, we are eager to provide audiences with something bigger and better, which this new creation definitely is,” said Michael Klein, Executive Vice President, Programming and Content Strategy, Condé Nast Entertainment.

During last year’s Comic-Con International, the Stan Winston School and Legacy Effects also collaborated with Stratasys, WIRED and YouTube to introduce an interactive robot suit, which incorporated several 3D printed parts primarily for the robot’s facial structure.

“3D printing is opening up an entirely new world of possibilities in nearly every industry, including entertainment,” said Gilad Gans, President, Stratasys North America. “The giant creature represents the perfect marriage of technology and art coming together in an innovative way.”

For more information, visit: www.stratasys.com

Published in Stratasys

RedEye, by Stratasys (Nasdaq: SSYS), one of the world’s leading additive manufacturing service bureaus, recently partnered with Lockheed Martin’s Space Systems Company (SSC) to 3D print two large fuel tank simulators for a satellite form, fit and function validation test and process development. With the biggest tank measuring 15 feet long, the project marks one of the largest 3D printed parts RedEye has ever built.

With RedEye’s Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology, the team developed the fuel tanks within a highly condensed time frame and at about half the cost of machining the parts. These rapid prototyping advantages will help Lockheed Martin bring its new design to market faster in a competitive contract bid process.

“With RedEye’s machine capacity and engineering support, we were able to successfully build these tank simulators in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost,” said Andrew Bushell, senior manufacturing engineer at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company.

The larger tank was built in 10 different pieces and the smaller in 6 different pieces using polycarbonate (PC) material. Combined, the fuel tanks took nearly two weeks to print, taking roughly 150 hours per section. Based on the sheer size of the parts, customized fixtures were required to support the structures as they were bonded together and shipped to be machined to meet specifications. Once all of the pieces were machined, the final assembly required 240 hours.

“This project is unique in two ways – it marks the first aerospace fuel tank simulation produced through additive manufacturing and is one of the largest 3D printed parts ever built,” stated Joel Smith, strategic account manager for aerospace and defense at RedEye. “Our ability to accommodate such a large configuration and adapt to design challenges on the fly, demonstrates that there really is no limit to the problem-solving potential when you manufacture with 3D printing.”

Lockheed Martin first embraced the design benefits of additive manufacturing with RedEye in 2012 and has invested in in-house 3D printers from RedEye’s parent company, Stratasys. RedEye has worked with Lockheed Martin on various tooling and additive manufacturing projects that support its Space Systems Company. The organizations are expected to partner on more 3D printing projects later this year.

For more information, visit: www.redeyeondemand.com/3d-printing-case-studies/lockheed-martin-3d-printing

Published in Stratasys

Stratasys, Ltd. (Nasdaq: SSYS) announced the debut of "Gemini", a two-part chaise lounge designed by Neri Oxman, Architect, Designer and Professor of Media, Arts and Science at MIT, in collaboration with Professor W. Craig Carter, Department of Materials Science and Engineering of MIT, using Stratasys' Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer and CNC milling by Le Laboratoire.

Conveying the relationship of twins in the womb through material properties and their spatial arrangement, Gemini combines both traditional and innovative manufacturing processes and was unveiled at the "Vocal Vibrations" exhibition at La Laboratoire in Paris, France.

The two piece cocoon-like structure combines subtractive and additive manufacturing and continues Oxman's exploration of the Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printing technology, which enables a variety of material properties and color combinations to be printed in a single build.

"The twin chaise spans multiple scales of the human existence extending from the warmth of the womb to the stretches of the Gemini zodiac in deep space. It recapitulates a human cosmos, our body, like the constellation, drifting in quiet space. Here the duality of nature is expressed through the combination of traditional materials and state of the art 3D printing," says Oxman. "Stratasys new multi- material color 3D printing capability has allowed me to create a rich dialog between sound and light, rigid and flexible, natural and man-made materials and high and low spatial frequencies in ways that were impossible until now".

In a design commission to explore how materials interact with the human body, the twin chaise features an enclosure which cushions the body within a colored, multi-material 3D printed cocoon, replicating the tranquillity of the womb. A solid wood shell house provides the protective exterior. Lining Gemini from the inside are 44 composite PolyJet digital materials, including color. The 3D printed 'skin' uses Stratasys' unique triple jetting technology and combines three base materials: Stratasys' rubber-like TangoPlus, rigid VeroYellow and VeroMagenta, forming varying shades of transparent and opaque yellows and oranges, in different rigidities. The materials, shapes and surfaces of the 3D printed skin enable a unique vibrational acoustic effect for a quiet calming environment.

"Gemini is fundamentally about the complex and contradictory relationship between twins, which is mirrored in the geometrical forms of the two-part chaise and the dualities that drive their formation, such as the combination of natural and synthetic materials," explains Professor Oxman. "The Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer and technology enabled us to print 44 material combinations that not only target specific pressure points on the body to form a sensorial landscape, but also act as a soundproof anechoic chamber, an architecture for quieting the mind."'

Gemini features separate, independent parts that together form an enclosure: Gemini Alpha and Gemini Beta. They are inspired by the mythical relationship between the Dioskouri twins, Castor, born of man (named Gemini Beta after the star in the Northern constellation of Gemini) and Pollux born divine (named Gemini Alpha after the second brightest star in the constellation of Gemini).

In keeping with Greek mythology, the first piece, Gemini Alpha recapitulates the form of a swan, as it is believed that Leda, the twins' mother, became pregnant with Pollux after being seduced by Zeus in the disguise of a swan. Inspired by the lingual root of the word 'swan', "sound" or "to sing," Gemini Alpha includes a sound enclosure featuring a range of Stratasys 3D printed PolyJet digital materials with varying elastic and acoustical properties. Surface features that are more curved than others are assigned more elastic properties thereby increasing sound absorption around local chambers.

"I wanted to reproduce the calming and still ambience of the fetus' prenatal experience," explains Professor Oxman. "The 3D printed sound-proof skin brings the whole concept to life, transporting the visitor once seated within the chaise to ultimate serenity."

Gemini Beta, to be unveiled at the Laboratoire Cambridge exhibition in October 2014, is designed to complete its twin, creating a full enclosure, however it can also function as an independent chaise when positioned upside down.

Commenting on Gemini as a key aspect of Vocal Vibrations, David Edwards, founder and director of Le Laboratoire, Paris, says, "We are delighted to be collaborating with Neri Oxman, whose ground-breaking creations continue to wow audiences while demonstrating the dramatic potential of 3D printing within the design world. In fact, this will be the first time that Le Laboratoire has featured a 3D printed piece and we expect the Gemini chaise will prove to be an attention-grabbing aspect of Vocal Vibrations."

"Once again Professor Neri Oxman has demonstrated her ability to push the boundaries of design and manufacturing with the help of Stratasys color multi-material 3D printing," says Arita Mattsoff, Vice President Marketing for Stratasys. "This is a truly unique, functional piece of art that combines traditional manufacturing techniques with cutting edge 3D printing technology. We are seeing more and more designers embrace 3D printing as a powerful new creative tool, enabling them to bring designs they never thought possible to life in a matter of hours."

For more information, visit: www.lelaboratoire.org/en

Published in Stratasys

Motorcyclist Stephen Power was severely injured in an accident near Cardiff, UK. He broke both arms and his right leg was damaged so badly it required a bone graft. Stephen also suffered major injuries to his head and face. He regained consciousness after several months in the hospital.

Consultant maxillofacial surgeon Adrian Sugar explains that a specialist team at the Morriston Hospital in Swansea, UK, successfully dealt with all facial injuries, with the exception of his left cheek and eye socket. The patient’s cheekbone was too far out and his eye was sunk in and dropped. Due to the close proximity of critical and sensitive anatomical structures, the team applied a more accurate expertise approach. This strategy ensured no further damage to his eye in order to maintain his eyesight. The expertise approach entailed the latest 3D computer-aided practices applied by PDR and innovative 3D printing of the titanium implant and fixation plate by LayerWise.

LayerWise manufactured the implant and fixation plate in medical-grade titanium (Ti6Al4V ELI) in accordance with the ISO 13485 standard. “The 3D printing technology mastered by LayerWise is perfectly suited for producing this kind of ultra strong, precise and lightweight titanium implants,” says Peter Mercelis, Managing Director of LayerWise.

“The reconstructive orbital floor plate plays an essential role in the repositioning of the eye in light of the targeted facial symmetry and eye alignment,” explained Romy Ballieux from LayerWise’s Medical Business Unit. “LayerWise produced the floor plate, and polished its upper surface to minimize friction with soft tissues. The floor plate was fixated to the zygomatic bone through the plate’s dedicated slip with attachment holes. The digital 3D printing technology successfully maintained the accuracy of the precise medical imaging data, pre-operative planning and implant design. The 0.1 millimeter (4 mils) geometric accuracy of the floor plate’s freeform surfaces could not be achieved using traditional manufacturing methods.”

Accuracy is even more critical with regard to the fixation plate. This fairly long, slim, curved 3D printed plate requires precise positioning to be able to tie together many fractured bone pieces of the cheek region. A custom-fitting guide was used to fit securely around the anatomy, with slots located to guide the surgeon’s movement when positioning the plate. The fixation plate restored the correct anatomical connection between the frontal, zygomatic and temporal bone. This connection contributed to the successful reconstruction of the patient’s anatomy, providing the best possible facial symmetry.

Ballieux noted: “Dedicated medical engineering specialized in the production aspects of metal 3D printing were key in achieving the impressive facial reconstruction in such a short timespan. The digital process resulted in the 3D printed implant and fixation plate produced in a single manufacturing step in only a couple of hours.”

After his recovery, Stephan Power experiences the results of the surgery as ‘totally life changing’. Instead of using a hat and glasses to mask his injuries, he is now able to do day-to-day things, go and see people, walk in the street, and even go to any public areas. The improved facial symmetry and alignment of his eyes, achieved with the LayerWise implant and fixation plate, clearly made a big difference to the patient. “We are confident that our metal 3D printing technology is capable of improving the quality of life of many more patients,” Ballieux concluded. “The fast-turnaround digital process, from medical imaging up to the finalized 3D printed implants, delivers the required implant geometry and precision to obtain such great facial reconstructions.”

These implants were the result of a close collaboration beween LayerWise specialists and PDR design experts Sean Peel and Dr. Dominic Eggbeer. PDR has a formal collaboration with the Maxillofacial Unit at Morriston Hospital: cartis (Centre for Applied Reconstructive Technologies in Surgery).

LayerWise’s Medical Business Unit aims at providing maximum patient comfort through serial and patient-specific implant manufacturing. The metal Additive Manufacturing (AM) process mastered by LayerWise yields fully anatomic implant shapes offering increased functionality and esthetics as well as improved osseo-integration. LayerWise offers cost-effective manufacturing of orthopedic, cranio-maxillofacial, spinal and dental implants and instruments.

LayerWise also built the world’s first patient-specific lower jaw using metal 3D printing.

For more information, visit: www.layerwise.com/medical

Published in LayerWise

Renishaw has collaborated with a leading British bicycle company to create a 3D-printed metal bike frame. Empire Cycles, located in Northwest England, designed the mountain bike to be stronger and lighter, using a process called topological optimization and employing Renishaw’s AM250 additive manufacturing system. The additive process offers design, construction and performance advantages that include: blending complex shapes or hollow structures with internal strengthening features, flexibility to make design improvements right up to the start of production, and the convenience of making one-off parts as easily as batches, which allows for customization. The new titanium alloy frame, about 33% lighter than the original, was manufactured in sections and bonded together.

The two companies originally agreed to optimize and manufacture only the bike’s seat post bracket, but after the part’s successful production, improvement of the whole frame became the new goal. Empire started with a full-size 3D printed replica of its current aluminium alloy bike and the frame was sectioned into parts that could be formed in the AM250’s 12-in. (300-mm) build height. The design was updated with guidance from Renishaw’s applications team and an optimized design – one that eliminates many of the downward facing surfaces that require wasteful support structures – was created using topological optimization.

Topological optimization software programs use iterative steps and finite element analysis to determine the “logical” material placement. Material is removed from areas of low stress until a design optimized for load bearing is created, resulting in a model that is light and strong. Historical challenges in manufacturing these computer-generated shapes are overcome through the additive manufacturing process.

The AM250 uses a high-powered fiber laser to produce fully dense metal parts direct from 3D CAD data. Parts are built layer by layer, in thicknesses ranging from 20 to 100 microns, using a range of fine metal powders melted in a tightly controlled atmosphere. A fully welded vacuum chamber and ultra-low oxygen content in the build atmosphere allow processing of reactive materials, including titanium and aluminum.
    
The key benefit to Empire Cycles is the performance advantages derived from the additive process. The design has all of the advantages of a pressed steel “monocoque” construction used in motorbikes and cars, without the investment in tooling that would be prohibitive for a small manufacturer. “As no tooling is required, continual design improvements can be made easily, and as the component cost is based on volume and not complexity, some very light parts will be possible at minimal costs,” said Dave Bozich, Business Manager, Renishaw.

The original aluminium alloy seat post bracket is 12 oz. (360 g) and the first iteration of the hollow titanium version is 7 oz. (200 g), a weight savings of 44%. Comparison of the entire frame has the original bike frame weighing in at 4.6 lbs. (2100 g), with the redesigned additive-made frame at only 3.1 lbs. (1400 g), a 33% weight savings. “There are lighter carbon fiber bikes available, but the durability of carbon fiber can’t compare to a metal bike,” said Chris Williams, Managing Director at Empire Cycles. “They are great for road bikes, but when you start chucking yourself down a mountain you risk damaging the frame. We over-engineer our bikes to ensure there are no warranty claims.”

Titanium alloys have more density than aluminium alloys, with relative densities of around .14 lb/in3 (4 g/cm3) and .11 lb/in3 (3 g/cm3), respectively. Therefore, the only way to make a titanium alloy part lighter than its aluminium alloy counterpart is to significantly alter the design and remove any material not contributing to the overall strength of the part. The companies believe further analysis and testing it could result in further weight reduction.

In addition to durability and corrosion-resistance, titanium alloys have a high Ultimate Tensile Strength (UTS) of more than 900 MPa, when processed using additive manufacturing. With near perfect densities – greater than 99.7 percent – the process is better than casting and the small, spherical nature of additive-part porosity has little negative effect on strength. The seat post bracket was tested using the mountain bike standard EN 14766, and it withstood 50,000 cycles of 270 lb ft (1200 N). Testing continued to six times the standard without failure.

Empire is passionate about partnering with top British engineering companies to create elite products. Research into bonding methods resulted in Mouldlife providing the adhesive, which was tested by technical specialists at 3M test facilities. The wheels, drivetrain and components required to finish the bike, were provided by Hope Technology Ltd.

Empire and Renishaw plan to continue testing the completed bicycle frame in the laboratory, using Bureau Veritas UK, and in the field, using portable sensors in partnership with Swansea University. “We plan to develop this further, in partnership, to look at iterative improvements in bonding methods, such as specific surface finishes,” said Bozich. “This project demonstrates that excellent results can be achieved through close customer collaboration.”

For more information, visit: www.renishaw.com/empire

Published in Renishaw

With its latest exhibit, "EDAG GENESIS", EDAG offers a visionary outlook for what might well be the next industrial revolution in automotive development and production. Current advances in additive manufacturing now allow a component, module, or even a complete, one-piece vehicle body to be produced in one single production process.

At the EDAG stand in Geneva, the company will be presenting a futuristic vehicle sculpture "EDAG GENESIS". Using the example of a body structure, the sculpture was designed to demonstrate the revolutionary potential of additive manufacturing including bionic lightweight principles, topological optimisation and load-conforming design strategy.

Our exhibit, "EDAG GENESIS" can be seen as a symbol of the new freedoms that additive manufacturing processes will open up to designers and engineers in development and production. Additive manufacturing will make it possible to come a great deal closer to the construction principles and strategies of nature.

"EDAG GENESIS" is based on the bionic patterns of a turtle, which has a shell that provides protection and cushioning and is part of the animal's bony structure. The shell is similar to a sandwich component, with fine, inlying bone structures that give the shell its strength and stability. In "EDAG GENESIS", the skeleton is more of a metaphor; it is there to ensure not mobility, but passenger safety. The framework calls to mind a naturally developed skeletal frame, the form and structure of which should make one thing perfectly clear: these organic structures cannot be built using conventional tools!

The immense potential of additive manufacturing inspired us to define and analyse the current status quo of the latest technologies, and then assess the extent to which it might be possible to use them in vehicle development and production. What process offers the best prospects for being able to produce structural parts with the required product properties in a single production step, without the use of tools?

A multi-disciplinary team of EDAG designers and specialists from the EDAG Competence Centre for Lightweight Construction took a close look at the potential of a number of promising processes, and discussed them with research and industrial experts. Possible candidates for the situation analysis of additive manufacturing were technologies such as selective laser sintering (SLS), selective laser melting (SLM), stereolithography (SLA), and fused deposition modelling (FDM).

In the assessment, a specially developed evaluation matrix was used to quantify the structural relevance of the technologies. How wide is the range of materials that can be used, and what degree of complexity and lot sizes are involved in producing structural parts? The processes were also assessed and classified with regard to part size, tolerance, ecological performance and manufacturing costs.

Apart from SLM, the generative process already industrially available today, with its portfolio of weldable metals and plastics, a refined FDM process also looks to be a promising candidate for the future-oriented subject of additive manufacturing.

Unlike other technologies, FDM makes it possible for components of almost any size to be produced, as there are no pre-determined space requirements to pose any restrictions. Instead, the structures are generated by having robots apply thermoplastic materials. Complex structures are built up layer by layer in an open space - without any tools or fixtures whatsoever.

Metallic SLM aside, most of the high-performance plastics used in additive manufacturing processes do not yet achieve the strength, stiffness and energy absorption values generally required in the industry. This is remedied in the FDM process by the parallel addition of an endless carbon fibre to the production process. One of the central characteristics of FDM is its potential for the incorporation of fibre reinforcements to systematically increase strength and stiffness.

Even though industrial usage of additive manufacturing processing is still in its infancy, the revolutionary advantages with regard to greater freedom in development and tool-free production make this technology a subject for the future. From today's point of view, the production of components, and in the next stage modules, is certainly feasible. As for the target of using additive manufacturing to produce complete vehicle bodies: there is still a long way to go before this becomes an industrial application, so for the time being, it remains a vision.

For more information, visit: www.edag.de

Published in EDAG

Solid Concepts has manufactured a 3D printed metal gun using a laser sintering process and powdered metals. The gun, a 1911 classic design, functions beautifully and has already handled 50 rounds of successful firing. It is composed of 33 17-4 Stainless Steel and Inconel 625 components, and decked with a Selective Laser Sintered (SLS) carbon-fiber filled nylon hand grip. The successful production and functionality of the 1911 3D printed metal gun proves the viability of 3D Printing for commercial applications.

“We’re proving this is possible, the technology is at a place now where we can manufacture a gun with 3D Metal Printing,” says Kent Firestone, Vice President of Additive Manufacturing at Solid Concepts. “And we’re doing this legally. In fact, as far as we know, we’re the only 3D Printing Service Provider with a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Now, if a qualifying customer needs a unique gun part in five days, we can deliver.”

The metal laser sintering process Solid Concepts used to manufacture the 30+ gun components is one of the most accurate additive manufacturing processes available, and more than accurate enough to build the interchangeable and interfacing parts within the 1911 series gun. The gun proves the tight tolerances laser sintering can meet. Plus, 3D Printed Metal has less porosity issues than an investment cast part and better complexities than a machined part. The 3D Printed gun barrel sees chamber pressures above 20,000 psi every time it is fired. Solid Concepts chose to build the 1911 because the design is public domain.

“The whole concept of using a laser sintering process to 3D Print a metal gun revolves around proving the reliability, accuracy and usability of metal 3D Printing as functional prototypes and end use products,” says Firestone. “It’s a common misconception that 3D Printing isn’t accurate or strong enough, and we’re working to change people’s perspective.”

The 3D Printed metal gun proves that 3D Printing isn’t just making trinkets and Yoda heads. The gun manufactured by Solid Concepts debunks the idea that 3D Printing isn’t a viable solution or isn’t ready for mainstream manufacturing. With the right materials and a company that knows how to best program and maintain their machines, 3D printing is accurate, powerful and here to stay.

For more information, visit: www.solidconcepts.com

Published in Solid Concepts

The horse, dubbed by researchers as ‘Titanium Prints’, had its hooves scanned with a handheld 3D scanner this week. Using 3D modeling software, the scan was used to design the perfect fitting, lightweight racing shoe and four customised shoes were printed within only a few hours.

"3D printing a race horseshoe from titanium is a first for scientists and demonstrates the range of applications the technology can be used for," said John Barnes, Titanium Technologies Theme Leader.

Traditionally made from aluminium, a horseshoe can weigh up to one kilogram but the horse’s trainer, John Moloney, says that the ultimate race shoe should be as lightweight as possible.

