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3D Printing in April

This month we start with multi-material 3D printing using light:

Science Daily reports on a recent report published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.  This report was made by a team of scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with funding by the Army Research Office and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program.  Apparently, the team has developed an innovative 3D printing process.

The scientists created “a novel 3D printer, which uses patterns of visible and ultraviolet light to dictate which of two monomers are polymerized to form a solid material.  Different patterns of light provide the spatial control necessary to yield multi-material parts.”  Essentially, in plain English, this means the team has discovered a way to 3D print multi-material objects using light.

Now, of course, this is not the first time light has been used to 3D print objects – just look at Carbon3D’s stereolithography process – but it is the first time light has been used to 3D print multi-material objects.

As UW-Madison Professor of Chemistry A.J. Boydston, who led the team along with graduate student Johanna Schwartz, explains: “as amazing as 3D printing is, in many cases it only offers one color with which to paint.  The field needs a full color palette.  This is a shift in how we think about 3D printing with multiple types of materials in one object.  This is more of a bottom-up chemist’s approach, from molecules to networks.”

“Most multi-material 3D printing methods use separate reservoirs of materials to get different materials in the right positions.  But Boydston realized a one-vat, multiple-component approach – similar to a chemist’s one-pot approach when synthesizing molecules – would be more practical than multiple reservoirs with different materials. This approach is based on the ability of different wavelengths of light to control which starting materials polymerize into different sections of the solid product. Those starting materials start as simple chemicals, known as monomers, which polymerize together into a longer string of chemicals, like how plastic is made.”

“The researchers simultaneously direct light from two projectors toward a vat of liquid starting materials, where layers are built one-by-one on a platform. After one layer is built, the build platform moves up, and light helps build the next layer.”

The team’s innovative “approach to multi-material 3D printing could enable designers, artists, engineers, and scientists to create significantly more complex systems with 3D printing.  Applications could include the creation of personalized medical devices, such as prostheses, or the development of simulated organs and tissues.  Medical students could use these synthetic organs for training instead of, or before working with, live patients.”

Elsewhere, The Verge reports on 3D printed add-ons IKEA has been creating in order to make its furniture and other products accessible for disabled people.

Prior to this push, IKEA’s wardrobes, for example, were handleless.  Additionally, it can also be very difficult for disabled people “to turn on a lamp with tiny switches.”

In order to combat these accessibility issues, IKEA Israel “teamed up with nonprofits Milbat and Access Israel to develop ThisAbles, a line of 3D printed add-ons for IKEA furniture.”

Currently, ThisAbles consists of 13 distinct designs.  “They slip over IKEA furniture and accessories to turn a small button into a giant one or to lift a couch a couple inches off the ground to help make getting up a little easier…a small tweak can make a huge difference for disabled people.”

“The 3D print (CAD) files are free to download, but customers will need to find a way to print them via their own 3D printers or 3D printing service.  Detailed instructions for assembly are also available on IKEA’s website.”

Additionally, IKEA is also receiving requests and suggestions for further furniture add-ons, “which IKEA Israel says it will use to help carry out and 3D print more ideas.”

Beyond furniture, Building Design & Construction reports on Saudi Arabian construction company Elite for Construction & Development, Co., which has just “recently purchased the world’s largest 3D construction printer, the BOD2, from Copenhagen-based COBOD.”

Elite for Construction & Development, Co. purchased this 3D printer “in response to Saudi Arabia’s need to build 1.5 million houses in the next ten years.”  COBOD’s BOD2 3D construction printer “has the capability of printing buildings 12 meters wide, 27 meters long, and 9 meters high.  It can produce three-story buildings of more than 300 square meters per floor in one go.”  Obviously, this will aid Elite for Construction & Development, Co.’s efforts tremendously.

