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December 2017 in 3D Printing

One of the most interesting 3D printing stories this month was a follow-up to a story from a few years ago.

3Ders reports on an update to a story a few years in the making.

Coral reefs sustain 25% of the world’s marine life.  That is a staggering amount of biodiversity.  However, climate change threatens to deal a blow to that biodiversity.  “Since the 1980s, approximately half the Earth’s coral reefs have died, with that number steadily on the rise.  Two years ago, scientists observed the third-ever global bleaching of coral reefs, in what has been called the largest coral destruction in history.”

That’s where scientists at Monaco’s marine-protected Larvatto Bay comes in.  Back in 2015, they unveiled plans for six new 3D printed coral reefs “in an effort to restore the area’s biodiversity.”

Well, now those 3D printed coral reefs have been printed and installed along the ocean floor.  “The massive reef structures, which measure 1.2 X 2 meters each, weigh a hefty 2,500 kilograms, and required 13+ hours of 3D printing time.”  They “were manufactured by Dutch maritime company Boskalis and supported by Monaco’s Prince Albert II Foundation.  These impressive structures were constructed from Dolomite sand and volcanic ash.”

Divers from the Monaco Association for the Protection of Nature began the underwater installation by “using balloons to buoy the units in their steel transport cage.  Once the structures were towed by boat to their final locations [along the bay], divers deflated the balloons, lowering the units gently down to the seabed.  After being safely placed on the ocean floor, the protective transport cages were removed, signaling the beginning of an extensive monitoring period.”

Boskalis Environmental Engineer Astrid Kramer is clearly excited: “we are really creating new horizons here.  It is fantastic to work with such a multidisciplinary team with people from so many different disciplines, from industrial designers to local specialists.  The world around us is changing and I think this symbolizes how a modern project should be.  It won’t be just the reefs that gain from this valuable knowledge, it can be applied to other fields as well.  This initiative combines both environmental benefits and those of the business.”

“Boskalis intends to share this data with the scientific community, so we can increase our knowledge in this pioneering area.”

Elsewhere, hackers have discovered an innovative way to use 3D printing to fool Apple’s brand new facial recognition software.

3DPrint reports on cyber security firm Bkav, who has used 3D printed faces in order to hack Apple’s new facial recognition software on the iPhone X.  They were able to dismantle Apple’s claim of invulnerable security barely a week after the new phone was released.

Face ID – Apple’s new security measure, is “enabled by Apple’s TrueDepth camera, projecting and analyzing over 30,000 invisible dots to create a precise depth map of your face.  Face ID is different from other electronic devices’ image recognition techniques due to this dot projection, which creates a 3D image by directing beams of infrared light at a person’s face” in order to learn it.  Other faces are locked out of that particular phone.

“Apple claims there is a one in a million chance of another person being able to beat Face ID.”

They are wrong.

Laying aside the identical twins issue (which is already a proven hack), “a team of Bkav hackers and researchers say they have used a 3D printed mask, which only cost $150 to make, to fool the Face ID software.”

Bkav’s Vice President of Cyber Security, Ngo Tuan Anh, quite rightly explains: “Apple’s new Face ID is not an effective security measure.  The mask is crafted by combining 3D printing with makeup and 2D images, besides some special processing on the cheeks and around the face, where there are large skin areas, to fool AI of Face ID.”

“Bkav made a silicone nose and printed 3D images for the eyes to complete the 3D printed mask, whit it says could be replicated by knowledgeable hackers with access to 3D scanners.”

As Anh concludes: “Exploitation is difficult for normal users, but simple for professional ones.”

From hackers to self-balancing scooters, 3D printing continues to upend paradigms:

Stratasys recently released a statement concerning the development of a 3D printed self-balancing scooter.  This scooter was developed by a team at the University of Applied Sciences Ravensburg-Weingarten in Germany.

“The University of Applied Sciences Ravensburg-Weingarten is participating in a…project: ‘Digital Product Life Cycle.’”  The goal of this project “is to establish a fully integrated and automated digital development process for the production of customized products.”  In order to achieve this goal, the team “built the entire product development process for the scooter around additive manufacturing.  As a result, the team produced the first fully-functional prototype 85% faster compared to traditional manufacturing methods.”

As Dr. Markus Till, Head of Department Mechanical Engineering at University of Ravensburg-Weingarten explains: “we realized 3D printing offers the best possible manufacturing solution for an ideal executable product development method for a customized product.  We designed the entire product development process around Stratasys’ additive technologies, enabling us to quickly design and produce a fully-functional prototype of a geometry that was previously too complex to be created through any other traditional method – offering the first viable alternative for quick and cost-effective customized production.”

As for the specifics – the scooter’s “frame and platform parts were 3D printed in tough Nylon6 material on the large-scale Stratasys Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer.”  This allowed for the scooter’s larger parts to be 3D printed all in one piece.  Next, “the platform was fitted with a 3D printed rubber-like cover for better grip, which was produced in Agilus30 material on the Stratasys Connex3 Color Multi-Material 3D Printer.”

Andy Middleton, President EMEA, Stratasys, adds: “the University of Applied Sciences Ravensburg-Weingarten is a prime example of how designers, engineers, and manufacturers today are involving additive manufacturing from the outset of product design to be able to exploit its benefits throughout the entire development cycle.  As such, we believe it’s crucial that the next generation of engineers are given the right education to prepare them for the requirements of engineering within industry.  As we see more educational institutions continue to adopt additive technologies, we expect to see more students learn the relevant skills and tools to be competitive for top engineering and manufacturing jobs.”

We end our exploration of the 3D printing world this month with the launch of a 3D printer from an established name in the global imaging industry.

TCT Magazine reports on yet another globally recognized brand jumping on the 3D printed bandwagon.  KODAK, the global imaging brand, has just announced the launch of the Portrait 3D Printer.  Concurrently, the company is also releasing a range of filaments.

The Portrait 3D Printer comes as a result of an agreement KODAK has made with technology solutions provider Smart International.  Before the 3D printer is launched, however, KODAK is launching the KODAK 3D Printing Filament Line.  This line is “designed to deliver industry-leading low moisture content, high melt flow index and precise diameter and roundness for high-quality prints.”

However, the main event will undoubtedly be KODAK’s Portrait 3D Printer.  The company plans to present its new additive manufacturing device at CES in January.  The Portrait features “a dual extruder [with] a build volume of 200 x 200 x 250 mm.”  Additionally, the 3D printer will boast “a sensor which tells the user when filament is running low, a color light signal to indicate the printer’s state, an air filtration system, auto-calibration, and a touch screen.”

CEO of Smart International Roberto Gawianski is thrilled: “we are excited to take the KODAK brand into 3D printing and pioneer a best in class series of desktop 3D printers and materials designed specifically for creative professionals.”

Indeed, the Portrait 3D Printer is aimed at the professional market.  KODAK hopes “its new 3D printing solution will fit well into environments such as architectural studios, creative workspaces, or classrooms.”  KODAK’s VP Director of Brand Licensing Joel Satin admits: “professional 3D printing is a fast-evolving growth category KODAK has had its eye on for a while.”

The KODAK Portrait 3D Printer “is available to pre-order now with a 35% discount on its standard retail price of $2,799 and will begin shipping in March 2018.”

3D printing has truly crept into every facet of industry.

Image Courtesy of 3Ders

Quotes Courtesy of 3Ders, 3DPrint, Bkav, Stratasys, KODAK, and TCT Magazine  

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