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October 2018: 3D Printing Update

Let us begin our monthly roundup of additive manufacturing news with one of the largest technology companies out there: HP!

CNET was on hand when printing giant HP announced a revolutionary device in metal manufacturing: the Metal Jet 3D Printer.

The Metal Jet 3D Printer, which will cost $400,000, “is faster and therefore more economical than using a laser to create parts out of powdered metal.”  As HP’s Head of 3D Metal Printing explains: “we’re really going to enable mass production for mainstream metals, in particular steels.”

In fact, HP has also signed a number of “deals with experienced metal manufacturing partners and with customers including Volkswagen and Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices.”  This means it will be possible, in the not so distant future, many automotive parts may be “built partly from this new method of digital fabrication.”

The Metal Jet 3D Printer’s process begins with “a thin layer of powdered metal laid down on a bed.  Then a line of print heads traverses the layer, squirting tiny drops of a binding agent — glue, essentially — where solid metal is needed.  When one layer is done, a new layer of powder is laid down followed by another pass for the binding agent. It takes about four or five hours to create a product or group of products using the printer’s full volume of 430x320x200 millimeters, which is about 17x13x8 inches.  The printer works at very high resolution. Its smallest metal element — a voxel — measures just 20x20x50 microns, or millionths of a meter.”

Following printing, these parts are taken out and then undergo a sintering process.  On top of all this, according to Weber, the HP system is boosted by PageWide technology, which “moves a band of print heads across the entire bed in one swipe per layer instead of sending one print head traversing back and forth time after time.”  HP also develops and manufactures its own parts, so this lowers the costs even more.

Elsewhere, All3DP reports on the furniture company Steelcase, which has teamed up with Fast Radius and Carbon “in order to design and 3D print multiple iterations of a custom arm cap for its award winning SILQ office chair.”

The SILQ was designed “with minimal parts and provides custom comfort to anyone who decides to take a seat.”  Now, though, Steelcase has chosen to take that personalization one step further.  “They reached out to Fast Radius, a provider of additive manufacturing solutions, and Carbon, the Silicon Valley tech startup and digital manufacturer, to help improve the design.”

All three of these companies have now collaborated in order to create a custom arm cap.  They utilized Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis 3D printing technology.  As Steelcase’s Director of Global Design Bruce Smith explains: “ever since SILQ first debuted, we have continued to experiment with enhancements to the chair’s design, living up to our reputation of pursuing innovation… The additive manufacturing processes from Fast Radius and Carbon enabled us to streamline the already-unique aesthetics of the chair with a lattice structure that also condensed three parts into one.”

As with many other 3D printing-related innovations before it, “Carbon’s additive manufacturing technology provided numerous advantages to the product development process, such as reducing the time it takes to create a product while also reducing material waste.  Another benefit of using this fast resin-based 3D printing method is that it enables consumer-specific personalization for certain parts.”

Fast Radius CEO Lou Rassey expounds upon the ways in which 3D printing helped Steelcase’s product development process: “unlike traditional lengthy and expensive design cycles, the additive manufacturing process meant Steelcase could go through as many redesigns as needed to get it right. In this instance, we went from the initial idea with around 100 variables and produced over 12 unique designs in just eight weeks.”

Truly an innovative collaboration.

From gaming to the military, 3D printing is upending many spheres all at once:

New Atlas reports on a recent announcement made by the US military.  Apparently, the US Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) “constructed a prototype concrete barracks in under two days with what it calls the world’s largest 3D printer.”

The MCSC’s Additive Manufacturing Team collaborated with I Marine Expeditionary Force in order to build this prototype barracks.  The barracks is located at the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Champaign, Illinois and measures 500 sq. ft. (46 sq. m.).  Astoundingly, it was 3D printed in just 40 hours.  “According to MCSC, it normally takes 10 marines five days to construct a similar hut out of wood.”  Talk about a streamlined process!

This 3D printing process “involved cement being extruded through a nozzle in layers to build up the undulating walls…the Marine Corps is now carrying out more research to see how the technology can be employed in the field and if the construction process can be refined further.”

As MCSC Capt. Matthew Friedell elaborates: “in active or simulated combat environments, we don’t want Marines out there swinging hammers and holding plywood up.  Having a concrete printer capable of creating buildings on demand is a huge advantage for marines operating down range…we can bring forward better structures, houses, and forward operating bases with less manpower and fewer marines in harm’s way.”