As Elite for Construction & Development, Co.’s General Manager Saad Al Shathri elaborates: “we will make this revolutionizing technology available in all of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  We will be able to carry out projects with our own crews and based on 3D printable concrete made locally.  This will bring costs significantly down compared to temporary imported printers using foreign made materials.  With the 3D construction printing technology, we will be able to do projects almost impossible with conventional technology, and we will build faster and cheaper than before.  At the same time we decided to invest in a very large printer, so the scope of projects we can carry out will be as large as possible.”

COBOD will deliver the BOD2 3D construction printer to Elite for Construction & Development, Co. in Saudi Arabia in May 2019.

Finally, TCT Magazine reports on the launch of a commercial 3D printed prosthetic leg socket by Unyq, a San Francisco-based developer of customized medical wears.  This 3D printed prosthetic leg socket is available for order now.

Unyq, which is supported by the XponentialWorks network, consists of 40 employees spread “across four locations in North America and Europe, and has implemented its own in-house fleet of 3D printing system to develop customized wearables.”

This new 3D printed prosthetic leg socket is the first in the company’s Prosthetic Wear line.  For now, “Unyq’s portfolio is made up of prosthetic covers, to protect and enhance durability of the prosthetic, and spine wears for back support.”

As with many other 3D printed objects, “the prosthetic socket will be customized to the individual ordering the component.”  It will also “do away with much of the metal found in traditional prostheses,” which will make it lightweight.

“Attaching the protheses to the residual limb, the socket should enhance customer satisfaction, and with embedded sensors track the individual’s cardio activity, number of steps walked, calories burnt, and so on. With scan data stored, clinicians will be able to replicate the socket at the press of a button, reducing the number of visits required. The socket has also been ISO 10328 tested, a process, which examines the structural strength of lower limb prosthetics.”

As Unyq’s Co-Founder and VP of Prosthetics concludes: “we are thrilled to announce the launch of the Unyq Socket.  This is another step forward in being able to provide amputees with a total leg solution. A solution where it’s practically one component, rather than a ‘mish mash’ of different elements bolted together. We are working hard to further develop our Prosthetics Wear line, as well as the other exciting medical wearables in our pipeline, to continue to support our end users.”

Image Courtesy of Science Daily

Quotes Courtesy of Science Daily, The Verge, Building Design & Construction, and TCT Magazine

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3D Printing Multiple Materials With Light

Science Daily reports on a recent report published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.  This report was made by a team of scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with funding by the Army Research Office and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program.  Apparently, the team has developed an innovative 3D printing process.

The scientists created “a novel 3D printer, which uses patterns of visible and ultraviolet light to dictate which of two monomers are polymerized to form a solid material.  Different patterns of light provide the spatial control necessary to yield multi-material parts.”  Essentially, in plain English, this means the team has discovered a way to 3D print multi-material objects using light.

Now, of course, this is not the first time light has been used to 3D print objects – just look at Carbon3D’s stereolithography process – but it is the first time light has been used to 3D print multi-material objects.

As UW-Madison Professor of Chemistry A.J. Boydston, who led the team along with graduate student Johanna Schwartz, explains: “as amazing as 3D printing is, in many cases it only offers one color with which to paint.  The field needs a full color palette.  This is a shift in how we think about 3D printing with multiple types of materials in one object.  This is more of a bottom-up chemist’s approach, from molecules to networks.”

“Most multi-material 3D printing methods use separate reservoirs of materials to get different materials in the right positions.  But Boydston realized a one-vat, multiple-component approach – similar to a chemist’s one-pot approach when synthesizing molecules – would be more practical than multiple reservoirs with different materials. This approach is based on the ability of different wavelengths of light to control which starting materials polymerize into different sections of the solid product. Those starting materials start as simple chemicals, known as monomers, which polymerize together into a longer string of chemicals, like how plastic is made.”

“The researchers simultaneously direct light from two projectors toward a vat of liquid starting materials, where layers are built one-by-one on a platform. After one layer is built, the build platform moves up, and light helps build the next layer.”

