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April 2018: 3D Printing Update

This month in the world of 3D printing was quite a busy and exciting time.

Let’s get right to the news!  Certainly, the news which caused the greatest buzz to bounce around the world of additive manufacturing occurred at SXSW in Austin.

The Verge reported from last month’s SXSW.  ICON, an Austin-based startup unveiled “its approach to combat adequate housing deficiency in the world by using low-cost 3D printing as a potential solution.”

ICON “developed a method for printing a single-story 650-square-foot house out of cement in only 12 to 24 hours, a fraction of the time it takes for new construction.  If all goes according to plan, a community made up of about one-hundred homes will be constructed for residents in El Salvador next year.”

The first model home was debuted in Austin last month.  It was printed from cement.  “Using the Vulcan 3D printer, ICON can print an entire home for $10,000 and plans to bring costs down to $4,000 per house.”

As Jason Ballard, Co-Founder of ICON elaborates: “it’s much cheaper than the typical American home.  The model has a living room, bedroom, bathroom, and a curved porch.  There are a few other companies printing homes and structures, but they are printed in a warehouse or they look like Yoda huts.  For this venture to succeed, they have to be the best houses.”

“Once ICON completes material testing and tweaking of the design, the company will move the Vulcan printer to El Salvador to begin construction. ICON says its 3D-printed houses will create minimal waste and labor costs are significantly reduced. The company also intends to build homes in the US eventually.”

Beyond this?  Why, space of course!  Ballard dreams: “one of the big challenges is how we are going to create habitats in space.  You’re not going to open a two-by-four and open screws.  3D printing is one of the more promising potential habitat technologies.”

From houses to hearts: 3D printing is (and has the potential to continue to) touching the lives of millions worldwide.

3D Printing Industry reports of a medical collaboration between American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH) and the University of Wisconsin Madison.

3D printed organs have been used as surgical planning aids for a while now, but this collaboration is slightly different due to its use for preparing surgeons for pediatric heart surgeries.

“The team at AFCH, led by Dr. Petros Anagnostopoulos, has been scanning patients’ hearts using traditional medical scans to create 3D printed models surgeons can interact with before entering the operating room.”

For Dr. Anagnostopoulos, the results speak for themselves: “there’s a lot of ability to see the relationship of the different parts of the heart as they are in real time.  It prepares your whole team better.”  When surgeons are operating upon children, this can only be a good thing.  “One patient, six-year-old Joseph Oehlof, had a heart condition which may have required a transplant.  Dr. Anagnostopoulos was able to prepare for the complex surgery using 3D printed models, which he says improved the surgery’s chances of success.”

As for the team of engineers at the University of Wisconsin Madison who collaborated with these surgeons, their team leader Roldan Alzate “believes the potential of 3D printing in the medical field is only beginning to be realized.”  As he says, “everywhere in the human body would benefit [from] 3D printing.  This is only the beginning.”

3D printing is also shaping the look of our future.

3DPrint was at South by Southwest in Texas last month, and one of the more interesting 3D printed technologies they found there were Bose’s prototype 3D printed augmented reality sunglasses.

As has been the experience and preference for many companies recently, “Bose chose to 3D print its product prototype, rather than use a conventional manufacturing method.  [As many other companies have been discovering], this can save time and money in the product design and development product, even if (as with these AR sunglasses) the technology won’t work for commercial production.”

The Bose AR sunglasses would allow users to listen to music, much as they would when they used headphones.  “This feat was accomplished by building two narrow directional speakers into the end of each stem. The speakers will send the audio directly into the user’s ears without the use of earbuds, and no one else can hear their music unless they actually press themselves up against the sunglasses.”

The Bose AR sunglasses also know where the user is looking, thanks to on-board motion sensors working in partnership with GPS coordinates from a paired smartphone.  “By looking at a specific landmark and double-tapping one of the sunglass stems, you can instantly receive audio information through the speakers. In the future, Bose hopes to partner with content providers and integrate their data, so users will only need to look at something like a restaurant or store to instantly have access to spoken ratings and reviews.”

Indeed, already they have been hard at work on a $50 million venture fund in order to invest “n other companies to get some help in building out its AR sunglasses into a viable platform.  It’s already got some big names signed on, including Yelp, TuneIn, Trip Advisor, ASICS Studio, and Strava.”

As the Bose Developer Portal encourages: “imagine a world where everything you see is more valuable, more emotional, and more meaningful – because of what you hear.  Introducing Bose AR, the world’s first audio augmented reality platform.”

