Paste your Google Webmaster Tools verification code here

May 2017: A 3D Printing Update

Every month the world of 3D printing is always full of surprises.  Which industries will this disruptive technology turn on their heads?  What new and exciting applications for this world breaker are out there – just waiting to be discovered and played around with?

Well, at least this month, these questions can begin to get answered with Adidas, the world-famous shoe manufacturer.

Tech Crunch reports on yet another game-changer in the footwear industry.  For the first time, Adidas has announced the launch of a mass-produced 3D printed shoe.

The Futurecraft 4D shoe “is a huge improvement on [Adidas’s] last 3D printed runners, which were more of a concept than an actual product.  The new version is better suited for mass production – Adidas plans on selling 5,000 pairs this…fall, which will scale up to more than 100,000 pairs by the end of 2018.  While the company hasn’t announced the price, expect the first run to still be priced as a limited-edition shoe.”

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Adidas’s announcement is its choice of partner, Carbon 3D.  We here at Replicator World have extensively covered Carbon 3D, which is a “Silicon Valley-based 3D printing company…[which has] raised over $200M from Sequoia Capital, GV, Yuri Milner and others.  [Carbon 3D] is focused on making 3D printing a viable manufacturing method for large-scale production across industries.”

“Using a method called Digital Light Synthesis, [Carbon 3D] is able to print objects up to 10 times faster than other 3D printers.  The difference is that instead of printing an object layer by layer from the top down like traditional additive 3D printers do, Carbon’s process is continuous and starts from the bottom.”

Carbon 3D’s 3D printers “use digital light below the printing surface to turn the liquid resin into a solid object.  The object, in this case the shoe’s midsoles, are pulled up and literally formed from the top down…after the midsole is printed it’s attached to the top of the shoe, which is made from fabric using traditional manufacturing methods.”

Not only are Futurecraft 4Ds faster to manufacture, they also provide Adidas with the ability to become more flexible, unlocking “performance-enhancing design modifications that would have been impossible with other materials like foam.”

“While the first step is just to get to mass-production, Adidas eventually sees a future where everyone will be able to have their own 3D printed shoe, with the midsole totally customized to their individual needs.”

Elsewhere in the wide world of 3D printing, 3DPrint tells of an exciting new exhibit set to open in New York City.  “More than 600 artists from around the world have joined forces to build Gulliver’s Gate, a tiny, partially 3D printed world consisting of 300 cities all fitting together in a 4,900-square foot space.”  (As the above video states – that’s about the size of a standard football field!

While much of these worlds were brought to life via traditional manufacturing and artistic techniques – much of them were 3D printed!  “The project was conceived by Michael Langer, a native New Yorker, and Eiran Gazit, an Israeli who launched a similar project in 2002 called Mini-Israel.  Mini-Israel was a bit larger than Gulliver’s Gate; the project was installed in a 14-acre park and contained scale models of various sites in Israel.”

“When Langer and Gazit met, they decided to collaborate on a project that was both bigger and smaller.  The buildings, people, and natural landscapes of Gulliver’s Gate are built at a 1:87 scale, meaning a six-foot-tall person would be reduced to 0.8 inches high.”  In fact, visitors to this magical exhibit will be afforded the opportunity to have their likeness 3D scanned then 3D printed and inserted into these cityscapes in miniature.

Of course, not every region is represented in Gulliver’s Gate – but quite a few are – such as New York City herself, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, Russia, Europe, and a few fantastical cities thrown in for good measure.

Speaking of small worlds ‘after all’, 3Ders writes of a brand-new patent Disney has just filed.  The patent, for “3D printed ‘soft body robots’…is suitable for ‘physical interaction with humans.’  The patent says that Disney has already built a small, human-like prototype based on a popular Disney character.”

If the diagram above is to be believed, we here at Replication World can surmise the robot apocalypse will either be ushered in by something resembling Baymax, the medical robot from Disney’s underappreciated hit Big Hero 6 or from Winnie the Pooh himself.

Of course, many living in the United States (or even beyond) will be familiar with Disney’s famous costumed characters wandering around their myriad parks.  Some will have even wondered what secrets and darkness lies in their hearts, beyond the laughter of children and the ever-present sunlight.  Well, you won’t have to wonder for much longer, because those costumed actors will soon be replaced!

These robots will have the ability to “interact with children, giving out human-like hugs and greetings in crowds.  The patent hints at a plan to introduce humanoid robots at Disney Theme parks, as it strongly emphasizes the importance of a child’s safety.  ‘To physically interact with children, the inventors understood that the robot should be soft and durable,’ the patent states.”

“Although the patent suggests several ways in which the robot could be built, there is a strong focus on the 3D printing technologies that could be used to produce various components.  Links, joints, bearings, and body segments could all be 3D printed, says the patent, while a Stratasys Objet260 Connex multi-material 3D printer has already been used to 3D print a prototype [a ‘toy-sized’] soft robot.”

“Disney’s soft robots would…be partially filled with air.  With the inclusion of various sensors, this would allow the robots to react to pressure, giving natural-feeling ‘hugs’ to humans, as well as giving them the ability to perform other actions.  While these motions could eventually be carried out autonomously, the patent mentions that a ‘controller’ would initially handle the task: ‘During operations, the robot controller operates the joint based on the pressure sensed by the pressure sensor,’ it says.”

At least Disney has been courteous by informing us the end is, apparently, 3D printed, offering hugs, and most definitely – nigh!

What better way to escape Disney’s new 3D printed bots than in a brand-new 3D printed Formula One car?

Last month, when McLaren Racing went to the Bahrain Grand Prix, they brought with them “something the motorsport [had never] seen trackside: a 3D printer.”

Engadget reports “the Formula One team has confirmed that as an expansion of its partnership with 3D printing specialists Stratasys, it [has raced] with print ‘race-ready’ parts for the new McLaren MCL32 car in order to quickly integrate design modifications and reduce its weight.”

“The parts included carbon fiber reinforced nylon material hydraulic line brackets, rubber-like flexible radio cables, brake cooling ducts, and rear wing flaps, which help increase the rear downforce on the car during high speeds.”

As has been the case in a myriad of other industries, “3D printing has reduced manufacturing time from weeks to days or even hours, which helps the team during testing and when readying its cars for race days.”

As Neil Oatley, McLaren Racing’s Design and Development Director explains, “we are consistently modifying and improving our Formula One car designs, so the ability to test new designs quickly is critical to making the car lighter and more importantly increasing the number of tangible iterations in improved car performance.  If we can bring new developments to the car one race earlier – going from new idea to new part in only a few days – this will be a key factor in making the McLaren MCL32 more competitive.”

As for the actual 3D printer McLaren racing used: it was Stratasys’s uPrint SE Plus.  On top of this, “McLaren Racing [also] employs more complex machinery at the McLaren Applied Technologies headquarters in Woking, England.  Both fused deposition modelling (FDM) and PolyJet printing technologies are being used for prototyping new car models, production tooling, and development of custom parts, which McLaren hopes will translate to faster race times on the track.”

With all these new 3D printed marvels pumping into the stratosphere (and beyond) – stay tuned next month right here at Replicator World for even more earth (and industry) shattering marvels.

Image Courtesy of Tech Crunch, Adidas, Carbon 3D, Gulliver’s Gate, 3DPrint, Disney, 3Ders, and Engadget

Quotes Courtesy of Tech Crunch

Share Button