The team’s innovative “approach to multi-material 3D printing could enable designers, artists, engineers, and scientists to create significantly more complex systems with 3D printing.  Applications could include the creation of personalized medical devices, such as prostheses, or the development of simulated organs and tissues.  Medical students could use these synthetic organs for training instead of, or before working with, live patients.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Science Daily

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ICON Launches Vulcan II 3D Printer

3D Printing Media Network reports on a recent announcement made by the company ICON.

Last year, in March of 2018, ICON, an Austin, Texas startup, gained worldwide attention when it 3D printed a $4000 house in 24 hours, using its Vulcan I 3D printer.  This project “was the result of a collaboration with non-profit organization New Story and promised the world affordable, rapidly deployed housing could soon become a reality.”

Following the success of their project last year, ICON received an investment of $9 million, “raised through a seed round led by Oakhouse Partners.  This investment has enabled the company to push its construction 3D printing technology forward.”

Now, the startup has announced the launch of a Vulcan II 3D printer, which will be available this month.  The Vulcan II marks ICON’s first commercial construction 3D printer.  This machine “is capable of 3D printing livable homes, offering resilient, dignified housing around the world.”

ICON’s Vulcan II 3D printer “has a build capacity spanning 8.5 ft in height and 28 ft in width (the print length is apparently infinite). The machine also boasts a rapid deposition rate of between five and seven inches per second. In terms of build materials, the 3D printer is exclusively compatible with ICON’s proprietary Lavacrete, a material made from Portland Cement which demonstrates a compressive strength of 6,000 psi when printed, resiliency and high thermal mass.”

Additionally, it requires only four to six people to operate.  The Vulcan II is a gantry-based 3D printer, “operated using an integrated tablet-based operating system, which enables the users to intuitively and easily monitor and control the machine. The 3D printer also comes with ICON Studio, a CAD and print planning platform capable of converting floor plans into printable structures, as well as a suite of sensors enabling fast, reliable, and precise printing.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3D Printing Media Network

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3D Printed Molds for Dried Gourd ‘HyO-Cups’

As 3Ders points out, beverage empire Starbucks uses 250 billion fiber cups at their locations at an annual rate.  This is not a very sustainable system.  Thankfully, New York-based design studio Crème Design is working on a solution.

Crème has created “HyO, a completely organic, biodegradable cup made from a gourd grown inside a 3D printed mold to take their functional shape.”

As Crème explains, “HyO (pronounced hi-o) is a derivative of the Japanese word hyotan, which means gourd.  Gourds have traditionally ben used by cultures around the world as receptacles like cups for centuries.  They are fast-growing plants, which bear robust fruit each season. Once dried, the gourds develop a robust outer skin and their fibrous inner flesh becomes watertight. Crème adapted this centuries old method [in order to] create its own compostable vessels, using the modern technique of 3D printing to create cup-shaped molds, in any shape or size. They eventually developed a stackable set of cups that mimic the silhouette of a classic faceted glass cup.”

Crème is able to grow “gourds into customizable functional shapes, such as cups and flasks, which can be composted instead of filling up landfills like the plastic alternative.”  The company explains the HyO-Cups, “being 100% biodegradable, could significantly help to reduce waste.  They initially grew them outdoors but there were many barriers such as weather, pets, humidity, and flooding.  The team is now growing them in a container laboratory set up in a shipping container.  The next step for Crème is to grow them in an indoor laboratory.”

The only downside of developing these HyO-Cups is the necessary 100 days it takes for them to mature.  “Crème is working on optimizing the process to scale up the production.  As with all new projects, they are starting small and aiming to scale up in order to increase quantity and lower the price per gourd, so the cup can be a challenger to the plastic waste industry.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3Ders

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Victrex Invests in Bond

3D Print reports on a new partnership announced between dynamic industrial companies Victrex and Bond.  The companies “aim to improve the supply chain of materials for customers seeking parts 3D printed with PAEK.”

