It’s business as usual in the 3D printing industry as we approach the halfway point of 2019. June marks new collaborations, space-age introductions, capacities, and introductions.
With RAPID + TCT wrapping up last week, it’s been a remarkably busy time for the 3D printing industry. Major shows tend to bring major news, and RAPID 2019 was no exception. The week in Detroit brought hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of attendees together for the largest dedicated 3D printing event in North America — and news hasn’t slowed a week later.
This week we see releases in hardware and software, recognition granted, and new usage and collaborations.
IKEA and UNYQ deepen their gamer-focused collaboration.
Swedish DIY furniture stronghold IKEA has long been interested in 3D printing, and last year at its Democratic Design Days introduced the first prototype from an intriguing collection. The company teamed up with UNYQ, best known for its work with photogrammetry and prosthetic fairings, to create an ergonomic seat for gamers, 3D printed for each gamer’s own derrière. The collaboration continues, as at DDD 2019 the companies launched three new personalized products for gamers. In the UPPKOPPLA (“online”) collection, set for release in 2020, users will be able to select and customize three new products to enhance their individual gaming experience.
With about 2.2 billion gamers around the world playing 14 billion hours weekly, that’s a lot of time spent sitting at the keyboard. (Hence the start with comfortable seating.) Personalized accessories can help ease the strain, and so UNYQ brings in its expertise with 3D scanning. Users will be able to scan their wrists, for example, to ensure the right fit for their new support, perhaps even adding their name to it. The pieces will all be 3D printed using Carbon’s DLS technology. The collection will eventually expand to reach other underserved communities, though details on who those might be have not yet been released.
“This is an exciting partnership for IKEA. UNYQ has developed a method of creating solutions that fit everyone’s unique needs and tastes, letting customers take design into their own hands. It is a great way to give customers exactly what they want, and it also minimizes waste as production is directly aligned with demand and there is no inventory. We are really looking forward to see where this new way of working will take us and are excited to continue to collaborate with UNYQ,” said Michael Nikolic, Creative Leader at IKEA of Sweden.
Techshot and nScrypt have announced the very literal launch of a new 3D printer next month.
The machine, pleasantly called the BFF – or, more formally, the 3D BioFabrication Facility – will launch in July. That launch isn’t commercial, but into space: the BFF is headed for the International Space Station upon the launch of the SpaceX CRS-18 cargo mission. The BFF is designed to 3D print human tissue in microgravity. It works with bioink, created following consultation with Bioficial Organs, containing adult human cells and adult tissue-derived proteins. This launch will mark the BFF’s first phase. The system will begin in testing, 3D printing “cardiac-like tissue of increasing thickness” for about two years. From there, phase two will see the BFF 3D print heart patches on the ISS that will then be examined back on Terra Firma, potentially including animal testing, for about another two years.
The hopes for the BFF are the same as are seen throughout bioprinting R&D: creating organs and tissue for human use. That’s still a long ways off, either on Earth or in orbit, but the BFF may see unique benefits in this next stage of bioprinting development. While gravity can make printing soft human tissue tricky, as the delicate structures can fall under their own weight, such structures may have more hope in microgravity. These then could be strengthened and brought back down to Earth.
“The concept of developing tissue or an organ in space with a 3D bioprinter has been with us for years,” Techshot President and CEO John Vellinger said. “From the technological and biological perspectives, making it real has been a painstaking process of experiments and testing. To see this coming together is an amazing thing for the team, as well as for all of medical science.”
A new materials joint development agreement is targeted specifically at selective thermoplastic electrophotographic process (STEP) technology.
Evolve Additive Solutions has teamed up with Evonik to expand the thermoplastic portfolio for use with STEP additive manufacturing. Evolve’s unique STEP is focused squarely on production and, while the technology remains in alpha development, commercialization is in sight for late next year. At that time, the hope seems to be a release with a decently developed materials portfolio. Working with a well-established specialty chemicals leader with, by now, a deep understanding of the unique needs of the 3D printing industry, Evolve hopes to see good STEPs forward through its work with Evonik.
The first materials in development through the agreement are polyamide 12, PEBA, transparent polyamide, and polymer of the polyamide 6 series. These will be set to expand in the future, joined by other materials “with more 3D printing material choices for production that are commonly used in traditionally manufactured products.”
“STEP has been developed for volume manufacturing so offering the widest range of thermoplastic materials to our customers is a critical element for production,” said Steve Chillscyzn, CEO of Evolve Additive Solutions. “The joint development agreement with Evonik allows us to broaden the spectrum of STEP materials to include materials currently accepted by OEMs from additive manufacturing, but more importantly to debut a whole new set of materials opening up more applications that can take advantage of everything additive manufacturing offers.”
Thomas Grosse-Puppendahl, the Head of the Additive Manufacturing Innovation Growth Field at Evonik added, “Evolve’s entirely new technology approach will allow us to expand the range of applications of our high-performance materials, which are produced through a unique production process. With more than 20 years of experience in 3D printing, we will also develop a wider range of customized material formulations to unlock the full potential of the STEP technology”.
Protolabs has announced production capabilities in metal 3D printing.
The digital manufacturing company has long offered metal 3D printing as a service, developing expertise in particular with DMLS — they run more than two dozen GE Additive Concept Laser Mlab and M2 machines. This week, the company has launched production capabilities (pdf) that “use secondary processes to improve the strength, dimensional accuracy, and cosmetic appearance of metal parts,” including the option for enhanced inspection reporting. As metal 3D printing continues to move into more industrial usage, quality is of the utmost concern, and delivering these technologies as a service entails the need to ensure that customers have all their needs fulfilled. Protolabs’ DMLS operations have already gained ISO 9001 and AS9110D certifications, laying a strong groundwork for quality. Customers turn to their offerings for all kinds of parts, from aerospace to high fashion.
The company notes several of its capabilities with its production announcement: “Once parts are built, several secondary options like post-process machining, tapping, reaming, and heat treatments are possible, and quality control measures like powder analysis, material traceability, and process validation are taken.”
“We see it every day. The designers and engineers we work with in industries like aerospace and medtech are choosing additive manufacturing for complex components in high-requirement applications,” said Greg Thompson, global product manager for 3D printing at Protolabs. “These new production capabilities help them optimize their designs to enhance performance, reduce costs, and consolidate supply chains—and do so much faster than ever before.”
Artec Studio is a well-known software for well-known 3D scanners.
This week, the company has announced the release of Artec Studio 14, which includes a healthy slew of new features to make users’ lives easier (and their scans better). In brief, Artec lays these features out as including, among others:
Additionally, Artec Studio 14 allows for experienced users to gain more control, such as manually rather than automatically aligning their model with the Autopilot feature. One-Click Auto-Positioning, also new, enables the creation of a default position for scans, so users can have their own settings as the standard. Scans will then always appear in their preferred position when opened. Texture mapping also gained an 800% boost “to save as much time as possible when creating professional 3D models.”
“The new Artec Studio 14 supports Artec’s entire line of 3D scanners, allowing our users to digitize the very smallest objects, such engine valves or connectors, right up to a cargo aircraft with metrology grade precision,” said Artyom Yukhin, President and CEO of Artec 3D. “In addition, all of our new software features lead to a more intuitive user experience for users in every industry, from quality inspection to CGI and 3D printing.”
This year’s SME Industry Achievement Award was presented to Professor Emanuel “Ely” Sachs.
Sachs’ legacy is tremendous and reaches widely through the 3D printing industry as we know it. Literally, as we know it: Sachs coined the phrase “3D printing” back in the ‘80s, shortly after inventing binder jet printing.
While “pioneer” is thrown out a lot these days in this young industry, Sachs is one, with decades of experience and some impressive patents to his credit. More recently, Sachs is a co-founder of Desktop Metal, serving as Co-CTO and helping to develop the Production System.
He is well worth the recognition, and the applause was great at the opening keynote of RAPID + TCT. Colleagues shared their stories of Sachs’ contributions to 3D printing in a touching video shown when he received his award:
Markforged has stepped into artificial intelligence with its new Blacksmith AI-powered software.