“Any extra weight in the horseshoe will slow the horse down. These titanium shoes could take up to half of the weight off a traditional aluminium shoe, which means a horse could travel at new speeds.

“Naturally, we’re very excited at the prospect of improved performance from these shoes,” John Moloney said.

CSIRO’s Titanium expert, John Barnes, said that 3D printing a race horseshoe from titanium is a first for scientists and demonstrates the range of applications the technology can be used for.

“There are so many ways we can use 3D titanium printing. At CSIRO we are helping companies create new applications like biomedical implants and even things like automotive and aerospace parts.

“The possibilities really are endless with this technology,” he said.

The precision scanning process takes just a few minutes and for a horse, shoes can be made to measure each hoof and printed the same day.

For more information, visit: www.csiro.au

Published in CSIRO

A group of engineering students at the University of California, San Diego tested a 3D-printed rocket engine made out of laser sintered metal at the Friends of Amateur Rocketry testing site in the Mojave Desert.

To build the engine, students used a proprietary design that they developed. The engine was primarily financed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and was printed by Illinois-based GPI Prototype and Manufacturing Services using direct metal laser sintering. This is the first time a university has produced a 3D printed liquid fueled metal rocket engine, according to the students, who are members of the UC San Diego chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.

“We’ve all been working so hard, putting countless hours to ensure that it all works,” said Deepak Atyam, the organization’s president. “If all goes well, we would be the first entity outside of NASA to have tested a liquid fueled rocket motor in its entirety. We hope to see all of our hard work come to fruition.”

The engine was designed to power the third stage of a rocket carrying several NanoSat-style satellites with a mass of less than a few pounds each. The engine is about 6 to 7 inches long and weighs about 10 lbs. It is designed to generate 200 lbs of thrust and is made of cobalt and chromium, a high-grade alloy. It runs on kerosene and liquid oxygen and cost $6,800 to manufacture, including $5,000 from NASA. The rest was raised by students through barbeque sales and other student-run fundraisers.

A 3D printed metal rocket engine would dramatically cut costs for launches, said Forman Williams, a professor of aerospace engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego, who is the students’ advisor. Williams admits that he was skeptical at first as the design of liquid-propellant rockets is very complex and detailed, but the students surprised him.

For more information, visit: seds.ucsd.edu



Designer François Brument takes a close look at the possibilities of digital design when it comes to the creation of living spaces. He breaks with traditional approaches to architecture, interior design and furnishings and created separate self-enclosed areas using additive manufacturing. Brument melds these areas into a one unit system including rooms, walls and furniture items.

His carte blanche project titled 'Habitat imprimé' (printed living space), is the result of a collaborative effort with Sonia Laugier. The exhibit on display is a real model of a bedroom with integrated shower and walk-in closet, which visualises the possibilities of additive technologies. The room can be divided as required, shelves can be integrated into walls, surfaces can be structured in any manner desired – the restrictions that formerly set limits to the creativity of builders, architects and designers have been removed.

Looking for a way to turn his vision into reality, Brument contacted voxeljet in May 2011. He was very excited about the technical possibilities offered by 3D printing and after extensive discussions with voxeljet's experts, it was clear that the Augsburg-based company could provide the perfect solution for his project. The visionary was particularly impressed with the large-format VX4000 printer at the voxeljet service centre, which can print very large moulds with a maximum volume of eight cubic metres.

Once the CAD data was forwarded to the service centre, it was time to "print" this unique project. The VX4000 built the entire living space, including furniture, shelving, wash basin and all technical installations, in a total of 64 moulds, which only had to be assembled into a unit.

"As a manufacturer of 3D printers with an attached service centre, our ideas are anything but conventional. Still, we were both surprised and inspired by François Brument's creative approach. The 'Habitat imprimé' project is a milestone for the 3D print technology and drives forward our activities for the development of printing systems for concrete," says voxeljet-CEO Dr. Ingo Ederer.

For more information, visit: www.voxeljet.com

Published in voxeljet

Global athletic leader New Balance is proud to announce a significant advancement in the use of 3D printing to customize high performance products for athletes.   Utilizing a proprietary process, the brand is able to produce spike plates customized to the individual needs and desires of their elite athletes.   At the New Balance Games in January 2013, Team New Balance athlete, Jack Bolas, became the first ever track athlete to compete in customized, 3D printed plates.

New Balance has developed a proprietary process for utilizing a runner's individual biomechanical data to create hyper-customized spike plates designed to improve performance.  The process requires race simulation biomechanical data which the New Balance Sports Research Lab collects using a force plate, in-shoe sensors and a motion capture system.   Advanced algorithms and software are then applied to translate this data into custom 3D printed spike designs.

For the production of the custom plates, New Balance uses selective laser sintering (SLS) to convert powder materials into solid cross-sections, layer by layer using a laser.  SLS printing enables the customization process by allowing for complex designs that could not be achieved through traditional manufacturing methods.  Additionally, SLS printing greatly accelerates the turnaround time from design to functional part.

"Utilizing our Team New Balance Athletes to develop the customization process was extremely helpful", says Sean Murphy, New Balance's Senior Manager of Innovation and Engineering.   "We are impressed with their precise ability to identify and speak to the differences in the custom options provided.  They are acutely aware of what is happening in their shoes".

NB Athletes involved in the development of this process included: 2008 and 2012 US Olympic Athlete and current 1500m World Champion gold medalist Jenny Barringer Simpson, 2012 US Olympic Athlete Kim Conley, 2012 Great Britain Olympic Athlete Barbara Parker and 4 time All-American runner in the 800m, 1500m and the Mile Jack Bolas. These athletes provided key feedback in order to develop spike plates that spoke to each individual athlete's personal preference, biomechanics and specific race needs.

In addition to printing semi-rigid parts like spike plates for track runners, New Balance is working on softer SLS printed components that mimic the cushioning properties of foam midsoles.  This initiative will be critical to bringing the customization process to a broader audience of athletes .   

"With 3D printing we are able to pursue performance customization at a new level to help our elite NB athletes and eventually all athletes. We believe this is the future of performance footwear and we are excited to bring this to consumers," says New Balance President and CEO Robert DeMartini. "As the only major athletic brand to manufacture shoes in the U.S., we are proud to invest in American workers.    Developing our printing capabilities could ultimately help us further invest in the American worker by adding highly technical positions to our already skilled labor force in Massachusetts and Maine."

New Balance, headquartered in Boston, MA has the following mission: Demonstrating responsible leadership, we build global brands that athletes are proud to wear, associates are proud to create and communities are proud to host. New Balance is currently the only athletic shoe company that manufactures footwear in the U.S. with 25% of our U.S. footwear shipments produced at five New England facilities. The company also operates a manufacturing facility in Flimby, U.K. New Balance employs more than 4000 associates around the globe, and in 2012 reported worldwide sales of $2.4 billion.

For more information, visit: www.newbalance.com

Published in New Balance

RedEye On Demand, a rapid prototyping and direct digital manufacturing service, and its parent company Stratasys, Ltd. (NASDAQ: SSYS) announced a collaboration with KOR EcoLogic to produce URBEE 2, the first road-ready, fuel-efficient car built using 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, technologies. Targeted to hit the road in two years, URBEE 2 represents a significant milestone in the world of traditional assembly-line manufacturing.
 
“A future where 3D printers build cars may not be far off after all,” said Jim Bartel, Stratasys vice president of RedEye On Demand. “Jim Kor and his team at KOR EcoLogic had a vision for a more fuel-efficient car that would change how the world approaches manufacturing and today we’re achieving it. URBEE 2 shows the manufacturing world that anything really is possible. There are few design challenges additive manufacturing capabilities can’t solve.”
 
The KOR EcoLogic team will fully design URBEE 2 in CAD files, sending them to RedEye On Demand for building through Stratasys’ Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) process. This unique process applies thermoplastics in layers from the bottom up, yielding parts that are durable, precise and repeatable. The finished two-passenger vehicle will comprise 40 large, intricate 3D-printed parts compared to hundreds of parts in the average car. The strong, lightweight vehicle will be designed to go 70 mph on the freeway, using a biofuel like 100 percent ethanol. The goal is for URBEE 2 to drive from San Francisco to New York City on only 10 gallons of fuel, setting a new world record.
 
“As a mechanical engineer, I’ve always believed we could use technology to help us solve some of society’s greatest challenges, like minimizing our dependence on oil and reducing ozone emissions. How cool is it that American manufacturing can evolve to tackle these challenges head-on? Our team is excited to launch URBEE 2, putting a next-generation vehicle on the road that will eventually be sold to the public,” said Jim Kor, president and senior designer for Winnipeg-based KOR EcoLogic.
 
URBEE 2, which stands for urban electric, follows in the tracks of its conceptual predecessor, Urbee 1. Produced in 2011 as a partnership between KOR EcoLogic, Stratasys and RedEye On Demand, Urbee 1 proved that 3D printing could in fact produce large, strong parts that meet accurate specifications of a car body. URBEE 2 will take the basic concepts of Urbee 1 to a higher level, including features like a fully functioning heater, windshield wipers and mirrors.
 
“With the Urbee 1 project, I learned that product design is nearly unencumbered by considerations on how parts can be made with digital manufacturing. That liberation is incredibly powerful and holds a lot of potential for the future of manufacturing,” said Kor.

For more information, visit: www.urbee.net

Published in Stratasys

Physicians at Weill Cornell Medical College and biomedical engineers at Cornell University have succeeded in building a facsimile of a living human ear that looks and acts like a natural ear. Researchers believe their bioengineering method will finally succeed in the long quest by scientists and physicians to provide normal looking "new" ears to thousands of children born with a congenital ear deformity.

In their PLOS ONE study, the researchers demonstrate how 3D printing and new injectable gels made of living cells can be used to fashion ears that are identical to a human ear. Over a three-month period — the length of the study — these flexible ears steadily grew cartilage to replace the collagen that was used to help mold them.

"I believe this will be the novel solution reconstructive surgeons have long wished for to help children born with absence or severe deformity of the ear," says the study’s co-lead author, Dr. Jason Spector, director of the Laboratory for Bioregenerative Medicine and Surgery (LBMS) and associate professor of surgery of plastic surgery in the Department of Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College and an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University. "A bioengineered ear replacement like this would also help individuals who have lost part or all of their external ear in an accident or from cancer."

Currently, replacement ears are constructed using materials that have a Styrofoam-like consistency or, sometimes, surgeons will build ears from rib that is harvested from a young patient. "This surgical option is very challenging and painful for children, and the ears rarely look totally natural or perform well," says Dr. Spector, who is also a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. "All other attempts to 'grow’ ears in the lab — including one 1997 study widely publicized by photos of ears implanted on the backs of mice — have failed in the long term."

This Cornell bioengineered ear is the best to date in appearing and acting like a natural ear, the researchers report. Also, the process of making the ears is fast — it takes a week at most.

"This is such a win-win for both medicine and basic science, demonstrating what we can achieve when we work together," says the study’s other lead author, Dr. Lawrence J. Bonassar, associate professor and associate chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University.
Scanning, Printing and Molding a Human Ear in a Week

The deformity that both Dr. Spector and Dr. Bonassar seek to remedy is microtia, a congenital deformity in which the external ear is not fully developed. Although the causes for this disorder are not entirely understood, research has found that microtia can occur in children whose mothers took an acne medication during pregnancy. Typically, only a single ear is affected.

The incidence of microtia varies from almost one to more than four per 10,000 births each year. Many children born with microtia have an intact inner ear, but experience hearing loss due to the missing external ear structure, which acts to capture and conduct sound.

Dr. Spector and Dr. Bonassar have been collaborating on bioengineered human replacement parts since 2007, and Dr. Bonassar has also been working with other Weill Cornell physicians. For example, he and Weill Cornell’s neurological surgeon Dr. Roger Härtl are currently testing bioengineered disc replacements using some of the same techniques demonstrated in this current study.

The researchers specifically work to develop replacements for human structures that are primarily made of cartilage — joints, trachea, spine, nose — because cartilage does not need to be vascularized with a blood supply in order to survive.

To make the ears, Dr. Bonassar and his colleagues first took a combination laser scan and panoramic photo of an ear from twin girls, which provided a digitized 3D image of their ears on a computer screen. That took 30 seconds, and did not involve any ionizing radiation. The researchers then converted that image into a digitized "solid" ear and used a 3D printer to assemble a mold of the ear. The mold is like a box with a hole in the middle that is in the shape of the mirror image of the ear, say researchers.

They injected animal-derived collagen into that ear mold, and then added nearly 250 million cartilage cells. The collagen served as a scaffold upon which cartilage could grow. Collagen is the main structural protein in the body of every mammal. Animal-based collagen is frequently used for cosmetic and plastic surgery. This high-density collagen gel, which Cornell researchers developed, resembles the consistency of flexible Jell-O when the mold is removed.

"The process is fast," Dr. Bonassar says. "It takes half a day to design the mold, a day or so to print it, 30 minutes to inject the gel and we can remove the ear 15 minutes later. We trim the ear and then let it culture for several days in a nourishing cell culture medium before it is implanted."

During the three-month observation period, the cartilage in the ears grew to replace the collagen scaffold. "Eventually the bioengineered ear contains only auricular cartilage, just like a real ear," says Dr. Spector. Previous bioengineered ears have not been able to maintain their shape or dimensions over time, and the cells within them did not survive.

The researchers are now looking at ways to expand populations of human ear cartilage cells in the laboratory so that these cells can be used in the mold.

Dr. Spector says the best time to implant a bioengineered ear on a child would be when they are about 5- or 6-years-old, because at that age, ears are 80 percent of their adult size. "We don’t know yet if the bioengineered ears would continue to grow to their full size, but I suspect they will," says Dr. Spector. "Surgery to attach the new ear would be straightforward — the malformed ear would be removed and the bioengineered ear would be inserted under a flap of skin at the site."

Dr. Spector says that if all future safety and efficacy tests work out, it might be possible to try the first human implant of a Cornell bioengineered ear in as little as three years.

"The innovation in this study is two-fold," says Dr. Bonassar. "The use of imaging technology to rapid and accurately make the shape of the ear implant is new, as is the high-density collagen gel for the mold."

"These bioengineered ears are highly promising because they precisely mirror the native architecture of the human ear," Dr. Spector says. "They should restore hearing and a normal appearance to children and others in need. This advance represents a very exciting collaboration between physicians and basic scientists. It is a demonstration of what we hope to do together to improve the lives of these patients with ear deformity, missing ears and beyond."

Other co-authors of the study are Dr. Alyssa J. Reiffel, Dr. Karina A. Hernandez, and Justin L. Perez from the Laboratory for Bioregenerative Medicine and Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College; and Concepcion Kafka, Samantha Popa, Sherry Zhou, Satadru Pramanik, Dr. Bryan N. Brown and Won Seuk Ryu, from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University.

For more information, visit: www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0056506

CSIRO scientists are using 3D printing to build a new generation of hi-tech fish tags made of titanium. The aim is to use the tags to track big fish such as marlin, tuna, swordfish, trevally and sharks for longer periods.

CSIRO is printing the tags at its Lab 22 facility in Melbourne. The tags are printed overnight and then shipped to Tasmania where marine scientists are trialing them.

Tags are made of titanium for several reasons: the metal is strong, resists the salty corrosiveness of the marine environment, and is biocompatible (non-toxic to living tissues).

One of the advantages of 3D printing is that it enables rapid manufacture of multiple design variations which can then be tested simultaneously. "Using our Arcam 3D printing machine, we've been able to re-design and make a series of modified tags within a week," says John Barnes, who leads CSIRO's research in titanium technologies.

CSIRO's 3D printing facility prints metal items layer by layer out of fused metal powder.  Had the scientists been using conventional tags which are machined out of metal blocks, it would have taken a couple of months to design, manufacture and receive the new designs for testing.

"Our early trials showed that the textured surface worked well in improving retention of the tag, but we need to fine-tune the design of the tag tip to make sure that it pierces the fish skin as easily as possible," says John.

"The fast turnaround speeds up the design process – it's very easy to incorporate amendments to designs. 3D printing enables very fast testing of new product designs, which why it's so attractive to manufacturers wanting to trial new products."

Scientists from a number of agencies, including CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, use fish tags to track movements of individual marine species and increase understanding of their behavior. Tracks of selected marine animals tagged by CSIRO and partner agencies can be viewed on the CSIRO Ocean Tracks website.

Medical implants such as dental implants and hip joints are made of biocompatible titanium with a surface texturing which speeds healing and tissue attachment after implantation. Scientists hope that a similar rough surface will help the tag to stay in fish longer.

"A streamlined tag that easily penetrates the fish's skin, but has improved longevity because it integrates with muscle and cartilage, would be of great interest to our colleagues conducting tagging programs across the world," said CSIRO marine researcher, Russell Bradford.

CSIRO's Lab 22 3D printing facility was established in October 2012 and has been used to manufacture a range of prototype products including biomedical implants, automotive, chemical processing and aerospace parts.

For more information, visit: www.csiro.au/TitaniumTechnologies

Published in CSIRO

Rapid News Communications Group, publishers of TCT Magazine, the publication for Additive Manufacturing and Industrial 3D Printing have turned their attention to the consumer market as the holiday season approaches.

With winter in full flow the focus naturally turns to the festive period. Times of joy and celebration epitomised by the tradition of gift-giving. The Personalize by TCT collection brings you the 40 hottest 3D printed gifts this season — from the useful to the purposely useless; from the most staggeringly complex to the most beautifully simple.

Group Editor and curator of the publication James Woodcock comments, “Increasingly 3D printing is inspiring designers to push boundaries, change direction and experiment in areas such as architecture, fashion, jewellery and interiors. In fact, we believe that 3D printing is as much an excuse for designers to do something different as it is the enabling technology — in no way is this a bad thing, we all need an excuse to let loose once in a while.

“Whether you are looking for a unique and inspirational gift for friends and family or simply want to have the coolest digital coffee table publication to share this holiday season you have found your solution in Personalize by TCT. From established brands such as Freshfiber and Freedom of Creation from 3D Systems to smaller independent designers, we’ve got something from them all in this publication.”

Personalize by TCT is available from today as a free download within the TCT Magazine app.

For more information or to download the app, visit: itunes.apple.com/gb/app/tct-magazine/id561028586?mt=8

Imagine landing on the moon or Mars, putting rocks through a 3-D printer and making something useful – like a needed wrench or replacement part.

"It sounds like science fiction, but now it’s really possible,’’ says Amit Bandyopadhyay, professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University.

Bandyopadhyay and a group of colleagues recently published a paper in Rapid Prototyping Journal demonstrating how to print parts using materials from the moon.
 
Approached by NASA
 
Bandyopadhyay and Susmita Bose, professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, are well known researchers in the area of three-dimensional printing for creation of bone-like materials for orthopedic implants.

In 2010, researchers from NASA initiated discussion with Bandyopadhyay, asking if the research team might be able to print 3-D objects from moon rock.
 
Because of the tremendous expense of space travel, researchers strive to limit what space ships have to carry. Establishment of a lunar or Martian outpost would require using the materials that are on hand for construction or repairs. That’s where the 3-D fabrication technology might come in.

Three-dimensional fabrication technology, also known as additive manufacturing, allows researchers to produce complex 3-D objects directly from computer-aided design (CAD) models, printing the material layer by layer. In this case, the material is heated using a laser to high temperatures and prints out like melting candle wax to a desired shape.

Simple shapes built
 
To test the idea, NASA researchers provided Bandyopadhyay and Bose with 10 pounds of raw lunar regolith simulant, an imitation moon rock that is used for research purposes.

The WSU researchers were concerned about how the moon rock material - which is made of silicon, aluminum, calcium, iron and magnesium oxides - would melt. But they found it behaved similarly to silica, and they built a few simple shapes.

The researchers are the first to demonstrate the ability to fabricate parts using the moon-like material. They sent their pieces to NASA.
 
"It doesn’t look fantastic, but you can make something out of it,’’ says Bandyopadhyay.
 
Tailoring composition, geometry
 
Using additive manufacturing, the material could also be tailored, the researchers say. If you want a stronger building material, for instance, you could perhaps use some moon rock with earth-based additives.

"The advantage of additive manufacturing is that you can control the composition as well as the geometry,’’ says Bose.

In the future, the researchers hope to show that the lunar material could be used to do remote repairs.

"It is an exciting science fiction story, but maybe we’ll hear about it in the next few years,’’ says Bandyopadhyay. "As long as you can have additive manufacturing set up, you may be able to scoop up and print whatever you want. It’s not that far-fetched.’’
 
The research was supported by a $750,000 W.M. Keck Foundation grant.

For more information, visit: www.mme.wsu.edu

Innovative 3D printing technology from Augsburg-based voxeljet is on display in the newest James Bond film Skyfall – more specifically in the scene when James Bond's car explodes in flames. A total of three Aston Martin DB 5 models were created at the company's service centre. The models double for the now priceless original vehicle from the 1960s in the film's action scenes.