PAEK “is a family of high performance polymers, which often have very high continuous service temperatures, chemical resistance, and mechanical strength.  These polymers, such as PEEK and PEKK, are used in aircraft and other high performance applications.”

Victrex, which is headquartered in the UK, “will make a multi-million Euro investment into Netherlands-based Bond High Performance 3D Technology.  The current focus is for the Bond team to continue production in high-grade thermoplastics via their customized 3D printers and software.”

As Victrix CEO Jakob Sigurdsson explains: “our investment in Bond´s 3D technology is a logical way to accelerate 3D printed PAEK/PEEK parts to market.  We need to ensure all the key elements, including material, process, and hardware are aligned to fulfill our goal of enabling our customers to manufacture 3D printed PAEK components for critical high-performance applications. We’re now at a stage where the technology is sufficiently developed to embark on exciting development programs.”

“In using Bond technology with PEEK materials, these two progressive partners expect to produce a wide range of functional parts, which are as mechanically strong as those created through more conventional manufacturing methods. They also foresee making such leaps as one of the critical elements in ‘maturing the use’ of thermoplastics in 3D printing and additive manufacturing.”  Other applications could occur in the aerospace, energy, automotive, and of course manufacturing & engineering sectors.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3D Print

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LAIKA Studios & Stratasys 3D Printers: A Match Made in Movie Magic Heaven

Both Digital Trends and 3D Print recently ran features concerning LAIKA Studios, a stop-motion animation film studio which utilizes Stratasys 3D printers in its work flow.

We’ve covered LAIKA Studios work with 3D printing before, when they used this technology in their previous film, Kubo and the Two Strings, but now, with the release of their next film, Missing Link, the company has gone even further with additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping.  According to Digital Trends, LAIKA describes their latest film as a “Kaleidoscopic travelogue, which is part Indiana Jones, part Sherlock Holmes, and part Around the World in 80 Days – but with monsters.”

As you can see from Digital Trend’s video, LAIKA uses Stratasys 3D printers in order to “print millions of different facial expressions” for their characters, which has given them an unprecedented lifelike fluidity.

3D Print actually sat down with the studio in order to get down to the nitty gritty of the 3D printing being used in the film.  This occurred at SOLIDWORKS World 2019 in Dallas, Texas.  LAIKA Studios took advantage of Stratasys’ “multi-color, multi-material J750 3D printer” for this film.  The J750 3D printer “offers more than 500,000 different color combinations, so parts and components can be produced in multiple colors and textures for a wide variety of different applications.”  LAIKA calls the J750 the “nirvana of what they want in 3D printing.”

LAIKA’s Director of Rapid Prototyping Brian McLean, who has won an Academy Award for his work, elaborated on the “studio’s use of 3D printing to make the faces for their stop motion animation characters.”  McLean describes the puppets as “really fancy Mr. Potato Heads in a way.  During shooting, if an ear gets cracked or if an ear breaks, we can go in there and surgically, while we’re on set, it’s like the game Operation, we’ll go in there surgically and unscrew the ear and put another one on.”

Beyond the characters, 5% of the sets were also 3D printed.  Truly, LAIKA Studios is pushing the boundary of what can be done with 3D printing in film.

Video, Image, and Quotes Courtesy of Digital Trends and 3D Print

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Unyq Launches Commercial 3D Printed ‘Total Leg Solution’

TCT Magazine reports on the launch of a commercial 3D printed prosthetic leg socket by Unyq, a San Francisco-based developer of customized medical wears.  This 3D printed prosthetic leg socket is available for order now.

Unyq, which is supported by the XponentialWorks network, consists of 40 employees spread “across four locations in North America and Europe, and has implemented its own in-house fleet of 3D printing system to develop customized wearables.”