Finally, this month we end on speed…

3D Print reports on a recently announced collaboration between Penske and Stratasys.  Penske “is a leading Indy, Nascar, and IMSA racing team” who have won multiple championships over the last sixty years.

Now, though, Team Penske is utilizing 3D printing for its racing car teams.  As Team Penske’s Production Manager Matt Gimbel explains: “3D printing enables us to do things we can’t do as fast using other manufacturing methods.  [Among the parts Team Penske 3D prints are] wind tunnel model test components, composite tooling, manufacturing jigs and fixtures, engineering prototypes, and race car components.  The team turns to 3D printing because we can design and print manufacturing and composite tools faster than machining in metal and tooling board.  3D printed prototype components can also help avoid costly mistakes in the design process.”

Speed is obviously a critical factor for Team Penske, and 3D printing helps them out with speed exponentially.  This includes aiding the team in investigating the chemical makeup of their racing parts as well as the optimization of fuel flow for their vehicles.

As Stratasys VP of Manufacturing Solutions Scott Sevcik concludes: “the race track is an extreme environment where new technologies are put to the test in an effort to give the race team an edge.  As a result, it’s an incredible learning environment.  Race teams push the boundaries of automobile performance, and technologies who prove themselves on the track then tend to transition to the mass market to scale the same performance benefits highlighted by the race team.  So yes, Stratasys FDM is proving itself on the track and in the pit [and this] is a major step toward finding our place on the highway and on the production floor.  Transition takes time, so it’s not something we will see overnight, but Stratasys FDM is mature, has proven its value in these challenging environments, and is definitely making great strides into production today.”

Tune in next month for more 3D printing shenanigans!

Image Courtesy of All3DP

Quotes Courtesy of HP, CNET, All3DP, New Atlas, the US Marine Corps, and 3D Print

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Volkswagen Uses 3D Printing to Mass Produce Automobile Parts

CNN reports on Volkswagen’s new plans to use 3D printing in the mass production of automobile parts.  The company will “start using HP metal printing technology to manufacture select parts including gear knobs and custom tailgate lettering.”

Additionally, Volkswagen also plans to “mass produce structural parts using the technology within two to three years.”  Typically, Volkswagen automobiles are built using up to 8,000 separate parts.  Prior to this announcement, “Volkswagen already had 90 printers in its plants, which [had been] used to make replacements for rare parts.”

As Volkswagen’s Head of Technology Planning and Development Martin Goede explains: “a complete vehicle will probably not be manufactured by a 3D printer any time soon, but the number and size of parts from the 3D printer will increase significantly.  A big advantage of 3D printing is it allows us to produce many of these parts without first having to build manufacturing tools.”

Volkswagen envisions 3D printing will enable it to print “even ‘highly stressed’ parts like pistons.”  HP’s CEO Dion Weisler concludes: “the implications are huge – the auto, industrial, and medical sectors alone produce billions of metal parts each year.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of CNN

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US Marine Corps 3D Prints Barracks

New Atlas reports on a recent announcement made by the US military.  Apparently, the US Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) “constructed a prototype concrete barracks in under two days with what it calls the world’s largest 3D printer.”

The MCSC’s Additive Manufacturing Team collaborated with I Marine Expeditionary Force in order to build this prototype barracks.  The barracks is located at the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Champaign, Illinois and measures 500 sq. ft. (46 sq. m.).  Astoundingly, it was 3D printed in just 40 hours.  “According to MCSC, it normally takes 10 marines five days to construct a similar hut out of wood.”  Talk about a streamlined process!

This 3D printing process “involved cement being extruded through a nozzle in layers to build up the undulating walls…the Marine Corps is now carrying out more research to see how the technology can be employed in the field and if the construction process can be refined further.”

As MCSC Capt. Matthew Friedell elaborates: “in active or simulated combat environments, we don’t want Marines out there swinging hammers and holding plywood up.  Having a concrete printer capable of creating buildings on demand is a huge advantage for marines operating down range…we can bring forward better structures, houses, and forward operating bases with less manpower and fewer marines in harm’s way.”

Images and Quotes Courtesy of New Atlas and the US Marine Corps

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Team Penske Teams Up With Stratasys

3D Print reports on a recently announced collaboration between Penske and Stratasys.  Penske “is a leading Indy, Nascar, and IMSA racing team” who have won multiple championships over the last sixty years.