Action scenes in expensive film productions such as a James Bond film must look as realistic as possible. For the model builders working behind the scenes, the high demands of film makers translate into more requirements and detail work. Therefore companies such as Propshop Modelmakers Ltd., which specialises in the production of film props, are always on the look-out for trend-setting manufacturing methods.
    
The fact that the British company selected the 3D printing technology of a German provider is a special honour for the Augsburg company. "Of course only state-of-the-art technology was used for the new James Bond film Skyfall. To be considered a benchmark by the model builders from the Pinewood Studios is evidence of the performance and position of our 3D printing system in terms of global ranking," says voxeljet CEO Dr. Ingo Ederer.

voxeljet is considered a pioneer in the area of 3D printing. At its service centre, which is the largest in Europe, the Augsburg-based company has specialised in the on-demand production of sand moulds for metal casting, as well as plastic moulds and 3D functional moulds. Small-batch and prototype manufacturers in a variety of branches of European industry appreciate the fast and cost-effective manufacture of their casting moulds and 3D models based on CAD data. At the same time, the internationally active company has also made a name for itself as a manufacturer of high-resolution 3D printing systems. voxeljet moulds are very precise and rich in detail – properties that also impressed the British model builders.

Aston Martin from a 3D printer

"Propshop commissioned us to build three plastic models of the Aston Martin DB5. We could have easily printed the legendary sports car in one piece at a scale of 1:3 using our high-end VX4000 printer, which can build moulds and models in dimensions of up to eight cubic metres. But the British model builders were pursuing a different approach. To ensure that the Aston Martin was as true to detail as possible, and for the purpose of integrating numerous functions into the film models, they decided on an assembly consisting of a total of 18 individual components. The entire body is based on a steel frame, almost identical to how vehicles were assembled in the past," says Ederer.

voxeljet started the printing process once the CAD data for all components were available. The models are produced with the layer-wise application of particle material that is glued together with a binding agent. The plastic material PMMA is used for this purpose; it is ideally suited for precisely these types of tasks. The individual components that are made of PMMA feature outstanding attention to detail, but are also very stable and resilient, which means that they are well suited for mechanical post-processing.

Following the unpacking process, which involves the removal of unbound material from the finished components, voxeljet's service centre looked very much like a body shop. A total of 54 individual parts for the three vehicle models, including mudguards, doors, bonnets, roofs and more, now had to be safely packaged and transported to Pinewood Studios near London.

Elaborate detailed work

The model builders at Propshop then meticulously assembled and finished the components, painted them in the original colour and added chrome applications along with realistic-looking bullet holes. The special effects that can be seen in Skyfall confirm the perfection in execution of this work. After the finishing process, it is impossible to distinguish the Aston Martin models made with the voxeljet printer from the original, even in the close-up shots. And: The priceless Aston Martin DB5, which was already used in the first James Bond film exactly 50 years ago, remains unscathed, while one of the elaborately and meticulously constructed models explodes in flames in the film. An expensive crash, since one of the three models was auctioned off by Christie's for almost USD 100,000.

For voxeljet, participating in a James Bond production was of course anything but a normal contract, and it also opened up an entirely new industry for the company: "In addition to the automotive industry, foundries, designers and artists, the film industry represents an entirely new customer base for voxeljet. 3D printing is on the cusp of a great future in the film industry. The technology offers fantastic opportunities, since it is usually much faster, more precise and more economical than classic model construction," says Ederer.

voxeljet specialises in 3D print technology. This globally operating high-tech company is a well-respected manufacturer of 3D print systems that are suitable for industrial applications. At the same time, the company operates one of Europe's largest service centres for the "on-demand production" of moulds and models for metal casting.

For more information, visit: www.voxeljet.com

Published in voxeljet

Around the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) campus, professor Denis Cormier’s reputation has earned his rapid prototyping course a wait list. Industrial, mechanical and manufacturing engineering students line up in hopes that they will be included in the discussion of 3D-printing technologies.

With all the buzz 3D printing has earned recently, students are increasingly aware of it, and they want to understand what is possible and how they can use the technology. Joe Noble, a mechanical engineering undergraduate, said, “I knew that 3D printers existed, but I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about them.”

Cormier changes that. “Because of this course, we now have the exposure to advanced and innovative techniques that we could use in the future,” said Jeet S. Mehta, a graduate student pursing a master’s of science in mechanical engineering.

In one quarter, Cormier introduces students to the processes, materials, capabilities and limitations of a broad range of 3D-printing technologies. He concludes with a description of what is on the horizon. Betsy Khol, an undergraduate in the industrial engineering program, said, “At the end of the quarter, the course was all about where we could take 3D printing and where the technology was going, which was really exciting.”

The course challenges students to put their new-found knowledge into practice. “Our assignment was to design, build and play a musical instrument,” said Noble. He and teammates Mehta and Khol created a ukulele and built it on a Dimension 3D Printer. “The ukulele was a practical decision; we could tune it.”

But that simple idea morphed into something more. “We had a unique opportunity to take advantage of what the 3D printer could do. So we incorporated a 3D, color version of the RIT tiger,” said Khol.

Although they had options for automated color 3D printing, the team devised a series of interventions to make its Dimension 3D Printer build a multicolored instrument. According to Mehta, “The key reason for selecting the Dimension machine for printing our part was the plastic material that it uses. Since we had to play the instrument, the strength and integrity of the part was very important.”

With one small prompt from Cormier, the team got creative. “When Dr. Cormier informed us that we could pause a build and swap material cartridges to change colors, that’s when everything came together. Now we could print the ukulele in one go without having to assemble different pieces,” said Mehta.

According to Noble, the process was quite easy. “We designed the tiger face to have an even number of layers for each color. In the Catalyst setup program, we oriented the ukulele with the tiger facing down. Then all we had to do is insert pauses between the layers where there was a color change.”

At the Dimension printer, the team waited 20 minutes for the first color to complete then swapped material cartridges and repeated that for the remaining colors. After that, they left for the day and had a 3D printed ukulele waiting for them when they returned to class. After soaking the ukulele to remove support structures, the team attached the mounting pegs, added strings and tuned it for their big debut.

The final test was a humble, eight-note rendition of “Jingle Bells.” For their work and innovation, Cormier gave them an A. He said, “When fellow students and guests heard Joe playing the team’s 3D-printed ukulele, there were plenty of grins and ‘cool’ comments throughout the auditorium.”

According to Noble, “It was one of my favorite classes that I’ve taken at RIT. I now have a whole other dimension to the possibilities of prototyping. It is a very intriguing field. If I ended up working in it — in the actual development of the processes — I’d be stoked.”

For more information, visit: www.stratasys.com or www.rit.edu

Published in Stratasys

When University of Virginia engineering students posted a YouTube video last spring of a plastic turbofan engine they had designed and built using 3-D printing technology, they didn’t expect it to lead to anything except some page views.

But executives at The MITRE Corporation, a McLean-based federally funded research and development center with an office in Charlottesville, saw the video and sent an announcement to the School of Engineering and Applied Science that they were looking for two summer interns to work on a new project involving 3-D printing. They just didn’t say what the project was.

Only one student responded to the job announcement: Steven Easter, then a third-year mechanical engineering major.

“I was curious about what they had to offer, but I didn’t call them until the day of the application deadline,” Easter said.

He got a last-minute interview and brought with him his brother and lab partner, Jonathan Turman, also a third-year mechanical engineering major.

They got the job: to build over the summer an unmanned aerial vehicle, using 3-D printing technology. In other words, a plastic plane, to be designed, fabricated, built and test-flown between May and August. A real-world engineering challenge, and part of a Department of the Army project to study the feasibility of using such planes.

Three-dimensional printing is, as the name implies, the production or “printing” of actual objects, such as parts for a small airplane, by using a machine that traces out layers of melted plastic in specific shapes until it builds up a piece exactly according to the size and dimensions specified in a computer-aided drawing produced by an engineer.

In this case, the engineers were Easter and Turman, working with insight from their adviser, mechanical and aerospace engineering professor David Sheffler, a U.Va. Engineering School alumnus and 20-year veteran of the aerospace industry.

It was a daunting project – producing a plane with a 6.5-foot wingspan, made from assembled “printed” parts. The students sometimes put in 80-hour workweeks, with many long nights in the lab.

“It was sort of a seat-of-the-pants thing at first – wham, bang,” Easter said. “But we kept banging away and became more confident as we kept designing and printing out new parts.”

Sheffler said he had confidence in them “the entire way.”

The way eventually led to assembly of the plane and four test flights in August and early September at Milton Airfield near Keswick. It achieved a cruising speed of 45 mph and is only the third 3-D printed plane known to have been built and flown.

During the first test, the plane’s nosepiece was damaged while the plane taxied around the field.

“We dogged it,” Easter said. “But we printed a new nose.”

That ability to make and modify new parts is the beauty of 3-D printing, said Sheffler, who works with students in the Engineering School’s Rapid Prototyping Lab. The lab includes seven 3-D printers used as real-world teaching tools.

“Rapid prototyping means rapid in small quantities,” Sheffler said. “It’s fluid, in that it allows students to evolve their parts and make changes as they go – design a piece, print it, make needed modifications to the design, and print a new piece. They can do this until they have exactly what they want.”

The technology also allows students to take on complex design projects that previously were impractical.

“To make a plastic turbofan engine to scale five years ago would have taken two years, at a cost of about $250,000,” Sheffler said. “But with 3-D printing we designed and built it in four months for about $2,000. This opens up an arena of teaching that was not available before. It allows us to train engineers for the real challenges they will face in industry.”

MITRE Corp. representatives and Army officials observed the fourth flight of Easter and Turman’s plane. They were impressed and asked the students to stay on through this academic year as part-time interns. Their task now is to build an improved plane – lighter, stronger, faster and more easily assembled. The project also is their fourth-year thesis.

“This has been a great opportunity for us,” Easter said, “to showcase engineering at U.Va. and the capabilities of the Rapid Prototyping Lab.”

For more information, visit: www.mae.virginia.edu/NewMAE

Published in University of Virginia

3D Systems  (NYSE:DDD) announced the exclusive availability of the first-ever line of 3D printed electric and bass guitars, designed by Olaf Diegel on Cubify®. Starting today, eight unique electric and bass guitar designs including the Scarab, Atom and Spider will be available for purchase on Cubify.

Professional guitarists and enthusiasts alike will be able to work directly with Diegel to customize their instrument for a personalized look and unique sound. Everything from adding your or your band’s name to picking your preferred neck and pick-ups will be customizable. Priced from $3,000 USD and printed exclusively by Cubify, Olaf Diegel guitars are sure to provide musicians with a premium experience.

Recognizing the scarcity of exotic and premium wood material for the construction of high-end guitars, 3D Systems believes that 3D printing offers a musically comparable experience that is sustainable and cost-effective.

“My passion for 3D printing created one of those rare opportunities to combine my engineering design background and love of music into a new product line that breaks the mold of conventional thinking,” stated Olaf Diegel. “Partnering with 3D Systems and Cubify presents the perfect combination for manufacturing the instruments and reaching the market through an innovative channel."
 
“We are absolutely thrilled that Olaf has chosen Cubify as the exclusive marketplace for his gorgeous guitars,” said Abe Reichental, President and CEO of 3D Systems. “Beyond providing guitar lovers the opportunity to create and make their custom instrument, we are proud to deliver a sustainable and responsible alternative to harvesting exotic wood.”

ODD guitars are a range of personalizable, customizable guitars that explore the limits of 3D printing technologies and applications. 3D printing allows designs to be created that could not be manufactured through traditional means. The 3D printing technology used in ODD guitars is Selective Laser Sintering (SLS). ODD was started by Olaf Diegel, a long-standing design engineer, with a passion for 3D printing and other advanced manufacturing technologies. As his real job, Olaf is professor of mechatronics at Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand.

For more information, visit: www.cubify.com/products/guitars/index.aspx

Published in 3D Systems

Award-winning water pump and heating system manufacturer, Whale, today announced an increase in new business following the purchase of an Objet Connex multi-material 3D Printer for its headquarters in Bangor, Northern Ireland. The introduction of Objet Connex multi-material technology means the company can now prototype design concepts with supreme accuracy and undertake robust testing using watertight digital materials - helping the company to bring its products to market quicker than ever before.

"We saw Objet Connex multi-material technology as a means to provide a broad capability," comments Richard Bovill, Whale Design Engineering Manager. "The range of materials from rigid to rubber gives us a great advantage when recreating production parts, especially the water tight material, as it allows us to carry out robust tests that can reduce the product development process by weeks or even months."

Over the past three years Whale has issued 15 worldwide design patents, driven by its culture of innovation throughout the business, supplying first class products to the marine, caravan and motorhome, shower drainage and industrial markets. To maintain its leadership in these markets, Whale added an Objet Connex 3D Printer to its portfolio of rapid prototyping solutions to expand its capabilities when designing new products and making improvements to current solutions.

"Using Objet Connex multi-material technology we can now produce rubber, over-molded, transparent and waterproof models, allowing us to recreate design faults and identify ways we can improve our products in a much more cost effective and timely manner," says Managing Director Patrick Hurst. "This has enabled us to increase our existing business and create new business opportunities, whilst maintaining the level of innovation our customers are accustomed to."

With the Objet Connex multi-material 3D Printer currently in operation 24 hours a day, Whale are using a large variety of materials to deal with the demand and diversity of its customer's design projects.

"Having such a wide range of shore hardness and the ability to print rubber parts, means that it is like having three machines in one. We can now deliver our customers a finished high quality model in as little as 24 hours," concludes Hurst.

Whale purchased the Objet Connex 3D Printer through Objet UK distributor HK Rapidprototyping. Nigel Bunt, Sales Director at HK Rapidprototyping, adds: "The Objet Connex provided Whale the ideal solution for their product design projects. Whale has now become more flexible and thus increased its workflow capacity."

For more information, visit: www.whalepumps.com/technical-services/home.aspx

Published in Objet

Objects created using 3-D printing have a common flaw: They are fragile and often fall apart or lose their shape.

"I have an entire zoo of broken 3-D printed objects in my office," said Bedrich Benes, an associate professor of computer graphics at Purdue University.

The printed fabrications often fail at points of high stress.

"You can go online, create something using a 3-D printer and pay $300, only to find that it isn't strong enough to survive shipping and arrives in more than one piece," said Radomir Mech, senior research manager from Adobe's Advanced Technology Labs.

The 3-D printers create shapes layer-by-layer out of various materials, including metals and plastic polymers. Whereas industry has used 3-D printing in rapid prototyping for about 15 years, recent innovations have made the technology practical for broader applications, he said.

"Now 3-D printing is everywhere," Benes said. "Imagine you are a hobbyist and you have a vintage train model. Parts are no longer being manufactured, but their specifications can be downloaded from the Internet and you can generate them using a 3-D printer."

The recent rise in 3-D printing popularity has been fueled by a boom in computer graphics and a dramatic reduction of the cost of 3-D printers, Benes said.

Researchers at Purdue and Adobe's Advanced Technology Labs have jointly developed a program that automatically imparts strength to objects before they are printed.

"It runs a structural analysis, finds the problematic part and then automatically picks one of the three possible solutions," Benes said.

Findings were detailed in a paper presented during the SIGGRAPH 2012 conference in August. Former Purdue doctoral student Ondrej Stava created the software application, which automatically strengthens objects either by increasing the thickness of key structural elements or by adding struts. The tool also uses a third option, reducing the stress on structural elements by hollowing out overweight elements.

"We not only make the objects structurally better, but we also make them much more inexpensive," Mech said. "We have demonstrated a weight and cost savings of 80 percent."

The new tool automatically identifies "grip positions" where a person is likely to grasp the object. A "lightweight structural analysis solver" analyzes the object using a mesh-based simulation. It requires less computing power than traditional finite-element modeling tools, which are used in high-precision work such as designing jet engine turbine blades.

"The 3-D printing doesn't have to be so precise, so we developed our own structural analysis program that doesn't pay significant attention to really high precision," Benes said.

The paper was authored by Stava, now a computer scientist at Adobe, doctoral student Juraj Vanek; Benes; Mech; and Nathan Carr, a principal scientist at Adobe's Advanced Technology Labs.

Future research may focus on better understanding how structural strength is influenced by the layered nature of 3-D-printed objects. The researchers may also expand their algorithms to include printed models that have moving parts.

For more information, visit: www.purdue.edu

Published in Purdue University

A 7,000 year old technique, known as Egyptian Paste (also known as Faience), could offer a potential process and material for use in the latest 3D printing techniques of ceramics, according to researchers at UWE Bristol.

Professor Stephen Hoskins, Director of UWE's Centre for Fine Print Research and David Huson, Research Fellow, have received funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC to undertake a major investigation into a self-glazing 3D printed ceramic, inspired by ancient Egyptian Faience ceramic techniques. The process they aim to develop would enable ceramic artists, designers and craftspeople to print 3D objects in a ceramic material which can be glazed and vitrified in one firing.

The researchers believe that it possible to create a contemporary 3D printable, once-fired, self-glazing, non-plastic ceramic material that exhibits the characteristics and quality of Egyptian Faience.

Faience was first used in the 5th Millennium BC and was the first glazed ceramic material invented by man. Faience was not made from clay (but instead composed of quartz and alkali fluxes) and is distinct from Italian Faience or Majolica, which is a tin, glazed earthenware. (The earliest Faience is invariably blue or green, exhibiting the full range of shades between them, and the colouring material was usually copper). It is the self-glazing properties of Faience that are of interest for this research project.

Current research in the field of 3D printing concentrates on creating functional materials to form physical models. The materials currently used in the 3D printing process, in which layers are added to build up a 3D form, are commonly: UV polymer resins, hot melted 'abs' plastic and inkjet binder or laser sintered, powder materials. These techniques have previously been known as rapid prototyping (RP). With the advent of better materials and equipment some RP of real materials is now possible. These processes are increasingly being referred to as solid 'free-form fabrication' (SFF) or additive layer manufacture. The UWE research team have focused previously on producing a functional, printable clay body.

This three-year research project will investigate three methods of glazing used by the ancient Egyptians: 'application glazing', similar to modern glazing methods; 'efflorescent glazing' which uses water-soluble salts; and 'cementation glazing', a technique where the object is buried in a glazing powder in a protective casing, then fired.These techniques will be used as a basis for developing contemporary printable alternatives

Professor Hoskins explains, “It is fascinating to think that some of these ancient processes, in fact the very first glazed ceramics ever created by humans, could have relevance to the advanced printing technology of today. We hope to create a self-glazing 3D printed ceramic which only requires one firing from conception to completion rather than the usual two. This would be a radical step-forward in the development of 3D printing technologies. As part of the project we will undertake case studies of craft, design and fine art practitioners to contribute to the project, so that our work reflects the knowledge and understanding of artists and reflects the way in which artists work.”

The project includes funding for a three-year full-time PhD bursary to research a further method used by the Egyptians, investigating coloured 'frit', a substance used in glazing and enamels. This student will research this method, investigating the use of coloured frits and oxides to try and create as full a colour range as possible. Once developed, this body will be used to create a ceramic extrusion paste that can be printed with a low-cost 3D printer. A programme of work will be undertaken to determine the best rates of deposition, the inclusion of flocculants and methods of drying through heat whilst printing.

This project offers the theoretical possibility of a printed, single fired, glazed ceramic object - something that is impossible with current technology.

For more information, visit: www.ahrc.ac.uk/News-and-Events/Watch-and-Listen/Pages/3D-Printing-in-Ceramics.aspx

Published in UWE Bristol

How fast can 3D Printing (and stereolithography in particular) go? The answer, according to the 2012 Formula Group T team, is - more than 140 km/h!

Competing in the prestigious Formula Student 2012 challenge, a 16-man strong team of next-generation engineers from Group T have unveiled the world’s first race car created in great part through 3D Printing: the Areion. Named after the divinely-bred, extremely swift, immortal horse of Greek mythology, the Areion is a powerhouse of innovation and green technology. On July 31st, it lived up to its name on the Hockenheim race circuit by going from zero to 100km/h in just 4 seconds and achieving a top speed of 141km/h on the track. Cutting-edge technologies incorporated into their eco-friendly race car included an electric drive train, bio-composite materials, and of course, Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) on a grand scale with Materialise.   

Big Ideas Brought to Life with Mammoth Technology

Using Materialise’s appropriately named Mammoth stereolithography machines it is possible to manufacture parts of up to 2100x680x800mm. With a build envelope that massive, the Formula Group T team recognized the possibility to not only print the entire body of the car, but to also integrate some unique features directly into the design. Therefore, working in close collaboration with engineers at Materialise, this is exactly what they achieved: going from initial shell design to a fully finished 3D Printed car body in just three weeks.