Metal 3D printing such as that available with Markforged’s Metal X system generally relies on sintering as a key step after the print is done, resulting in shrinkage from the fresh green part. Reliably predicting that shrinkage is critical for metal technologies to advance — and as it turns out, has applicability well beyond additive manufacturing, or even just metal.
Blacksmith will initially be available for the Metal X and X7 systems starting later this year, but will eventually become more widely available — including to traditional manufacturing equipment, such as CNC machines. Blacksmith is designed to analyze designs — millions of designs — and compare to a scanned part, automatically adapting the end-to-end process to create objects to specification.
The software was introduced and demoed at RAPID + TCT; I watched it in action and appreciated hearing first-hand from visitors that this is a much-desired offering.
“For the last hundred years, machines have been unaware of what they’re creating and would happily waste millions of dollars producing out-of-spec parts. We’re going to fix that by connecting the machines that make parts, and the ones that inspect them, with a powerful AI,” said Greg Mark, CEO of Markforged. “Much like the way Tesla is building autopilot for cars, we are building an autopilot for manufacturing.”
At the desktop, Prusa has revamped its slicing software. Built upon the open-source Slic3r, Prusa’s offering has previously followed that naming suit, dubbed Slic3r Prusa Edition or Slic3r PE. The new — and still open source — software is now known as PrusaSlicer. Developed in-house and compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux systems, PrusaSlicer introduces some impressive new features for users.
Nexa3D and Impossible Objects were among the many companies debuting new 3D printers.
Nexa3D offers high-speed SLA 3D printers and has a lot to show for itself just now. Newly available, the NXE400 is said to have print speeds “up to 6 times the speed and 2.5 times the build volume of all other comparable products on the market today,” and was willing to prove it with live 3D printing demos throughout RAPID + TCT. Shipments are set to begin in H2 2019 for the system, which is priced at $59,950. To go with it, Nexa3D also introduced a partner program for “qualified preferred third-party materials’ suppliers.”
“The NXE 400 is designed with user-friendliness and automation readiness in mind including active resin management, easy to change materials, automation ready access and plug and play user interface. Its cognitive capabilities facilitate optimized prints and offers complete automation from print to product,” said Izhar Medalsy, Chief Product Officer, Nexa3D. “Our NXE400 printer comes equipped with unique materials that are tailored for ultra-fast printing of functional prototyping, production tooling and full-scale manufacturing of end-use parts, casting patterns, and dental restorations.”
The addition of cognitive software and integrated sensors lead to a system that offers a detailed overview of what exactly is happening, and where attention is required by the user. Pulling on this thread of user self-reliance, the NXE400 is said to be easily serviceable via replaceable modules.
Impossible Objects had not just its new CBAM-2 3D printing system to debut at RAPID + TCT, but a partnership with BASF and a notable $4.1M investment. These announcements drew some solid attention to Impossible Objects, which showcased parts from the CBAM-2 and noted that it “delivers complex parts on an industrial scale — speeding up the additive manufacturing process as much as 10x.” The strong results bring together engineering-grade polymers with long-fiber carbon and fiberglass sheets, offering capabilities to “3D print parts from composites that are not available through any other 3D printing method.” CBAM-2 systems will be available starting in Q3 of this year.
The BASF partnership means that Impossible Objects’ Model One and CBAM-2 systems will support Ultrasint PA6 powders from BASF, enabling new high-performance composite capabilities. Finally, the $4.1 funding round — led by returning investor OCA Ventures — builds upon previous funding rounds and sees total investment raised exceeding $13 million. The company says the new funding will help “to meet the demand for its products.”
“It’s been exciting to see how our customers are putting our approach to work to create high-performance parts for everything from aircraft and cars to lightweight athletic gear,” said Impossible Objects Founder and Chairman Bob Swartz. “We’re continuing to bring machines, materials, and expertise to the market to transform the entire manufacturing process, from prototyping through to high-volume production.”
Stratasys, Jabil, and Desktop Metal have announced new partnerships and agreements that see business race forward.
Stratasys has had a busy May, culminating in a few announcements. The company has partnered with Solvay, announcing an authorized materials partner program that will start with developing new polymers for the Stratasys F900. Stratasys has also formed some interesting agreements, starting with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. The IndyCar racing company is working with the Fortus 450mc and F370 3D printers to create conceptual models, functional prototypes, manufacturing tools, and production parts.
Because just one racing agreement isn’t enough, Stratasys has also announced a collaboration with Don Schumacher Racing, “the winningest team in the National Hot Rod Association.” Don Schumacher Motorsports, the racing team’s production arm, is also working with the Fortus 450mc and F370. They note key applications including chassis or weldment fixturing, prototype development, final design proof-of-concept, and finished usable ultralight components.
Why only race on land, though? Stratasys also announced some watersports racing, with a supplier agreement with the New York Yacht Club, American Magic. Yacht racing is increasingly turning to 3D printing, and so American Magic is racing for the America’s Cup and bringing the Fortus 450mc along for the ride. 3D printing is coming into play here with carbon fiber to help create lightweight production parts, along with applications in prototyping, and creating brackets, fittings, and mounts.
Jabil is also going to the races. The digital solutions company has announced an additive manufacturing agreement with Renault F1 Team to create 3D printed parts for the Renault R.S.19 race car. Renault F1 Team is very familiar with 3D printing, and is now looking to leverage Jabil’s extensive offerings to “gain fast and efficient access to top-quality parts.” The Jabil Additive Manufacturing Network has been growing, and more capabilities at more Jabil facilities are seeing capacity rise — along with customer interest.
“We’re excited to be part of Renault F1 Team’s strategy to improve performance with additive manufacturing,” said John Dulchinos, VP of digital manufacturing, Jabil. “Our ability to consolidate a global supply chain and scale qualified processes as needed will enable the production of chassis and on-car components in record time.”
Finally, in agreements, Desktop Metal has announced a strategic partnership with Indo-MIM. Indo-MIM, which maintains facilities in India and Texas, is among the leading global suppliers of metal injection molding (MIM), creating more than 100 million metal parts each year. The company is installing a Desktop Metal Production System at its San Antonio facility, bringing metal 3D printing into its offerings for customers as early as this autumn as it becomes a full-service manufacturing partner for Desktop Metal. Additional services will also be available, such as consulting services in the means to production metal 3D printing. Production 3D printing is often thought to be competitive with MIM, but this partnership shows that the technologies are complementary and do well when working together.
“This is a major step forward in the progress of additive manufacturing,” said Krishna Chivukula, Jr., CEO of Indo-MIM. “As the world’s largest MIM house, we know our customers in automotive, aerospace and other key industries will reap the benefits of this new mass manufacturing technology. We are excited to partner with Desktop Metal to bring metal additive manufacturing closer to those companies looking to achieve the speed, cost, and quality benefits to their businesses. With the Production System now joining our state-of-the-art factories, we will be fully integrated to provide customers with a one-stop resource for the manufacturing of complex precision components and sub-assemblies with additive manufacturing.“
Ultimaker and Nano Dimension have announced new use cases for their 3D printing technologies.
Ultimaker has beery good news as they announce Heineken as a user of their 3D printers. The large brewing company operates a facility in Seville, Spain that makes up to 500 million liters annually of beers under the Heineken, Cruzcampo, Desperados, and Amstel brands. They recently set up a 3D printing lab, bringing Ultimaker in-house, beginning with targeting safety latch design. Fast success with the latches soon led to more — including spare parts manufacture.
The team at Heineken is also now iterating designs, such as a redesigned quality sensor part, and creating custom tools, jigs, and fixtures. They note that tool production was decreased by 70%, with timing taken down from three days to one. They note that the average part delivery is 80% faster than externally sourcing, while costs are also cut by 80% from historical sourcing.
Nano Dimension has announced a collaboration to get more 3D printed parts into space. Grant approval from the Israel Innovation Authority will lead Nano Dimension to cooperate with Harris Corporation to develop hardware for the International Space Station (ISS).
