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Stereolithography, Metal 3D Printing, and A Look to the Future

This month, a few 3D printing technologies have begun to show clear signs of evolution.  Among these evolving technologies is undoubtedly stereolithography, one of the most innovative methods of additive manufacturing.  In fact, it’s so innovative you may not even consider it to be additive manufacturing – thinking of it as something well beyond that realm.

3Ders has caught wind of a brand-new launch of a stereolithography 3D Printer.  Wave3D, which is based in Toronto, Canada, has “just unveiled its first commercial stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer: the Wave3D Pro.”

The Wave3D Pro has been developed “for professional applications such as rapid prototyping and design.”  This stereolithography machine has been in development for the past two years.  Wave3D’s aim with this machine is to offer “an affordable and relatively compact system – something that can enable small and medium-sized businesses to integrate 3D printing technology into their day to day.”

“The 3D printer is a bottom-up SLA machine, which has been rethought and re-engineered in a number of ways.  For instance, the Wave3D Pro integrates a proprietary build tray made using optically clear film rather than silicone.  This film enables users to more easily replace the build tray if it becomes damaged or suffers any wear…this optically clear film also reduces the risk of hazing and sticking, so large prints with wide flat surfaces can be made more easily.  The Wave3D Pro’s tray is also equipped with an automatic resin circulation system, as well as temperature and leveling control for the 3D printing resin.  This means users can work with either a full resin supply or a tray with as little as 1.5 liters of resin in it.”

As for the Wave3D Pro’s build platform size, it is rather spectacular.  “Coming in at 394 x 216 x 559 mm (15.5 x 8.5 x 22 in), the SLA 3D printer is notably larger than many of its competitors…[it] also offers a resolution of 50 microns.”

Despite its large build platform size, however, the Wave3D Pro “can easily fit through any doorway and thus does not require any specialized or extensive installation processes.”

“Wave3D is preparing a ‘demonstration model’ of its 3D printer to be used in a pilot program.  The 3D printer will therefore (for now, at least) be produced on a small scale, putting its price at around $60,000.”

Elsewhere, metal 3D printing has been growing by leaps and bounds.  In fact,  Fortune reports on a startup raising serious money in this niche.

Desktop Metal, based in Burlington, Massachusetts, develop “printing systems [containing] both 3D printers that can produce small objects from metal powders and machines called sinters, which contain microwaves that heat the metal powders, causing them to become dense and useable.”

In Fall of 2016, Desktop Metal raised a surprising $45 million, but now they’ve raised so much more – on top of that!  According to the startup, they have just landed $115 million in funding.  Investment-tracking firm PitchBook “estimates [Desktop Metal] has a post-valuation of $1.02 billion.”

“Among the company’s investors for the latest funding round are New Enterprise Associates, Alphabet’s venture capital arm GV (formerly Google Ventures), GE Ventures, Future Fund, and Techtronic Industries.”

Desktop Metal CEO Ric Fulop explains “there is such a strong demand for the company’s 3D printers, the new funding frees [Desktop Metal] up to develop new products and meet expectations.”

“One version of Desktop Metal’s 3D printing system sells for $120,000 and was designed to be used by mechanical engineers for prototyping and printing a small number of parts at corporate offices rather than factories.  Desktop Metal is also selling a more capable version of its 3D printing system that can cost around $500,000 and is to be used at factories for mass-producing metal parts.”

“The cheaper version of Desktop Metal’s 3D printing system will ship to customers in Fall [of 2017] while the more expensive version will debut next year.”

Metal 3D printing is, in fact, getting votes of confidence from organizations and institutions all around the world.  The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports on a brand-new type of metal 3D printer which has been developed in Darwin and will be used by a team of scientists at Charles Darwin University in the continent’s Northern Territory.

A $400,000 grant by the Australian government “has allowed Charles Darwin University to acquire the LightSpEE3D printer.”  Spee3D’s Steven Camilleri, who is the co-inventor of this 3D printer, explains: “[we printed a part for an automotive supplier] and we were able to bring the 3D print time down from about 100 to 200 hours to about 20 minutes.  And we were able to bring the cost down from…$3,000-$5,000 to about $30.”  These are astonishing numbers!

As Camilleri continues: “we believe we’ve got a process that suits manufacturing better than some of the existing processes for metal manufacturing.  It’s got to do with convenience so rather than having many, many months and weeks of leave time for parts, we can bring that right down to essentially instantaneous.  Which means your production is smaller and much more cost effective and you can bring in new innovations into the market because you don’t have to worry about tooling costs.”

