What’s happening in the 3D printing industry? Keep informed with our weekly report presented by industry expert Sarah Goehrke. This week: The opening of the largest metal and ceramic AM center in Israel, plus announces in the medical sector, maritime operations, and investment casting.
As ever, this week saw announcements from the world over in additive manufacturing; one jumped out due to its attention-grabbing technique of having media and analysts on-site. As I was among these, XJet’s new Additive Manufacturing Center stole the show for my week in 3D printing, as I spent the majority of the last five days traveling to/from and experiencing Israel. Additionally, the week saw announcements impacting the medical sector, maritime operations, and investment casting.
Rehovot Science Park in Israel is now home to the largest center in the world dedicated to metal and ceramic 3D printing, with this week’s grand opening of XJet’s new Additive Manufacturing Center.
The 8,000-square-foot facility drew visitors from the world over to a haven of activity in 3D printing, as the area famously also houses such industry stalwarts as Objet, Stratasys, Nano Dimension, and HP. Inkjet, in particular, is a major technology here, and to that end, XJet’s NanoParticle Jetting (NPJ) process has a lot to show.
I was on-site in Israel to talk with the team, walk the center and go step-by-step through the processes involved in NPJ, and overall find out more about this company’s strategies, aims, and applications. The AM Center is set to be home to XJet’s ongoing efforts to develop its offerings, such as additional materials development, as well as to serve as a showpiece for what is already possible via NPJ. The XJet team, already about 100 strong, is growing as the company continues to expand its reach through a natural evolutionary strategy keeping in mind best fits in terms of partners, customers, and applications. Several partners were on hand during the festivities to share their experiences working with XJet and their own perspectives on NPJ’s place in the additive manufacturing industry and workflow. The unique technology behind this patented process allows for fine detail quality with great repeatability and reliability, as well as easy support removal.
Updates on a successful first-of-its kind 3D printed biomimetic implant and the use of 3D Bolus Software highlight advances in patient-specific medical care via advanced technologies.
Russia’s NUST MISIS, where last week researchers introduced a super-strong 3D printable aluminum that acts more like titanium, is on a roll as now we’re learning about a new veterinary implant. NUST MISIS and Biomimetix worked with a team at veterinary clinic MedVet to create and successfully implant a 3D printed “biomimetic hybrid prosthesis imitating bone structure made from ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene and titanium alloy into a patient’s femoral bone.”
The unique implant was placed in a dog with osteosarcoma of the femur in August; full mobility is expected to be regained “within the next few months.” Said to be a world-first as a biomimetic prosthesis created from polymeric material, the implant is indeed more of a hybrid. Fedor Senatov, CEO of Biomimetix and research assistant at the NUST MISIS Center of Composite Materials, noted that a titanium tube 3D printed by partner company Konmet incorporates a “layer of solid ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene,” with a spongy “porous ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene” interior to mimic bone structure.
Canada-based Adaptiiv is focused on applying 3D technologies to radiation oncology. With cancer treatments seeing increased sophistication all the time, to the benefit of patients around the world, new innovations offer new hope — and this week Adaptiiv had two announcements. First, it has released its proprietary AccuCALC, an internet-based tool that easily calculates reimbursement for bolus production. Adaptiiv’s 3D Bolus offering entails the creation of a 3D printed bolus — an application well suited for the technology — and sorting out the often-complicated reimbursement system through a more streamlined solution will be a boon to radiology centers. Crux Quality Solutions developed the AccuCALC through its Churchill Consulting division. Also in the news for Adaptiiv this week, the company has announced 3D Bolus Software use in the US military at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
The maritime sector has been seeing the rising use of 3D printing, and new agreements this week are set to expand on this trend in Singapore.
Two Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) signed by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) at the Global AM Summit this week feature additive manufacturing. The first, signed with PSA Corporation, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC), and 3D MetalForge, establishes “the world’s first on-site AM production facility for port applications.” The second is set to establish an additive manufacturing Joint Industry Program (JIP) for marine ports with NAMIC and the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA). The new facility, set to be located at Pasir Panjang Terminal, will house industrial 3D printing machinery, supported by a “specialised maritime digital cloud supported by Blockchain technology for more secure file transfers.” Just-in-time (JIT) production is in focus here, as 3D printing enables more digitalization of inventory for spare parts. For its part, the JIP is all about collaboration, focusing on establishing technical, commercial, and regulatory capabilities of additive manufacturing for maritime parts.