The Israeli company is well known for its DragonFly Pro system that 3D prints electronics — which is set to come in handy as the project “will provide a systematic analysis of 3D printed materials for radio frequency (RF) space systems, especially for Nano-satellites.”
The year-long project will see Nano Dimension and Harris create and optimize designs for the 3D printed RF components, preparing a system for flight studies on the ISS. The experiment will see the project, complete with 3D printed materials and circuits, circulate in Low-Earth Orbit for one year, deepening understanding of “how 3D printed circuits, systems, and materials will endure in various space environments.”
AstroPrint and Xometry have each announced significant financial investments.
AstroPrint, which offers a cloud platform that has seen use in more than 1.6 million 3D prints from more than 90,000 users, has announced a $1 million second funding round. To date, that puts investment into the venture-backed company at more than $2.1 million. Stanley Ventures, the venture capital arm of Stanley Black & Decker, and Alma Mundi Ventures led the round. AstroPrint says that the investment will be used “to further enhance our business and enterprise solutions, and scale our presence around the world.” The Enterprise Cloud solution is a relatively new offering that emerged from the STANLEY+Techstars Accelerator — deepening the connection to Stanley Black & Decker, which runs the accelerator together with Techstars and is a multi-facility user of the enterprise solution. Worldwide presence is also set to scale, adding a Connecticut office to those already open in San Diego and Malaga.
“Having won the faith and trust of VCs like Stanley Ventures and Alma Mundi Ventures tells us that we are on the right track to fill an important gap in the additive manufacturing industry and to add tremendous value for companies that are increasingly global and multi-location,” said Drew Taylor, CEO AstroPrint. “The next step for us is two-fold: First, we want to help existing manufacturers create smarter Additive Manufacturing networks so they can share and optimize resources within their companies. Second, we want to identify industries and companies that are yet to take advantage of 3D printing in their prototyping and testing processes, and help them overcome the traditional obstacles of distributed locations and remote expertise.”
On-demand manufacturing platform Xometry has announced $50 million in equity funding. Led by Greenspring Associates, the round brings in Dell Technologies Capital together with existing venture and strategic investors and creates a new total of $113 raised to date for Xometry. 3D printing, CNC machining, and other manufacturing technologies are available through Xometry’s large network — which is now set for further expansion. The company reports that revenues have doubled in the last year. Funding will go into further expansion, which will include additional capabilities in 3D printing with HP’s Multi Jet Fusion technology.
“Xometry’s vast network, massive data sets and AI breakthroughs make it easier for engineers and designers to buy custom manufacturing and help manufacturers more efficiently operate their businesses,” said Randy Altschuler, co-founder and CEO of Xometry. “We’re planning to invest these funds behind growth initiatives, product development and global expansion.”
Investments into new additive manufacturing systems and into a company are seeing rail industry participants continue to focus on 3D printing.
Pennsylvania-based Wabtec has announced that it has purchased at least two H2 binder jetting systems from GE Additive. The first system, installed currently at GE Additive’s lab in Cincinnati, Ohio, is the initial basis for the Wabtec team to work with the technology, beginning with co-located teamwork in technology development. The rail company is seeking to accelerate its strategy regarding additive manufacturing, and this undisclosed investment into the GE Additive systems is set to help the company work toward its goal of 3D printing more parts for its supply chain. Wabtec has already identified as many as 250 components where additive manufacturing could come into play within the next six years, and will bring the H2 system to its Grove City, PA facility before the end of 2019. The early system is another beta installation; full commercial release is slated for 2021.
“Additive is one of the key technology pillars for our company and central in our efforts to drive innovation in the industries we serve,” Philip Moslener, global director of the WabtecOne Platform & Applied Innovation. “This binder jet machine will help us design and produce reliable, low-cost components for our current and developmental engines, locomotive, transit and mining programs.”
Bombardier Transportation is also interested in 3D printing for train components, and this week invested into a Stratasys F900 3D printer. The intent is to 3D print end-use rail parts, tooling, and prototyping for DACH region countries. The F900 will be installed in Hennigsdorf, Germany, where Bombardier Transportation houses its largest manufacturing facility. Among the parts targeted for production are air ducts, housings, and cable holders, as both interior and exterior train parts are targeted. The F900 enables the company to 3D print with high-strength ULTEM 9085, which has proven well suited for such parts.
“The Stratasys F900 3D Printer allows us to widen our service offering in such a way that we are now able to 3D print large spare parts, customized rail parts and manufacturing tools – all in-house and on-demand,” comments André Bialoscek, Head of Vehicle Physical Integration Hennigsdorf, Bombardier. “Having previously used fiber glass and tin for train components, the ability to now utilize ULTEM 9085 resin meets our application criteria and takes us to a new level in terms of reducing the costs and lengthy lead times associated with those traditional materials.”
Protolabs and Sintavia have opened large new manufacturing facilities this week.
Brooklyn Park, Minnesota is now home to Protolabs’ dozenth global manufacturing plant (the company’s eight in the US). The new manufacturing facility dedicates its 215,000 square feet to CNC machining with almost 300 mills and lathes housed. Protolabs is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month, and what better way than with a new advanced manufacturing facility? The CNC focus of this new site fits in with the company’s dedicated facilities; for example, a large site near Raleigh, North Carolina is dedicated to 3D printing. Protolabs offers a strong portfolio of manufacturing technologies to meet its customers’ broad needs — they now say their 1,000+ machines worldwide are producing almost four million parts monthly in their now twelve facilities.
“Protolabs has exceeded my wildest dreams,” said Larry Lukis, Protolabs’ founder. “The company was born out of personal frustration that manufacturing parts took months, when it could take days or even minutes. There needed to be a way to make it easier and faster for product developers to get prototype parts and accelerate development cycles. Protolabs has achieved that goal and made advanced manufacturing technologies accessible for everyone, from makers to startups to Fortune 500 companies.”
Earlier this week, Sintavia opened its new 55,000-square-foot Hollywood, Florida advanced manufacturing facility and headquarters. The aerospace-focused company welcomed more than 150 customers and partners to the grand opening, keen to show off $25 million of advanced manufacturing equipment. Several metal additive manufacturing systems are housed there, alongside EDMs, post-processing machines, wet-booths, and several furnaces. Sintavia says production from the facility can go up to tens of thousands of parts and more than $100 million annual revenue from additive manufacturing.
“This new facility is the first of its kind in North America to offer large-scale AM production coupled with a robust aerospace quality management system,” said Brian Neff, Sintavia’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “As we grow, it will serve as a template for future vertically-aligned advanced manufacturing facilities around the U.S. and the world.”
ExOne has announced a new CEO and CCO.
The new executive appointments come on the heels of disappointing financial results for Q1 2019.
S. Kent Rockwell will remain in place as ExOne’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, but yields the title of CEO to the newly-elected John F. Hartner. No explanation was given for the transition, but Hartner’s experience includes two years as EnvisionTEC’s COO among his three decades of experience in electronics, cleantech, automation, and digital printing industries. Hartner has been ExOne’s COO since November 2018.
“John is an outstanding leader and has proven to be a strong addition to our global leadership team. In his new role, he will lead the organization in the execution of our strategic initiatives that focus on profitable growth. These include expanding binder jetting applications, broadening our machine platform range and growing our recurring revenue base,” Rockwell said of the new CEO.
ExOne has also created a new position as Charles Grace joins the company as its first Chief Customer Officer. Grace claims more than 25 years of customer-facing experience, including tenures at Xerox and 3D Systems.
“We are excited to welcome Charlie to the ExOne executive leadership team. He brings extensive experience in developing and executing go-to-market initiatives in 3D and 2D printing industries. Our first and third strategic pillars focus on customers and applications as well as recurring revenue, to drive growth in new markets and expand margins. In this newly created leadership role, Charlie will have extensive customer interaction as we continue to advance our machine adoption, expand binder jetting applications and improve our recurring revenue base in alignment with our strategy,” said new ExOne CEO Hartner.
HP has announced an expansion of its Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers and its push toward digital manufacturing.