3D printing is helping bring that world into existence.

Lastly, 3D printing is literally going to help us physically get to the future.

Fortune details the announcement of a brand-new 3D printed electric car.  This $10,000 vehicle marks a collaboration between the Italian company X Electrical Vehicle (XEV) and Polymaker, a manufacturer of 3D printing materials.

The 3D printed electric car, LSEV, will be available to consumers in China on a mass-produced scale for under $10,000 by Q2 2019.  XEV “claims the LSEV will be the first mass-produced 3D printed car.”

In fact, “the company says it has already received more than 7,000 orders for the cars from the Italian postal service and from ARVAL, a vehicle-leasing service.”

Perhaps what’s most exciting about XEV’s LSEV is that these “cars reportedly take around [only] three days to manufacture.  Everything visible on the car, except the windows, chassis, and seats, are 3D printed.”

Now, before you get too excited, however, keep in mind that XEV and Polymaker’s LSEV have a top speed of 70km per hour (which is a little under 45 MPH) “and have a range of 150km (just over 90 miles.”

Despite these limitations, though, designers at XEV do foresee a large market for the LSEV in China.  According to the South China Morning Post, XEV designers even claim “China was the biggest market for their cars, and the company is in talks to set up a production line on the mainland.”

The world of the future 3D printing is, well, printing, certainly looks incredibly bright from where we’re sitting.

Image Courtesy of ICON

Quotes Courtesy of ICON, The Verge, 3D Printing Industry, Bose, 3DPrint, Fortune, XEV, and Polymaker

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Desktop Metal Raises $65 Million

Venture Beats writes of yet another round of funding for metal 3D printing company Desktop Metal.

Based in Massachusetts, Desktop Metal aims “to make metal 3D printing more accessible to manufacturers and engineers outside highly specialized industries, as well as reducing costs and turnaround times for companies already manufacturing metal-based goods.”

In order to achieve these lofty goals, Desktop Metal is providing “end-to-end metal 3D printing solutions” which “include the $120,000 Desktop Metal Studio System, aimed at helping engineers build prototypes [and a] mass-production metal 3D printing system” which will cost more than $400,000.

Now, Desktop Metal has raised $65 million in “a round of funding led by Ford, with participation from Future Fund.”  With the help of this money, Desktop Metal will be able to keep their prices 10 times less expensive than existing technology.

“Ford’s involvement in this latest tranche of funding is notable, as this is clearly a strategic investment from a company that relies heavily on metal.  Ford CTO Dr. Ken Washington will now join Desktop Metal’s board of directors.  BMW also previously invested in Desktop Metal via its BMW iVentures unit.”

Desktop Metal’s Co-Founder and CEO Ric Fulop is ecstatic: “the age of metal 3D manufacturing is here, and this strategic partnership with Ford, along with our portfolio of investors, validates our vision to transform the way metal parts will be designed and mass produced.  The continued support of our investors underscores the power of our metal 3D printing solutions to help engineers and manufacturers, for the first time, apply metal 3D printing for the entire product development lifecycle – from prototyping to mass producing complex, high-performance metal parts in a cost-effective way.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Desktop Metal and Venture Beat

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Metal 3D Printing Facility Unveiled in Bengaluru, India

First Post reports on a new unveiling by Azim Premji, Chairman of global software giant Wipro.  Wipro has developed a 12,000 square foot metal 3D printing facility.  This facility is located in Bengaluru, India.

This center will have “various capabilities including building up technology, post-processing, research, characterization, and validation facilities.”  The cost of this facility was not disclosed.

“Wipro’s 3D printing business unit, Wipro3D, has been providing services to aerospace, space, industrial, automotive, healthcare, oil & gas, and heavy engineering sectors” throughout the country of India.  This division was established in the country back in 2012.

Wipro “plans to take its 3D printing services” worldwide.  As Wipro3D’s Business Head Ajay Parikh elaborates: “we see 3D printing as a critical component in the digital manufacturing strategy of any enterprise.”

Indeed, as the engineers and other workers at Wipro3D are quick to point out, they happen to be the developers of one of India’s “earliest 3D printed metal components” sent out into space.

With the addition of metal 3D printing, it has become apparent that Wipro3D is about to become a force to be reckoned with for India’s booming 3D printing/distributive manufacturing sector.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of First Post

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Giant Illuminated 3D Printed Skeleton

Bespoke reports on a recent art installation featured at the Mexican Festival of Light celebrations in Guadalajara.  This innovative installation was 3D printed by Moti Digital, a Mexico-based print service provider.