The Greatest Shell in Racing since Mario Kart

Starting from Formula Group T’s design for the outer shell, engineers at Materialise quickly got to work. Within a week, Materialise engineers had applied their experience from other projects to the creation of an intelligent 3D Printed car body with integrated clips and connection points. This allows for the easy assembly of the shell and therefore, faster access to the inner workings of the car when maintenance is needed.

Like a Shark through Water

Printed directly onto the nose of the race car is a shark skin texture, similar to that found on high-tech competition swimsuits. As with the swimsuits, the aim of the teeth-like ridges is to reduce drag, increase thrust, and improve performance on race day. Whether or not the texture helped the Areion cut through the air is still to be determined, but one thing is for sure – the shark skin made the nose of the car look great!

The Coolest Side Pods on the Track

Both the right and left side pods were designed and printed with complex cooling channels. Printed into the left side pod are a nozzle behind the radiator and a diffuser, which optimize cooling by creating the ideal flow of air through the radiator. A fan is installed behind the radiator in order to do this even at low speeds and while the car is stationary. In the right side pod, complex channels were developed and printed to create a cyclone effect that removes water and dirt from the air before it enters the engine compartment.

The Results are in

With two races completed, the Formula Group T team is already the proud winner of two awards and an impressive ranking for a first-time team in the competition. While in the UK at the Silverstone racing circuit, the team was honored with the Best Teamwork Award by Airbus and Koen Huybrechts, who was responsible for the drivetrain, won the Craig Dawson most valuable team member award. While in Germany on the Hockenheim racing circuit, the team finished in a well-deserved 11th position and found themselves among other top teams in this international competition.

For more information, visit: www.formulagroupt.be or manufacturing.materialise.com/mammoth-stereolithography-0

Published in Materialise

3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) announced today the immediate availability of Cubify® Bracelets another personalization app designed specifically for printing on its Cube® 3D printer. Cubify Bracelets makes it possible for anyone to create and 3D print their own individualized bracelets at home.
 
Designed to be stylish, chunky and colorful, Cubify Bracelets come in three sizes and sixteen styles so kids and adults alike can enjoy customizing and accessorizing. Adding a whole new meaning to friendship jewelry, now everyone can create secret messages or place their name on the inside or outside of the bracelet along with special characters and symbols.
 
“Cubify Bracelets is another fun and playful app that unleashes everyone’s creativity to instantly make and print custom jewelry that expresses their personality and style,” said Cathy Lewis, Vice President of Global Marketing for 3D Systems.  “With every new app, our rapidly expanding Cubify community gets to celebrate their creativity and share their amazing tags, rings, bracelets and earrings with their friends and family.”
 
Be the first to register and start making your custom bracelets on Cubify today.

For more information, visit: www.cubify.com/store/app.aspx?app_url=http://www.apps.cubify.com/CubifyBracelets

Published in 3D Systems

Aurora Flight Sciences' 3D wing, designed by Aurora and built with additive manufacturing technology developed by Stratasys Inc., was showcased at the announcement of the new National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) by senior officials of the Obama administration.

The announcement of the new manufacturing technology center was made by Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology along with Rebecca Blank, Acting Secretary of Commerce and Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, on August 16 in Youngstown, Ohio. The event was also attended by United States Senator Sherrod Brown and United States Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio.

Aurora Flight Sciences and Stratasys fabricated and flew a 62-inch wingspan aircraft with a wing composed entirely of additive manufactured components. The wing was designed by Aurora and manufactured by Stratasys utilizing their Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM®) 3D printers.

The Stratasys FDM printer fabricated Aurora's wing using a 3D design model, by depositing layers of high-performance thermoplastic material. This manufacturing approach reduces some of the design constraints engineers face when using traditional fabrication techniques. FDM offers unparalleled capabilities for rapid prototyping of small aerospace structures.

The design of the wing's structure was optimized to reduce weight while maintaining strength. "The success of this wing has shown that 3D printing can be used to rapidly fabricate the structure of a small airplane," said Dan Campbell, Structures Research Engineer at Aurora. "If a wing replacement is necessary, we simply click print and within a couple days we have a new wing ready to fly."

Aurora and Stratasys will continue to work together to develop additive manufacturing for aerospace applications. "In the aerospace industry, additive manufacturing has the benefits of reducing material usage, doing away with tooling, reducing part count, and simplifying assembly," said Bill Macy, Application Development Lead at Stratasys. "These benefits allow the manufacture of a low quantity of products at lower cost, in less time, with competitive performance."

Aurora Flight Sciences designs and builds aerospace vehicles for commercial and military applications. Aurora is headquartered in Manassas, VA and operates production facilities in Bridgeport, WV and Columbus, MS as well as a Research and Development Center in Cambridge, MA.

For more information, visit: www.aurora.aero

Published in Aurora Flight Sciences

Protos, a San Francisco-based company, launched its first collection of 3D printed sunglasses. In a region abundant with software tech magnates, they've proven technology can also be used to make ground-breaking eyewear.

Protos offers designs that can only be made by leveraging the most cutting edge software and 3D printing technology. Though many have claimed to do so, they are one of only a small handful of companies that have created something refined enough to truly be sold as a usable, lasting product. Each pair of sunglasses purchased from Protos is produced via laser sintering, which builds each frame layer by layer of material. The properties of this intricate layering process are leveraged to result in bold and striking designs that are unachievable through standard manufacturing methods.

This first collection showcases the realm of possibilities with 3D printing. The debut line includes the Hal Pixel, which has gained praise and recognition from the industrial design community.

"Protos Eyewear [is] a radically different approach to eyewear that opens the frontiers to limitless fun," says Phnam Bagley, Founder and Design Director at Eternal Luxe. Protos will soon offer custom eyewear with a tailored fit based on an individual's facial measurements and dimensions.

For more information, visit: www.protoseyewear.com

Published in Protos

3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) announced that the company's ZPrinter® 650 is the first ever full color 3D printer used in a stop-motion animated film, ParaNorman, produced by Portland, Oregon based animation studio LAIKA. Known for integrating innovation with the hand-created artistry of the stop motion technique, LAIKA utilized 3D printing to create over 31,000 individual, color facial parts for production.

3D Systems' ZPrinter technology allowed LAIKA animators to quickly and accurately print hundreds of facial features and expressions for each of the film's 62 characters.

"ParaNorman is an enduring and emotional story that is driven by strong characters and exquisite designs," says Brian McLean, LAIKA's Creative Supervisor of Replacement Animation and Engineering. "In order for us to give the characters the facial expressions and emotional range needed to support such a wonderful story, we needed to try something unprecedented. By using a color 3D printer we were not only able to push facial performance to new levels, but we were also able to achieve a level of detail and subtlety in characters' faces that a few short years ago would have seemed impossible. This technology, combined with a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication from talented artists and technicians, has created something truly unique and beautiful."

"We are absolutely thrilled to partner with the ground breaking team at LAIKA as they utilize our full color 3D printing technology to revolutionize storytelling," said Cathy Lewis, Vice President of Global Marketing for 3D Systems. "We look forward to ParaNorman being a great success with global audiences."

ParaNorman premieres nationwide in theatres August 17, 2012.

For more information, visit: www.paranorman.com or www.zcorp.com/en/Products/3D-Printers/ZPrinter-650/spage.aspx

Published in 3D Systems

3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) announced today the immediate availability of Cubify® Tags, another new app designed specifically for printing on its Cube® 3D printer. Cubify Tags makes it possible for anyone to design their own tags and pendants and 3D print them at home.

Simply choose a shape, then drag and drop characters and letters onto it for a unique, inspired design. These colorful tags and pendants make a personal statement and can be worn as necklaces or used to personalize everyday items from luggage, backpacks and key chains to cool tags for the family pet.

“We are thrilled to bring another intuitive and fun app to Cubify. Boys and girls of all ages can instantly make and print their unique creation to wear, give as gifts and exchange with their friends,” said Cathy Lewis, Vice President of Global Marketing for 3D Systems.  “Our enthusiasm continues to build with each amazing new app we introduce to our growing Cubify community.”

Be the first to register and start making your custom tags on Cubify today.

For more information, visit: www.cubify.com/store/app.aspx?app_url=http://www.apps.cubify.com/CubifyTags

Published in 3D Systems

Objet Ltd., will be showcasing its advanced 3D printing solutions by highlighting the impact on Hollywood films at SIGGRAPH 2012 from Aug. 7-9 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Jason Lopes, Lead Systems Engineer at Legacy Effects, will discuss the intersection of 3D printing and Hollywood on Aug. 8 at 10 a.m., in Room 301B. He will demonstrate how 3D technology is used in the design and prototyping of characters for Hollywood films. Some of the 3D-printed models of Legacy characters on display during the presentation, as well as in Objet's Booth (#235) throughout SIGGRAPH, include the Hulk from "Marvel: The Avengers" and Wahoon and John Carter from "John Carter."

The models demonstrate the breadth and versatility of Objet's industry-leading 107 digital materials, which are capable of simulating properties ranging from varying grades of rubber to ABS-grade engineering plastics, as well as simulating clear transparency. In Booth #235, Objet will be showcasing these materials on three of its printers: the Objet24 desktop, the Objet Eden260V professional and the Objet Connex350 multi-material 3D Printers.

"Objet's technology has allowed us to bring creativity and imagination to life in ways we never thought possible," Lopes said. "Anything we can think up, Objet 3D printers can prototype in a matter of hours."
    
WHO:
Bruce Bradshaw, Objet
Jason Lopes, Legacy Effects
   
WHAT:
3D Printing's Impact on Hollywood Blockbusters
   
WHERE:
SIGGRAPH 2012
Los Angeles Convention Center
   
WHEN:
Jason Lopes presentation - Aug. 8, 10-11 a.m. in Room 301B
Hollywood Models on display - Aug. 7-9 in Objet Booth #235

For more information, visit: s2012.siggraph.org

Published in Objet

University of Washington mechanical engineering students braved uncharted waters as they paddled to the finish line at the annual Milk Carton Derby at Green Lake in Seattle in what they believe is the world’s first boat made using a 3-D printer.

The new UW student club Washington Open Object Fabricators (or WOOF) built the boat as its inaugural project. The club’s blog describes the undergraduate members’ 10-week quest to make equipment and develop techniques to be first to print a seaworthy craft.

Judges weren’t sure how to qualify the UW entry, which used recycled milk cartons for its buoyancy but not quite in the way that contest organizers had envisioned. In the end, the boat raced as an unofficial entry in the adult open category, where it placed second.

Faculty adviser Mark Ganter, professor of mechanical engineering, experiments with unconventional methods and ingredients for 3-D printing (including ceramics, glass and cookie dough) in the UW’s Open3DP Lab, which he operates with colleague Duane Storti, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

Printing a boat “is a historic first,” Ganter said. Two other UW groups have tried and failed at the same task, he added, and making it out of recycled milk jugs is an added challenge.

“Frankly, milk jug material is an awful material to work with,” he said. “It shrinks, it curls, it doesn’t want to stick to itself. Overcoming all those parts of the problem was part of the achievement.”

Ganter teaches a course in Computer-Aided Technology that uses his lab’s 3-D printers. The student club was formed in the spring by Bethany Weeks, club manager; Matt Rogge, club president; and Adam Commons, vice-president. It has now grown to about 20 active members.

Some experts predict 3-D printers will revolutionize manufacturing by allowing people to buy a design online and then immediately print out a physical object. The process takes instructions from a computer to print a solid object in layers, using a machine similar to an inkjet printer. High-end machines have long been used in manufacturing, but lower-cost versions are increasingly being used by hobbyists and educational groups.

The UW club hopes to continue printing using recycled materials, building large-scale printers and developing low-cost 3-D printing techniques.

“I hope that the club gets printers in the hands of as many students as possible,” Rogge said. “People are intimidated because they think 3-D printing is complicated, or expensive, and it really doesn’t have to be.”

Photos were taken by club co-founder and manager Bethany Weeks.

For more information, visit: www.uw.edu

The moment Megan Lavelle saw the device, she knew it would change her daughter’s life. Lavelle is an energetic, unstoppable mom whose youngest daughter, Emma, was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC). At a Philadelphia conference for AMC families, Lavelle learned about the Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (WREX), an assistive device made of hinged metal bars and resistance bands. It enables kids with underdeveloped arms to play, feed themselves and hug.

AMC is a non-progressive condition that causes stiff joints and very underdeveloped muscles. Emma was born with her legs folded up by her ears, her shoulders turned in. “She could only move her thumb,” says Lavelle. Doctors immediately performed surgery and casted Emma’s legs. The baby girl went home with parents determined to provide the best care.

Medical experts warned that AMC would prevent Emma from ever experiencing any sort of normalcy. She developed more slowly than an average child and spent much of her first two years in casts or undergoing surgery. Unable to see Emma play and interact with her environment in ways her older daughter had, Lavelle privately wondered whether Emma’s cognitive ability would be hampered as well.

Determined to Grow

But Emma progressed, slow and steady. As she grew and became able to move about with the help of a walker, it became clear that her mind was sharp and her determination on par with her mom’s. At two years old, she still couldn’t lift her arms, and the smart little girl wanted more. “She would get really frustrated when she couldn’t play with things like blocks,” Lavelle says. And so the mom would be Emma’s arms for her; playing with blocks, eating, brushing teeth.

Then came the WREX, demonstrated at the conference by an 8-year-old AMC patient lifting his arms and moving them in all directions. Lavelle met with the presenters, Tariq Rahman, Ph.D, head of pediatric engineering and research, and Whitney Sample, research designer, both from Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware. Rahman and Sample had worked for years to make the device progressively smaller, serving younger and younger patients. Attached to a wheelchair, the WREX worked for kids as young as six. But Emma was two, small for her age, and free to walk.

In Sample’s tool-and-toy filled workshop, the team strapped Emma’s little arms into a small but awkward trial WREX attached to a stationary support. “She just started throwing her hands around and playing,” Sample says. Megan brought Emma candy and toys and watched her lift her arms toward her mouth for the first time.

Tiny Rewards

For Emma to wear the WREX outside the workshop, Rahman and Sample needed to scale it down in size and weight. The parts would be too small and detailed for the workshop’s CNC system to fabricate. But humming along near Sample’s desk was a Stratasys 3D Printer, which can build complex objects automatically from computer designs — like an inkjet printer but in three dimensions. Sample often used it to work out ideas with physical models, so he 3D printed a prototype WREX in ABS plastic. The difference in weight allowed Sample to attach the Emma-sized WREX to a little plastic vest.

The 3D-printed WREX turned out to be durable enough for everyday use. Emma wears it at home, at preschool, and during occupational therapy. And the design flexibility of 3D printing lets Sample continually improve upon the assistive device, working out ideas in CAD and building them the same day.

Fifteen kids now use custom 3D-printed WREX devices. For these littlest patients, Rahman explains, the benefits may extend beyond the obvious. Prolonged disuse of the arms can sometimes condition children to limited development, affecting cognitive and emotional growth. Doctors and therapists are watching Emma closely for the benefits of earlier arm use.

Emma quickly grew to love the abilities WREX unlocked in her. “When she started to express herself, we would go upstairs [to Sample’s workshop] and we would say, ‘Emma, you know we’re going to put the WREX on.’ And she called them her magic arms,” Lavelle says.

The little girl’s approval is a fitting reward for her determined mom and dedicated researchers. Sample says: “To be a part of that little special moment for someone else, can’t help but tug at your heart strings.”

For more information, visit: www.stratasys.com or www.nemours.org

Published in Stratasys

It is 2.30 metres high, 50 centimetres wide, weighs almost 20 kilograms and is the largest spoon that WMF has ever produced. Both its purpose and its manufacture, in which 3D printing plays a central role, are anything but normal.

Of course the giant specimen is not meant for conventional use but rather has been designed to highlight an optical phenomenon that anyone who has experienced the reflections and optical distortions of looking into a polished bowl of a spoon (the concave front of a spoon) would be familiar with. People interested in an explanation for this special optical feature will want to check out the "Viseum", the museum for optics and precision mechanics in Wetzlar. This is where the EUR 10,000 WMF exhibit can be found, and it demonstrates the origin behind these reflections in XL format, so to speak.

Just as impressive as the spoon itself is the process of how it was made, most of which took place at the WMF model building studio in Geislingen. "While the manufacture of single oversize cutlery pieces is not unusual, we have never made anything of this size to date. However, not least due to 3D print technology, this project was completed quickly and without any problems", says Gerd Greiner, manager of the model building studio.

The well-known "Palma" WMF cutlery served as a template for the giant spoon. As part of a first step, the CAD data of the original Palma spoon was adjusted to the required size on the computer. This data was then transferred to the voxeljet service centre, where a high-performance printer using the 3D printing method produced a plastic model of the bowl of the spoon, which was used as the original model. This process did away with the elaborate construction of a negative mould, resulting in significant cost and time savings. The printed PMMA model, which impressed with a high degree of mechanical stability and attention to detail, was used to quickly generate a sand mould that was cast in bronze. Subsequently the bowl was finished and coated with nickel, and finally attached to the spoon handle, which was made of brass and also coated with nickel. "The WMF spoon is another successful example of the ever increasing popularity of 3D printing beyond conventional application areas. We are really impressed with the creativity shown by users in applying 3D technology, which is still a fairly young method", says Rudolf Franz, COO of voxeljet technology GmbH.

For more information, visit: www.voxeljet.de

Published in voxeljet

A group of graphics experts led by computer scientists at Harvard have created an add-on software tool that translates video game characters—or any other three-dimensional animations—into fully articulated action figures, with the help of a 3D printer.

The project is described in detail in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Transactions on Graphics and will be presented at the ACM SIGGRAPH conference on August 7.

Besides its obvious consumer appeal, the tool constitutes a remarkable piece of code and an unusual conceptual exploration of the virtual and physical worlds.

"In animation you're not necessarily trying to model the physical world perfectly; the model only has to be good enough to convince your eye," explains lead author Moritz Bächer, a graduate student in computer science at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). "In a virtual world, you have all this freedom that you don't have in the physical world. You can make a character so anatomically skewed that it would never be able to stand up in real life, and you can make deformations that aren't physically possible. You could even have a head that isn't attached to its body, or legs that occasionally intersect each other instead of colliding."

Returning a virtual character to the physical world therefore turns the traditional animation process on its head, in a sort of reverse rendering, as the image that's on the screen must be adapted to accommodate real-world constraints.

Bächer and his coauthors demonstrated their new method using characters from Spore, an evolution-simulation video game. Spore allows players to create a vast range of creatures with numerous limbs, eyes, and body segments in almost any configuration, using a technique called procedural animation to quickly and automatically animate whatever body plan it receives.

As with most types of computer animation, the characters themselves are just "skins"—meshes of polygons—that are manipulated like marionettes by an invisible skeleton.

"As an animator, you can move the skeletons and create weight relationships with the surface points," says Bächer, "but the skeletons inside are non-physical with zero-dimensional joints; they're not useful to our fabrication process at all. In fact, the skeleton frequently protrudes outside the body entirely."

Bächer tackled the fabrication problem with his Ph.D. adviser, Hanspeter Pfister, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at SEAS. They were joined by Bernd Bickel and Doug James at the Technische Universität Berlin and Cornell University, respectively.

This team of computer graphics experts developed a software tool that achieves two things: it identifies the ideal locations for the action figure's joints, based on the character's virtual articulation behavior, and then it optimizes the size and location of those joints for the physical world. For instance, a spindly arm might be too thin to hold a robust joint, and the joints in a curving spine might collide with each other if they are too close.

The software uses a series of optimization techniques to generate the best possible model, incorporating both hinges and ball-and-socket joints. It also builds some friction into these surfaces so that the printed figure will be able to hold its poses.

The tool also perfects the model's skin texture. Procedurally animated characters tend to have a very roughly defined, low-resolution skin to enable rendering in real time. Details and textures are typically added through a type of virtual optical illusion: manipulating the normals that determine how light reflects off the surface. In order to have these details show up in the 3D print, the software analyzes that map of normals and translates it into a realistic surface texture.

Then the 3D printer sets to work, and out comes a fully assembled, robust, articulated action figure, bringing the virtual world to life.

"With an animation, you always have to view it on a two-dimensional screen, but this allows you to just print it and take an actual look at it in 3D," says Bächer. "I think that’s helpful to the artists and animators, to see how it actually feels in reality and get some feedback. Right now, perhaps they can print a static scene, just a character in one stance, but they can’t see how it really moves. If you print one of these articulated figures, you can experiment with different stances and movements in a natural way, as with an artist’s mannequin."

Bächer's model does not allow deformations beyond the joints, so squishy, stretchable bodies are not yet captured in this process. But that type of printed character might be possible by incorporating other existing techniques.

For instance, in 2010, Pfister, Bächer, and Bickel were part of a group of researchers who replicated an entire flip-flop sandal using a multi-material 3D printer. The printed sandal mimicked the elasticity of the original foam rubber and cloth. With some more development, a later iteration of the "3D-print button" could include this capability.