The company has introduced its Jet Fusion 5200 Series, available now for order. Adding to the existing MJF line — which currently includes the low-volume production 4200 Series and full-color prototyping 500/300 Series — the new 5200 Series sees several advances for polymer 3D printing. The systems are designed for heavy industry use for serial production. HP is also introducing its first flexible material suitable for MJF: Ultrasint from BASF. The new TPU material has already seen some success with early adopters, including HP itself, which uses the material in 3D printed parts for its 3D printers, both textile and 3D. HP has also introduced new software focusing on enhancing production quality and in-print monitoring, as well as targeted services.
Additionally, HP has announced an expansion of several important relationships. The company is deepening relationships with BASF, Materialise, and Siemens. HP has also (also) introduced its global HP Digital Manufacturing Network. With initial production partners in the US, Europe, and Asia, the goal is to see qualified partners expand as digital manufacturing capabilities can be offered to customers around the world. Initial partners include Forecast 3D, GKN, GoProto, Jabil, Materialise, Parmatech, and ZiggZagg.
ExOne and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are collaborating to advance binder jet 3D printing.
The recently-announced collaboration is geared toward ExOne’s additive manufacturing focus: binder jetting. The project will first focus on developing the technologies necessary for new binder jetting systems, “focusing on optimizing chemistry and process parameters for ExOne’s sand and metal systems.” ORNL offers a strong history and interest in additive manufacturing and is able to leverage significant resources to further industry projects. The entities have been working together for several years; this new relationship deepens this particular focus.
“We look forward to continuing binder jetting research with ExOne,” said Amy Elliott, ORNL lead researcher on binder jetting. “Over the past several years, we’ve worked with ExOne on four binder jetting systems and we’ve made exceptional progress in enhancing this additive manufacturing technique. Industry collaborations such as this help the U.S. remain competitive in manufacturing.”
“By collaborating with a world-class lab like Oak Ridge National Laboratory, we accelerate ExOne’s binder jetting technology capabilities. We believe these collaborative efforts will effectively and efficiently result in the establishment of new materials, binders and process developments, retaining our significant edge over competitors and other technologies in the industrial manufacturing space,” said Rick Lucas, ExOne’s Chief Technology Officer.
GKN Powder Metallurgy, Aleph Objects, and 3D Hubs have announced expansions outside their home countries.
Germany-based GKN Powder Metallurgy has opened its new North American HQ and Additive Manufacturing Customer Center in Michigan. The 38,260-square-foot facility houses more than 80 employees across GKN businesses (Hoeganaes, GKN Sinter Metals, GKN Additive), with space devoted to collaborative work areas, shop floor, and the Customer Center with two EOS DMLS systems.
“We are excited to start a new journey in Auburn Hills with a space that is dedicated to our team, our community and the advanced technology we create for our customers,” said Reid Southby, President, GKN Sinter Metals Large Segment. “This building reinforces our commitment to the North American market and continued global growth.”
Colorado-based Aleph Objects, well known for its expanding LulzBot line of 3D printers, has opened its new European HQ, Aleph Objects Netherlands B.V., in Rotterdam. To be led by Managing Director Jeroen Wijnen, the new European operations — including new holding company Aleph Objects Europe Holding B.V. — will focus on expanding the company’s success across the pond.
“Creating a strong presence for LulzBot to assist our existing and new customers and resellers in Europe is my first priority,” said Wijnen. “I’m convinced LulzBot’s dedication to reliability of its 3D printers and unrivaled customer support will be appealing to the European market….this will enable LulzBot to set new standards with the unveiling of upcoming product launches. I am excited to be part of the team.”
Netherlands-based 3D Hubs has announced that its new North American HQ will be located in Chicago, opening in June and housed at mHUB. Landing operations in the US only makes sense as 3D Hubs notes that the country is its fastest-growing market; revenue in North America has reportedly tripled over the last year. The US team will double, with emphasis on sales, customer service, and engineering (open positions are here).
Bram de Zwart, CEO and co-founder of 3D Hubs also commented: “3D Hubs’ decision to locate their North American headquarters in Chicago speaks to the city’s status as a global tech hub and a leader in manufacturing. Our thriving tech ecosystem continues to attract top companies and talent from around the world.”
Another week, another set of financials roll in: now from 3D Systems, Arkema, and ExOne.
Q1 results are in from 3D Systems, and it’s not a rosy picture. The company saw an 8% decrease in revenue compared to Q1 2018. Despite higher 3D printer sales (90% higher, in fact), revenues in this segment were down 29%. 3D Systems has been leaning on its healthcare strategy; revenues in this area fell 5%. Other decreases were seen in materials revenues (-3%), software (-8%), and on-demand services (-12%). On the back of all of these, stocks dipped 20%.
“While we expected seasonality in our revenue this year from ordering patterns of enterprise customers, the first quarter was lower than anticipated as a result of shipment timing and additional on demand weakness,” commented Vyomesh Joshi (VJ) chief executive officer, 3D Systems. “We are taking actions to improve performance for the balance of the year, including accelerating cost reductions.”
Full results available here.
Q1 results from Arkema tell a markedly different story. The specialty chemicals and advanced materials company is relatively new to 3D printing, but is seeing success already. On the whole, company sales were up 2% for the quarter. 3D printing operations fall under the company’s High Performance Materials division operations, where “demand was lower year on year in the automotive, electronics and oil & gas markets and overshadowed the success of innovations in several growing segments, such as batteries and 3D printing.” New expansions such as the Kepstan PEKK site in Alabama and Sartomer’s capacity extension at its photocure liquid resin production plant in China highlight what in both cases is referred to as “strong demand” as Arkema continues to commit to this growth area.
“The Group’s first-quarter financial performance, close to its record-high levels, was in line with the guidance issued at the beginning of the year and demonstrates the Group’s good resilience in a global economic environment that was less favorable compared with the first quarter of 2018,” said Chairman and CEO Thierry Le Hénaff. “…
Our transformation strategy towards specialty chemicals therefore continues to bear fruit and, beyond the short-term, Arkema will continue to pursue its reflections and projects in order to further increase the share of specialties within its business portfolio.”
Full results available here.
ExOne saw a 19% decrease in overall revenues for Q1 2019 versus Q1 2018. Still, the company is looking ahead as they also saw a 13% drop in operating expenses, an increased backlog, and other indicators that the second half of the year should represent the majority of revenue distribution for 2019.
S. Kent Rockwell, ExOne’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, stated, “Order activity started strong this year, building backlog in support of our expectations for robust revenue growth for 2019 and reinforcing our excitement around the building momentum for our binder jetting printing technology. As we told you in March, our revenue in the first quarter was below last year’s first quarter as a result of timing, and we remain confident in our outlook for a strong second quarter. Importantly, our focus on profitable growth is demonstrated in the measurable reduction in operating expenses and we expect to realize strong operating leverage as we grow through the year.”
He added, “We are enthusiastic about our ongoing new product development efforts. Our new X1 25PRO larger format fine powder direct printing machine is receiving positive reviews during beta tests. Additionally, development of our new advanced indirect machine is progressing well. We continue to work closely with customers to identify innovative application opportunities, to further the adoption of binder jetting technology for additive manufacturing.”
Full results available here.
A rockstar-proof guitar could be yours, for the right price.
The advanced guitar, created with metal 3D printing and precise milling by a team of skilled engineers from Sandvik, withstood the full rockstar treatment. That is, Yngwie Malmsteen played the guitar on stage and following his smashing performance, tried to smash the guitar. Despite his vast experience in guitar smashing, the piece withstood his efforts. And now that strong, highly engineered instrument is up for auction. The 10-day auction runs through May 12 and is already in full swing; as of the time of writing on the first day, bids are up to $4,050.
“This guitar is a beast! Sandvik is obviously on top of their game. They put the work in, they do their hours, I can relate to that,” Malmsteen said. “The result is amazing. I gave everything I had, but it was impossible to smash.”
Solvay’s annual AM Cup has now named its top prizes for 2019.