As for the team at Charles Darwin University, they’ll be able to get their hands on a LightSpEE3D printer of their very own in October of 2017.  Camilleri concludes: “we’ll be doing work with Charles Darwin University essentially looking into different applications for the printer.  We want to scale various uses for the printer that might exist very quickly, so we need more people who might be working on what those opportunities are with us.”

And, finally, we have some speculation on the future of 3D printing.  Apple has recently announced the ARKit, and a new era of augmented reality has begun.  Computerworld wonders what this new world will look like for 3D printing.

“Apple’s move to introduce AR support at a platform level with ARKit means developers – including hardware developers – can now develop sophisticated solutions for a huge market of customers.  They can rely on Apple’s core platforms to develop and deliver integrated solutions that can become part of everyday life.”

Apple’s ARKit “provides a system 3D designers working with other platforms (Unity et al) can develop to….the arrival of ARKit will inevitably kick-start evolution of 3D [augmented reality] design tools.”

“It will soon be easy and accessible for people to get into 3D printing of things they design in Apple’s 3D environments. We’ll see it becoming a key tool for fast product prototyping, and…it’s incredibly likely we’ll also see the evolution of a new form of 3D art…boosted by Apple and ARKit…the 3D industry is about to escape the hobby segment and become mainstream. That shouldn’t surprise anyone.”

Augmented reality “isn’t just about finding things in imaginary space, but will also enable a new industry of bringing imaginary things into the here and now.”

Just like the wonderful world of 3D printing.

Image Courtesy of Desktop Metal

Quotes Courtesy of 3Ders, Desktop Metal, Fortune, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Apple, and Computerworld

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3D Printed Marijuana Edibles

Digital Trends has caught a whiff of yet another industry additive manufacturing is about to disrupt.  And that industry is that of marijuana.

Yup, you heard that right – Marijuana!

Startup Potent Rope has developed a new edible cannabis filament for 3D printing.  “Produced in two standard sizes of filament (3mm and 1.75mm) and usable in any standard consumer 3D printer, Potent Rope is made with an FDA-approved water-soluble thermoplastic…This thermoplastic is combined with pharmaceutical-grade excipients and active cannabis extract, before being extruded into a standard-sized filament.”

As with many other 3D printed products, this “cannabis extract can be custom tailored with differing levels of cannabinoids, as well as terpenes.”  Potent Rope’s Chief Operating Officer Paige Colen explains: “With 28 states and the District of Columbia, as well as over 20 other countries, having already introduced some form of legal cannabis laws, cannabis and the people who use it — whether medically or recreationally — are starting to see the negative stigma associated with its use decreased.”

“Whether the consumer is printing their own dosage, or a dispensary is doing the printing for direct sale to consumers, the consumers will fall into either the medical or recreational category. As far as what consumers can create, we are hoping to launch our dosage specific CAD designs by the end of the year, but there are also a growing number of 3D printers that offer open-source software. The world is [really] their oyster, or poodle, or Eiffel Tower!”

Potent Rope is currently negotiating with state-licensed processors in Maryland, Nevada, Massachusetts, and California.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Digital Trends

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Stratasys Teams up (Even More) with Airbus

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on a new initiative just announced by 3D printing giant Stratasys in conjunction with aerospace behemoth Airbus.

Stratasys “was chosen by Airbus to make 3D printed polymer parts for use on the A350 XWB aircraft…Stratasys’ Direct Manufacturing unit will use its sophisticated commercial 3D printers to manufacture non-structural airplane parts such as brackets, and other parts that are used for system installation.”

Stratasys, which has dual headquarters in Eden Prairie, Minnesota and Rehovot, Israel will 3D print these “non-structural airplane parts” using its “FDM 3D printers…[out of] heat resistant ULTEM 9085 thermoplastic resin.  Officials said they expect the project will help Airbus achieve greater supply chain flexibility, improve costs, and reduce waste.”

Stratasys aims to “increase its aerospace customer base as commercial applications for the 3D printing machines it manufactures have greater returns than its consumer printing products.  Stratasys’ 3D printers are already used throughout the $13 billion aerospace industry, but mostly to make prototypes and assembly tools for customers such as NASA, United Launch Alliance, Siemens, Boeing, and Airbus.”