This new 3D printed prosthetic leg socket is the first in the company’s Prosthetic Wear line.  For now, “Unyq’s portfolio is made up of prosthetic covers, to protect and enhance durability of the prosthetic, and spine wears for back support.”

As with many other 3D printed objects, “the prosthetic socket will be customized to the individual ordering the component.”  It will also “do away with much of the metal found in traditional prostheses,” which will make it lightweight.

“Attaching the protheses to the residual limb, the socket should enhance customer satisfaction, and with embedded sensors track the individual’s cardio activity, number of steps walked, calories burnt, and so on. With scan data stored, clinicians will be able to replicate the socket at the press of a button, reducing the number of visits required. The socket has also been ISO 10328 tested, a process, which examines the structural strength of lower limb prosthetics.”

As Unyq’s Co-Founder and VP of Prosthetics concludes: “we are thrilled to announce the launch of the Unyq Socket.  This is another step forward in being able to provide amputees with a total leg solution. A solution where it’s practically one component, rather than a ‘mish mash’ of different elements bolted together. We are working hard to further develop our Prosthetics Wear line, as well as the other exciting medical wearables in our pipeline, to continue to support our end users.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of TCT Magazine

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IKEA Furniture’s 3D Printed Add-Ons Foster Accessibility

The Verge reports on 3D printed add-ons IKEA has been creating in order to make its furniture and other products accessible for disabled people.

Prior to this push, IKEA’s wardrobes, for example, were handleless.  Additionally, it can also be very difficult for disabled people “to turn on a lamp with tiny switches.”

In order to combat these accessibility issues, IKEA Israel “teamed up with nonprofits Milbat and Access Israel to develop ThisAbles, a line of 3D printed add-ons for IKEA furniture.”

Currently, ThisAbles consists of 13 distinct designs.  “They slip over IKEA furniture and accessories to turn a small button into a giant one or to lift a couch a couple inches off the ground to help make getting up a little easier…a small tweak can make a huge difference for disabled people.”

“The 3D print (CAD) files are free to download, but customers will need to find a way to print them via their own 3D printers or 3D printing service.  Detailed instructions for assembly are also available on IKEA’s website.”

Additionally, IKEA is also receiving requests and suggestions for further furniture add-ons, “which IKEA Israel says it will use to help carry out and 3D print more ideas.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of IKEA and The Verge

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Large-Scale Dental 3D Printer Launched

3D Printing Industry recently reported from the International Dental Show (IDS) 2019 in Cologne, Germany.  Apparently, Nexa3D, which is an XponentialWorks company, has teamed up with BEGO, a German dental device manufacturer, in order to develop the Varseo XL SLA 3D printer.  This printer is for large-scale dental work.

“The Varseo XL maintains five times the print area of comparable dental 3D printers and prints at six times the speed, as well as ten times the volume.”  Due to this new 3D printer’s remarkable capabilities, BEGO “has branded the system the most productive and economical dental lab 3D printer.”

Under the BEGO brand, the Varseo XL 3D printer “utilizes Nexa3D’s proprietary Lubricant Sublayer Photo-curing (LSPc) and structured light matrix technology to manufacture objects at up to 1cm/min and 2700cc/hr.  It is designed to print with the full range of BEGO dental resins, for surgical guides, trays, permanent restorations, bridges, crowns, surgical guides, and CAD/Cast applications.”

“Equipped with intuitive software and integrated sensors, the Varseo XL also exhibits improved printer performance as a result of predictive and prescriptive diagnostics and continuous monitoring functionalities.”

The Varseo XL is “designed for dental lab practitioners and professionals wanting to increase dental lab productivity thirty-fold. As a result of BEGO and Nexa3D’s collaboration, BEGO will commercialize the Varseo XL within the next 12 months through its growing dental reseller network.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3D Printing Industry

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Stratasys Opens Two More UK Facilities

3D Printing Industry reports on two more openings of Stratasys facilities in the UK.  The sits at Cambridge and Derby will extend Stratasys’ “staff within the UK in order to bolster its infrastructure.  The moves are part of an increased commitment to the UK 3D printing market from Stratasys, as it aims to drive adoption and support the needs of a growing pool of customers.”