The AM Cup is a student-focused international competition that challenges competitors to 3D print using Solvay’s Radel PPSU filament. This year, Solvay reports, “winners were selected from 35 student teams from 32 universities across three continents.” Dimensional accuracy, mechanical performance, and creativity were evaluated in challenges to 3D print a tensile bar and a wavy pressure pipe. The student teams were very much up to the challenge this year, and the winning team — Gekko Performance from the Technical University of Munich — achieved the most impressive results. Second and third place (PPSUsual and PPSUPER, respectively, both of Ghent University) were separated by “very little” as they also produced excellent results. Prizes awarded were €10,000, €5,000, and €3,000 for the top three.
“It was inspiring to see the various approaches to solving the challenges of fused filament fabrication (FFF) such as bed adhesion and chamber temperature management. The winning team demonstrated once more that 3D printed parts can virtually match the performance and quality of conventional injection molded parts, provided material, hardware, and process are optimised together,” said Ryan Hammonds, R&D platform manager for Solvay’s Specialty Polymers global business unit and president of the AM Cup Jury. “We look forward to sharing with our customers the benefits gained from this edition of the Solvay AM Cup for 3D printing the best possible PPSU parts for applications in various industries such as aerospace, healthcare and industrial.”
America Makes and NCDMM have announced a new supply chain-focused program as well as their own executive restructuring.
The National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) and America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, which NCDMM manages, have had a very busy week. First they announced a partnership with Catalyst Connection to launch AMNOW. The new program is designed to support the integration of additive manufacturing technology into the supply chain for the US Army. Military supply chains are critical, and enabling closer-to-the-troops production of spare parts and more can cut costs and time significantly. AMNOW is “potentially” a multi-phase, multi-year contract. The first phase, funded to the tune of $3.7 million, is underway to provide the foundation for future project work.
Petra Mitchell, Catalyst Connection President and CEO, added, “Catalyst Connection has maintained an ongoing strategic partnership with NCDMM since its inception. With the AMNOW Program, we are excited to play an integral role in advancing AM technologies into the U.S. Army’s supply chain while growing our region’s manufacturing capabilities. The AMNOW Program signifies a tremendous regional economic growth opportunity for small- to medium-sized manufactures within the SWPA region. By developing a fully integrated plan to help these local manufactures adopt AM technologies and demonstrate the return on investment of AM for them would be an economic game-changer for the manufacturing sector of our region.”
On the heels of the introduction of AMNOW, NCDMM and America Makes had their own announcements to make. Leadership at the top of both organizations is shifting. Effective May 1, NCDMM’s President and CEO, Ralph Resnick, is stepping down from this position. Incoming President and CEO is current NCDMM Board Member Dean L. Bartles, Ph.D., FSME, FASME. Resnick will be continuing to work with NCDMM in a new position as the Vice President of Strategy — as well as helping in another transition.
Resnick, the Founding Executive Director of America Makes, will be functioning in a strategic advisory role as the organization bids farewell to Executive Director Rob Gorham. Gorham, who has been the Executive Director of America Makes for two years, with a six-year NCDMM tenure, has announced his resignation as of the end of May “to pursue other opportunities.” While a permanent successor has not yet been named, the Acting Executive Director as of June 1 will be John Wilczynski. Wilczynski, currently the Technology Director, will see his role turned over to NCDMM VP and CTO Randy Gilmore, who at that time will take on the role of Acting Technology Director.
“The NCDMM is thriving and these changes simple reflect not only the ongoing evolution of a growing organization, but also the flourishing professional careers of individuals,” Dr. Bartles said of all the changes.
California-based 3Diligent has significantly expanded its global manufacturing network.
The company offers 3D printing alongside a good many other manufacturing capabilities including machining, casting, and injection molding through a vast, vetted network of qualified digital manufacturing facilities. Now that network encompasses almost 250 contract manufacturing partners in more than a dozen countries spanning six continents — and 1,2000 machines. Each of the partners has been qualified for consistent quality, offering results consistent with 3Diligent’s quality standards. The breadth of the network now means that more customers around the world have closer access to on-demand manufacturing, localizing production and reducing time and costs of shipping and streamlining tracking and project management.
“The promise and power of digital manufacturing – especially 3D Printing – lies in its ability to quickly and easily get the same part made in different places using the same 3D design file,” said 3Diligent CEO Cullen Hilkene. “We are proud to have qualified and networked expert manufacturing partners around the world who are capable of making this vision of the future a reality.”
Materialise and Stratasys have announced their Q1 2019 results this week.
Belgium-based Materialise shows a strong first quarter with a 7.3% revenue increase. The company lists the highlights:
Executive Chairman Peter Leys commented, “In the year’s opening quarter, all three of our segments performed well. Materialise Software and Materialise Medical, which continue to invest in both sales and marketing and research and development, combined healthy double-digit revenue growth rates with solid double-digit EBITDA margins. In spite of the continuing macro-economic uncertainties, in particular in the automotive sector, Materialise Manufacturing also realized growth, both in terms of revenue and, more significantly, in terms of EBITDA. We believe we are on track to meet our financial guidance for 2019.”
Israel- and Minnesota-based Stratasys has also had a strong showing for Q1, with a bump up in revenue and a lower operating loss. The company highlights:
“We are pleased with our first quarter top-line results, and are particularly encouraged by the continuation of the strong performance we have seen in North America over the last several quarters, demonstrating steady adoption of our systems and materials in our largest market,” said Elchanan (Elan) Jaglom, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Stratasys. “We are also pleased with our non-GAAP profitability in the first quarter, demonstrating our continued commitment to controlling expenses and delivering shareholder value. Our recent new product introductions are generating significant interest from our customers and expanding our addressable markets, and we look forward to additional announcements as we move through 2019 and into 2020.”
Two 3D printers new to the market focus on offering more advanced options for users.
Robotfactory, which offers the Sliding-3D system with an infinite build platform thanks to its clever conveyor belt setup, is looking to up the 3D printer’s offerings. The new Sliding-3D PLUS brings high-temperature capabilities to the conveyor. While the Sliding-3D Standard system has a nozzle that can reach up to 280°C, the new PLUS adds another 200° to that. Coupled with a new belt that can withstand temperatures up to 130°C, the PLUS is said to be able to handle high-temperature materials. Robotfactory notes among them Carbon Fiber, Glass Fiber, PPS, Thermec, PEEK, and ULTEM, for example. While most high-temperature 3D printers do also include an enclosure to ensure consistent temperatures during the build, the Sliding-3D PLUS does not — though the Sliding-3D BOX is available and would likely be a good idea to help regulate the printing environment. Both the Standard and PLUS versions of the Sliding-3D print at a 45° angle, negating the need in many cases for supports, and offer a print volume of 410mm x 380mm x ∞.
Introduced a few weeks ago, the LulzBot TAZ Pro is now shipping. This week, production quantities began heading out from Aleph Objects’ base. The details and specs of the new system have been intriguing — so much so the company has noted an all-time high in pre-orders. The popular TAZ line of 3D printers has been well-regarded, picking up solid reviews and several awards through the years; adding the Pro in is a strong step toward furthering capabilities and enhancing performance. And, of course, Aleph Objects teases that this isn’t it: next week we hear about the next new addition to the TAZ line, with that announcement to come May 1.
“We had the most pre-orders in company history after announcing the TAZ Pro on March 28,” said Grant Flaharty, CEO of Aleph Objects. “We have been working hard to expand production capacity to meet order demand.”
3D printing continues to help medical innovation, as ongoing installations and R&D highlight.
Two more Concept Laser Mlab 100R 3D printers are coming to a medical device manufacturer. Nexxt Spine, established in Indiana in 2009, has been 3D printing since 2017 — and already is seeing increased demand for the technology, as it makes 100% of its implants and 95% of its tooling in-house. The company creates advanced spinal implants, and has found the advantages of 3D printing to fit smoothly into its workflow. Speeding the development and time-to-market for its products, 3D printing has also enabled Nexxt Spine to redesign its offerings, created in titanium to leverage the best of natural bone structure and engineering concepts. Nexxt Spine is now using additive manufacturing for serial production.
