Paste your Google Webmaster Tools verification code here

3D Printing in May 2018

This month, the word of 3D printing continued to grow.  Partly, this growth was due to expansion by several corporations of note within the arena of additive manufacturing, but of course, it was also partly due to technological leaps and bounds which never seem far away from the realm of 3D printing.

Without further ado, let us begin…

Global Newswire recently ran a press release from HP.  HP showcased its additive manufacturing progress at the Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) conference, which is the world’s largest 3D printing user event.

According to HP, customers around the world have really been ramping up 3D printing installations.  In fact, more than 3 million HP Multi Jet Fusion were produced in 2017 alone.  At the AMUG conference, HP “showcased new large-scale customer deployments and [a] Reinventing HP With Multi Jet Fusion program as the industry accelerates its journey to full-scale 3D printing production.”

As stated by Wohlers Report 2018, “the production of functional parts, including functional prototyping, is now the industry’s leading additive manufacturing use-case and the demand for production-grade parts is expected to continue to grow exponentially.  As the market leader, shipping more plastic production 3D printers than any other company in the world, HP is delivering both unprecedented capabilities and economic advantages to its manufacturing customers, and also embracing its own technology to transform the design, production, and distribution of HP products worldwide.”

HP’s President of 3D Printing Stephen Nigro concluded: “our mission is to change the way the world designs and manufactures with 3D printing.  We are seeing an increase in high-volume 3D production as the industry accelerates its journey towards a digital future…as one of the largest manufacturers in the world, HP is also leveraging our own technology to transform our product development lifecycle to help lower costs, speed time to market, increase customer satisfaction, and improve sustainability across our business.”

Companies are certainly far from the only entities involving themselves more and more within this technological advancement.  Countries have also been jumping on the 3D printed bandwagon as well.

3D Printing Industry reports on yet another investment into the world of 3D printing by the United Arab Emirates.  The Abu Dhabi Police Department has announced the launch of a 3D printing initiative, which will help law enforcement solve crimes.  This, according to the Emirates News Agency, which is the official news agency of the United Arab Emirates.

The Abu Dhabi Police Department says 3D printing will be applied primarily to help in the handling of evidence.  “3D printed dioramas could, for example, be used to help thoroughly assess a crime scene, or communicate to the court a series of events.”  Such tactics have been employed by police forces in West Yorkshire, UK and Cascade County, Montana, USA’s police force “are applying 3D scanning for crime scene investigation.”

Abu Dhabi Police Department’s Brigadier Abdulrahman Al Hammadi, who is also the Director of the Criminal Evidence Administration, will be spearheading the initiative.  Brigadier Al Hammadi “hopes to make 3D printed models helpful in training exercise, and customer service activities promoting the force.”

As Lt. Colonel Sulieman Al Kaabi, Director of Innovation and the Future adds: “forecasting the future is a key engine for Ab Dhabi Police’s efforts to address global trends, challenges, and opportunities through preventative scenarios and solutions.”

Companies.  Countries.  But also, competitors.

3DPrint reports on a parathletic innovation brought about by the wonders of 3D printing.  Scott Crowley, who is a disabled triathlete from South Australia, participated in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games recently.

Crowley isn’t just an athlete, however.  Along with his wife, Clair, Crowley has started a business called The Good Scout, which “is a platform for helping people plan accessible travel adventures.  Their business idea was to develop an accessible travel directory specifically for people with limited mobility.”

Due to their business, the Crowleys won a spot at co-working space ThincLab at the University of Adelaide.  The TechLab Manager and 3D Engineer in Charge of ThincLab’s 3D Printers, Morgan Hunter, “asked Crowley how he was able to push his way through the punishing course. Crowley told him that he used gloves, which he made himself, during the final wheelchair leg of the race. The gloves allow him to hit the top of the tires on his track chair, so he can keep going forward, fast.”

As Hunter explains: “Scott told me that he bought a kit that basically came with plastic beads that he melted down and formed to his hands.  I thought, ‘that’s just crazy, there is no way that he could get the right shape and he must burn his hands’.”

So, Hunter had an idea.  He asked Crowley to bring in his gloves in order for them to discover a better [3D printed] solution.  After months of development, Hunter and Crowley created 3D printed gloves.  These gloves, which cost only $100 each, “resemble pistons Crowley can grab with his fist, and are made with Onyx carbon fiber-reinforced nylon from Markforged.”

Hunter developed two pairs – “a dry weather version with a rubber face, and a pair for wet weather, which will stick to wet tires thanks to an abrasive face.”

Even though Crowley did not win his race at the Commonwealth Games, he says “this is the first 3D printed glove I’ve ever had.  It’s custom to my hand – it’s very light but still very strong, and it’s consistent.  It’s good to have that consistency of shape.  So far, the new gloves have performed excellently, much better than my normal gloves.  Because they’re light, they also help with recovery time.  I’m definitely happy with the outcome.”

Let’s end our tour with a look at what 3D printing can potentially bring to the stars.

Disrupter Daily has a fascinating (yet also quite disturbing) new report concerning NASA’s new interest in using human waste as 3D printing material for tools to be created and used in space.

Of course, this isn’t the first time NASA has considered using such unconventional building materials.  Earlier in the year, “researchers at Penn State University were brainstorming methods of turning solid and liquid human waste into hygienic human food.”

Now, a team at the University of Calgary are investigating a process which would “allow astronauts a virtually inexhaustible means of creating tools and other materials which they require along their voyage.”

This theoretical process would involve “the conversion of genetically engineered E. coli bacteria into a type of plastic known as polyhydroxybutyrate.  First, the waste must be left to sit for several days, a required step to increase the amount of volatile fatty acids in the sample. After extraction and further fermentation processes are completed, the waste-turned-plastic would be put through a Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printer to create the objects needed by the astronauts.”

In order to test their theoretical process, the team at the University of Calgary plans to test it using Canada’s Falcon 20 aircraft this summer.  “The first experiment aims only to extract granules of plastic from the waste, but the team hopes, in time, they will be able to create several types of plastic from the same underlying processes, and that those processes will translate successfully [for astronauts on] space missions.”

Indeed, 3D printing can make even human waste seem glamorous and potentially useful.  Surely the wonders of 3D printing will continue to multiply: this month and beyond.

Image Courtesy of Disruptor Daily

Quotes Courtesy of HP, Global Newswire, 3D Printing Industry, 3DPrint, and Disruptor Daily

Share Button