"Perhaps in the future someone will invent a 3D printer that prints the body and the electronics in one piece," Bächer muses. "Then you could create the complete animated character at the push of a button and have it run around on your desk."

Harvard’s Office of Technology Development has filed a patent application and is working with the Pfister Lab to commercialize the new technology by licensing it to an existing company or by forming a start-up. Their near-term areas of interest include cloud-based services for creating highly customized, user-generated products, such as toys, and enhancing existing animation and 3D printer software with these capabilities.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, Pixar, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

For more information, visit: seas.harvard.edu

Published in Harvard

3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) announced the immediate availability of its new Cubify® toy robots designed specifically for printing on Cube®, the world’s first home 3D printer. The entire collection can be downloaded and printed at home on your Cube 3D printer.
 
Cube printed robots are also available for home delivery through Cubify and come individually packaged or in sets of three with exciting options to choose from like ray-guns and rocket-packs.
 
Cubify® robots are moveable, poseable and printable in colorful, lego-like plastic. Printed parts can be snapped together, swapped and colors mixed to create an amazing new robot, or an entire crew.  With thousands of possible combinations, Cubify robots provide hours of educational and creative fun for kids and adults alike.  
 
“We are thrilled with these cute, playful new Cubify robots. Kids of all ages can collect the entire series as they create unique configurations to amaze their friends,” said Cathy Lewis, Vice President of Global Marketing for 3D Systems.   “Our excitement continues to build with each new toy and app we make available to our growing Cubify community.”
 
For more information, visit: www.cubify.com/store/creation_list.aspx?searchtext=&minprice=&maxprice=&category=Toys%20and%20Games&creator=cubify&tag=cube-print

Published in 3D Systems

Researchers are hopeful that new advances in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine could one day make a replacement liver from a patient’s own cells, or animal muscle tissue that could be cut into steaks without ever being inside a cow. Bioengineers can already make 2D structures out of many kinds of tissue, but one of the major roadblocks to making the jump to 3D is keeping the cells within large structures from suffocating; organs have complicated 3D blood vessel networks that are still impossible to recreate in the laboratory.

Now, University of Pennsylvania researchers have developed an innovative solution to this perfusion problem: they’ve shown that 3D printed templates of filament networks can be used to rapidly create vasculature and improve the function of engineered living tissues.

The research was conducted by a team led by postdoctoral fellow Jordan S. Miller and Christopher S. Chen, the Skirkanich Professor of Innovation in the Department of Bioengineering at Penn, along with Sangeeta N. Bhatia, Wilson Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and postdoctoral fellow Kelly R. Stevens in Bhatia’s laboratory.

Without a vascular system — a highway for delivering nutrients and removing waste products — living cells on the inside of a 3D tissue structure quickly die. Thin tissues grown from a few layers of cells don’t have this problem, as all of the cells have direct access to nutrients and oxygen. Bioengineers have therefore explored 3D printing as a way to prototype tissues containing large volumes of living cells.

The most commonly explored techniques are layer-by-layer fabrication, or bioprinting, where single layers or droplets of cells and gel are created and then assembled together one drop at a time, somewhat like building a stack of LEGOs.

Such “additive manufacturing” methods can make complex shapes out of a variety of materials, but vasculature remains a major challenge when printing with cells. Hollow channels made in this way have structural seams running between the layers, and the pressure of fluid pumping through them can push the seams apart. More important, many potentially useful cell types, like liver cells, cannot readily survive the rigors of direct 3D bioprinting.

To get around this problem, Penn researchers turned the printing process inside out.

Rather than trying to print a large volume of tissue and leave hollow channels for vasculature in a layer-by-layer approach, Chen and colleagues focused on the vasculature first and designed free-standing 3D filament networks in the shape of a vascular system that sat inside a mold. As in lost-wax casting, a technique that has been used to make sculptures for thousands of years, the team’s approach allowed for the mold and vascular template to be removed once the cells were added and formed a solid tissue enveloping the filaments.

“Sometimes the simplest solutions come from going back to basics,” Miller said. “I got the first hint at this solution when I visited a Body Worlds exhibit, where you can see plastic casts of free-standing, whole organ vasculature.”

This rapid casting technique hinged on the researchers developing a material that is rigid enough to exist as a 3D network of cylindrical filaments but which can also easily dissolve in water without toxic effects on cells. They also needed to make the material compatible with a 3D printer so they could make reproducible vascular networks orders of magnitude faster, and at larger scale and higher complexity, than possible in a layer-by-layer bioprinting approach.

After much testing, the team found the perfect mix of material properties in a humble material: sugar. Sugars are mechanically strong and make up the majority of organic biomass on the planet in the form of cellulose, but their building blocks are also typically added and dissolved into nutrient media that help cells grow.

“We tested many different sugar formulations until we were able to optimize all of these characteristics together,” Miller said. “Since there’s no single type of gel that’s going to be optimal for every kind of engineered tissue, we also wanted to develop a sugar formula that would be broadly compatible with any cell type or water-based gel.”

The formula they settled on — a combination of sucrose and glucose along with dextran for structural reinforcement — is printed with a RepRap, an open-source 3D printer with a custom-designed extruder and controlling software. An important step in stabilizing the sugar after printing, templates are coated in a thin layer of a degradable polymer derived from corn. This coating allows the sugar template to be dissolved and to flow out of the gel through the channels they create without inhibiting the solidification of the gel or damaging the growing cells nearby. Once the sugar is removed, the researchers start flowing fluid through the vascular architecture and cells begin to receive nutrients and oxygen similar to the exchange that naturally happens in the body.

The whole process is quick and inexpensive, allowing the researchers to switch with ease between computer simulations and physical models of multiple vascular configurations.

“This new platform technology, from the cell’s perspective, makes tissue formation a gentle and quick journey,” Chen said, “because cells are only exposed to a few minutes of manual pipetting and a single step of being poured into the molds before getting nourished by our vascular network.”

The researchers showed that human blood vessel cells injected throughout the vascular networks spontaneously generated new capillary sprouts to increase the network’s reach, much in the way blood vessels in the body naturally grow. The team then created gels containing primary liver cells to test whether their technique could improve their function.

When the researchers pumped nutrient-rich media through the gel’s template-fashioned vascular system, the entrapped liver cells boosted their production of albumin and urea, natural components of blood and urine, respectively, which are important measures of liver-cell function and health. There was also clear evidence of increased cell survival around the perfused vascular channels.

And theoretical modeling of nutrient transport in these perfused gels showed a striking resemblance to observed cell-survival patterns, opening up the possibility of using live-cell data to refine computer models to better design vascular architectures.

Though these engineered tissues were not equivalent to a fully functioning liver, the researchers used cell densities that approached clinical relevance, suggesting that their printed vascular system could eventually be used to further research in lab-grown organs and organoids.

“The therapeutic window for human-liver therapy is estimated at one to 10 billion functional liver cells,” Bhatia said. “With this work, we’ve brought engineered liver tissues orders of magnitude closer to that goal, but at tens of millions of liver cells per gel we’ve still got a ways to go.

“More work will be needed to learn how to directly connect these types of vascular networks to natural blood vessels while at the same time investigating fundamental interactions between the liver cells and the patterned vasculature. It’s an exciting future ahead.”

With promising indications that their vascular networks will be compatible with all types of cells and gels, the team believes their 3D printing method will be a scalable solution for a wide variety of cell- and tissue-based applications because all organ vasculature follows similar architectural patterns.

“Cell biologists like the idea of 3D printing to make vascularized tissues in principle, but they would need to have an expert in house and highly specialized equipment to even attempt it,” Miller said. “That’s no longer the case; we’ve made these sugar-based vascular templates stable enough to ship to labs around the world.”

Beyond integrating well with the world of tissue engineering, the researchers’ work epitomizes the philosophy that drives much of the open source 3D printing community.

“We launched this project from innovations rooted in RepRap and MakerBot technology and their supporting worldwide communities,” Miller said. “A RepRap 3D printer is a tiny fraction of the cost of commercial 3D printers, and, more important, its open-source nature means you can freely modify it. Many of our additions to the project are already in the wild.”

Several of the custom parts of the RepRap printer the researchers used to make the vascular templates were printed in plastic on another RepRap. Miller will teach a class on building and using these types of printers at a workshop this summer and will continue tinkering with his own designs.

“We want to redesign the printer from scratch and focus it entirely on cell biology, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications,” Miller said.

In addition to Miller, Chen, Bhatia and Stevens, the research was conducted by Michael T. Yang, Brendon M. Baker, Duc-Huy T. Nguyen, Daniel M. Cohen, Esteban Toro, Peter A. Galie, Xiang Yu and Ritika Chaturvedi of Penn Bioengineering, along with Alice A. Chen of MIT. Bhatia is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Penn Center for Engineering Cells and Regeneration and the American Heart Association-Jon Holden DeHaan Foundation.

For more information, visit: www.upenn.edu

Objet Ltd., the innovation leader in 3D printing for rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing, today announced it is cooperating with world-leading consumer products company Keter Plastic Ltd to create an exhibit of 3D-printed art pieces as part of an innovative project to highlight young designers' talents and support at-risk youth.

For the project, 70 art pieces were designed by d-Vision, the design internship program by Keter Plastic and then 3D printed by Objet. The art pieces will be exhibited at the Holon Design Museum, one of the leading museums for design and contemporary culture, on May 30th. The art pieces will be auctioned at a special gala event to benefit ELEM and 'Mifalot Chinuch Chevra', both non-profit organizations that seek to help at-risk youth.

The designers at d-Vision developed their concepts in 3D CAD software and then 3D printed them on Objet's 3D printers. Created in rigid opaque materials, Objet's high resolution 3D printers were able to precisely create real-life 3D renditions of the designs - creating true works of art.

"This project brings together many elements that are central to d-Vision: outstanding design and art, advanced technology, and commitment to our community," said Professor Ezri Tarazi, head of the d-Vision program. "We were delighted to see how our young designers' artistic ideas turned into spectacular reality through the high-quality 3D printing capabilities of Objet. We are looking forward to seeing how our combined efforts will eventually help make a difference in young people's lives, through the money raised by auctioning the art pieces for ELEM and Mifalot Chinuch."

Commenting on the project, David Reis, CEO for Objet said: "We are delighted to be participating in this very prestigious design project and proud to be contributing to the commendable work of ELEM and Mifalot Chinuch in working to ensure a better future for our youth. By pairing d-Vision's innovative and artistic designs with Objet's advanced 3D printing technology, we have created a powerful platform to expand the boundaries of art and design while contributing to the betterment of the community."

d-Vision was established in 2005  and is a unique internship program  and the first of its kind in Israel, for product development and design. The project was envisioned by Sami Sagol, owner and chairman of Keter Group, with the aim of integrating between Academy in industrial design, product engineering and technology to the needs and future development of industry. Its focal point is to fill the missing link between Academia and Industry, with the aim of cultivating the next generation of excellent young designers and product developers that combine creativity with technology application.

Every year 15 outstanding design graduates are selected from the Design Academies in Israel: Bezalel, Shenkar, Holon Institute of Technology and Hadassa.  During the two year program they get professional experience in product development for the international market.

The interns also develop innovative concepts, new and cutting-edge technologies are introduced to renowned designers and visit professional international fairs.

d-Vision exhibited in international fairs such as Salone Satellite in Milano, in the Dutch Design Week and others.

Prof. Ezri Tarazi and Ms. Tzipi Kunda head the program.

The program includes sponsored Masters Degree in Designing and offers job positions in Keter to the graduates of the program.

The program also promotes contribution to the community and each team engages in a special community project. This year the program managers decided that the contribution will focus on two organizations: "Elem, Youth in Distress" and "Education and Social Projects".

Published in Objet

World-renowned dental implant specialist, Andrew Dawood, bought an EOS plastic laser-sintering machine in 2009 for his Wimpole Street company, Cavendish Imaging, so that data from CT (computerised tomography) scans could be used to make anatomical replicas of a patient's jaw and teeth. The purpose was to be able to plan and carry out complex dental procedures such as zygomatic implant placement more efficiently and accurately.

After the needs of his own dental practice and those of others locally had been met, the service was extended to assist other medical professionals. A recent, high profile job was the production of surgical planning models from MRI scans taken of shared blood vessels within the skulls of Sudanese baby twin girls, Ritag and Rital Gaboura, who were conjoined at the head. Last September (2011), doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital separated the girls and they survived against incredible odds.

There was still spare capacity on the EOS FORMIGA P100 laser-sintering machine, which automatically builds finely detailed models from successive 100-micron layers of fine, white nylon powder in a process sometimes referred to as 3D printing. So Mr Dawood decided to start another firm, Digits2Widgets, to offer a similar service to designers, initially mainly in the conceptual arts and architecture.

The enterprise has seen the machine produce a wide variety of prototypes and finished products. Work includes helping with customisation of dolls' faces, and 3D scanning, digital modification and small production runs of items such as innovative jewellery and spectacle frames, either directly in plastic or in metal via lost wax models.

Another project involved the limited production of plastic 'clones' – modified pine cones containing a light – that appeared in the list of best Christmas tree decorations 2011 published by The Guardian newspaper.

The area of London around Wimpole Street is at the epicentre of world renowned schools of Architecture, such as the Architectural Association, Westminster University, The Royal College of Art and the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture. The latter also operates a FORMIGA P100 as well as a larger plastic laser-sintering machine from EOS. Mr Dawood therefore took the logical decision to employ a qualified architect to help expand the design side of his business.

That person is Jonathan Rowley, BArch, DipArch, ARB, who joined Digits2Widgets in August 2011 and has since been responsible for producing several scale models of buildings in multiple sections for architectural practices and students.

He commented, "The big advantage of laser-sintering as a 3D printing method is that the parts produced are robust and fully functional, unlike with some other additive manufacturing methods.

"Once the 3D model has been sliced horizontally and the data downloaded to the FORMIGA control, the build process continues automatically around the clock, layer by layer, until the process is complete. You then simply lift out the hopper, allow it to cool and extract the components, dusting off the powder residue.

"Different parts can be fitted together in our CAD (computer aided design) system and produced simultaneously within the machine's 200 mm x 250 mm x 330 mm build volume in one cycle, so productivity is high, allowing us to keep down costs.

"We still have spare capacity on the machine to offer to firms in the London area, nationwide or even internationally, and may well invest in another, larger EOS 3D printer as business increases."

For more information, visit: www.digits2widgets.com or www.eos.info

Published in EOS

When it comes to the manufacture of designer furniture in small batches, more and more providers are relying on 3D print technology, which can be used to produce spectacular designs at economic production costs, as evidenced by the Batoidea chair.

Batoidea, or stingray, is the name of a designer chair created by Belgian star designer Peter Donders. One look at this refined piece of furniture reveals the idea behind the name, as the design really does conjure up the image of an elegantly gliding stingray, visualising lightness and airiness, and impressing with its elegance. The production of this chair, which breaks with convention and is made of aluminium casting, would have been virtually impossible in terms of economic aspects without the use of 3D print technology.

Peter Donders was able to implement his unconventional ideas inspired by nature on a technical level using a computer and the well-known Rhino3D modelling program. The great advantage of this progressive work method: The CAD data set required for 3D printing was automatically available upon completion of the work on the computer.

The production of the generously sized chair with its complex stingray design required a total of five sand mould parts, which were manufactured at voxeljet's service centre in Augsburg. The largest mould part measured 1,105 x 713 x 382 millimetres – a size easily handled by voxeljet's high-performance printers. The largest voxeljet 3D print systems can accommodate shapes with a maximum volume of eight cubic metres.

The chair production process places great demands on 3D printing and the cast, as the design consists of a very thin-walled aluminium cast structure. The casting process is followed by grinding and polishing work, before a high-quality varnish is applied to the Batoidea chair.

For more information, visit: www.morphs.be or www.voxeljet.com

Published in voxeljet

Objet ltd., the innovation leader in 3D printing for rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing, is to be an official sponsor of the ‘Multiversités Créatives’ exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, starting May 2nd 2012. The exhibition features pieces from Neri Oxman, Artist, Architect, Designer and Assistant Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whose work has been created using Objet multi-material 3D printing – a capability unique to Objet Connex technology.

The Centre Pompidou is one of the most visited attractions in France with some 3 million visitors every year. This year's ‘Multiversités Créatives’ exhibition (May 2nd – August 6th) focuses on the future of industry and deals with new creative tools. Visitors will be drawn by 15 different projects created by a new generation of young designers exploring the intersection of technology and art.

“The sponsorship of this exhibition is momentous for our business as a broader awareness of 3D printing technology is key to the industry’s future rapid growth,” states David Reis, Objet CEO. “The 3D printing industry has the potential to invigorate how we think about product design, art and engineering. The process enables artists, designers and engineers to rapidly create whole assemblies, unique artistic geometries and functional prototypes straight from a 3D design.”

Objet is inviting the media to attend its Private VIP Media Event on Friday 4th May, which includes a guided tour of the‘Multiversités Créatives’ exhibition, accompanied by Neri Oxman. Taking place from 8.30-11.00am at the Centre Pompidou, the event starts with a VIP breakfast buffet in the Restaurant Georges on the 6th floor, with panoramic views of the Paris skyline. The Objet Media Event is by free invitation only; as number of participants is limited, to get your personal invitation early registration is required*:

For more information, visit: www.objet.com/pompidou-media-event

Published in Objet

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, Objet Ltd., the innovation leader in 3D printing for rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing, is unveiling a large-scale, 3D-printed replica of the celebrated ballpark. Designed in 3D software, using blueprints and up-to-date images, the 3' x 5' replica captures even the finest details of Fenway, from the Green Monster and Pesky Pole to the exact number of lights and famed, red Ted Williams seat in right field.

The 3D replica, which was printed on an Objet Connex500 multi-material 3D printer at the company's North American headquarters in Billerica, is about 1/200th scale, includes 40 separate printed sections and weighs about 105 pounds. The model will be on display this week and in the coming months through Boston.

On April 19, the Fenway replica will be on display at Game On!, where it will join other Fenway memorabilia on display during the Fenway 100 Magazine Launch Event hosted by the Boston Globe. There, columnist Dan Shaughnessy will moderate a panel discussion with former players, historians and fans, including Bill Lee, Ken Casey, John Powers and Dick Johnson.

On April 20, the 3D-printed replica will be on display at the Museum of Science for an hour-long demonstration of 3D printing. Objet then will donate the 3D print to the Boston Sports Museum.

"As longtime Red Sox fans, and frequent visitors to Fenway, we wanted to celebrate this historic event by sharing something that all fans could appreciate,'' said Bruce Bradshaw, Director of U.S. Marketing for Objet. "Objet's printers are used by architecture firms around the world to create incredibly detailed models in mere hours rather than weeks; so it seemed a natural fit for us to use this technology to recreate Fenway and deliver it to people throughout Boston."

You can follow the amazing 3D printed Fenway model around its 'victory tour' of Boston starting today, Thursday the 19th.

Morning, April 19th - Check out the 3D printed Fenway model on Fox 25 Morning News (at around 9.30 am)

Evening, April 19th - See the 3D printed Fenway model at the Game On! bar/restaurant opposite Fenway park (from 6pm - 9pm)

Afternoon, April 20th - the model will be on display at the Museum of Science in Boston for a 3D printing demo (at 12.30 mid-day)

For more information, visit: www.objet.com

Published in Objet

3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) announced today that Volkswagen DK has launched an exciting new advertising campaign featuring the company's full color 3D printers. The Polo Principle campaign, created by DDB Copenhagen, empowers prospective buyers to create and print miniature cars.

For the first time, Volkswagen DK is putting in the hands of its customers the very technology it uses to develop and prototype the cars it sells. 3D Systems' ZPrinter® full color portfolio is at the heart of this innovative marketing campaign to unleash VW customers' creativity and express themselves through their personalized Polo car.

"This is a terrific campaign that captures the essence of everything we stand for," said Cathy Lewis, Vice President Global Marketing for 3D Systems. "We are committed to democratizing access to disruptive 3D content-to-print solutions, enabling individuals to express their authenticity in the products they buy, a direction fully aligned with Volkswagen DK."

A panel of judges will select the 40 most creative looking prototype designs to be 3d-printed and exhibited in Copenhagen in May. After the exhibition the physical prototypes will be handed over to their respective creators. Finally, out of the 40 best designs we will select one winner who will get his/her design on a real Polo and get to use that Polo for 2 months during the Summer. If you’d like to invite a friend to make a Polo prototype

For more information, visit: www.thepoloprinciple.com/index_eng.php

Published in 3D Systems

A revolutionary technique being developed by scientists at Loughborough University could free architects from the restraints of current construction methods.

Architects are creating stunning buildings with intricate geometric forms, but many never progress beyond the designer’s screen because their complexity makes them too costly to construct.

A team, led by Dr Richard Buswell and Professor Simon Austin from the University’s School of Civil and Building Engineering, has made dramatic progress with additive manufacturing technologies, where models created on-screen can be formed into three-dimensional components at full scale.