Now, though, Team Penske is utilizing 3D printing for its racing car teams.  As Team Penske’s Production Manager Matt Gimbel explains: “3D printing enables us to do things we can’t do as fast using other manufacturing methods.  [Among the parts Team Penske 3D prints are] wind tunnel model test components, composite tooling, manufacturing jigs and fixtures, engineering prototypes, and race car components.  The team turns to 3D printing because we can design and print manufacturing and composite tools faster than machining in metal and tooling board.  3D printed prototype components can also help avoid costly mistakes in the design process.”

Speed is obviously a critical factor for Team Penske, and 3D printing helps them out with speed exponentially.  This includes aiding the team in investigating the chemical makeup of their racing parts as well as the optimization of fuel flow for their vehicles.

As Stratasys VP of Manufacturing Solutions Scott Sevcik concludes: “the race track is an extreme environment where new technologies are put to the test in an effort to give the race team an edge.  As a result, it’s an incredible learning environment.  Race teams push the boundaries of automobile performance, and technologies who prove themselves on the track then tend to transition to the mass market to scale the same performance benefits highlighted by the race team.  So yes, Stratasys FDM is proving itself on the track and in the pit [and this] is a major step toward finding our place on the highway and on the production floor.  Transition takes time, so it’s not something we will see overnight, but Stratasys FDM is mature, has proven its value in these challenging environments, and is definitely making great strides into production today.”

Images and Quotes Courtesy of 3D Print

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Palette 2 Helps Makers Turn Any 3D Print Full Color

Tech Crunch recently featured an overview of Mosaic Manufacturing’s Palette 2 system.  The Palette 2, which is an upgrade on the original Palette, “is a self-contained system for full color 3D printing.”

Essentially, the Palette 2 turns any 3D print full color!  How does it work, you may be asking yourself.  Well, the Palette 2 is able to cut and splice “multiple filament colors and then feed them through as the object is printed.  The system uses a unique and internal cutter called the Splice Core, which measures and cuts filament as it is printed through a 3D printer, ensuring the incoming filament can change colors quickly and easily.”

The Palette 2 enables the 3D printer to print in four colors using any amount of color.  “It extrudes excess color into a little object called a tower, allowing it to print as much or as little of a color as necessary.  It also has automatic runout detection which lets makers print larger objects over a longer period of time.”

The Palette 2 even works with a number of current 3D printers – no updates necessary, even for the Palette Pro 2.  “A new piece of software called Canvas allows users to plan their color prints and send the instructions to both the Palette 2 and the printer for printing.”  The Palette 2 will cost $449, while the Pro will cost $699.  The main difference between these two tiered systems is mainly the rapidity of the Palette Pro 2.

As Mosaic Manufacturing pontificates: the Palette 2 utilizes “a very clever hack – instead of making the printer do all the work, makers instead will be forcing the filament to do the work.”  Already, the Mosaic Manufacturing team has been able to print various items using the Palette 2 such as “3D printed phone case models, rubbery watch bands using stretchable materials, and even educational objects.”

Perhaps the most impressive display of the Palette 2 system’s potential came when the Mosaic Manufacturing team “printed a scan of a brain with evidence of a tumor visible in yellow.”  For makers on a budget, they can’t go wrong with 3D printing in color with the Palette 2 system.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Tech Crunch

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NanoSteel Launches Formetrix

3D Printing Industry reports on a recent announcement made by the company NanoSteel.  NanoSteel, which is based in Providence, Rhode Island, “is a steel materials company specializing in the design and commercialization of new advanced alloys.  The company’s expertise lies in the construction of proprietary steel chemistries and production routes aimed at specific performance requirements.”

Now, NanoSteel is launching Formetrix, a new corporation formed with the aim of accelerating “the commercialization of 3D printing metals.”  Formetrix “will also offer on-demand production services.”

As NanoSteel’s President and CEO David Paratore explains: “Formetrix was formed to provide new, high performance steel alloys to accelerate the adoption of additive manufacturing within the tool and die and aluminum die cast industries.”

This process will work by the Formetrix corporation producing “patented steel alloys for 3D printed parts for hot and cold forming tool and dies such as molding, casting, and stamping within the automotive, oil & gas, and heavy machinery markets.”  Formetrix’s alloys will provide a plethora of benefits “such as higher hardness and ductility and higher wear resistance relating to [non-3D printing] current alternatives.”

Formetrix has selected the AddUp FormUp 350 3D Printer as its main mode of additive manufacturing.  As the company’s Chief Commercial Officer Harald Lemke concludes: “through the precision capability provided by our new industrial AddUp 3D Printer, we can support both prototyping and volume customer needs more effectively and efficiently.  Using the initial FormUp 350 along with additional finishing equipment, Formetrix will continue to expand its service center capabilities.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3D Printing Industry

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HP Announces Metal Jet 3D Printer

CNET was on hand when printing giant HP announced a revolutionary device in metal manufacturing: the Metal Jet 3D Printer.