As Stratasys President of EMEA Andy Langfeld explains: “the various initiatives established for this region is a response to an independent report listing the UK as one of the top five countries globally in adopting additive manufacturing.  We are therefore committed to ensuring the appropriate support infrastructure in place to meet the varied requirements of our UK-based channel partners and customers, and properly equip them to ensure they fully optimize the use of this technology.”

For these two new UK sites, Stratasys aims “to place technical and business consultants alongside developers from GrabCAD, its Massachusetts-based software subsidiary.  Both sites will also act as hubs for the company’s field-based staff, including application engineers and service support.”

Beyond these two sites, Stratasys “has also opened different Authorized Training Centres across the UK as part of its Academy Initiative.  The training academies are a response to the increasing need for additive manufacturing professionals within the UK, and are designed to help business overcome the engineering skills gap.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3D Printing Industry

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CNH Industrial 3D Printing Spare Parts for Buses and Tractors

Engineering reports on London and Amsterdam-based CNH Industrial, which is a “subsidiary of the Agnelli family-owned Exor investment company.”  Currently, CNH Industrial is using 3D printing in order to “fabricate spare parts for industrial equipment” such as buses and tractors.

“CNH is one of the world’s largest capital goods businesses, making a wide variety of equipment for a range of industries, including agriculture, construction, industry, marine, and civil society.  It has 63,000 employees spanning 66 facilities around the globe and rakes in $27 billion with brands including CASE Construction Equipment, Iveco Bus, and New Holland Agricultural Machinery.”

So far, CNH Industrial has fabricated a grand total of four spare parts using 3D printing.  These spare parts will be used on its buses and agricultural equipment.  “These parts have been printed in plastic, but CNH plans to continue testing the possibility of 3D printing metal components for use in the near future.  The ultimate goal for the business is to additively manufacture ‘a full range of parts and promptly respond to all types of needs at every stage of the product’s lifecycle.”

The company “sees the benefits of 3D printing spare parts [when it comes to quickly fabricating] small numbers of parts locally and on-demand.  This, in turn, results in better stock management and availability, with parts made in just 24 to 36 hours.”

Due to the wonders of additive manufacturing, the “parts are made layer-by-layer, only the material required to build the part is used.  This contrasts with subtractive manufacturing, in which material can be wasted significantly as it is removed or cut away from an initial block.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Engineering

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Saudi Arabian Company Purchases Largest 3D Construction Printer

Building Design & Construction reports on Saudi Arabian construction company Elite for Construction & Development, Co., which has just “recently purchased the world’s largest 3D construction printer, the BOD2, from Copenhagen-based COBOD.”

Elite for Construction & Development, Co. purchased this 3D printer “in response to Saudi Arabia’s need to build 1.5 million houses in the next ten years.”  COBOD’s BOD2 3D construction printer “has the capability of printing buildings 12 meters wide, 27 meters long, and 9 meters high.  It can produce three-story buildings of more than 300 square meters per floor in one go.”  Obviously, this will aid Elite for Construction & Development, Co.’s efforts tremendously.

As Elite for Construction & Development, Co.’s General Manager Saad Al Shathri elaborates: “we will make this revolutionizing technology available in all of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  We will be able to carry out projects with our own crews and based on 3D printable concrete made locally.  This will bring costs significantly down compared to temporary imported printers using foreign made materials.  With the 3D construction printing technology, we will be able to do projects almost impossible with conventional technology, and we will build faster and cheaper than before.  At the same time we decided to invest in a very large printer, so the scope of projects we can carry out will be as large as possible.”

COBOD will deliver the BOD2 3D construction printer to Elite for Construction & Development, Co. in Saudi Arabia in May 2019.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Building Design & Construction

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