Conventionally, concrete is poured into temporary formwork – an efficient method of moulding if the shapes are straight, simple and the variations minimised.  Introduce curves and complexity, and the expense rapidly increases.

In the Freeform Construction project, a special type of concrete is deposited very precisely under computer control, layer by layer, from a 3D computer-aided-design (CAD) model.  Using this technology, very complex sections of buildings can be created without the high cost penalties associated with traditional methods.

Speaking about the project Dr Richard Buswell said: “Using Freeform every section of a building could be unique if necessary – produced by calling up a new design on-screen and setting the process to work.  Components could be created with ready-made internal voids and ducts for services, and with shapes that made the most of their insulating properties.  Because each piece would be tailor-made, there would be virtually no waste.  The possibilities are endless; it is a very exciting project.”

This pioneering work has been made possible by funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) with significant input from industry.

The research team has now obtained technology-transfer funding from the EPSRC to commercialise the process, collaborating with Foster + Partners, Buro Happold and Hyundai Engineering & Construction.  Their expertise and advice is essential to the team’s understanding of the needs of industry, the potential of their ideas and the creation of an innovation path.

The Freeform work has generated interest worldwide and already led to exhibitions in Barcelona, New York and London.

Colin McKinnon, Innovation Director at Buro Happold, said: “Through our involvement in the project we will help the research team assess the design, manufacturing and commercial potential of this innovative technology.”

Xavier De Kestelier, Associate Partner, at architects Foster + Partners added: “This project gives us tremendous opportunities to see what construction technology will be like in the next five or 10 years.’’

Photo Credit: Agnese Sanvito

For more information, visit: www.lboro.ac.uk

To say that Iris van Herpen is a rising star in the world of fashion would be an understatement. Since starting her own label in 2007, Iris has picked up a string of awards, has been elected as guest-member by Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, has seen her clothing worn by trend-setting celebrities such as Björk and Lady Gaga, and has had her 3D printed dresses named as one of the 50 Best Inventions of 2011 by TIME Magazine. Now she is able to add a solo exhibition and a book to her list of achievements and, for most of her collections, she has taken Materialise along for the ride.

From March 25th to September 23rd, 2012, visitors to the Groninger Museum in Groningen, the Netherlands, will be treated to a solo exhibition by Iris van Herpen, which features an overview of her work from 2008 to the present. Among the pieces representing the Crystallization (2010), Escapism (2011),Capriole (2011) and Micro (2012) collections are designs brought to life through 3D Printing at Materialise.

The exhibition opened to great acclaim on the evening of March 23rd, with the event doubling as the official launch of Iris van Herpen’s first book, which is self-titled and soon to be on sale worldwide. The book provides readers with a stunning look at catwalk photos from all of Iris’s collections and includes new photo material by Bart Oomes as well as an essay by fashion journalist Jean Paul Cauvin.

Materialise staff members were on hand for the official opening and you can share their experience in this photo album on Facebook. They can highly recommend both a visit to the Groninger Museum to see the exhibition and the book, which is a must-have for those that truly appreciate fashion as the art form it can be, especially when Iris van Herpen is involved.

For more details about the exhibition visit: www.groningermuseum.nl/en/exhibition/iris-van-herpen

Published in Materialise

Furniture fittings specialist Armac Martin has announced a rise in sales orders since installing an Objet24 Desktop 3D Printer at its facility in Birmingham, UK. "Since the introduction of 3D printing we are turning more of our customers' ideas into new products and as a consequence we are winning more orders for our factory," confirms Paul McGrail, Armac Martin Managing Director.

Armac Martin designs and manufactures handles, knobs, bolts, catches, castors, door knockers, hinges and other furniture fittings, many of which are bespoke designs specified by customers. The Objet24 Desktop 3D Printer, used to test new designs and produce product samples for customer approval, is enabling Armac Martin to save costs and service customers faster according to Mr. McGrail: "Now we have the Objet24 3D Printer working in conjunction with our 3D CAD capability, our Technical Sales Managers are able to get one-off samples to customers without interrupting production on our CNC machines. This means samples are with customers up to four weeks faster than before, sometimes in just a couple of days from the initial discussion. We're also making savings in tooling which would normally be required to produce the samples in metal."

Ease and quality of finishing are also key aspects of producing the samples. "We compared a couple of different rapid prototyping technologies and found that Objet provided the fine detail and quality of finishing we require for our work. Our products are high-quality decorative items so it's very important that samples are beautifully finished," says Mr. McGrail.

Armac Martin purchased the Objet24 Desktop 3D Printer through Objet UK distributor HK Rapidprototyping. Nigel Bunt, Sales Director at HK Rapidprototyping, adds: "It was clear from the start that prototype realism was vital for Armac Martin. Objet 3D printed parts are very easy to finish to a superb standard, which Armac Martin verified in tests with competitive models."

To achieve realistic prototypes, Armac Martin spray paints the majority of parts produced on the Objet24 Desktop 3D Printer. Mr McGrail elaborates, "The majority of the time we paint the 3D printed models in a silver or gold to emulate metal fittings like door handles or knobs and we've had some parts nickel-plated. Parts are also often drilled so that they can be fitted in the same way as the final product. Our customers need to be able to visualise the final effect; the realism of samples produced with Objet 3D printing makes this possible."

Mr. McGrail concludes, "From the first approach to HK Rapidprototyping, through subsequent meetings and producing our first parts, the service has been nothing short of excellent. This, combined with the exceptional quality of samples we're producing, and ease-of-use of the Objet desktop 3D printer has made this purchase a great success for us."

For more information, visit: www.objet.com/3D-Printer/Objet_Desktop_Family/#objet24 or www.martin.co.uk





Published in Objet

Innovative technology company BumpyPhoto.com launched a new patent-pending product line to turn a standard 2D photo into a full-color 3D relief sculpture. Customers can capture special memories and freeze them in time-and-space with this one-of-a-kind personalized photo art, ordered online and delivered straight to their doorstep.

More consumers are now choosing to keep digital copies of their photos and never actually purchase prints. Classic 2D photographic printing is in fact being replaced by a growing demand for high-value photo gifts, such as mugs, shirts or stylized canvases. BumpyPhoto.com takes this mass-customization trend to the next level by offering a new medium for photography. There was a time when only the rich and famous could afford to have bas-relief or cameo sculptures carved in stone and hand-painted. Now, with the advent of state-of-the-art 3D printing technologies, this art form available to everyone.

Simply upload a standard 2D digital photo of people, pets, landscapes, paintings, cartoons or any other subject and a photorealistic color depth map is reconstructed from the photo which is the basis for the 3D printing process. The sculptures can be as small as 1" and as large as 15"- or more on request.

"You can now literally touch and feel your photographic memories. It makes your photos truly sense-sational!” says John Katon, Sales Director of BumpyPhoto.com.

For more information, visit: www.bumpyphoto.com

Published in Bumpy Photo

A builder's capacity for three-dimensional imagination is quickly overwhelmed when it comes to the assessment of drafts for larger structures. Therefore the ability of architects to present the quality of their work in the most realistic and detailed light as possible is becoming ever more important. Architectural models from 3D printers are the top choice in this regard, as shown by a project for a social centre in Ghana.

Munich architect Wieland Schmidt is already a well-known figure at voxeljet's service centre in Augsburg, as he was one of the first to identify the opportunities offered by 3D print technology for the production of small-batch models or products. "It is fascinating to see how concrete models or products can be created from CAD data in such a rapid and uncomplicated manner. The options provided by 3D printing have also proven themselves with regard to the planning of a trend-setting social centre in Ghana", says Schmidt.

This story starts with a storm in Ghana, more specifically in Sunyani. That is where the Catholic diocese operates an educational institution that comprises more than 200 kindergartens and almost 400 schools ranging from elementary school to university. The church also runs a large number of other social projects designed to help the poor. The diocese also operated a large community hall. However, the hall was damaged by a heavy tropical storm, which tore off the entire roof, hurled it through the air and destroyed it. It was a miracle that no one was hurt, but the hall could not be saved and had to be demolished.

The decision was made to build a new social centre to continue the diocese's successful work. The new complex is designed for a multi-use environment and supposed to act as a meeting place in addition to functioning as the administration for the diocese.

This trend-setting project was planned and designed by Wieland Schmidt: "We want to achieve a lot with the new building complex. We want to build it in an environmentally-friendly manner, using materials from the surrounding area, while at the same time it is designed to be as self-sufficient as possible on an energetic level. Given the tropical heat, it is important to ensure that the building does not heat up, while the energy needs of the building will be covered by solar elements."

Impressive 3D model from Augsburg

Of course everyone in Ghana was curious as to what the new building complex would look like in detail. Therefore Wieland Schmidt decided to digitalise the building data and print out the entire social centre. The voxeljet service centre used the proven method of printing on a high-performance VX800 printer. This equipment is predestined for generating models that require absolute attention to detail and a precise representation. The VX800 generated the Christ the King Social Center in plastic directly from CAD data on the basis of the so-called layer building method (dimensions 840 x 840 x 225 millimetres). Using thousands of micro-metre fine layers, the VX800 built the entire building in approximately one day.

Following the unpacking period – a process during which excess material is removed from the model – the Christ the King Social Center became reality, at least in terms of a model. "The architectural model of the social centre was printed with a richness of detail and precision that is the hallmark of voxeljet quality. Also, the excellent mechanical stability of the 3D prints ensured that the model withstood the long journey from Augsburg to Ghana without any damages," says Wieland Schmidt.

Once the model arrived in Sunyani, Bishop Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi and his staff took a closer look at the model from Augsburg: "The compelling 3D model allowed us to gain a realistic picture of the building – we are very excited. The concept put forward by architect Schmidt is very impressive and perfectly tailored to our needs. We hope to construct the building as quickly as possible," says Bishop Gyamfi.

In fact, 3D printing is perfectly suited for this form of presentation. The plastic models make it easy to assess dimensions and proportions, therefore more and more architects rely on the advantages of 3D printing for important presentations. At the same time, there is an increasing demand for purely white models, which has prompted voxeljet to offer a new binder type, effective immediately. The new material is called Polypor Type C and differs from the standard binders in that the finished plastic models feature a very white colour and are thus able to meet demanding requirements with respect to the model's look and feel. This means that 3D printing is becoming even more attractive, particularly for architectural models and design studies.

For more information, visit: www.voxeljet.com

Published in voxeljet

Objet GmbH, a subsidiary of Objet Ltd., the innovation leader in 3D printing for rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing, exhibits the latest in 3D printing technology and its real-world applications at Hannover Messe 2012.

“Objet leads the way in high-quality, professional 3D printing,” states Eric Bredin, European Marketing Director for Objet. “With a portfolio of nearly 70 materials of varying physical and mechanical properties, Objet has the most diverse range of 3D printing materials on the market; enabling our customers to produce the most exceptionally realistic prototypes.”

Visitors to Hannover Messe can see stunning examples of true-to-life prototypes on the Objet stand, including a fully-assembled car dashboard complete with display screens. 1.4 meters wide and assembled from over 20 individually printed parts, the dashboard was produced for StreetScooter, a project involving a consortium of over 80 companies, united with an aim to develop an affordable electric car with an emphasis on sustainability. Major parts of the dashboard were printed in the Objet ABS-like Digital Material, chosen for its exceptional dimensional stability and toughness. Additional Objet materials were used to simulate fine-details. The parts were then glued, polished and painted to precisely simulate the true look, feel and function of the dashboard.

Further prototype models on the Objet stand illustrate real-life applications from a diverse range of industries including automotive and defence parts, kitchen utensils, special effects for film and television, medical devices, dental veneers, footwear and more.

The entry-level Objet Desktop printer runs live on the Objet stand, alongside the unique and widely acclaimed Objet Connex500 multi-material 3D printer. Demonstrating the advantages of multi-material 3D printing, the Objet Connex500 can print models with varying properties from rigid to rubber, opaque to transparent, to engineering plastics simulation.

For more information, visit: www.objet.com or www.hannovermesse.de/home

Published in Objet

Stratasys and Optomec Inc. today announced that the companies have successfully completed a joint development project to merge 3D printing and printed electronics to create the world’s first fully printed hybrid structure.

The first project, the development of a “smart wing” for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) model with functional electronics is a revolutionary event that has the potential to change product development in industries including medical device, consumer electronics, automotive and aerospace.

“Bringing together 3D printing and printed electronic circuitry will be a game changer for design and manufacturing,” says Jeff DeGrange, VP of direct digital manufacturing at Stratasys. “It has the potential to completely streamline production by requiring fewer materials and steps to bring a product to market.”

An Optomec Aerosol Jet system was used to print a conformal sensor, antenna and circuitry directly onto the wing of a UAV model. The wing was 3D printed with the Stratasys Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) process. The electrical and sensor designs were provided by Aurora Flight Sciences, a supplier of UAVs. “

We envision many potential applications of the Stratasys-Optomec approach for hybrid direct digital manufacturing,” said David Kordonowy, who leads Aurora Flight Sciences’ Aerostructures Research Group. “The ability to fabricate functional electronics into complex-shaped structures using additive manufacturing can allow UAVs to be built more quickly, with more customization, potentially closer to the field where they’re needed. All these benefits can lead to efficient, cost-effective fielded vehicles.”

The combination of FDM 3D printing and printed electronics technologies can provide benefits over traditional prototyping, manufacturing and field repair processes. Performance and functionality of products can be improved in two ways: 3D printers enable lighter weight mechanical structures; and conformal electronics printed directly onto the structure frees up space for additional payload. In turn, the process has a positive impact on the environment by using fewer materials.

“Manufacturers can implement this hybrid technology in a multitude of applications, not just in aerospace,” says Optomec’s Ken Vartanian. “This technology can benefit numerous industries by allowing thinner, lighter, fully functional structures that cost less to manufacture.”

For more information, visit: www.Stratasys.com or www.Optomec.com

Published in Stratasys

For their latest feature film, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!, Aardman chose the envisionTEC Perfactory® Standard machine as their first choice for 3D Printing of the heads and mouths. This technology was chosen for a number of reasons. With the possibility of over 20,000 mouth replacements, planned accuracy was an essential feature of the printing method. The mouths also needed to be interchangeable, all exactly fitting the characters’ heads. With such a large number of mouths required during filming, the system needed to run 24/7 and be capable of producing hundreds of pieces every day. envisionTEC UK supplied Aardman with four Perfactory® Standard machines, all set to produce the mouths within 30 micron accuracy and running the E-shell range of materials. Aardman started work in 2009 manufacturing heads with interchangeable mouths for all the main characters and they also used the technology for making prototypes for maquettes. The film was produced on time and within budget with the help of this latest technology.

In The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists 3D, Hugh Grant stars in his first animated role as the luxuriantly bearded Pirate Captain – a boundlessly enthusiastic, if somewhat less-than-successful, terror of the High Seas. With a rag-tag crew at his side (Martin Freeman, Brendan Gleeson, Russell Tovey, and Ashley Jensen), and seemingly blind to the impossible odds stacked against him, the Captain has one dream: to beat his bitter rivals Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek) to the much coveted Pirate Of The Year Award. It’s a quest that takes our heroes from the shores of exotic Blood Island to the foggy streets of Victorian London. Along the way they battle a diabolical queen (Imelda Staunton) and team up with a haplessly smitten young scientist (David Tennant), but never lose sight of what a pirate loves best: adventure!

For more information, visit: www.envisiontec.com or www.thepirates-movie.co.uk

Published in EnvisionTEC

In response to businesses and manufacturers looking to accelerate product development and speed new products to market, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) RAPID 2012 Exposition will feature the latest innovations in 3D imaging, 3D printing and additive manufacturing technologies. The annual event takes place May 22-25 in Atlanta and will attract exhibitors and attendees from around the world, including Ireland-based Mcor Technologies who recently 3D printed a Shamrock to create awareness and celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

New to the RAPID 2012 Exposition is Ireland-based Mcor Technologies Ltd. The company will debut its Matrix 300, the world's only 3D printer that uses reams of recycled 8 ½ x 11" paper and water-based adhesive to make 3D objects. 3D printing, often referred to as additive manufacturing, is a process used to create rapid prototypes and functional end-use parts. Analysts believe 3D printer manufacturers, such as Mcor, play an important role in creating awareness of an industry that's expected to reach $3.1 billion by 2016 and $5.2 billion by 2020.

"Every year SME works diligently to unveil something ground-breaking and new to conference attendees, and this year we've assembled a diverse, international representation of the world's most innovative technologies," said SME business development manager, Gary Mikola. "We're thrilled that Mcor Technologies has chosen RAPID 2012 as the first venue to introduce their 3D printer to the United States."

For nearly two decades, additive manufacturing has been used by several industries including aerospace and defense, medical devices, motor vehicles and consumer products. The annual RAPID Exposition has been instrumental in promoting the applications and uses of additive technologies in early stage product design and in production. The launch of more affordable 3D printers is helping to create widespread adoption.

"We are very excited to present the Matrix 300, at RAPID 2012," said Mcor Technologies co-founder and CEO Dr. Conor MacCormack. "The Matrix makes low-cost, green, good quality 3D printing accessible to everyone, and we believe that we have the prototyping technology that will soon be as ubiquitous as printing in 2D." The company intends to reach a broader market by making the equipment as easy-to-use as a 2D printer and affordable for cost-conscious companies and universities. Editors: See photo of 3D printed shamrock on page two of this release.

The RAPID show floor will offer access to wide-ranging applications of additive manufacturing and 3D imaging technologies in several traditional industries while highlighting new applications in architecture, arts and entertainment. A reoccurring theme throughout the event will demonstrate how companies can use rapid technologies to reduce design and development time, cut production timeframes and lower costs. In 2011, the RAPID event attracted 200 international attendees from 27 different countries. Access to the expo is included with the cost of the conference; however, it's open to walk-ins for $49 each day.

For more information, visit: www.sme.org/rapid or www.mcortechnologies.com

Published in SME

Daniel Hilldrup, Artist in Residence at the London Metropolitan University, has unveiled new Objet 3D printed artwork in a series titled 'Fragments in Time'. Objet Ltd., the innovation leader in 3D printing for rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing, printed the two striking pieces, which Hilldrup describes as contemporary fossils.

Flux and Aquiform in Rest were produced on an Objet Connex 3D Printer, with the unique capability of printing multiple materials and properties in a single print run, allowing Hilldrup to simulate movement and fluidity in his first piece ‘Flux’.

“Necessity being the mother of invention, I’m often influenced and motivated by technology, so I keep an ear to the ground for new technologies,” states Hilldrup. “I first heard about Objet multi-material 3D printing and thought ‘wow – this is a game changer’. It was the Objet Connex technology that inspired these pieces. For example, without the multi-material aspect it would not have been possible to print the Flux candelabra, and if I was to produce it via traditional methods – casting it in a block of glass – it would be a very difficult thing to achieve, and there would be a loss of control over the final piece.”

Flux: Described by Hilldrup as “a statement on the transference of energy and its transition and total transformation from one physical state and form into another”, Flux depicts black candle wax melting into the liquid base of a candelabra, captured, like a fossil, at a specific moment in time.

The ‘fluid wax’ was printed in Objet black rubber-like material (Objet TangoBlackPlus), which appears to be melting into liquid, but is in fact encased in a solid base of Objet clear transparent, rigid material (Objet VeroClear). The removable candle holders were printed separately in Objet rigid opaque black material (Objet VeroBlack). Hilldrup finished the pieces by hand to a very high standard, polishing the surfaces to achieve a superior level of clarity.

Aquiform in Rest: A free standing sink basin possessing a sculptural form. As its name suggests, it captures the motion of agitated water within a constrained volume. Printed in Objet clear transparent material, it has been finished with a two-pack polyurethane paint.

Hilldrup’s work aims to create design that is beautiful, fit for purpose, and that provides benefits, or otherwise enriches the life of the user, he comments, “My interest is the creation of functional sculpture and innovative object forms where there is an emphasis on the aesthetic and narrative of a piece, but not at the expense of usability. I wish to explore the boundaries between art and design by embracing digital tools, manufacturing technologies and through associated process pipelines and craft.

“In this sense I’m really pleased with both pieces. The Objet multi-material Connex capability allows you to approach the work from a different angle, potentially working on concepts you couldn’t otherwise achieve. I’m very happy with how the pieces have translated; sometimes you do something in the virtual domain and then it doesn’t quite come up to scratch when you do the physical piece. In this case I’m really pleased with the pieces across the board, the way the materials and finish have translated the concept. I’d certainly call them a success.”

Daniel Hilldrup Researcher, Lecturer and Artist in Residence at the London Metropolitan University, practices digital-craft and embraces digital fabrication technologies to realize pieces that span the art and design domains, to create functional sculpture and objects of 'beautility'. Hilldrup’s aim is to create innovative object forms where there is an emphasis on the aesthetics and narrative of a piece, but not at the expense of usability.