The Metal Jet 3D Printer, which will cost $400,000, “is faster and therefore more economical than using a laser to create parts out of powdered metal.”  As HP’s Head of 3D Metal Printing explains: “we’re really going to enable mass production for mainstream metals, in particular steels.”

In fact, HP has also signed a number of “deals with experienced metal manufacturing partners and with customers including Volkswagen and Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices.”  This means it will be possible, in the not so distant future, many automotive parts may be “built partly from this new method of digital fabrication.”

The Metal Jet 3D Printer’s process begins with “a thin layer of powdered metal laid down on a bed.  Then a line of print heads traverses the layer, squirting tiny drops of a binding agent — glue, essentially — where solid metal is needed.  When one layer is done, a new layer of powder is laid down followed by another pass for the binding agent. It takes about four or five hours to create a product or group of products using the printer’s full volume of 430x320x200 millimeters, which is about 17x13x8 inches.  The printer works at very high resolution. Its smallest metal element — a voxel — measures just 20x20x50 microns, or millionths of a meter.”

Following printing, these parts are taken out and then undergo a sintering process.  On top of all this, according to Weber, the HP system is boosted by PageWide technology, which “moves a band of print heads across the entire bed in one swipe per layer instead of sending one print head traversing back and forth time after time.”  HP also develops and manufactures its own parts, so this lowers the costs even more.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of HP and CNET

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Siemens Mobility Opens First Digital Rail Maintenance Center

ZDNet reports on the grand opening of Siemens Mobility’s first digital rail maintenance center.  This center will utilize the wonders of 3D printing “to manufacture parts, reduce inventory, and get trains running faster.”

This rail center – which has been dubbed the Siemens Mobility RRX Rail Service Center – is located in Dortmund-Eving, Germany.  In order to fulfill its 3D printing manufacturing goals, this digital rail maintenance center “is using Stratasys’ Fortus 450mc Production 3D Printer to make on-demand tooling and replacement parts.”

Siemens Mobility (which is a division of Siemens) has been happy to report “manufacturing time of parts has been reduced by about 95 percent.”  This “rail center will receive about 100 trains at its depot every month.”  In order to be more efficient, Siemens Mobility turned to 3D printing.  Before now, the company had to rely “on casting and traditional methods, which would take about 6 weeks to manufacture a customized part.  With Stratasys’ equipment, Siemens Mobility can produce parts in 13 hours.  Within a week, the company can now iterate, optimize, and 3D print a production grade part.”

Additionally, Siemens Mobility is also using the wonders of 3D printing in order to improve the company’s tooling at this brand new RRX Rail Service Center.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of ZDNet, Siemens, and Stratasys

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Kuwait Closes 3D Printed Figure Shop For Selling ‘Cult Idols’

3Ders caught wind of a report by Kuwait’s Al-Qabas newspaper recently, concerning an unusual story involving 3D printing.

Apparently, back in mid-September, the Kuwaiti authorities shut down a 3D printing store, a branch of technology company DOOB 3D, which specializes in selling life-like 3D printed figurines.

The Kuwaiti authorities have not made an official comment on the case, but the forced closure comes on the heels of a fiery sermon made by popular local cleric Sheikh Othman al-Khamis, who called for the immediate closure of the shop: “what this shop does is an abomination and more dangerous than selling alcohol because it could lead to some people making idols of their children.”  Supporters of Sheikh Othman have argued “the dangers posed by these idols is great.  These figurines are a means of leading people to polytheism.”

According to 3Ders, “Islamic law prohibits the worship of statues and idols.”

However, since this shop’s closure, there has been an inevitable backlash.  Indeed, “the Arabic-language hashtag ‘idols in Kuwait’ has been used more than 21,000 times on Twitter.”  Not all of these mentions have fallen on the side of the Sheikh, either…

Apparently, the shop’s manager is quoted as saying: “I never expected we could open a shop in the year 2018 and then have  someone accuse the company of selling idols.”  The manager is certainly not alone in his sentiments.

Many Arab cultural critics have taken to Twitter to protest these actions.  One user “posted a picture of four toy animals – a gazelle, a whale, an orangutan, and an elephant – along with the caption ‘new animal cult.’”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3Ders

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Carbon 3D Printing Teams Up With Steelcase

All3DP reports on the furniture company Steelcase, which has teamed up with Fast Radius and Carbon “in order to design and 3D print multiple iterations of a custom arm cap for its award winning SILQ office chair.”