“We used the first Mlab primarily for R&D purposes, but we soon realised that further investment in additive technology could add value not only to our overall growth strategy, but also at a clinical application level with the ability to develop implants with very intricate micro-geometries that could maximise healing. Over the past two years, we have made a seamless jump from R&D to serial production and in doing so have significantly accelerated the time from concept to commercialization,” said Alaedeen Abu-Mulaweh, Director of Engineering at Nexxt Spine.
Purdue University is also pursuing advanced medical applications via 3D printing. The university has turned to robots as a potential solution for elder care. Soft robots, an intriguing area of work that is more frequently coming together with 3D printing, may provide an option to aid in caregiving. Designing the soft robots, which can be printed on a conventional 3D printer, to be more easily created may make 3D architected soft machines (ASMs) more accessible.
“ASMs can perform complex motions such as gripping or crawling with ease, and this work constitutes a step forward toward the development of autonomous and lightweight soft robots. The capability of ASMs to change their body configuration and gait to adapt to a wide variety of environments has the potential to not only improve caregiving but also disaster-response robotics,” said Ramses Martinez, an assistant professor in the School of Industrial Engineering and in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering in Purdue’s College of Engineering.
Eco-friendly and business-friendly moves on the business end tie a nice bow on this week’s happenings.
Henkel Corporation, which expanded its Loctite brand into additive manufacturing resins a few years ago, is expanding its Recycling Program to also include 3D printing. This announcement, nicely timed to go out on Earth Day, underscores the rising focus throughout additive manufacturing on sustainability initiatives. 3D printing resins can often be difficult or impossible to recycle. Henkel is addressing this through its Recycling Program, which is driven by a partnership with TerraCycle. The program continues to expand, designed to be convenient for its material users. The resin initiative is not in full swing yet, but is soon to come. Henkel’s announcement explains:
“Henkel, in partnership with TerraCycle, was the first company worldwide to offer a recycling solution for anaerobic adhesive packaging and has since added light cure adhesive technologies packaging, with instant adhesives and cyanoacrylates to follow shortly. Through this program, Henkel’s customers with 3D printing operations are provided with a recycling box where used containers of UV curable 3D resins and cyanoacrylate-base[d] adhesives are placed and later recycled by TerraCycle.”
Hawk Ridge Systems is expanding its business, acquiring Parsons Technology. The merger combines the companies’ resources to create a larger manufacturing solution, now encompassing a service that reaches “22,500 customers from 22 offices and has 245 employees.” Hawk Ridge Systems has an expansive portfolio in 3D design, manufacturing, and 3D printing, including as a reseller for such technologies as SOLIDWORKS, CAMWorks, Predator, Markforged, and HP MJF.
“The partnership of Parsons Technology and Hawk Ridge Systems is a perfect combination,” says Dale Ford, President and CEO of Hawk Ridge Systems. “Our CAM teams have been working together for years sharing CAM and Post Processing projects, so it is only a natural progression that we would choose to work with Parsons as we expand our footprint in the Midwest. Best of all, we are now in the position to offer more software choices, tools, training and resources to support our new customers in Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and Iowa.”
The Aluminum Association has introduced new specifications for 3D printable aluminum powder and named the first registered powder.
In its first new registration in almost two decades, the Aluminum Association has announced a “purple paper” focusing on aluminum alloys for 3D printing. HRL Laboratories was named as the first to register an aluminum powder. According to the Aluminum Association, this represents the first move from a materials industry to recognize additive manufacturing materials. Aluminum powders are coming into play more frequently as metal 3D printing continues to develop as a production technology. Standards offer validation for users interested in working with newer processes: understanding material performance and qualities is critical in the aerospace, automotive, and other industries where aluminum is coming into play. HRL’s material is a high-strength aluminum alloy that was introduced in September 2017. The company sees its registration as a major step toward the material’s commercialization.
“Essentially, this will connect us to this particular alloy composition forever,” said Hunter Martin, the lead scientist on the HRL team that created the alloy. “These alloy numbers will always be trackable back to HRL, like a DNA signature. When I first contacted the Aluminum Association about registering our alloy, they did not have a way to register alloys printed from powders, so they decided to create a new system for registration of additively manufactured materials – a first in the materials space.”
NASA continues to pave new paths in 3D printing, this week introducing a foam-focused application.
The Space Launch System (SLS) is a major project for NASA right now. The deep space rocket is obviously subject to great scrutiny, and given the agency’s previous uses for 3D printing, it’s no real surprise that the technology has come into play here. NASA’s team has qualified 3D printing to help in creating individual molds used in applying thermal protection. Rather than spraying on foam manually, the team can now mix and pour foam into the mold, where it will expand for just the right fit — “reducing the need for complex and tedious post-process trimming.” The release notes:
“NASA and Boeing engineers performed extensive development and qualification pour foam testing early in the program. Using this data, the team developed a refined process that reduced the amount of time required to certify individual 3D printed molds and allowed the team to spend more time focusing on the critical requirements that must be met for each flight foam application. This streamlined the process, from 3D printing to pour application, and allowed for quicker processing times.”
A cherry-sized heart may be key to normalizing 3D printed organs.
The researchers’ timeframe of around a decade is likely still rather optimistic, but there’s no question the news out of Tel Aviv University this week will have lasting impact. “People have managed to 3D-print the structure of a heart in the past, but not with cells or with blood vessels. Our results demonstrate the potential of our approach for engineering personalized tissue and organ replacement in the future,” said lead researcher Professor Tal Dvir. The rabbit-sized bioprinted heart indeed features internal structures, showcasing the complexity possible. Dvir and his team are working toward one of the primary benefits of bioprinting: creating transplantable solutions made with a patient’s own cells. Rejection is a major risk of organ transplants, and everyone undergoing such procedures is necessarily on a lifelong regimen of anti-rejection therapies to encourage their bodies to accept new hearts, livers, or lungs.
“The ability to print functional vascularized patches according to the patient’s anatomy is demonstrated. Blood vessel architecture is further improved by mathematical modeling of oxygen transfer. The structure and function of the patches are studied in vitro, and cardiac cell morphology is assessed after transplantation, revealing elongated cardiomyocytes with massive actinin striation. Finally, as a proof of concept, cellularized human hearts with a natural architecture are printed. These results demonstrate the potential of the approach for engineering personalized tissues and organs, or for drug screening in an appropriate anatomical structure and patient‐specific biochemical microenvironment,” the research team write in the abstract to their published paper.
GE Additive’s binder jetting system has a new beta installation.
Cummins is adding to its holdings of metal 3D printers with at least two new binder jetting systems from GE Additive. The installation is part of a strategic partnership, as Cummins acts as an early beta tester for the system. Initially, the systems will be located at GE’s Cincinnati, Ohio facility; following work between the two teams on process development, they will be sent to one of Cummins’ facilities later this year. As of now, the binder jetting systems are slated for commercial release in 2021, so it will be very interesting to hear how Cummins gets on with the new offering. Initially working on low volumes, Cummins plans to ramp up to large-scale production with its metal 3D printing capabilities. The company already has several metal 3D printers installed in two sites, including two M2 systems from Concept Laser (owned by GE Additive).
“In early 2019, we launched the beta testing and partner program and deliberately sought out partners and key customers, like Cummins, who are committed to mass production,” said Jake Brunsberg, Binder Jet Product Line Leader. “As Cummins celebrates its 100th year, it remains steadfast in its commitment to being at the cutting edge of innovation. Above all, we want to partner with companies whose businesses and customers will benefit tremendously from binder jet technologies.”
Adding 2D to 3D, Microlight3D has announced the acquisition of Smart Force Technologies.
While we’re often seeing 2D companies moving into 3D, this move still makes sense. Microlight3D ‘s acquisition (PDF) brings Smart Force Technologies’ (SFT) maskless lithography system for micro-scale 2D printing into the fold. The focus, rather than being on 3D printing technology itself, is on offering all things micro to its customers. The 100% acquisition will see SFT’s operations merge into Microlight3D’s.