For more information, visit: www.danielhilldrup.com or www.objet.com




Published in Objet

Shapeways, the leading 3D printing community and marketplace, today launches The Vibe, an iPhone Case fully customizable with audio from SoundCloud, the leading social sound platform. The Vibe is the first customizable iPhone case that uses SoundCloud audio and Shapeways 3D printing to make "sound you can touch."

Using Shapeways' easy to use web app, you select your favorite sound from SoundCloud and the waveform will integrate into the very structure of the iPhone case. The result is a beautiful, unique protective case, available in top-quality white or black 3D printed plastic.

The Vibe is the latest Creator built by Shapeways to put meaningful, personalized products into everyone's hands. Users can 3D print any sound on their case, from their favorite song to their child's first words to the sounds of NYC rush hour traffic. The web app, which integrates with the SoundCloud API, is the first on the market that makes turning sound files into physical objects incredibly easy.

CEO Peter Weijmarshausen explained, "We are really excited to let anyone design their own personalized iPhone case with their favorite sound. The Vibe is literally sound you can touch! This is yet another example of how Shapeways is enabling personalized production using 3D printing."

The Vibe iPhone Case launches today at a promotional price of $19.95 through March 18th.

For more information, visit: www.shapeways.com/creator/thevibe

Published in Shapeways

RedEye On Demand, a digital manufacturing service and business unit of Stratasys, Inc. (NASDAQ: SSYS), has collaborated on a project with the Smithsonian to create one of the largest 3D-printed, museum-quality historical replicas in the world.

The life-size statue of Thomas Jefferson is a central piece of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) exhibition, “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty,” which runs through October 14, 2012.

“The details RedEye On Demand incorporated into the Jefferson statue and the quality of the model exceeded our expectations,” says Dorey Butter, Project Manager, NMAAHC. “3D printing supports the Smithsonian’s mission to increase and diffuse knowledge. Touchable models and scientific replicas can help further our efforts to educate our visitors, and the technology and services at RedEye On Demand have opened our eyes to different possibilities.”

To develop the statue, the Smithsonian's Digitization Program Office took 3D laser scans of an already existing statue created by StudioEIS and residing at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home near Charlottesville, Va. That data was sent to RedEye On Demand as a digital model, and the statue was produced in four parts using Stratasys’ patented Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology.

The statue was created entirely from production-grade thermoplastics for strength and durability. RedEye On Demand employed a sparse-fill technique for the interior of the statue, much like a honeycomb, to reduce the figure’s weight and lower cost while still preserving quality and retaining strength.

Total build time was nearly 400 hours, or about two and a half weeks, compared to a several month production time for a traditional bronze statue of this size. Once assembled, the figure was “bronzed” through a creative application of primer, paint and wax to give the statue a realistic patina.

“The statue points to the range of possibilities with 3D printing and production,” says Richard Garrity, VP of RedEye on Demand. “We are expanding the reach of our services beyond traditional design firms and product development, and our work with the Smithsonian demonstrates our ability to offer customized parts and products for unique, one-off applications in an affordable way. As demand for this kind of rapid customization continues to increase, so do the capabilities and quality of our work, and this project is just one example of what we can do,” he adds. Once the Smithsonian exhibition ends, the statue may be used for educational purposes at Monticello.

A case study of the project is available at: www.redeyeondemand.com/CS_TJefferson.aspx

Published in Stratasys

Researchers at Drexel University are bringing the latest technological advancements in 3-D printing to the study of ancient life. Using scale models of real fossils, for the first time, they will be able to test hypotheses about how dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals moved and lived in their environments.

“Technology in paleontology hasn't changed in about 150 years,” said Drexel paleontologist Dr. Kenneth Lacovara, an associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. “We use shovels and pickaxes and burlap and plaster. It hasn't changed -- until right now.”

3-D Printing Technology in Paleontology

Lacovara has begun creating 3-D scans of giant dinosaur bones and other fossils in his lab. The 3-D scan puts a virtual image in a digital workspace that researchers can manipulate and analyze. To bring these scans to life, Lacovara is also teaming up with mechanical engineer Dr. James Tangorra, an assistant professor in Drexel’s College of Engineering, to use 3-D printing technology to create and test scale models of fossil bones.

A 3-D printer is a technology for rapid prototyping and manufacturing objects based on a digital design. Common models work by repeatedly extruding extremely thin layers of a resin or other material, building up strata to create a physical object.

“It’s kind of like Star Trek technology, where you can press a button and the object pops out,” Lacovara said. A six-inch model of a dinosaur bone can be printed in a few hours using current technology.

Using 3-D printing can aid paleontology in several ways:

  • To create exact-size replicas for museum display, without the limitation on the number of copies made and materials and storage hassles of traditional casting methods.
  • To create small-scale models for educational use.
  • To create small-scale models for modeling and testing hypotheses about the mechanics of how long-extinct animals moved and behaved.

This biologically-derived modeling to test possible movements of extinct species is the major focus of Lacovara and Tangorra’s collaboration.

Robotic Models to Test Mechanics of Dinosaur Movement

“We don’t know a lot about the way dinosaurs move,” Lacovara said. “How did they stand? How did they ambulate? Did they run or trot? How did they reproduce? It’s all a bit mysterious,” especially when it comes to the largest dinosaurs. Paleontologists’ current methods of understanding such mechanics rely heavily on guesswork and common sense about what types of movements seem possible. With new technology, researchers can begin testing their predictions for the first time.

Lacovara has been part of scientific teams unearthing some of the largest known giant sauropod dinosaur specimens, including the new species Paralititan stromeri found in Egypt in 2000, which is the second-most-massive known dinosaur species and a new giant from Patagonia. Such giant sauropod dinosaurs could reach weights of 60 to 80 tons, which is 12 to 14 times heavier than a large modern elephant.

When working with enormous dinosaur fossils, Lacovara said, it’s simply physically impossible to manipulate the bones to test theories about mechanics and movement. That’s why scaled-down replicas that preserve the exact shape and proportion of the bones can help. Researchers can also digitally reshape the models to correct for changes that may have occurred over millions of years of fossilization and compression.

Lacovara and Tangorra will work together to create robotic models of giant sauropod dinosaurs, attaching artificial muscles and tendons to perform comprehensive tests of how the animal’s body could have handled physical stresses of the environment.

This work is similar to Tangorra’s ongoing work modeling and manufacturing robotic fish. “We extract features from biological species and create software-based or robotic testing systems. It’s easier to test a biorobotic system than a biological system,” Tangorra said. This work relies on studies of the fish’s movements, biomechanics and fluid mechanics to ensure that the robot reflects the biological system. Tangorra noted that because the dinosaur species they are modeling are extinct, any robotic reconstructions will be more speculative.

Lacovara predicts that they will have a working robotic dinosaur limb constructed by the end of 2012. A complete robotic dinosaur replica will take one to two years to create.

“A Virtual Zoo of Cretaceous New Jersey”

In addition to constructing models of giant dinosaurs, the researchers will make 3-D models of some fossils found closer to home. A fossil dig site in Gloucester County, N.J., has yielded a large number of marine animal fossils from the Cretaceous period, 65 million years ago. Lacovara and his students and collaborators from other institutions continue to excavate the site. Now they will begin producing 3-D models of the turtles, crocodilians, fish and other animals found at that site, for what Lacovara called “a virtual zoo of Cretaceous New Jersey.” A sample of their first reconstruction, of an ancient New Jersey crocodile, can be seen here: www.drexel.edu/now/features/archive/2011/November/Evan-Boucher-Dream-Job

See A Giant Dinosaur Bone and its 3-D Model in Philadelphia

A cast of the giant, 5.5-foot-long humerus bone of the Paralititan dinosaur is on display alongside a 1/10 scale 3-D printed model at the Franklin Institute as part of the Giant Mysterious Dinosaurs exhibit. The Franklin and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University are offering a “Giant Dinosaur Deal” combination ticket, available at the box offices of both museums through March 18, 2012.

Published in Drexel University

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) is seeking entries to the inaugural 3D Printing Fashion Show to be held during the RAPID 2012 Conference and Exposition, May 22-25 in Atlanta.

The 3D Printing Fashion Show will recognize designers who create articles of clothing, shoes, accessories and jewelry with computer-aided design (CAD) software and 3D printers. Growing in popularity, additive technologies have been used for two decades by engineers in many industries to prototype parts for automotive, aerospace, medical devices and consumer products. Recently, 3D printing has been used to manufacture anything from automobile components to medical implants to fashion sunglasses.

“Attendees will be impressed by the innovative way fashion and manufacturing will come together as models donned in 3D printed items walk the runway,” said SME business development manager Gary Mikola. “We’re pleased to offer aspiring designers a chance to gain recognition in their field while experiencing this unique opportunity to participate in the 3D printing industry.”

The deadline to submit entries for the 3D Printing Fashion Show is February 28. Designs must be created in CAD and cannot exceed 9” x 9” x 9” in size. Entries must be submitted as a JPG image and emailed to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it by 11:59pm EST. Designers will be notified of selection by March 5 and requested to submit a stereolithography STL file, a file format used for rapid prototyping and computer-aided manufacturing.

“We are very excited to produce a fashion show with SME and look forward to amazing the crowd with the 3D printed fashions at RAPID 2012,” said Jamie Milas marketing manager at Materialise.

Materialise is partnering with SME to produce the 3D Printing Fashion Show. The first place design entry will be 3D printed and presented to the designer.

For more information, please visit: www.sme.org/rapid

Published in SME

Objet Ltd., the innovation leader in 3D printing for rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing, has been invited to feature at LEGO® World 2012, 16th - 19th February, Bella Center, Copenhagen. The event will highlight the combination of LEGO design and innovative technologies such as 3D printing, with Objet showcasing the exceptional abilities of Objet Desktop 3D Printers to create true-to-life LEGO prototypes.

Objet will demonstrate how 3D technology is used in the design stage of LEGO products to create prototypes of LEGO elements, exhibiting printed samples including LEGO Minifigures and LEGO bricks. Presenting the development process; from the original design computer CAD file, through the 3D printing process and to-scale examples of the final result.

Kenneth Wested Laursen, Head of the LEGO Prototyping Department, comments on the process, "The LEGO brick is born digital on a computer as a CAD drawing and is converted into a physical brick during the manufacturing processes. The Objet 3D printer is a critical component in the LEGO development phase. It helps us in getting physical elements for checking the design, build-ability and functionality at a very early point in production."

Objet 3D printing technology is used to communicate a product's visual and functional properties to customers, decision makers and manufacturers early on in the product development stage, enabling significant savings in time, costs and detection of necessary improvements.

LEGO World, held every year in Copenhagen, gives children and adults the opportunity to learn, create and play with LEGO bricks. This year, a special stand highlights the digital technologies that are used to develop the end product, providing the chance to experience all the processes which contribute to the diverse LEGO experience.

Objet's affordable, high-quality 3D printers use patented inkjet-based technology to jet ultra-thin layers of photopolymer materials onto the build tray where each layer is cured with UV light. The process delivers models which can be handled immediately, with exceptional accuracy and allowing any geometry, including thin walls, overhangs and even moveable parts. Desktop printers such as the Objet24 means no more dependency on outsourced providers, rapidly printing what is needed in-house, multiple times, with ultra-precision details for many global companies.

Objet will be exhibiting in the Intel area (020) at LEGO World 2012 16th - 19th February with two Objet24 Desktop 3D Printers and informative videos alongside a large display of prototypes.

For more information, visit: www.objet.com or www.legoworld.dk

Published in Objet

When a beloved museum in upstate New York needed a new master plan for its sprawling campus, it turned to a potent resource to spark the brainstorm: students at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) School of Architecture.

They delivered in a big way, producing "Building Futures: Re-Envisioning The Hyde at Rensselaer," an exhibit at the Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, N.Y. Running February 11, 2012 - April 16, 2012, the exhibit comprises 14 visionary proposals for conceptually unifying the seven-acre campus, its three historic homes, a 1989-vintage addition and future expansion. 3D Systems Corporation proudly sponsored RPI in 3D printing the architectural models for this cutting edge exhibit.

"Our students came up with some wonderfully bold proposals," observed Andrew Saunders, assistant professor of architecture at RPI, who led the project. "They expressed some inventive ways of reconsidering the problem and the potential of the site. Polemically charged, the proposals take the master planning discourse to new, unexpected places, putting different levels of emphasis on the physical, regional, environmental, institutional, historical, economic and cultural contexts. If we help the museum's leadership explore new areas as they ponder its future, we have succeeded."

3D printing is a new and affordable way of creating architectural models faster and more accurately than traditional, labor-intensive handcrafting. RPI's ZPrinter(R) from 3D Systems creates physical models from 3D computer-aided design data much as a document printer creates a business letter from a word-processing file.

RPI has used 3D Systems 3D printers since 1998, and its current full-spectrum color ZPrinter operates "non-stop" during a typical semester, says Saunders. He sees its speed, quality and affordability as a major advantage for students needing to create models, especially 11th-hour end-of-semester projects. As at many campuses, RPI students in other disciplines, such as mechanical engineering and fine art, have caught wind of the ZPrinter's capabilities and are using it in their projects.

"The Hyde exhibit, in addition to revealing possibilities for a new museum campus, is exposing a large community of museum patrons to what the Rensselaer School of Architecture can do with the newest technologies," said Saunders. "A lot of people are fascinated with what we've created and how we've created it. It's just one illustration of the progressive mindset of the school, museum, faculty and students."

For more information, visit: www.hydecollection.org/events_and_programs/Building_Futures_Re-Envisioning_The_Hyde_at_Rensselaer_158.htm

Published in 3D Systems

This article covers my concept and design process for creating a sound-hole guard for my acoustic guitar. The idea was to protect my guitar from damage and wear after long and repeated use of a pick while strumming.

Some time ago I decided to replace the pick guard on my vintage Guild acoustic guitar. I play it all the time, and it holds a lot of sentimental value for me. It was my very first guitar. I purchased it new back in 1982 in Northern California. After nearly 30 years of use, some minor maintenance and repairs were in order, including replacing the original pick guard. I removed the old pick guard, cut out a new pattern matching the old guard (using new acrylic plastic) and applied the new one on to my guitar. That’s when I decided something needed to be done in order to prevent any further damage to the lower portion of the sound-hole. I noticed over many years using a pick while that this area had eroded away considerably. Bare wood from the soundboard was now exposed and continuing to grow in length downward from the sound-hole edges. Depending on the guitar manufacturer, there is usually a gap between the edge of the sound-hole and the beginning of the pick guard, which runs concentric to the sound hole. Regardless, the edge of the sound-hole and soundboard on acoustic guitars are exposed and unprotected from damage, something where even moderate use can have long-term affects.

My initial concept was to develop a flat pattern that could be laid onto the soundboard with an overlapping piece that bent around to the back of the sound-hole. The development piece would have to have a pressure sensitive adhesive in order to adhere in place. I used a .020 thick piece of Mylar for the original pattern, but soon afterward came up with another concept that would act as a more permanent and stronger solution. That fix turned out amazingly well and is still on my guitar.

I designed a flat pattern out of .125 thick piece of polycarbonate, heat formed it around a fixture that duplicated the sound-hole/soundboard dimensions. This design acts as a clip that fits over the lower half of the sound-hole. I attached the prototype piece onto my guitar with some silicon rubber adhesive in order for it to stay in place. Although this prototype proved to prevent any further damage to the area, I felt I needed to refine the design by reducing the wall thickness (the prototype appeared to be too bulky) and to simplify the fit by eliminating the use of an adhesive.

Then I picked up a seat of SolidWorks so I could properly build and design 3D solid models. This was something I had been putting off and had wanted to do for quite a while. My guitar project prompted me to take some action. After familiarizing myself with the software, I decided to tackle the sound-hole guard project. My first design incorporated negative draft on the two walls to act as a clip to squeeze onto the soundboard. I also designed three concentric ridge features on the inner wall to act as teeth to bite onto the soundboard, preventing movement and eliminating the need for the adhesive.

After converting to my first .stl file, I was ready to shop for a prototype service that would build the part. I was a little disappointed in discovering the pricing structures I was looking at, as my part did not seem very intricate or big. Searching further, I found ZoomRP who’s pricing seemed reasonable. Plus they offered very fast turn-around times, and their on-line quoting system was convenient and almost immediate, within seconds after submitting the .stl file. I decided to go with the Poly Jet HD Blue process, which advertised the highest resolution, highest accuracy, and was specific to smaller prototypes.

When I received my first part, I was completely impressed by the accuracy and quality of the surface finish and to the details of the very small teeth on the inner wall. My part would allow me to test for fit and function on my guitar. The only problem I experienced was an interference issue, which I overlooked in the design process. The inside edge of the outer wall of the part was catching on the edge of the pick guard. This prevented it to seat properly. The dimension of the outer wall of the part was too close to the location of the edge of the pick guard. So I went back to solving this issue on SolidWorks.

I also felt it necessary to play around with wall thickness and draft. Thickness of .100 still seemed too thick and the fit also seemed too tight on the guitar. I did extend the front wall to fit over the pick guard and added a small radius extending the entire inner edge.

A couple of designs later I was finally able to fine tune all design concerns including the right amount of draft, wall thickness, overall length, and front wall length, (final part: pic-4, front view and back view). I now feel very comfortable that this piece will fit and offer protection on all acoustic guitars that have round sound-holes.

I now have a provisional patent, and plan to go forward with obtaining a final patent. I am sure my sound-hole guard product will catch on and appeal to all levels of musicians who can appreciate the need to protect their investment, whether sentimental or financial.

For information, visit: www.Strumhard.com or www.ZoomRP.com

Published in ZoomRP

Objet Ltd., the innovation leader in 3D printing for rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing today announced that Oratio B.V. a leading dental industry company in the Netherlands, has developed a complete in-house digital workflow for fabrication of models for dental implants with the help of an Objet 3D Printer. The addition of 3D printing into Oratio’s workflow has turned Oratio into a fully digital dental provider, allowing it to significantly expand its implantology practice while offering higher accuracy and faster turnaround times.

Oratio identified the use of digital solutions for implantology as a potential growth opportunity. However, the company did not want to increase staff or costs, nor compromise its high standards. According to Siebe van der Zel, Chief Operating Officer of Oratio: “Digital dentistry could enable a new level of implant models and allow us full control of the complete process – from the dentist’s initial order, to designing the restoration, through final manufacturing."

Leveraging its strong experience in producing dental parts from CAD design imagery, Oratio chose to integrate the Objet Eden260V 3D Printer into its workflow. Since Installing the Objet 3D Printer Oratio has digitized the entire design and manufacturing process for dental implants. This has significantly improved the productivity of dental technicians by allowing them to focus on higher-level tasks. Implant models printed by the Objet 3D Printer are delivered with exceptionally fine details and an outstanding surface finish – to the full satisfaction of Oratio’s dentist customers. Dentist clients are also benefitting from improved turnaround times, enabled by the in-house rapid manufacturing process.

Avi Cohen, Head of Medical Solutions at Objet, commented: “Practices that specialize in dental implantology inherently require support systems that are flexible and versatile. For this reason Objet’s 3D printing systems represent the perfect fit. They enable labs such as Oratio to continue delivering specialist products to market while, at the same time, even broadening their range of services with new, value-added offerings.”

Summing up the benefits, van der Zel said: “Business growth followed immediately after we installed the Objet 3D Printer. We increased our productivity and as a result we can provide new and better solutions for implantology.”

The Objet Eden260V 3D Printer was recently recognized as a 2011 “Readers’ Choice” by subscribers to Dental Lab Products magazine. It was the only Rapid Prototyping platform honored in the magazine’s annual “Best of the Best Products” list.

For more information, visit: www.ObjetDental.com

Published in Objet

Objet Ltd., announced that it will showcase a full-size, 3D printed car dashboard from StreetScooter at this year’s SolidWorks World in San Diego from February 12-15. Shown for the first time in the United States, the five-foot wide fully-assembled dashboard prototype was created with multi-material printing, including Objet’s ABS-like Digital Material, and features a display screen and other fine details that simulate a dashboard’s look, feel and function.

Objet worked closely on the project with StreetScooter, a consortium of more than 80 companies united with an aim to develop an affordable electric car with an emphasis on sustainability. Working closely with the group, Objet has produced highly realistic prototypes for the development of the style and function of the car, including a 1.4 meter wide dashboard made from over 20 individually printed parts. Major parts of the dashboard were printed in the Objet ABS-like Digital Material, chosen for its exceptional dimensional stability and toughness. Additional Objet materials were used to simulate fine-details. The parts were then glued, polished and painted to precisely simulate the true look, feel and function of the dashboard.

SolidWorks attendees can see the fully-assembled dashboard and additional 3D printed products at the Objet booth. In addition, Objet will be running the compact Objet260 Connex multi-material 3D Printer to showcase the advantages of multi-material printing for fit, form and functional testing. Objet offers close to 70 materials, the most versatile solution for true product realism. Also featuring at the show will be a diverse range of exceptionally realistic prototypes, all real applications from Objet customers including automotive and defence parts, kitchen utensils, film special effects, medical devices, dental veneers, footwear and more.