Foundry casting, a traditional technique, is finding new life with 3D printing.
3D Systems is enhancing its focus on this application, announcing availability of the ProJet MJP 2500 IC. Set to reduce time and costs associated with tooling and storage, the RealWax patterns created on the new system will let users “go from wax to shell to casted part significantly faster.” A quick cost comparison pits a $6,050 pattern tool made traditionally against a 3D printed equivalent at under $25; the analysis was conducted by Mueller Additive Manufacturing Solutions. 3D Systems’ full solution for investment casting includes its 3D Sprint software, VisiJet M2 ICast wax material, and the ProJet MJP 2500 IC.
3D printing applications are a big deal — often literally.
Boeing and Thermwood this week showcased a massive single-piece build. The 12-foot-long tool was created with Thermwood’s LSAM (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing) machine and VLP (Vertical Layer Print, though I sincerely want this to be Very Large Print) technology. Delivered in August, the tool was made from a 20% carbon fiber-reinforced ABS for Boeing’s 777X program.
A large fountain in Russia is a-bubble again thanks to 3D printing, as AMT-SPECAVIA reveals its role in restoring the piece. The “Sheaf” fountain, in Palekh, was created by sculptor Nikolai Vasilyevich Dydykin. Following the 3D printing-enabled restoration, the fountain is now round, rather than rectangular, and features mounted underwater lights and 3D printed parapets. The 2.6-meter diameter, 2.2-meter deep fountain is thought to be the first in both Russia and the world to have been restored using construction 3D printing technology, the company reports. Of the work, the company notes:
“The construction of the facility was carried out by the assembly organization LLC IvStroyIndustriya. The fixed shuttering of the parapet was printed by the company IvStroyGarant from Ivanovo with the help of a 3D construction printer (COP-printer ‘AMT’, Construction Objects Printing) produced by the Group of Companies AMT-SPECIAVIA.”
A first in Qatar, a medical team at Sidra Medicine recently separated conjoined twins. Such operations are both complex and risky, and 3D printing has come to the aid in these cases before.
That this application for the technology is spreading around the world showcases the localization with which 3D printing can be applied for the betterment of human life in specific areas that might not otherwise have had access to such high-tech solutions previously. This case saw the four-month-old baby boys conjoined at the liver and lower sternum.
By the numbers, the surgery saw a team of 10 medical professionals, 9 hours of procedure, 30 hours of simulation — and at least one 3D printed model detailing the boys’ anatomies for pre-surgical planning. The babies, Hamad and Tamim, are recovering well.
Metals, dissolvable implants, and data without power: researchers around the world are putting 3D printing to work to create an ever-expanding array of interesting solutions.
At Russia’s NUST MISIS, researchers have been at work enhancing 3D printing material properties to see aluminum powder meet the strength of titanium. Targeted at aerospace applications, the ultra-high-purity alumina is set to offer the density and strength benefits of difficult-to-3D-print titanium in an easier-to-handle material. Prototypes are being tested now; the aerospace industry is the target application market for the new high-strength material.
Stratasys’ popular Extreme Redesign Challenge is open for entries for 2019, its 15th year of challenging students to use design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) to rethink and redesign a tool.
The GrabCAD-hosted contest welcomes students from post-secondary through university levels, including teams, to submit well-thought designs that will be judged on mechanical design, design creativity, product usefulness, and aesthetics (for the art, jewelry, and architecture category). Submissions are accepted through February 23, 2019; finalists will be announced in April, and winners in May.
The challenge sees some truly impressive designs each year, and innovation inspiration can be found in the unlikeliest of places; last year’s top prize for secondary education in the engineering category went to a nail clipper shield, while a multi-purpose cooking utensil took honors as the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers (NCATC) winner.
In the US, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Michael Sealy is spearheading work in creating dissolvable medical implants. Work with an Optomec 3D printer enabled careful calibration and precise work as Sealy worked through different tests to create the parts with selected mechanical properties throughout, rather than just the surface as other techniques allowed. 3D printed magnesium implants, designed to degrade at different rates for different bodily applications, may offer unique opportunities for patients to heal better, including the elimination of the need for a second surgery to remove a metal implant.
