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August 3D Printing (2019!)

August was a busy month for the 3D printing world.

Let’s begin with a very special Lamborghini…

Syfy Wire reports on physicist Sterling Backus, who has just gone and 3D printed almost an entire Lamborghini Aventador in his own backyard.  Apparently, “it started as a project to show his son, who asked for a muscle car after playing the video game Forza Horizon 3, that science is cool.”

Even more spectacularly, Backus was able to complete this project for about $20K!  Once you consider the asking price for a standard Lamborghini Aventador, which is $400K, this 3D printed discount is quite remarkable.  95% off remarkable!

As Backus explains: “we decided we would use advanced technology to build the car.  However, we needed to do it on the cheap.  This led us to research different automotive construction techniques.  We wanted the car to be safe, so we decided on steel for the frame.  In the end, after choosing 3D printing for most of the body of the car, we needed it to be strong.”

“Almost everything making up this vehicle was designed in SolidWorks and came out of a 3D printer, from the body panels, interior parts, and air vents to the headlights and taillights.  It needed a steel frame so it wouldn’t fall apart.  Backus found anything else that couldn’t be 3D-printed (which really wasn’t that much) on eBay and at parts suppliers, including some authentic used Lamborghini parts and a 2003 LS1 Corvette engine, which was merged with an inverted Porsche 911 transaxle.”

Backus concludes: “the parts’ design is based on the Lamborghini Aventador, but we changed each panel significantly, to add our design flair.”

Elsewhere, Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry recently ran a feature concerning the ways in which the company Desktop Metal aims to create new possibilities for metal 3D printing.  Indeed, Desktop Metal “seeks to make 3D printing more accessible and convenient.”

Desktop Metal “was originally founded around the idea of ‘democratizing the art of metal 3D printing.’”  In order to achieve this lofty goal, “the company devised two different types of platforms – a desktop system and a production system.”

As Desktop Metal CTO Jonah Myerberg explains: “we are seeing two different models in 3D printing, which will continue to grow.  A print and consume yourself model and a print for someone else model.”

Myerberg continues: “traditional metal 3D printing uses lasers to melt metal in order to form parts.  Materials need to be weldable, but not all materials are, so they haven’t been printable.  This steered us to bulk sintering, which uniformly raises the temperature of a part in a furnace, debinding it first and then fully densifying it into solid metal.”

Back in March (of 2019), “Desktop Metal expanded its production of the Studio System, the desktop 3D printing system launched in 2017, which includes a printer, a debinder (AKA wash tank), and a furnace.  Myerberg says “it is suited for low volumes – for the office environment.  It’s surprising to engineers when they discover you don’t need major infrastructure changes.  This type of printer is normally not located outside a lab.  We’ve simplified it significantly – just wheel it in, put it on a desk, and print.”

For this reason, Desktop Metal has garnered a lot of interest from medical device companies.  Other reasons include, according to Myerberg, “variety, or customization, so as to change a device to fit an individual need and the other reason is the opportunity to optimize the way they produce their current tools.  Raw materials are expensive, and machining wastes a lot of material – so you often cast or forge a rough part first, but the tooling for these rough parts is expensive and time consuming.  Instead, with 3D printing you can produce a near-net shape right from the printer without a need for expensive tooling.”

Myerberg concludes: “The idea of digital manufacturing is so powerful and will reinvent the way we manufacture metal parts.  You can create new geometries and customize for patients. And if all manufacturing is digital, you can transfer [files] over the Internet, making any geometry or device accessible anywhere in the world.”

Meanwhile, 3D Printing Media Network reports on a fascinating art project embarked upon using the wonders of 3D printing.

Photographer Julius Rooymans and designer Hans Ubbink have gotten together to create “Nachtwacht 360,” which is a rather modern reinterpretation and recreation of Rembrandt’s famous ‘Night Watch’ painting, which was itself completed all the way back in 1642.  This painting is located in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Nachtwacht 360 heralds “an entirely new way to experience the famed 17th century artwork.”  The new installation “consists of a photographic replica of the original Night Watch. Behind the scenes, Rooymans and Ubbink have put a ton of work into the project, finding 25 lookalikes for each of the members of the Night Watch (as well as Rembrandt), styling them to match the attributes and details of the painting and then photographing them to recreate the pose of the original painting. (The exhibit also consists of a number of portraits, fashion items and props made for the shoot.)”

In order to recreate each historic outfit depicted in the painting, “Ubbink collaborated with many groups, including Dutch 3D printing company Oceanz, which helped produce some realistic 3D printed props, including helmets and weapons.”  As part of their process, “Ubbink and Rooymans sourced many 17th century items for the elaborate photography project from collectors in the Netherlands, though many key pieces in the painting were designed by Rembrandt, meaning that the pair had to find alternative solutions.  Ubbink and Rooymans did not limit themselves in their techniques, as they worked with experts at the Rijksmuseum and the National Military Museum to identify and reproduce physical props and garments using both traditional and new techniques.”

One of these new techniques was, of course, 3D printing.  “In the case of some of the more unique parts, the pair enlisted the help of Robin Bandari, who 3D modeled a number of helmets as well as a collar and partisan (a spearhead mounted on a long shaft). These 3D models were then printed by Oceanz.”

As Oceanz Sales Engineer Frank Elbersen concludes: “As a professional and Dutch 3D print company, we are proud that Oceanz was involved in the Nachtwacht 360 project. How beautiful it is to be able to bring this Dutch masterpiece from the 17th century to life with the innovative and modern technology of today?  3D printing makes it possible to produce objects in the highest detail.  For example, the helmets, collars and a partisan, which were seen 350 years ago by Rembrandt’s eyes, are exactly counterfeited to be able to show the general public now.”

Finally, CNET reports on stereolithography startup Carbon, which has just raised another $260 million in a funding round.  This new influx of funds “should help the Silicon Valley startup create even more unusual materials.”

The possibilities are almost endless.  Indeed, Carbon’s Chief Executive Joseph DeSimone outlines what his company could now invest in: “products made from multiple materials with different properties and colors directly injected into different parts of the design.  For example, they could make dentures with separate materials for the base and the teeth in one process instead of gluing the two components together, products which are easier to recycle.  One example: dental models people wear to gradually straighten their teeth, which end up in landfills today, larger products that don’t sacrifice the fine details and smooth surfaces the company can create today…” the list goes on…

As CNET adds: “Carbon’s approach is similar to that of other 3D printing companies: build components or objects layer by layer, creating shapes that aren’t possible with conventional casting, molding or machining methods. What’s different is the company’s specific method, called Digital Light Synthesis (stereolithography), which carefully directs ultraviolet light upward through a special window to solidify a liquid resin.”

As DeSimone poetically puts it: “light is our chisel.”

Carbon earns its money via a subscription service providing its customers “access to a printer -either the older M2 or the newer L1 introduced in February that’s about the size of a refrigerator and can print larger objects.  Customers pay for resins separately, including some directly from Carbon and some from third-party suppliers.  The M2 starting cost is about $50,000 per year, but with resin sales, Carbon pulls in about $70,000 a year from each.  The L1’s annual revenue is closer to $200,000 per year.”

This latest round of funding “now gives Carbon a $2.46 billion valuation.  The investment, co-led by Madrone Capital Partners and Baillie Gifford, will also fuel international expansion.”

Read us next month for more exciting 3D printing news!

Image Courtesy of Syfy Wire

Quotes Courtesy of Syfy Wire, Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry, Carbon, and CNET

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