SolidWorks World
San Diego Convention Center, 111 West Harbor Drive
San, Diego, California 92101
Booth #500
February 12-15, 2012

For more information, visit: www.solidworks.com/sww

Published in Objet

The A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park and Stratasys, Inc., announce the successful design, fabrication, and test of a Webbed Tube Heat Exchanger (WTHX), believed to be the first plastic heat exchanger made by additive manufacturing. Fabricated at the Stratasys facility in Eden Prairie, Minn., the 3D-printed WTHX promises to expand the potential applications of polymer heat exchangers to small production volumes and cost-constrained systems.

The WTHX represents the first time that a plastic heat exchanger has been manufactured through Stratasys' Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM®) technology and used to successfully transfer heat through a polymer structure from a hot gas to a cold liquid. Room air, heated to 120 degrees Celsius was cooled by building water at 27 degrees Celsius, transferring nearly 65W of heat in the 500 cubic centimeter heat exchanger.

Juan Cevallos, a Ph.D. candidate and research assistant in the Thermal Management of Photonic and Electronic Systems (TherPES) Laboratory at the Clark School's Department of Mechanical Engineering, was responsible for testing the WTHX. Under the direction of Professor Avram Bar-Cohen-along with Professors S. K. Gupta, David Bigio, and Hugh Bruck-Cevallos has been working in collaboration with the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi to advance polymer heat exchanger technology for seawater cooling of liquified natural gas processes, among other applications. The relatively high tool and assembly costs of low-volume polymer molding production led Bar-Cohen's research team to select an additive manufacturing technology that could build complex geometries in a single step. Stratasys' FDM technology provides that capability while using some of the strongest and most heat-resistant thermoplastics found among additive manufacturing technologies.

The WTHX geometry consists of a stack of rectangular flat plates, each containing an array of tubes that span the length of the plate and are separated by short webs. The tubular array carries the water, while the air flows in the gaps between the rectangular webbed-tube plates. The diameter of the tubes is selected to reduce the power required to pump the liquid while creating a "bumpy" surface on the gas-side that enhances heat transfer between the gas and liquid streams. Moreover, most of the heat transfer occurs directly across the thickness of the WTHX tubes, minimizing the deleterious effect of the low thermal conductivity of the polycarbonate resin.

The Clark School of Engineering, situated on the rolling, 1,500-acre University of Maryland campus in College Park, Md., is one of the premier engineering schools in the U.S., with graduate and undergraduate education programs ranked in or near the Top 20. In 2011, the Clark School was ranked 11th in the world by the Institute of Higher Education and Center for World-Class Universities in its Academic Ranking of World Universities. Three faculty members affiliated with the Clark School were inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2010.

The school, which offers 13 graduate programs and 12 undergraduate programs, including degree and certification programs tailored for working professionals, is home to one of the most vibrant research programs in the country. The Clark School garnered research awards of $171 million last year. With emphasis in key areas such as energy, nanotechnology and materials, bioengineering, robotics, communications and networking, life cycle and reliability engineering, project management, intelligent transportation systems and aerospace, the Clark School is leading the way toward the next generations of engineering advances.

For more information, visit: www.eng.umd.edu

Published in University of Maryland

A remarkable team of plastic surgeons, led by Prof. Blondeel at the University Hospital of Ghent, have successfully executed Belgium’s first full face transplant. Although it was the world’s nineteenth face transplant, this was the first time that the complex procedure was fully planned using digital planning and 3D printing. During the 20 hour long procedure the patient, who suffered from a large facial defect, received bone, muscles, veins, nerves, and of course skin from a donor who had just died.

Pre-operative planning for both the donor and the recipient was completed in collaboration with Materialise CMF (cranio-maxillo facial) clinical engineers using ProPlan CMF. Using CT data, a digital representation of the patient’s anatomy was created and used in the formation of a detailed plan for this complex procedure. In order to put the surgical plan into action, anatomical models and patient specific surgical guides were 3D printed for use before and during the operation. The anatomical models allowed the surgeons to see below the skin of both the patient and the donor and carry out advanced preparation. The 3D printed guides were used during the procedure itself to aid the surgeons and allow them to realize the surgical plan they had created.

The entire CMF team at Materialise is proud of the contribution they have made to this incredible milestone in Belgian medical history.

Materialise would like to congratulate the team of 65 surgeons and medical staff at the University Hospital of Ghent for successfully completing this remarkable procedure. This is an incredible achievement, even more so given that the patient is already making a recovery that surpasses expectations; regaining the ability to speak only 6 days into recovery.

For those that understand Dutch, a video interview is available outlining the procedure at: www.deredactie.be/permalink/1.1191529

Published in Materialise

In the first four years after Industrial Plastic Fabrications (IPF) bought its first Objet 3D printer, IPF’s rapid prototyping business sky-rocketed from 0 customers to 360. Now, another four years on, the UK-based service bureau continues to rely on Objet 3D printers, and its rapid prototyping business has continued to grow at a very healthy pace.

Today, IPF offers a broad range of machining and fabricating services using varied technologies, but all its rapid prototyping work is produced by its two Objet 3D printers – an Objet Connex500 multi-material 3D Printer for printing parts and assemblies made of multiple different materials on the same print job and for simultaneously printing of multiple different, multi-material parts; and an Objet Eden350V Professional 3D Printer.

“With Objet, we can turn models around quickly, efficiently and with consistency,” says Gary Miller, Head of 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping at IPF. “And our clients like it that they can get a very clear idea of their final product, due to the high accuracy and the model quality and the combination of different materials in a single model.”

According to Miller, the results are nothing short of amazing. When Miller showed a customer a bicycle chain with interlocking, moveable pieces that had been printed in a single run on the Objet Connex multi-material 3D printer, the customer immediately asked how long it took to assemble. Miller told him: “There’s no assembly. It’s printed in one go; you clean it and then you can move it.”

Being able to simultaneously print numerous multi-material parts made of different material properties is highly valuable to IPF. Miller says: “We can print parts that are 40 Shore, 50 Shore, 95 Shore, rigid and flexible parts – all in one go. Four or five customers can want models with different materials and we can print them on the bed at the same time, thanks to Objet’s unique multi-material Connex technology.”

Much of the 3D printing work at IPF takes place overnight or over the weekend, completely unattended. Before leaving the office in the evening, the operator simply sets the Objet 3D printers to start printing; the next morning, he comes into work, cleans the finished parts, and the parts are ready to be shipped out to customers by the end of day. And it happens day after day, week after week.

“We can’t afford for our printers to be down at all,” says Miller. “Objet 3D printers are very reliable machines and the only reason we’ve reinvested in Objet is because the service and support when it’s been needed has been phenomenal.”

Industrial Plastic Fabrications Ltd., located in Essex, UK, offers high-quality machined, formed and fabricated plastic components, plus rapid prototyped parts and 3D printing to the very best standard in the industry. Established in 1969, IPF has over 40 years worth of experience to draw from and its expertise is renowned within the industry. The company’s precision machined, fabricated or formed components provide crucial parts for equipment used within the pharmaceutical, medical, aerospace, automobile, security, audio and broadcasting industries.

For more information, visit: ipfl.co.uk or www.objet.com

Published in Objet

Scientists at GE Global Research are back in the holiday spirit. As an encore to the redesign of Santa’s sleigh and construction of a state-of-the-art “Toy Lab” for Santa and the elves, researchers are bringing high-tech manufacturing to Christmas tree decorations to ring in the holiday season using additive manufacturing techniques.

Additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, is the practice of building up material to directly form a net-shape product rather than forming a product by traditional methods such as forging, casting or machining material away. For GE, it is providing new degrees of product design freedom and the opportunity to reduce the time, cost and use of materials that go into making our products.

The 3-D printing process is highlighted in the video shown below. Juan Pablo Cilia, a Rapid Prototyping Specialist at GE Global Research, takes you through the entire process step-by-step from his initial design drawings on the whiteboard to a computer-aided design (CAD) that is the blueprint used to print the ornament itself. In addition, you will see the actual printing of the ornament in action.

“3-D printing techniques are creating beautiful ornaments that would not be possible using traditional manufacturing methods. It’s beginning to look a lot like a ‘3-D’ Christmas,” said Prabhjot Singh, Manager of GE’s Additive Manufacturing Lab. “

“The 3-D Christmas ornaments represent a creative way to showcase the possibilities in additive manufacturing to achieve revolutionary new product designs. At GE, Juan Pablo and members of my team see tremendous opportunities to use these processes to transform and improve the products we make from commercial aircraft engines to medical imaging systems.”

GE already is producing intricately designed parts and components for aircraft engines using additive technologies and has an innovative program in healthcare to simplify and reduce the cost of how ultrasound probes are made. Members of the Additive Manufacturing Lab are exploring new frontiers to expand the application of 3-D printing techniques across GE’s business portfolio.

Singh said, “As 2012 rapidly approaches, members of GE’s Additive Manufacturing Lab are looking forward to a very active year ahead. We will be hosting a technology summit on Additive Manufacturing, bringing in key stakeholders and thought leaders from industry, academia and government to discuss the future of this emerging manufacturing trend. We have only just begun to tap into its vast potential.”

For more information, visit: www.ge.com/research

Published in GE

Capturing the beauty of Vienna’s imperial nostalgia in an impressive 3D scale model has proven to be a stunning project for Materialise, no matter which way you look at it.

Urban planners have turned to 3D printing to help them in the rejuvenation process of some districts of the city. A scale model of one such renewal project, the Morzinplatz-Schwedenplatz, was on display in Vienna’s Museum Karlsplatz in an exhibition called ‘Space for the city’. Its purpose was not simply to show how beautiful this inner-city development along the Danube Canal could be. It also highlights potential development ideas and encourages a conversation with the public about the new Raiffeisen building proposed in the area.

With such a lofty purpose in mind, it was important for planners to give people the most realistic and accurate representation of the project as possible. That’s why the City of Vienna (Magistrat der Stadt Wien) approached Materialise.

Couldn’t be created in any other way

Based on design files collected from photos taken from a plane, a matrix was used to prepare the data. Cut into 21 pieces, the 1,220 mm X 900 mm replica was then printed on a Z Corporation printer, the only 3D printer able to print in colour.

“It was certainly a challenge to prepare the data of this extensive project, but thanks to our experience we were able to create a highly-detailed, good quality product which is aesthetically appealing,” explains Josef Kurz, Branch Manager at Materialise Austria. “Not a lot of companies could manage such a project in such a short time.”
Highly-detailed, stunningly beautiful

Thanks to the accuracy and resolution of the ZPrinter, details were represented in colour with a high degree of precision. Now people can see what the proposed building and area will look like so there will be no surprises.

Published in Materialise

Fishman Acoustic Amplification works with the world's top instrument builders, artists and retailers. Using its Objet desktop 3D printer, Fishman can print mechanically accurate guitar amplification device prototypes that customers can't tell apart from real production parts. In-house 3D printing allows Fishman to go through multiple design iterations in a single day, enabling the company to rapidly perfect its designs without compromising on quality or missing sales cycles.

Previously, outsourced prototyping had been expensive and slow. Now, with in-house prototyping using the Objet desktop 3D printer, Fishman can get to market faster and its production process is more predictable.

"Kula, our new onboard ukulele system, is an example of where we really got a chance to use the Objet desktop 3D printer to its fullest advantage," says Robert Ketch, Vice President of OEM Sales at Fishman Acoustic Amplification. "The prototypes of the Objet desktop are of such good quality that our customers think they are production parts. We're going to be making many more pieces with the Objet desktop 3D printer to repeat the success we had with this product. The impact on the timeline and the impression that Objet makes have been really valuable."

In addition to being impressed with the quality, flexibility and structural integrity of the models created on the Objet desktop 3D printer, the development team at Fishman is enjoying far easier and faster prototyping.

Ian Popken, Director, Product Development at Fishman Acoustic Amplification, says: "It's a very smooth process and the Objet 3D printer is easy to use. Just recently we had one part that went through three revisions in a single day. It's pretty remarkable to get a perfect prototype so quickly without compromising on design quality."

Watch how Objet 3D prototypes are part of the Fishman Acoustic Amplification workflow to perfect their design and get to market faster.

For more information, visit: www.fishman.com or www.objet.com

Published in Objet

Engineering scientists at the University of Southampton are developing the world’s first fully rapid prototyped air vehicle this week, to help develop new technologies that probe the Earth's atmosphere using an unmanned platform.

The vehicle is part of the ASTRA (Atmospheric Science Through Robotic Aircraft) project, and it aims to demonstrate how a low-cost, bespoke high altitude platform could be developed and manufactured over a period of mere days and used to send a payload with atmospheric monitoring equipment into the upper atmosphere.

The entire structure of the balloon-borne pod – dubbed the ASTRA Atom -- has been printed, and the on-board data logging equipment has been built using Microsoft's rapid electronic prototyping toolkit .NET Gadgeteer. The Atom was printed on the University’s 3Dprinter, which fabricates plastic objects, building up the item layer by layer.

The aircraft is protected by two foam ‘orbits’, manufactured using a computer-controlled hot wire cutter at the University’s Engineering Design and Manufacturing Centre, which are designed to break on landing and absorb the energy of the impact.

Dr András Sóbester, University of Southampton Lecturer and a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow, says: “The rapid prototyping of bespoke platforms like the ASTRA Atom enables scientists to deliver a variety of instruments far into the stratosphere after a very short design and manufacture cycle. This may be required for testing purposes, as part of an iterative development process or there may be a sudden need to make observations of phenomena such as volcano eruptions or nuclear fallout. In such cases, rapid prototyping translates into fast response and timely measurements that could not be obtained in other ways.”

Dr Steven Johnston, from the University of Southampton’s Microsoft Institute of High Performance Computing, adds: “The challenges of developing such systems are varied as the aircraft has to be able to operate in the harsh, low pressure, low density environment of the upper stratosphere, as well as in the dense and turbulent lower troposphere. Additionally, weight and power requirements of all on-board systems have to be minimised. The need to keep weight and cost to a minimum, while providing bespoke architectures demands novel manufacturing technologies, such as 3D printing, too.

“Using conventional materials and manufacturing techniques, such as composites, developing such platforms would normally take months. Furthermore, because no tooling is required for manufacture, radical changes to the shape and scale of the ‘pod’ can be made with no extra cost.”

For more information, visit: www.soton.ac.uk/~astra/diary

3D Systems Corporation brought its comprehensive suite of 3D content-to-print solutions to life at the 2011 EuroMold Exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany.

3D Systems created a series of daily interactive experiences for EuroMold visitors including a tour of its latest design productivity tool, Alibre Design™ 2012, and hands on access to the enhanced printing experience with its affordable new personal color printers. As part of its growing European on-demand parts services capabilities, the company showcased a full size, single piece automotive dashboard together with other printed parts that are indistinguishable in appearance and performance from traditionally manufactured parts. To embody the functionality and utility of its 3D content-to-print solutions, the 3D team wore 3D printed clothes and accessories and demonstrated the use of 3D printed products as part of its five vertical marketplace pods.

To celebrate its commitment to democratize access to affordable 3D content-to-print solutions, 3D Systems invited all attendees to its “Experience in 3D” display located in the breezeway separating Hall 11 and Hall 9, where together with Geomagic, Microsoft Kinect and DEMAT, the company had a unique interactive 3D consumer experience in store.

For more information, visit: www.3dsystems.com















Published in 3D Systems

3D printer maker Stratasys said its Dimension 3D Printing technology created several of the physical models for the popular stop-motion animated short “Back To The Start,” which has garnered more than two million YouTube views and a nod from AdWeek as one of the top commercials of the year.

Produced for Chipotle Mexican Grill by CAA Marketing Group and Nexus Productions, “Back To The Start” features a stop-motion animated trip from farm to table, punctuated by a soulful Willie Nelson cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” specially commissioned for the video.

The film, by filmmaker Johnny Kelly, depicts the life of a farmer as he slowly turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before seeing the error of his ways and opting for a more sustainable future. Both the film and the soundtrack were commissioned by Chipotle to emphasize the importance of developing a sustainable food system.

London-based special effects studio Artem, Ltd. produced the visual effects for the video, which has won praise for its creative approach to telling Chipotle’s sustainability story. During the past five years, Artem has used the Dimension 3D Printer to produce models for dozens of clients, including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), 20th Century Fox and Nokia.

“The beauty of using the Dimension 3D Printer for this project was that we could produce exact replicas of the animatic drawings, rather than guessing about sizes and details as we might have done with hand-sculpted models,” said Bob Thorne, senior visual effects supervisor for Artem, Ltd.

With an approved animatic (a design file with rough-draft, full-motion sketches of proposed animated sequences), Thorne and his team had only to feed that data to the Dimension 3D Printer before producing and hand-finishing the models, most of which were human-inspired characters that required a high level of detail.

Using traditional production methods, these models might have taken days to sculpt by hand and finish to the director’s specifications. But with the Dimension 3D Printer, Thorne and his team completed the process overnight and produced a tray full of models.

“Back To The Start” has won praise from creative arts leaders, sustainability experts and pop culture gurus for its fresh, engaging approach to the subject of factory farming and food quality. A “making of” video – which includes the Dimension 3D Printer – has garnered its own YouTube following, with more than 20,000 unique views.



Published in Stratasys

Kraftwurx is not a simple manufacturing company making custom products, it’s a revolutionary new way to print the planet in 3D. Kraftwurx is a social community for artists, engineers, designers and anyone with an idea where your ideas are made into products, printed in 3D and sold to the world as real products.

Kraftwurx is partnering with 3D printing companies around the globe, creating the worlds first and only networked manufacturing system of 3D printers, ready to make products and ship them to your door. We currently have over 600 bureaus and 40+ materials in our network and it is growing every day! Kraftwurx also provides an outlet for creative people to make money because products on Kraftwurx are designed by community members and sold on the site.

As an educational tool for 3D design and printing, Kraftwurx has a lot to offer. The site is available in 58 languages and has a real-time chat system in your own language. The site also features a Facebook-like social platform designed exclusively for those interested in learning about 3D printing and selling products.

Kraftwurx is a very efficient and cost effective way to bring products to market. Every product for sale on Kraftwurx is stored as a 3D model (or an assembly of models) and produced through 3D printing only when a customer orders something from the site. Products are drop shipped directly to the customer. The software that powers Kraftwurx makes decisions on where to produce your product when you order it. It looks for the closest facility to you that can make your item. This saves time because the items will often be made locally. As a business owner, it is not difficult to see that the business model has merits.

It’s a compelling business model which reduces the need for transportation and fuel, because products are made near the end user. It also eliminates the need for inventory and warehouses because products are stored as 3D models until someone orders an item. Early next year, Kraftwurx will be adding the ability for customers to customize and personalize many of the products for sale in the site.

Satisfied business owners and end customers are the result of all this because consumers get custom products that meet their unique needs quickly, and cheaply and businesses are able to bring new products to market without the need for their own supply chain and warehouses.

Kraftwurx has amassed a network of several hundred 3D printer facilities globally and the number is growing. The trend reflects the movement back to more localized manufacturing. As this trend continues, consumers will notice more products available with Kraftwurx & Digital Factory at the epicenter of the movement. Kraftwurx is currently experiencing traffic from 86 countries & territories around the world. The sites traffic is increasing by 3000% monthly.

Kraftwurx is based on a business model developed in 2005 and patented in 2006 by Digital Reality. In 2006, the company launched a beta website to showcase the idea and raise capital. Work has continued quietly ever since. Digital Reality has been monitoring the market which, has gradually developed into a working method to make real products, without a factory and costly labor force and they felt the timing was right to make the announcement.

In 2004, Chris Norman, a Manufacturing Engineer from Texas A&M University and avid 3D designer realized that 3D printers were maturing enough to be used for the consumer products market but enabling technologies did not exist. He began work on the system that powers Kraftwurx through a patent called “Made-To-Order Digital Manufacturing Enterprise” and turned it into a factory-in-a-box that you can purchase much like you would buy Microsoft Office. It enables you to open a web-based store where the products are 3D models until purchased and then printed in 3D without any additional software or services. It includes a system that enables consumers to customize and personalize their own products and see what they are buying in 3D on their computer at work or home.

The Kraftwurx community is wrapped around Digital Factory™ which allows the community members to upload their 3D models in a sellers account and sell them to anyone around the world.

Even users with little or no experience in 3D design can turn an idea into a product and earn money from it. Kraftwurx has a system called Alchemy where an idea can be posted. Other community members can assist in the product’s 3D design and development. Compensation can then be negotiated in terms of actual cash or potential profit from future sales of the finished design. With Alchemy, 3D experience is not necessary.

Kraftwurx is easy to use for everyone, whether you are a designer, seller or a 3D printer and the community brings everyone together, regardless of nation or language.

Published in Kraftwurx
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