With round one of the lawsuit settled at the end of July without any findings of IP infringement, the case Desktop Metal filed against Markforged back in March of this year was expected to drag on a bit longer still. Round two, to determine the final status of trade secret misappropriation, began last week and was scheduled to go on for three weeks. Opening arguments showed that the teams were taking the issues personally… but two days after those statements, the case was closed.
“Both Desktop Metal and Markforged acknowledge that neither company, nor the individuals named in the litigation, misappropriated any trade secret or confidential information belonging to the other. Further terms and conditions of the settlement will remain confidential,” the joint press release read.
Well, then. The Metal X continues to ship and the Studio System continues on without suspicion of its intellectual property having been infringed, and we all sleep easier with that much more peace in the industry.
Resin- and thermoplastic-based 3D printing gets a boost this week as US-based Carbon and Germany-based BigRep announced business expansions, while Shapeways announces a new pricing strategy.
The expansive — and expanding — Carbon Production Network rose to a 20-strong collaboration, with the latest partners coming not from additive specifically, but from injection molding and urethane casting operations. Including companies like Bright Plastics, Dependable Plastics, Diversified Plastics Inc., Element Packaging, Gallagher Corporation, Nicolet Plastics, Prattville Machine & Tool, and Resolution Medical, the CPN will see each partner kitted up with a 3D printing ecosystem with technology, training, and support from team Carbon.
On the extrusion side, BigRep announced a development partnership with Bosch Rexroth. The collaboration will see BigRep’s (big) 3D printers equipped with Bosch Rexroth’s CNC control systems and drives. Integrating these systems poises the 3D printers for better connectivity as CEO Dr. Stephan Beyer looks for the move to be part of the company’s strategy to “re-define Additive Manufacturing” and “establish 3D printing as a key industry 4.0 application” — it also underscores the seriousness with which Bosch Rexroth is taking additive manufacturing and looking to invest in the technology.
Shapeways CEO Greg Kress has announced a new pricing setup for the company, to be effective on the 22nd of October. Kress’ letter to the community covers the what, why, and how of the announcement — and the requisite “this is an exciting time at Shapeways” to begin the discussion that will impact users’ pocketbooks. With changes in algorithm, minimum pricing, finish pricing, material pricing, manufacturing speed, and shipping, the long and short of it is about what you’d expect when seeing an announcement on pricing: it’s going up. A more sustainable business model leans on profitability, and with recent changes, such as the addition of the Stratasys J750 and Shopify integration, the company has to reflect portfolio additions to its business model.
The best hardware in the world is useless without software telling it what to do; advances in software unlock the true potential of 3D printing, and this week’s releases showcase some new capabilities sure to appeal to users.
Frustum has introduced GENERATE for Windows, with the new release allowing for interactive generative design set to “fundamentally how products are modeled for manufacture by allowing engineers to interact and iterate in real time with generative design models,” the company says. Big claims, but Frustum has developed a reputation for follow-through, which leaves this release one to watch. GENERATE is manufacturing-minded 3D software that brings AI to the design table to create optimized, lighter weight, and stronger parts. This one is a release I recommend reading in full for a closer look at the intriguing possibilities.
Also well worth an in-depth read is Ultimaker’s Cura 3.5 release, which has some hefty improvements. New are hotkeys, a monitor page, and 3MF format compatibility. That last is especially interesting as the industry continues to move toward actual adoption for 3MF, the promising-yet-not-widely-adopted file format that could be the longed-for STL-killer. There’s a lot to the update, from user experience to slicing and overhang improvements — and a really well thought-out enhancement to prime towers for more reliable multi-material (not just multi-color) printing, as well as rotational capabilities for support infill line direction. And connected infill polygons. And minimum wall flow. And new third-party 3D printers, with new profiles for TiZYX, Winbo, Tevo Tornado, Creality CR-10S, and Wanhao Duplicator, along with updated profiles for Deltacomb and Dacoma.
Well — applications, applications, as we feature two looks into R&D and usage this week. It’s a good week for cement research, as we see another university 3D printing with strength, while a 3D printed chest implant showcases a closer-to-the-heart use of technology.
Research at Nanyang Technological University Singapore is leading toward robots ready to swarm together to 3D print concrete structures. Proven with two robots and a cement mix formulated specifically for 3D printing, the research is set to “allow for unique concrete designs currently not possible with conventional casting,” the team explains. Working with smaller robot swarms precludes the existing issue of massive printers that may not fit into construction sites. Developments continue, as orchestrating the two robots requires sophisticated procedures in ensuring appropriate bonding, smooth structuring, fully mapped parts, and avoiding collision of the building arms.