In fact, “Stratasys’ FDM technology has been used to make Airbus tools since 2013.”  Only now have the two companies chosen to come together in further partnership.  Now Stratasys 3D printed parts will be used on actual functioning Airbus aircraft.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Stratasys and the Minneapolis Star Tribune

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Australian Team Develops Super-Fast Metal 3D Printer

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports on a brand-new type of metal 3D printer which has been developed in Darwin and will be used by a team of scientists at Charles Darwin University in the continent’s Northern Territory.

A $400,000 grant by the Australian government “has allowed Charles Darwin University to acquire the LightSpEE3D printer.”  Spee3D’s Steven Camilleri, who is the co-inventor of this 3D printer, explains: “[we printed a part for an automotive supplier] and we were able to bring the 3D print time down from about 100 to 200 hours to about 20 minutes.  And we were able to bring the cost down from…$3,000-$5,000 to about $30.”  These are astonishing numbers!

As Camilleri continues: “we believe we’ve got a process that suits manufacturing better than some of the existing processes for metal manufacturing.  It’s got to do with convenience so rather than having many, many months and weeks of leave time for parts, we can bring that right down to essentially instantaneous.  Which means your production is smaller and much more cost effective and you can bring in new innovations into the market because you don’t have to worry about tooling costs.”

As for the team at Charles Darwin University, they’ll be able to get their hands on a LightSpEE3D printer of their very own in October of 2017.  Camilleri concludes: “we’ll be doing work with Charles Darwin University essentially looking into different applications for the printer.  We want to scale various uses for the printer that might exist very quickly, so we need more people who might be working on what those opportunities are with us.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation

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Ancient Peruvian Priestess 3D Printed Back to Life…Kind Of

CNET reports on a fascinating fusion between the worlds of archeology and 3D printing.

The “Lady of Cao,” a Peruvian priestess of the Moche people, died 1,700 years ago, most likely due to complications from pregnancy.  “A team of Peruvian archaeologists discovered the ruler’s heavily tattooed, mummified remains in 2005 at an ancient ceremonial burial site called “El Brujo.” It took a multidisciplinary team of scientists 10 months to reconstruct her mien using state-of-the-art 3D laser-scanning technology, forensic facial reconstruction and ethnographic insights gleaned from photos of women in the El Brujo area.”  Her 3D printed likeness was unveiled in July 2017.

“The archaeological complex calls the discovery of Lady of Cao ‘the great discovery that changed the perception of the female role in ancient Peru.’  Her mummy revealed evidence that women held power among the Moche people.”

“Gold jewelry, weapons, and other valuable artifacts accompanied her body, as did the remains of a teen girl who appeared to have been sacrificed to help shepherd Lady of Cao to the afterlife. The complex burial suggests her position as a ruler. It’s believed the Lady of Cao died in her twenties…archaeologists say her mummy is one of the best-preserved relics of a civilization that ended more than 1,300 years ago.”

“The effort to reconstruct her face is part of an effort to preserve and document Peruvian history. The El Brujo Archaeological Complex collaborated with the Wiese Foundation and 3D-technology company FARO Technologies on bringing the famous face back to detailed life.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of CNET

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Desktop Metal Lands $115 Million in Funding

The metal 3D printing market is certainly making a lot of noise recently.  Fortune reports on a startup raising serious money in this niche.

Desktop Metal, based in Burlington, Massachusetts, develop “printing systems [containing] both 3D printers that can produce small objects from metal powders and machines called sinters, which contain microwaves that heat the metal powders, causing them to become dense and useable.”

In Fall of 2016, Desktop Metal raised a surprising $45 million, but now they’ve raised so much more – on top of that!  According to the startup, they have just landed $115 million in funding.  Investment-tracking firm PitchBook “estimates [Desktop Metal] has a post-valuation of $1.02 billion.”

“Among the company’s investors for the latest funding round are New Enterprise Associates, Alphabet’s venture capital arm GV (formerly Google Ventures), GE Ventures, Future Fund, and Techtronic Industries.”

Desktop Metal CEO Ric Fulop explains “there is such a strong demand for the company’s 3D printers, the new funding frees [Desktop Metal] up to develop new products and meet expectations.”

“One version of Desktop Metal’s 3D printing system sells for $120,000 and was designed to be used by mechanical engineers for prototyping and printing a small number of parts at corporate offices rather than factories.  Desktop Metal is also selling a more capable version of its 3D printing system that can cost around $500,000 and is to be used at factories for mass-producing metal parts.”