The SILQ was designed “with minimal parts and provides custom comfort to anyone who decides to take a seat.”  Now, though, Steelcase has chosen to take that personalization one step further.  “They reached out to Fast Radius, a provider of additive manufacturing solutions, and Carbon, the Silicon Valley tech startup and digital manufacturer, to help improve the design.”

All three of these companies have now collaborated in order to create a custom arm cap.  They utilized Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis 3D printing technology.  As Steelcase’s Director of Global Design Bruce Smith explains: “ever since SILQ first debuted, we have continued to experiment with enhancements to the chair’s design, living up to our reputation of pursuing innovation… The additive manufacturing processes from Fast Radius and Carbon enabled us to streamline the already-unique aesthetics of the chair with a lattice structure that also condensed three parts into one.”

As with many other 3D printing-related innovations before it, “Carbon’s additive manufacturing technology provided numerous advantages to the product development process, such as reducing the time it takes to create a product while also reducing material waste.  Another benefit of using this fast resin-based 3D printing method is that it enables consumer-specific personalization for certain parts.”

Fast Radius CEO Lou Rassey expounds upon the ways in which 3D printing helped Steelcase’s product development process: “unlike traditional lengthy and expensive design cycles, the additive manufacturing process meant Steelcase could go through as many redesigns as needed to get it right. In this instance, we went from the initial idea with around 100 variables and produced over 12 unique designs in just eight weeks.”

Truly an innovative collaboration.

Images and Quotes Courtesy of All3DP

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IKEA Helps to Develop 3D Printed Gaming Stool

Fast Company was highly amused to discover furniture giant IKEA, in collaboration with educational e-sports group Area Academy and 3D printing medical company Unyq, is using individualized scans of people’s backsides in order to develop a personalized 3D printed gaming stool.

According to the three companies, their goal was “to develop ergonomic equipment for a better gaming experience for the 2 billion gamers around the world.”  Indeed, this is sorely (haha) needed.  Back in 2016, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) published a report claiming “the average [American] gamer spends about six hours a week playing games.”  This trend will only continue to rise.

So it is vital seating for gaming is comfortable and healthy.  Although “at first glance IKEA’s invention [appears as] a fairly typical hydraulic stool, [in actuality], on top sits a two-panel mesh platform, which has been 3D printed to conform perfectly to the contours of one person’s bottom.”  Sounds heavenly.  Like sitting on a cushion of clouds.

IKEA hasn’t gone into specifics about how this sort of stool would work in a store, but presumably “it would require both a 3D scan and a 3D print.  IKEA has stated that as futuristic as this sounds, the company does intend to commercialize this concept by 2020.”

While ergonomic furniture could be great for gamers, this sort of personalized technology could prove lucrative with the average consumer as well, which would explain IKEA’s interest in its development.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of IKEA and Fast Company

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Wacker to Open US 3D Printing Lab

TCT Magazine reports on a recent announcement made by Wacker.  Apparently, Wacker will be opening a US-based 3D printing lab for silicone rubber sometime in the next year.

Wacker Chemie, which is a German chemical company, will be expanding “its ACEO 3D printing services for silicone rubber” with this facility.  Interestingly, this facility will be Wacker’s first “regional 3D printing lab outside Germany.”  It will be “located at Wacker’s R&D center for silicones in Ann Arbor, Michigan.”  Though specific numbers have not been made public, Wacker “says it has earmarked a single digit million dollar amount for the development.”

Wacker’s “new lab will be equipped with two 3D printers, each of which will be able to process a broad range of silicone rubber with different Shore A hardnesses and in varying colors, including media resistant FVMQ grades.”

Wacker’s Head of ACEO 3D Printing Bernd Pachaly explains: “in general, North America is the largest and most dynamic market for 3D printing.  With our new lab, prospective partners will obtain local access to the compelling possibilities of 3D printing with liquid silicone rubber.”  The company will still print silicone components in Germany, but this new lab will serve the North American market.

As Pachaly concludes: “right from the start, we will be engaged in projects involving medical devices and components needed for health care, transportation, aerospace, and electronics, all of which are key industry segments, particularly for silicone-based products.  Establishing a regional lab will support expansion of ACEO’s footprint in the US and furthers Wacker’s global service network for silicone rubber 3D printing solutions.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of TCT Magazine

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