“Microlight3D’s acquisition of Smart Force Technologies is an ideal fit. We gain expertise in high-resolution 2D-printing, that, combined with our 3D microprinting know-how, will lead us to develop new micro-fabrication systems,” said Denis Barbier, CEO of Microlight3D. “These future 2D-3D microprinting systems will respond to customer needs for faster, larger and more complex printing capabilities. Microlight3D is now in a stronger position to support a range of customer developments in the life sciences and increasingly in industrial applications.”
“SFT is delighted to merge with Microlight3D, whose 3D microprinting technology based on two-photon polymerization is opening up new possibilities in science and industry,” said Julien Cordiero, CEO and co-founder of SFT. “By adding our 2D microstructuring technology to Microlight3D’s portfolio means that customers who are seeking new ways to solve design challenges can greatly benefit from the quality and efficiency of sourcing from a single supplier.”
AREVO has announced that it will be 3D printing a bike frame through a partnership with Franco Bicycles.
The advanced frame is a unibody design and, according to the company, is the “world’s first” to be 3D printed in continuous carbon fiber as a single-piece unibody frame. By no means bicycling’s first foray into 3D printing, the frame is interesting in that the unibody construction allows for the design to leverage the important component-reduction benefit of additive manufacturing. Further, the design-to-manufacture time frame is reduced: AREVO says from 18 months to “just a few days”. The frame is for a new line of Franco’s Emery brand e-bikes, in production now at volume.
AREVO explains the technique:
“AREVO DNA technology is unique in the additive manufacturing (AM) world as it features patented software algorithms enabling generative design techniques, free-motion robotics for ‘True 3D’ construction, and direct energy deposition for virtually void free construction all optimized for anisotropic composite materials.”
A call for SMEs in the European Union sees €300,000 dedicated to furthering 3D printing.
“3D Printing is a key technology for the future of the EU as long as it has a great potential for creating jobs whilst helping to fight transport costs, CO2 emissions or in-built obsolescence.” So said a report last year from the European Parliament. In a nod to the importance of additive manufacturing in EU business, the AMable call is allocating funds to SMEs ready to “enhance competitiveness” in the 3D printing sector. The call, open until June 1, is looking to finance work in “Feasibility Studies” and “Good Practices” as “application experiments” are in focus to further next-generation technology. AMable will also provide “a series of side benefits” for upskilling in design for additive manufacturing, technology development, business development, and education.
The call notes:
“AMable aims to reinforce the Additive Manufacturing technological cluster by creating a digital framework to provide unbiased access to the best European knowledge in 3D printing for the industry 4.0 and EU institutions endorse it. The European Commission and the European Parliament already underlined that 3D printing could ease the strain on their logistical chains, reduce storage and transport operations, lessen environmental impact and cut spending on goods insurance and make it possible to create employment at SME level.”
XYZprinting is upping its focus on classroom 3D printing.
XYZprinting offers a large portfolio of 3D printing solutions, and several are aimed squarely at the education market. This week the company has announced the XYZprinting STEAM 3D Education Program, investing more than $1 million into the program with the intent to place more than 300 3D printers into US classrooms. Applications are open through September 5. STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) education is increasingly making its way into the classroom, as the next generation will see more use of these areas. 3D printing is among them, and XYZprinting is joining the ranks of OEMs offering help to schools. Last month the company introduced a bundling program to include a free 3D printer with lesson plans; one step farther now, the company notes that it is “determined to be at the forefront in making 3D printing accessible to students in the classroom,” allocating da Vinci Jr 1.0 3D printers through the program for:
As a case study for their 3D printers in educational settings, XYZprinting shares the story of the Stockbridge InvenTeam from Michigan.
Such story like The Ezra Project is just one of the many stories that show the importance to nurture young talents for the future. XYZprinting’s decision to invest in the STEAM 3D Education Program is to give schools easier access and the right tools in introducing 3D printing in the classroom. We hope that through this program we can encourage a generation of creators and problem solvers of the future, that will continue to bring a positive impact in the community,” said Vinson Chien, Director of XYZprinting US.
Sandvik created a smashing guitar — that can’t be smashed.
Playing on the popular image of rockstars smashing guitars, Sandvik’s latest creation is a testament to style of both design and messaging. Yngwie Malmsteen, a Swedish rocker whom I’ve personally never heard of (I don’t get out much) but who has been heralded as one of Time’s “10 greatest electric guitar players of all time,” is famed for his rockstar ways and guitar-smashing performance. So what better way to showcase the strength of 3D printing, Sandvik decided, than to create a guitar Malmsteen himself could not smash? It was no mean task, and Sandvik gathered experts to design a working guitar without the traditional weak point between the neck and body of the instrument. The guitar wasn’t wholly 3D printed; “the guitar’s neck and fretboard were milled in one machine from solid bars of recycled stainless steel,” while the body was 3D printed in titanium. Following some precise engineering work and hefty testing, Sandvik reports:
“When the guitar was finished, Sandvik gave it to Malmsteen to play. At a club in Florida, Malmsteen ripped through several songs, then started swinging the guitar at amps, at stage structures, at the floor, doing his very best to smash it.
‘This guitar is a beast!’ Malmsteen said after abandoning efforts to destroy it. ‘…I gave everything I had, but it was impossible to smash’.”
Stratasys had major announcements this week in its FDM and PolyJet portfolios, as well as its official entry into SLA; Stratasys Direct also brings more in metal into play.
The F123 line of FDM 3D printers was introduced last year at SOLIDWORKS World. Adding on to the line at AMUG is the newest FDM machine from Stratasys, the F120. The entry-level F120 is designed for ease of use and repeatability. “Entry-level” for this professional line means a price tag of $11,999 in the US. The 3D printer is targeted toward designers, engineers, and educators with plug-and-print workflow and GrabCAD Print capabilities. Two large filament boxes are included to increase uptime — up to 250 hours of uninterrupted 3D printing. The company is taking orders now and targeting July delivery.
“While many analysts report the entry-level 3D printing segment has grown significantly, we note organizations struggle with building production-level models on the first or second try – at the reliability and repeatability of high-end systems. This puts smaller designers and academic institutions at a significant disadvantage. The Stratasys F120 printer meets the needs of customers, providing engineering and design groups with highly productive part printing – whether they’re across the hall or around the globe,” said Omer Krieger, EVP Products, Stratasys.
Stratasys steps into stereolithography with its first commercially available SLA 3D printer, the V650 Flex. The company has long experience with this technology and has been offering it through Stratasys Direct for some time. Now Stratasys is launching the 3D printer it developed for in-house use directly to customers. The V650 Flex marks another notable departure from established strategies: It’s open materials. Stratasys is launching the machine with a partner with DSM, with four popular Somos materials — Somos Element, Somos NeXt, Somos PerFORM, and Somos Watershed XC 11122 — validated for use on the platform. But even as more DSM materials get the V650 green light, users are welcome to use their preferred resins. The new system has a 20” x 20” x 23” build volume and interchangeable vats. The system has been well tested, with more than 150,000 parts made for Stratasys Direct Manufacturing. Pricing has not yet been announced, but the system is available now for order.
“While stereolithography is one of the original 3D printing processes – mainly used to create master patterns or large concept models quickly and accurately – customers have been challenged by restricted systems that can’t be configured and materials at a high cost-per-part,” said Omer Krieger, EVP Products, Stratasys. “The V650 Flex is the result of customer demand around the world wanting a better solution – fully configurable to match the specific application and use-case. The solution is truly one of the first large-scale systems for creating reliable, high-quality parts across design concepts, validation, investment casting, tooling, and injection molding.”
On the PolyJet side, color-matching steps forward as Stratasys announces that it has been designated as Pantone Validated for the J750 and J735. Pantone is well-known in professional color standards, as brands and designers are acutely aware of their exact shades. Color in 3D printing has largely been controlled by specified filaments or post-processing, but with these systems’ ability to mix colors, control becomes even finer right at the source. Pantone functionality should be live in GrabCAD Print by July.