“The cheaper version of Desktop Metal’s 3D printing system will ship to customers in Fall [of 2017] while the more expensive version will debut next year.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Desktop Metal and Fortune

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The Impact of Apple’s ARKit on 3D Printing

Apple has recently announced the ARKit, and a new era of augmented reality has begun.  Computerworld wonders what this new world will look like for 3D printing.

“Apple’s move to introduce AR support at a platform level with ARKit means developers – including hardware developers – can now develop sophisticated solutions for a huge market of customers.  They can rely on Apple’s core platforms to develop and deliver integrated solutions that can become part of everyday life.”

Apple’s ARKit “provides a system 3D designers working with other platforms (Unity et al) can develop to….the arrival of ARKit will inevitably kick-start evolution of 3D [augmented reality] design tools.”

“It will soon be easy and accessible for people to get into 3D printing of things they design in Apple’s 3D environments. We’ll see it becoming a key tool for fast product prototyping, and…it’s incredibly likely we’ll also see the evolution of a new form of 3D art…boosted by Apple and ARKit…the 3D industry is about to escape the hobby segment and become mainstream. That shouldn’t surprise anyone.”

Augmented reality “isn’t just about finding things in imaginary space, but will also enable a new industry of bringing imaginary things into the here and now.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Apple and Computerworld

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Capillary Printing

The International Business Times has caught wind of an article recently published in the journal Biomaterials Science, authored by researches from Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine.

These teams of researchers may “have overcome the final hurdle in making 3D-printed complex human organs, with not just large blood vessels, but even smaller ones such as capillaries.”  As Gisele Calderon, the lead author of the study explains, “Our work has important therapeutic implications because we demonstrate utilization of human cells and the ability to live-monitor their tubulogenesis potential as they form primitive vessel networks.”

“We’ve confirmed that [endothelial] cells have the capacity to form capillary-like structures, both in a natural material called fibrin and in a semi-synthetic material called gelatin methacrylate, or GelMA . The GelMA finding is particularly interesting because it is something we can readily 3D-print for future tissue-engineering applications.”

As with many other 3D printing endeavors, this technology would give doctors far more flexibility and customizability when it comes to patient care.  “The cells printed using the technology can be patient-specific and created to suit his/her condition. It would also reduce the risk of immune system complications during organ transplants since the risk of rejection by the patient’s immune system would be lower.  Furthermore…these organs might be helpful in extending the life of an individual since they will be reproducible.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine, and The International Business Times

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Update on 3D Printed Bridge

Engadget has an update from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, who are about to commence with the construction of the world’s “first” 3D printed bridge.

This bridge, which will serve along a bicycling path, is very close to being constructed.  Eindhoven researchers “have started manufacturing parts for a 3D-print reinforced concrete meant for a cycling bridge. When the construction is complete, it’ll apparently be the first bridge to use 3D-printed, reinforced concrete (but not the first 3D printed bridge using other materials — or even concrete itself.)

“Manufacturing of the concrete parts has begun, and it’s anticipated that bridge construction will start in September. To get to the point where the 3D printed parts were considered reliable, the team at the university first built a 1:2 scale model, which was able to hold a 2,000kg (over 4,400 pounds) load.”

3D printing a bridge has several advantages over constructing a bridge using conventional, concrete means.  “Printing a bridge will use far less concrete than pouring it into molds. There’s an environmental impact here, as well — the production of concrete cement releases CO2, so cutting down on those emissions is worth noting. There’s also more freedom of design, as a 3D-printer can fabricate shapes that are much harder to produce with a mold.”

Though this bridge is designed for lighter traffic such as bicyclists, it is a huge step in a fantastically innovative direction.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Engadget

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MakerBot 3D Printers to Connect with Chromebooks

Engadget reports on struggling 3D printing firm MakerBot.  We here at Replicator World have previously reported on MakerBot’s shift in focus towards the education market.  Previously, the company had been heavily focused on the consumer and desktop 3D printer markets.  Well, now the company is acting upon that shift in focus to the education market.

MakerBot has just recently announced My MakerBot, which is “a cloud-enabled browser-based printer monitoring platform that’s compatible with Chromebooks (which are incredibly popular in the classroom) and Autodesk’s Tinkercad 3D design software.”

