US Government Funds 3D Printing Manufacturing Suite


According to Engineering.com, this project is “led by the University of Texas – El Paso’s W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation.” 

The research group has been able to develop “an automated assembly line that can manufacture multi-material UAVs without external assistance.”  In their proposal to America Makes, UTEP researchers wrote: “our proposing team can see a day where a push-button design flow will lead to a rapid, reliable, and affordable fully 3D printed spacecraft or UAV.” 

The team predicts that “the micro-fabricator will eventually have the ability to print multiple material models using a series of 3D printing systems housed within a single, self-contained unit.”  This all-in-one machine will also include “a milling station, robotics capable of implanting electronics, and other systems capable of wiring the entire design together.”

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of Engineering.com    

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Stratasys Announces Multi-Material Technicolor 3D Printer


According to PC Magazine, the Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer “features unique triple-jetting technology, which allows for almost unlimited combinations of materials and color.”

A team at Wisconsin’s Trek Bicycle “beta tested the printer, building accessories like bike chain stay guards and handlebar grips for assessment ahead of production.”  Mike Zeigle, Trek Bicycle’s prototype development group manager, said, “the printer augmented their usual time-consuming process with ‘fast, iterative, and realistic prototyping and functional testing.’”

As for the Objet500’s color capabilities, it “uses three-color materials – VeroCyan, VeroMagenta, VeroYellow – to produce hundreds of color combination.  These colors are transferred to photopolymer supplies like digital materials, rigid, rubber-like, transparent, and high temperature ingredients.  More palettes are expected in the second quarter of the year, including rubber-like Tango colors, ranging from opaque to transparent colors for use in the automotive, consumer, sporting goods, and fashion markets.”

Igal Zeitun, Vice President of product marketing and sales operations at Stratasys added that the Connex3 “is in a league of its own.  [It enables] you to dream up a product in the morning, and hold it in your hands by the afternoon, with the exact intended color, material properties, and surface finish.”

The Objet500 Connex3 is now available online and through Stratasys’ worldwide reseller network for $330,000. 

Video Courtesy of Stratasys

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of PC Magazine


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RoboBeast: The Offroad 3D Printer


South African Richard van As “lost four fingers on his right hand in an accident at work (he is a carpenter) and…through an online collaboration with US inventor Ivan Owen he developed…a DIY (3D Printed) prosthetic for himself…[and] the pair went on to create [another] one for a five year old boy…too.  By adapting the design so that it could be customized and built by anyone with access to a RepRap-style 3D printer, RoboHand was born.” 

Van As moved the RoboHand project into House4Hack, “the Centurion makerspace which is run by volunteers and has been home to other world-class 3D printing inventions.  [Including the RepRap Morgan]…The original plan was to create a ‘botfarm’ of 3D printers in a backroom at House4Hack, which would be capable of producing printed RoboHands en masse for people who can’t afford medical prosthetics…Van As says that the finicky nature of current 3D printer designs is frustrating though…[citing a] need for a printer which just works, and will continue to work no matter what.”   

Thus the idea for the RoboBeast was born.  According to htxt.africa, this new 3D printer was “designed to be ‘bulletproof’.  It requires no set-up, software tweaks, or mechanical adjustment of the frame before you print.  It’s designed to be thrown in the back of a Land Rover, carted off into the bush, and to start working as soon as the power is on.  You can move it during operation and the print head stays steady.  It can even print if flipped upside down.”

The RoboBeast was adapted from the RepRap Morgan, although Van As claims that it will “be considerably bigger than the 200X200X200mm cube that most RepRap-type printers are capable of…the electronics which drive the printer are all off-the-shelf components.  The controller is an Arduino motherboard with a standard RAMPS add-on ‘shield’ for driving the motors, as well as a touchscreen LCD panel and SD card reader.”

The RoboBeast’s SD card will be loaded with preconfigured RoboHand models “in a variety of sizes.”  It will also include a battery with up to five hours of life on a single charge.  “Coincidentally, that’s almost exactly how long it takes to produce an adult RoboHand.”

The RoboBeast will cost around $2,500. 

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of htxt.africa     

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Carbon Fiber 3D Printer


The Mark One printer from Mark Forged was announced at the SolidWorks 3D printing expo and The Verge was on hand to witness it.

Mark Forged, a Boston startup, expects the new printer to retail for just $5,000.  Carbon fiber, “the super-strong and lightweight material used in race cars and space shuttles” is not the only medium the Mark One can print in, however.   

“The desktop printer is also capable of printing in fiberglass, nylon, and the thermoplastic PLA, as well as a composite of these materials with layers of carbon fiber added for strength.”  These materials will be “useful in building stronger prototypes as well as ‘prosthetics, custom bones, tools, and fixtures’.”