A medical team in South Korea has revealed its first success in implanting a 3D printed rib cage into a 55-year-old patient. The patient, treated at Chung-Ang University Hospital’s Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, suffered from a sarcoma in the sternum and rib; the extensive reconstruction needed called for a prosthesis well beyond the capabilities of conventional options. The 3D printed solution is made of titanium, weighs in at 190g, and was successfully implanted on a September 19th surgery, marking a first for such a procedure in South Korea and a sixth globally. The hospital says the patient is recovering well.
Materialise has introduced its simulation software for metal 3D printing, which together with the company’s Magics 3D Print Suite is set to “bring simulation for additive manufacturing (AM) to the production floor by providing easy-to-manage simulation capabilities at lower price points.” Simulation is increasingly in focus for operations as 3D printing continues on the path toward wider use in production applications. Through simulating builds prior to beginning a print job, files can be tested and optimized to ensure low failure rates, saving on costs, materials, and energy. This new metal-targeted simulation solution is set to optimize production processes “without the need for expert knowledge.” It is based on an OEM version of the Simufact Additive Solver, working with Magics software; the simulation module is available now, and Magics 23 is set for release later this year.
LulzBot and IC3D have announced another new filament to go alongside the world’s first open-source 3D printing filament. ABS, introduced last year, has now been joined by the open source PETg formulation. Aleph Objects, LulzBot’s parent company, continues to champion the open source philosophy. Carrying the new IC3D PETg material — which now has a custom-developed print profile in Cura LE — brings another addition to the 30+-strong material portfolio available from LulzBot. IC3D PETg is said to offer strength, ductility, dimensional accuracy, and high chemical resistance.
At TCT Show, Shapeways and Stratasys announced a teaming up through which Shapeways will offer full-color multi-material 3D printing services via the Stratasys J750. Shapeways’ 3D printing services broaden access to industrial technologies that might not otherwise be available for use by designers, students, small businesses, or artists. Customers including Biologic Models have already been making use of the new access; beta customers will be able to make use of the new service later this year, while the full launch is slated for 2019.
Also at TCT Show, Israel-based XJet announced its first distribution agreement. Working with UK-based Carfulan Group, distribution will be operating under the XJ3D name. XJet’s NanoParticle Jetting (NPJ) technology is used in its intriguing Carmel AM System line for metal and ceramic 3D printing.
Metals and electronics 3D printing company Optomec has expanded operations in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) region through the opening of Optomec GmbH. The EMEA Operations Center is based in Switzerland at Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, which is affiliated with research stronghold ETH Zürich. The new office will house engineers and technicians alongside Optomec equipment, ready to work with regional clients.
Spare parts 3D printing is picking up around the world, and Singapore, in particular, is becoming a hub of activity. Singapore-based SpareParts3D has announced a collaboration with DNV GL through the latter’s joint industry project (JIP) focusing on additive manufacturing for spare parts. One of two 3D printing-focused JIPs introduced earlier this year from DNV GL, this initiative is set to bring qualified additive manufacturing to the maritime and oil and gas (O&G) sector.
4WEB Medical has seen substantial growth recently for its Lateral Spine Truss System. So substantial, in fact, that the company announced this week at the North American Spine Society (NASS) Annual Meeting that it has entered into a partnership set to enhance its market positioning. The exclusive partnership, with both TeDan Surgical Innovations and Lattus Spine LLC, is geared to combine 4WEB’s Truss Implant Technology with the Extreme Lateral (XL) Access solution that TeDan and Lattus offer. TeDan’s primary focus will shift to the Lateral Spine Truss System.
As more implant solutions are created via 3D printing and qualified for use, many are left wondering how these new introductions compare with traditionally made devices. A new comparison, dubbed the MATRIXX Trial, is set to be “the first ever clinical evaluation of novel 3D-printed lumbar interbody fusion devices relative to PEEK.” Put into motion by Nexxt Spine LLC, the trial is set to pit its 3D printed titanium Nexxt Matrixx System spinal fusion implants against ‘gold standard’ PEEK cages in a randomized patient trial.
License: The text of "3D Printing Industry Weekly – World’s Largest Center for Metal and Ceramic Printing Opens" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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