Additionally, MakerBot is also releasing the MakerBot Educators Guidebook.  This guidebook will provide teachers and other educators the opportunity to develop “lesson plans and nine different 3D printing projects.  Those nine projects are ‘a small sampling of hundreds of lesson plans’ that educators can access via Thingiverse’s Education portal.”

The promising news for MakerBot is that apparently teachers have already downloaded these lesson plans an astounding 14,000 times in the last month alone.  If all goes according to plan, MakerBot’s shift in focus from the consumer to the education market may save it just yet.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of MakerBot and Engadget

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3D Printing a Beating Artificial Heart

Digital Trends reports on a recent project coming out of ETH Zurich in Switzerland.  Scientists at ETH Zurich have developed a functioning 3D printed beating heart.

This 3D printed heart is made out of silicone using a 3D printed mold.  “While not a biological replica of the actual heart, the idea is that it could be used as an artificial heart in scenarios such as when a patient is awaiting a heart transplant.”

Wendelin Stark, who is a professor at the Institute for Chemical and Bioengineering at ETH Zurich, explains the process of developing this 3D printed artificial heart: “I met with a heart surgeon, Professor Volkmar Falk, now head of the largest heart surgery clinic in Europe, at the Charite [teaching hospital] in Berlin.  He asked me if we could think about a new artificial heart.  I had no clue at first.  Then we learned that current heart support machines are made of hard materials like steel or titanium and plastic.  When a patient receives such a hard device, the blood tends to make clumps – so the patient is given a so-called ‘anticoagulant,’ a drug that reduces blood clot formation.”

Stark went on to explain this “can cause serious problems for patients – ranging from strokes to lung problems to intestinal bleeding.  It was astonishing to find out that the anticoagulation therapy was the largest single cause of problems in patients with heart implants.”

Therefore, Stark and his team were able to specify their new artificial heart would have to be a soft implant.  With a soft implant, anticoagulation therapy wouldn’t be necessary anymore.  Due to “Stark’s history with 3D printing, his team decided to make a 3D printed mold, which could then be used to create a silicon rubber heart.”

Stark explains: “we used the mold to make silicon soft pumps, and optimized the design to fit a human heart-type pumping pattern.  We teamed up with Mirko Mebolt, a mechanical engineer, and tested the prototype against a human-like blood flow resistance.”

The 3D printed artificial heart Stark and his team came up with is “promising” but not yet stable enough for proper human use.  “At present, it only works for several thousand beats, lasting around 30 to 45 minutes.  Over time…the plan is to develop a model which could conceivably work over a period of years.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Digital Trends

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Wave3D Launches its First Commercial Stereolithography (SLA) 3D Printer

3Ders has caught wind of a brand-new launch of a stereolithography 3D Printer.  Wave3D, which is based in Toronto, Canada, has “just unveiled its first commercial stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer: the Wave3D Pro.”

The Wave3D Pro has been developed “for professional applications such as rapid prototyping and design.”  This stereolithography machine has been in development for the past two years.  Wave3D’s aim with this machine is to offer “an affordable and relatively compact system – something that can enable small and medium-sized businesses to integrate 3D printing technology into their day to day.”

“The 3D printer is a bottom-up SLA machine, which has been rethought and re-engineered in a number of ways.  For instance, the Wave3D Pro integrates a proprietary build tray made using optically clear film rather than silicone.  This film enables users to more easily replace the build tray if it becomes damaged or suffers any wear…this optically clear film also reduces the risk of hazing and sticking, so large prints with wide flat surfaces can be made more easily.  The Wave3D Pro’s tray is also equipped with an automatic resin circulation system, as well as temperature and leveling control for the 3D printing resin.  This means users can work with either a full resin supply or a tray with as little as 1.5 liters of resin in it.”

As for the Wave3D Pro’s build platform size, it is rather spectacular.  “Coming in at 394 x 216 x 559 mm (15.5 x 8.5 x 22 in), the SLA 3D printer is notably larger than many of its competitors…[it] also offers a resolution of 50 microns.”

Despite its large build platform size, however, the Wave3D Pro “can easily fit through any doorway and thus does not require any specialized or extensive installation processes.”

“Wave3D is preparing a ‘demonstration model’ of its 3D printer to be used in a pilot program.  The 3D printer will therefore (for now, at least) be produced on a small scale, putting its price at around $60,000.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3Ders

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