Moti Digital used a Massivit 1800 3D printer to get the job done.  The Mexican Festival of Light “explores how light and art work in perfect harmony and encapsulates the culture of Guadalajara.”  In order to do the celebration justice, the team at Moti Digital wished “to create a model that would ‘wow’ visitors at the event and demonstrate the impressive capabilities of large format 3D printing technology.”

“Measuring at 8.40m (27.52 ft) long and 3.60m (11.8ft) tall, the breathtaking skeleton was produced in just four days.  The painted skeleton was positioned inside the Plaza Tapatia fountain pool and illuminated at night, where thousands of festival-goers were able to sit in its arms.  The experience generated huge amounts of conversation and photos that featured prominently across social media platforms.”

In the months to come, this amiable 3D printed giant skeleton will also feature “at this year’s Festival del Dia de los Muertos, taking place throughout Mexico from the 31st of October.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Moti Digital and Bespoke

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re:3D Gigabot X 3D Printer Launches on Kickstarter

3Ders reports on yet another Kickstarter launch for Austin, Texas-based ultra large format3D printing specialist re:3D.  re:3D is “now on its third Kickstarter, having raised…$250,000 in 2013 for its original Gigabot 3D printer and then $50,000 in 2015 for the Open Gigabot.”

Now they have launched the Kickstarter for the re:3D Gigabot X 3D Printer.  This large-format pellet extrusion 3D printer promises “faster, cheaper, and greener possibilities for 3D printing…backers of the $50,000 campaign can secure a Gigabot X 3D printer for $9,500 or purchase kits and print heads for a smaller sum.”

“The Gigabot X builds upon the success of re:3D’s Gigabot 3+ while reducing dependence on extruded plastic.  It does this by incorporating a pellet extrusion system, allowing the large-format 3D printer to easily print recycled plastic.”

re:3D’s goal, even all the way back in 2013, was to “ultimately create a 3D printer capable of printing using plastic trash.  [They have] determined the first step in that direction is to focus on direct pellet extrusion – melting small chunks of plastic instead of extruded filament for the input material.”  The Gigabot X development project was funded “using more than $225,000 raised through global pitch competitions last year.”

As re:3D’s Kickstarter campaign elaborates: “Rather than using filament, this miniaturized direct drive system accepts pelletized plastic that is pulled down from a hopper, pushed through a heated barrel, and extruded though a small nozzle.  Our engineers have been collaborating with global makers to perfect our prototype and identify necessary features of the extrusion system.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of re:3D and 3Ders

 

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Siemens to Launch 3D Printing Centre in New Worcester, UK

Tech Radar reports on a recent announcement made by electronics giant Siemens.  Siemen has announced it will be opening a brand-new 3D printing centre in New Worcester in the United Kingdom.

Siemens has already pledged around $38 million to this new 3D printing centre, which “will greatly expand the possibility of using 3D printed items across its industrial operations within the next few years.”  Siemens aims to open this brand-new 3D printing centre in September of 2018.

“The launch will increase Siemens’ fleet of 3D printers from 15 to 50, and will allow the production of ‘thousands’ of specialized parts.”  Siemens UK CEO Juergen Maier elaborates: “this significant investment underlines our belief that there is huge potential for innovation and growth within the Additive Manufacturing sector.  It is also the next step towards achieving our ambition of pioneering the industrialization of 3D printing and demonstrates how we are leading the way for the fourth industrial revolution.”

“If the UK’s manufacturing sector is to grow and thrive, we must embrace digital technologies and build new industries based on them.  Our vision and ambition for Materials Solutions perfectly represents how we are putting this strategy into practice.”

Materials Solutions, which is 85% owned by Siemens, will operate this new 3D printing centre.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Tech Radar and Siemens

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Chanel Finally Unveils 3D Printed Mascara Brush

3DPrint reports on an exciting announcement by the fashion industry juggernaut Chanel.  Chanel has finally unveiled their 3D printed mascara brush, which has been in the works for over ten years, since 2007.

“Chanel Parfums Beaute, together with its French partner, Erpro 3D Factory, is changing up the brush manufacturing process by increasing flexibility and saving time and money for forgoing expensive, time-consuming molds.”  This new 3D printed mascara brush is called Le Revolution Volume mascara.