The Mark One is desktop size, at 22.6-inch by 14.2 inch by 12.7 inch.  Mark Forged “has a wait list for pre-orders and hopes to ship in the second half of the year.  Gregory Mark, the founder of Mark Forged, says the desktop printer [meaning his Mark One] is a precursor to a larger industrial machine.”

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of The Verge 

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Attack of the (3D Printed) Drones


Tom’s Guide was at the 3D Print Show in New York City when they discovered “the small but speedy 3D printed flying drone called [the] Micro Drone 2.0”

Extreme Fliers, a British based company, developed the Micro Drone 2.0, which costs $99.  Recently, however, Extreme Fliers has announced that it will “now make its design files freely available on its website…owners can download the .STL files…and modify the parts using just about any computer-aided design program, such as the free Blender or SketchUp.”

The Micro Drone 2.0 itself “is less than a foot across and has four small propellers that keep it aloft for up to 8 minutes and allow it to hover, turn, and perform flips.” 

The design files allow users to customize their drone’s propellers, cockpit covers, and color.

The Micro Drone 2.0 “can be ordered from Extreme Fliers’ website“.

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of Tom’s Guide

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BigRep: Large Format 3D Printing


Personalize reports that a new large format FDM 3D printer has been unveiled.  “BigRep has a build volume of 49 cubic feet and prints in 100 micron resolution.”

Oehmigen, who is also an artist, came up with the idea for the BigRep when “he lacked an appropriate printer to depict his own sculptures in their ‘true size’…his art project LeBigRep generated so many inquiries that he…invested two years into developing an affordable large format 3D printer.”

According to Marcel Tasler, BigRep’s co-founder of BigRep, “large format 3D printing has always been an exclusive right of industrial corporations such as automobile and machine engineering firms.  We wanted to change this.  With the BigRep ONE, professional users now have the opportunity to quickly create and print out their planned object, be it a chair, a structural element or a model house, in a format a bit larger than one cubic meter (49 cubic feet).  They can print it directly from their own computer or, in the near future, have it printed at the nearest BigRep 3D service provider.”

Though the BigRep, priced at $39,000, is quite a bit more expensive than the desktop 3D printing bracket, it is considerably less than many large format industrial 3D printers.  At present, the BigRep “can print with PLA, ABS, PVA, HDPE, PC, Nylon, TPE, Laywood, and Laybrick.”

Video, Photo, and Quotes Courtesy of Personalize

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Chuck Hull: A Father of 3D Printing


CNN interviewed Chuck Hull, who developed one of the first methods of 3D printing, stereolithography, in 1983. 

The 74-year old executive vice president and chief technology officer of 3D Systems, the 3D printing behemoth he founded, says that “I’m old enough that I should have retired long ago, but it’s so interesting that I don’t.  It’s a really interesting journey.”

Photo Courtesy of On3DPrinting.com

Video and Quote Courtesy of CNN

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3D Printing Aids Cancer Researchers


According to Phys.org, the sequence “and its molecular structure was recently created…in the UA 3D Printing Lab, allowing researchers a potentially valuable new tool in the fight against cancer.”

The science and engineering librarian for UA Libraries, Dr. Vincent F. Scalfani, “collaborated with Drs. Stephan A. Ohnmacht and Stephen Neidle, professor, both researchers at the School of Pharmacy at University College London in the UK.

The researchers converted “laboratory X-ray crystallography data of a G-quadruplex molecule and the drug [in order to target it] into a 3D digital model suitable for 3D printing.”  As Dr. Scalfani explained, “preparing the G-quadruplex DNA sequence for 3D printing was a challenge and certainly pushed the limits of what we thought was possible in the UA 3D Lab.  The structure is extremely intricate, containing multiple areas of stacked functional groups (the quadruplex) that are all surrounded by a common outer loop (the DNA backbone).  The 3D printed G-quadruplex is stunning; you can see all of the symmetry, facets, and angles within the molecule.”

The model of the sequence will be useful in allowing students and researchers to “visualize the molecule’s structure, and the model is already being used in pre-clinical studies for pancreatic cancer research.”  As Dr. Ohnmacht says, “having a live model is invaluable; visualizing distances of bonds, electrostatic interactions and angles is easy and allows for further optimization of these anti-cancer molecules.  The printed 3D model is actually a real molecular structure that has been designed, synthesized, and then crystallized in the London labs.”

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of Phys.org 

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MakerBot Announces New Lineup


In January, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, MakerBot announced three new 3D printers it will release in 2014. 

As reported by ZDNet, the MakerBot Replicator Mini printer, “will allow users to print small 3D objects in a few steps.”  Users of the Mini will be able to create or “modify a digital 3D model using MakerBot PrintShop, a free tablet app, and send it wirelessly to the Replicator Mini printer to be built.”  The Mini is able to print objects just under five inches high.  It will ship in the spring for $1,375. 