Erpro 3D Factory, specializers in large-scale 3D printing, “have designed a joint production line with [Chanel].  The line has six 3D printers, which can produce a total of 50,000 brushes per day – this equals out to 250,000 brushes per week, for a total of up to 1 million brushes each month.”

Chanel first filed a 3D printing patent all the way back in 2007, “for manufacturing cosmetic products applicators, which included a 3D printed mascara brush.  Fabricating the brush via 3D printing introduces flexibility to the production process, as Chanel was able to manufacture as many inexpensive prototypes as needed in order to test out and determine the best brush formula.”

Production of Le Revolution Volume mascara is expected to begin in June of 2018.  “Several patent applications protect the process, in which layers of polyamide powder are polymerized using a laser beam to 3D print the mascara brush.  The powder 3D printing method allows Chanel to produce the specific shape of the brush, which it wouldn’t be able to do with other, more conventional manufacturing methods.  This shape allows the mascara to be distributed homogeneously on the user’s eyelashes.”

La Revolution Volume mascara brush will be available in Canada starting in the fall of 2018.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3DPrint and Chanel

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ICON Develops Cheap Rapid 3D Printed Houses

The Verge reported from last month’s SXSW.  ICON, an Austin-based startup unveiled “its approach to combat adequate housing deficiency in the world by using low-cost 3D printing as a potential solution.”

ICON “developed a method for printing a single-story 650-square-foot house out of cement in only 12 to 24 hours, a fraction of the time it takes for new construction.  If all goes according to plan, a community made up of about one-hundred homes will be constructed for residents in El Salvador next year.”

The first model home was debuted in Austin last month.  It was printed from cement.  “Using the Vulcan 3D printer, ICON can print an entire home for $10,000 and plans to bring costs down to $4,000 per house.”

As Jason Ballard, Co-Founder of ICON elaborates: “it’s much cheaper than the typical American home.  The model has a living room, bedroom, bathroom, and a curved porch.  There are a few other companies printing homes and structures, but they are printed in a warehouse or they look like Yoda huts.  For this venture to succeed, they have to be the best houses.”

“Once ICON completes material testing and tweaking of the design, the company will move the Vulcan printer to El Salvador to begin construction. ICON says its 3D-printed houses will create minimal waste and labor costs are significantly reduced. The company also intends to build homes in the US eventually.”

Beyond this?  Why, space of course!  Ballard dreams: “one of the big challenges is how we are going to create habitats in space.  You’re not going to open a two-by-four and open screws.  3D printing is one of the more promising potential habitat technologies.”

Image and Video Courtesy of ICON

Quotes Courtesy of ICON and The Verge

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - MARCH 15:  A 3D-printed low-speed electric vehicle (LSEV) is on display at China 3D-printing Cultural Museum on March 15, 2018 in Shanghai, China. The LSEV electric car was co-produced by Italy-based X Electrical Vehicle, or XEV, and China-based 3D printing materials company Polymaker. All components are 3D-printed, except tyres, leather and glass.  (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

$10,000 3D Printed Electric Car

Fortune details the announcement of a brand-new 3D printed electric car.  This $10,000 vehicle marks a collaboration between the Italian company X Electrical Vehicle (XEV) and Polymaker, a manufacturer of 3D printing materials.

The 3D printed electric car, LSEV, will be available to consumers in China on a mass-produced scale for under $10,000 by Q2 2019.  XEV “claims the LSEV will be the first mass-produced 3D printed car.”

In fact, “the company says it has already received more than 7,000 orders for the cars from the Italian postal service and from ARVAL, a vehicle-leasing service.”

Perhaps what’s most exciting about XEV’s LSEV is that these “cars reportedly take around [only] three days to manufacture.  Everything visible on the car, except the windows, chassis, and seats, are 3D printed.”

Now, before you get too excited, however, keep in mind that XEV and Polymaker’s LSEV have a top speed of 70km per hour (which is a little under 45 MPH) “and have a range of 150km (just over 90 miles.”

Despite these limitations, though, designers at XEV do foresee a large market for the LSEV in China.  According to the South China Morning Post, XEV designers even claim “China was the biggest market for their cars, and the company is in talks to set up a production line on the mainland.”

 Image and Quotes Courtesy of Fortune, XEV, and Polymaker

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Bose Shows Off 3D Printed Prototype Augmented Reality Sunglasses

3DPrint was at South by Southwest in Texas last month, and one of the more interesting 3D printed technologies they found there were Bose’s prototype 3D printed augmented reality sunglasses.

As has been the experience and preference for many companies recently, “Bose chose to 3D print its product prototype, rather than use a conventional manufacturing method.  [As many other companies have been discovering], this can save time and money in the product design and development product, even if (as with these AR sunglasses) the technology won’t work for commercial production.”

The Bose AR sunglasses would allow users to listen to music, much as they would when they used headphones.  “This feat was accomplished by building two narrow directional speakers into the end of each stem. The speakers will send the audio directly into the user’s ears without the use of earbuds, and no one else can hear their music unless they actually press themselves up against the sunglasses.”

The Bose AR sunglasses also know where the user is looking, thanks to on-board motion sensors working in partnership with GPS coordinates from a paired smartphone.  “By looking at a specific landmark and double-tapping one of the sunglass stems, you can instantly receive audio information through the speakers. In the future, Bose hopes to partner with content providers and integrate their data, so users will only need to look at something like a restaurant or store to instantly have access to spoken ratings and reviews.”

Indeed, already they have been hard at work on a $50 million venture fund in order to invest “n other companies to get some help in building out its AR sunglasses into a viable platform.  It’s already got some big names signed on, including Yelp, TuneIn, Trip Advisor, ASICS Studio, and Strava.”

As the Bose Developer Portal encourages: “imagine a world where everything you see is more valuable, more emotional, and more meaningful – because of what you hear.  Introducing Bose AR, the world’s first audio augmented reality platform.”

3D printing is helping bring that world into existence.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Bose and 3DPrint

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3D Printed Hearts for Children

3D Printing Industry reports of a medical collaboration between American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH) and the University of Wisconsin Madison.

3D printed organs have been used as surgical planning aids for a while now, but this collaboration is slightly different due to its use for preparing surgeons for pediatric heart surgeries.

“The team at AFCH, led by Dr. Petros Anagnostopoulos, has been scanning patients’ hearts using traditional medical scans to create 3D printed models surgeons can interact with before entering the operating room.”

For Dr. Anagnostopoulos, the results speak for themselves: “there’s a lot of ability to see the relationship of the different parts of the heart as they are in real time.  It prepares your whole team better.”  When surgeons are operating upon children, this can only be a good thing.  “One patient, six-year-old Joseph Oehlof, had a heart condition which may have required a transplant.  Dr. Anagnostopoulos was able to prepare for the complex surgery using 3D printed models, which he says improved the surgery’s chances of success.”

As for the team of engineers at the University of Wisconsin Madison who collaborated with these surgeons, their team leader Roldan Alzate “believes the potential of 3D printing in the medical field is only beginning to be realized.”  As he says, “everywhere in the human body would benefit [from] 3D printing.  This is only the beginning.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3D Printing Industry

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NASA Licenses Laser Wire Direct Closeout

3D Printing Industry has caught wind of NASA’s aim to license Laser Wire Direct Closeout (LWDC), which is a brand-new nozzle-specific metal 3D printing process.  Once this process is license, NASA will be able to commercialize it.

This new method of metal 3D printing was developed “by engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Alabama.  Specially created for the additive fabrication of nozzles, the method is competitive in time and price against traditional manufacturing techniques.”

Now that NASA is in the process of licensing Laser Wire Direct Closeout, it will be able to “revitalize and transform its advanced manufacturing technologies for rocket engines.”  Laser Wire Direct Closeout is a great example of an energy deposition process, “relying on a wire-based feedstock, in comparison with powder bed fusion (PBF) additive manufacturing techniques, LWDC is a freeform process.”

As one can probably already guess, the creation of rocket propulsion nozzles is as difficult, well, as rocket science.  The nozzles’ conical structures are “manufactured with internal coolant channels, responsible for delivering high pressure fluid that protects the walls from overheating. In a regeneratively cooled nozzle, these channels must be sealed precisely to keep the coolant inside.”

As MSFC’s Senior Propulsion Engineer Paul Gradl elaborates: “The manufacturing process is further complicated by the fact that the hot wall of the nozzle is only the thickness of a few sheets of paper and must withstand high temperatures and strains during operation.”

However, with the introduction of LWDC, this “process facilitates the precise closing of these channels. Engineers are now seeking other applications that could benefit from the process.”

As MSFC’s Engineering Directorate Preston Jones concludes: “what makes this development project so unique is there were three separate, state-of-the-art, advanced manufacturing technologies used together to build a better nozzle and prove it out through hot-fire testing — an example of why Marshall continues to be a worldwide leader in manufacturing of propulsion technologies.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of NASA and 3D Printing Industry

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