“The Replicator Mini prints objects using 200 micron layers, double the thickness of layers produced by the larger $2,899 MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D printer.”  An updated version of that desktop model was also announced at CES.

On top of these announcements, MakerBot also revealed its largest printer to date.  The Z18 can build objects 12 X 12 X 18-inches in size.  MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis demonstrated its capabilities by showing “a full sized Star Wars Stormtrooper helmet that had been printed inside the machine.”  The Z18 will also be released in the spring, for the retail price of $6,499. 

Quotes Courtesy of ZDNet

Photo Courtesy of MakerBot   

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XYZ Previews da Vinci:


XYZprinting, which is owned by New Kinpo Group, a Taiwanese manufacturing giant, announced at CES in January the launch of a new 3D printer. 

As detailed in PC Magazine, the da Vinci will be a personal 3D printer priced at $499.  “The da Vinci is a plug-n-play 3D printer, with a large build size for its price, designed for households and small businesses.  It offers safety features and an open-source database of free 3D object designs.”

This database, XYZ World, is an open-source 3D cloud library, “featuring thousands of downloadable designs.  XYZ World includes pre-loaded designs that users can modify and customize to their preference.  Users can upload and share their own designs with the community as well, and rate designs using a user-generated five-star rating system.”

The da Vinci itself, according to XYZ, will be an out-of-the box printer, with no assembly required.  “Da Vinci is equipped with a three-step EZ Mode designed to make 3D printing simple and painless for non-experienced users.  With Smart Platform Auto Calibration, the distance between the nozzle and print-bed is automatically calibrated to the best position.”

The da Vinci is an enclosed device, which protects users from the heat necessary for its 3D printing processes.  Its build area is 7.8 X 7.8 X 7.8 inches and uses ABS plastic filament cartridges, available in 12 colors. 

“The da Vinci printer is due to begin shipping in mid-March for $499.  The company is now accepting orders, and da Vinci will be available through other online retailers, including Amazon.com, in March.”

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of PC Magazine 

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RAF 3D Prints Fighter Jet Parts


As reported by the BBC BAE Systems, a defense company in the United Kingdom, announced early last month that Tornado fighter jets in the Royal Air Force have flown with 3D printed parts. 

These metal components “were used in test flights from the firm’s airfield at Warton, Lancashire…the parts include protective covers for cockpit radios and guards for power take-off shafts.”

The RAF hopes this technology will cut their maintenance and service bill by over £1.2m ($1.97m) over the next four years.  “BAE engineers are producing the parts for four squadrons of Tornado GR4 aircraft at RAF Marham in Norfolk – with some parts costing less than  £100.  ($164)    

The head of airframe integration at BAE Systems, Mike Murray, added “you are suddenly not fixed in terms of where you have to manufacture these things.  You can manufacture the products at whatever base you want, providing you can get a machine there, which means you can also start to support other platforms such as ships and aircraft carriers.  And if it’s feasible to get machines out on the front line, it also gives improved capability where we wouldn’t traditionally have any manufacturing support.”

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of the BBC

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Cube: The Next Generation


3D printing industry juggernaut 3D Systems announced the launch of the Cube 3 3D Printer along with the Cube Pro 3D Printer at CES last month. 

According to Gizmag, the company has families in mind for the Cube 3.  “The new sub-US$1,000 unit undercuts the $1,299 price of last year’s Cube 2, while also upping maximum creation size and adding a new mobile app for more convenient printing.”

The Cube 3 is larger than its predecessor, “measuring 13.3 X 13.3 X 11 in (33.5 X 33.8 x 28cm) and weighing 17 lb (7.7kg).”  It also has the ability to “print two materials and two colors at the same time.  Using recyclable ABS and compostable PLA plastic available in a range of over 20 colors, dual jets allow for mix and match dual color and dual material objects.  Its maximum creation size of 6 X 6 X 6 in (15.25 X 15.25 X 15.25) is a slight upgrade…it also features an auto-leveling print pad and 75 micron resolution prints, courtesy of preloaded filament jets.”

The Cube 3 is recommended for children over eight, and is therefore a perfect fit for families.  Especially when used in conjunction with the companion smarphone app (which is compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows), “which lets users browse through other people’s designs or connect to the Cubify online platform.”

On top of this announcement, 3D Systems also previewed a high-end 3D printing solution, the Cube Pro.  “Geared toward the more professional end of the market, the device is capable of printing objects a considerable 10.75 X 10.75 X 9.5 in (27.3 X 27.3 X 24.1 cm) in size and three colors simultaneously.”

The Cube 3 and the Cube Pro are both set fort a 2014 Q2 release, with the Cube 3 retailing for under $1,000 and the Cube Pro for under $5,000.

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of Gizmag    

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