“Designers work hard to build realistic prototypes in ways that speed design, build and development cycles. Unfortunately, typical approaches of manually painting each and every model is time consuming,” said Hadas Schragenheim, Rapid Prototyping Manager, Stratasys. “Our agreement with Pantone sets the stage for a revolution in design and prototype processes. As the industry’s first 3D printers officially ‘PANTONE Validated,’ we’re allowing designers to build realistic prototypes faster than ever before – shrinking design-to-prototype and accelerating product time-to-market.”
Stratasys Direct Manufacturing is opening more options in metals, now offering VELO3D’s Sapphire 3D printing powered by Flow software. VELO3D offers precise control in its laser fusion metal system, with in-situ metrology, closed-loop control, and lessened requirements for support structures.
“The Sapphire system from VELO3D is an important part of advancing our capabilities to include using additive metals in applications and geometries previously challenging to 3D print,” said Kent Firestone, CEO of Stratasys Direct Manufacturing. “This is a natural step in building our service portfolio, and we are excited to take on projects with more complexity to drive further adoption of serialized production additive manufacturing and push the boundaries of 3D metal printing.”
Stratasys’ MakerBot subsidiary is also in the news this week, launching a new education-focused certification program.
The MakerBot Certification Program for Students adds to the company’s strategic focus on education, geared in this case toward students in middle and high school. Hands-on design experience and work with 3D printing is important for today’s students and tomorrow’s workforce. Last spring, MakerBot launched its Certification Program for Educators so those at the front of the classroom could gain confidence in these tools. Now the program extends to students for the 2019-2020 school year. The certification comes following successful completion of a four-part online course series. Modules include:
“We are excited to announce the MakerBot Certification Program for Students to provide them with 3D printing skills training. This program will not only help them to develop critical thinking skills and how to innovate with a MakerBot 3D printer but also enable educators to integrate 3D printing into their curriculums further,” said Nadav Goshen, CEO of MakerBot.
Dyndrite has emerged from stealth, introducing its new advanced geometry kernel and developer program, along with news of a healthy funding round.
Dyndrite is emerging following 3.5 years of quite development. The Dyndrite Accelerated Geometry Kernel (AGK) and Dyndrite Additive Toolkit built from it offer a GPU-native geometry engine for additive manufacturing. I had a demo of their tech, which can be run easily and quickly on a simple business laptop — and this is a technology to watch. The team developed their kernel to be for 3D printing what Adobe and PostScript were for 2D printing in the ‘80s. The Dyndrite kernel offers C++ as well as English-readable Python APIs, designed for efficiency. Streamlining the CAD-to-3D-print process is a major step forward for additive manufacturing. The STL file, a mainstay in DfAM, is becoming something of a legacy file type; direct work with CAD data can offer significant benefits.
But don’t take Dyndrite’s word for it; a quick look at some of the company’s early partners shows some big names. The Dyndrite Developer Program and Council includes Aconity3D, EOS, HP, NVIDIA, Plural Additive Manufacturing, and Renishaw. Backers in Dyndrite’s $10+ million Series A funding round include leader Gradient Ventures (Google’s AI-focused investment fund) as well as Cota Capital, Amplify Ventures, The House Fund, and private investor and former Autodesk CEO Carl Bass.
“As EOS continues to break boundaries and push the frontier of additive manufacturing, we pride ourselves in forming collaborative relationships to be able to offer our customers the best and state-of-the-art technology,” said Dr. Gregory Hayes, Director of Applications and Consulting for EOS. “We are excited to be working with Dyndrite, and looking forward to how their software can streamline and improve the design to part workflow.”
Also emerging from stealth this week is AddiFab, with a new production process.
AddiFab is collaborating with Mitsubishi Chemical for materials usable on the new Freeform Injection Molding platform.The companies will be co-exhibiting at next month’s RAPID + TCT in Detroit, highlighting the capabilities of the FIM process that brings 3D printing and injection molding together. The three-step process is effectively:
This brings 3D printing into mass production, or conversely, brings injection molding into lower-volume production. The complex geometries of 3D printing are also now compatible with the significantly larger materials portfolio available for injection molding.
The Form 3 and Form 3L emerged this week, introducing new capabilities to Formlabs’ popular SLA offerings. Low Force Stereolithography (LFS) makes its debut with these new machines, set to enhance reliability and print quality. The Form 3 looks pretty familiar, and stands as a solid follow-up to the Form 2. The Form 3L takes its “L” very seriously, though, as Formlabs goes large-format. At 200 x 335 x 300 mm, the 3L offers a whopping 5x build volume compared to either the Form 3 or Form 2. The Form 2 remains available, now discounted $500 from previous pricing. The Form 3 starts at $3,499 ($5,999 including the Form Cure and Form Wash), while the Form 3L will ship starting in Q4 priced at $9,999.
Because two highly-anticipated new 3D printers aren’t enough, Formlabs also introduced its Draft Resin. The new resin can print at a larger layer size (300 microns), ready to speed up the prototyping process.
New 3D printers announced this week bring more industry focus to established companies.
Italy-based Sharebot has introduced its first metal 3D printer, the MetalONE. With work tracing back to 2015, the just-announced machine is slated for availability toward the end of this year. The MetalONE is an SLM 3D printer and is now seeking beta testers to ensure it’s market-ready. Drawn from experience in powder sintering that turned into the SLS SnowWhite system, the MetalOne turns toward metal. The machine boasts a decent build volume at 65 x 65 x 100 cm, ready to work (well, test) with stainless steel 316 and cobalt chrome materials to start. The MetalOne is powered by Sharebot’s software, with monitoring via 12” touchscreen.
On the desktop side, Aleph Objects is taking its popular TAZ 3D printers pro: meet the LulzBot TAZ Pro. Marking the company’s entry to the professional/prosumer category, the new 3D printer is designed for “large functional prototypes, manufacturing aids, and print-on-demand parts with professional results.” The TAZ Pro is multi-material friendly — and the announcement stresses that that means more functionality than ‘just’ the same material in another color or support material: “Durable and high-strength composite materials can be printed within the same part, as well as a wide range of materials with soluble supports for complex prints. Flexible materials with a Shore A hardness as low as 85A and industrial-grade polymers can also be printed in the same print.” Pre-orders are open now, with printers expected to ship in late April. Aleph Objects is also teasing another new machine, with the follow-on to the TAZ 6 to be unveiled May 1.
A new support material and new materials facility keep the focus on 3D printing materials.
NatureWorks has introduced a new breakaway support material, Ingeo 3D450, for dual extrusion 3D printers. Designed to work with Ingeo 3D series materials in professional 3D printing, the new material offers a fast, clean breakaway for faster post-processing. Because it is designed to break off rather than be dissolved away, large-format 3D printing can benefit as there is no size concern in submerging finished prints.
Arkema has opened a plant to make its Kepstan PEKK material at its Alabama site. The company notes that the move is designed to support observed “strong demand for carbon fiber reinforced composites and 3D printing.” The plant opened this week, adding to Arkema’s PEKK capacity for use in “a wide range of processing technologies, particularly in the field of 3D printing where they are uniquely suited for powder sintering and filament extrusion processes.”
“This new capacity, which has been brought online on schedule, will enable our customers and their customers to better meet the future demand for ever more efficient materials. We thank our customers, our partners and the users who have trusted us and very early on selected Kepstan PEKK in their respective markets,” said Christophe André, Vice President, Advanced materials for Arkema.
A big-name partnership and a new executive appointment highlight recent moves in business positioning.
Authentise has announced a partnership with Microsoft. Focusing on automation to empower operators in additive manufacturing, the move integrates Authentise’s workflow management system into Microsoft Flow and brings Microsoft Azure capabilities to Authentise customers. The Flow integration goes live this week with a big goal: for operators “to create their own automations without any coding knowledge.” Drag-and-drop and other easy-to-use tools can set up operations workflows, and Authentise sees this as a big move to “put power into the hands of operators,” as CEO Andre Wegner says. This is a mission Microsoft is on board with, to enhance the creativity in additive manufacturing.
“Microsoft is pleased to help Authentise empower manufacturing workers by enabling them to create their own business workflows on the Microsoft cloud,” says Diego Tamburini, Principal Manufacturing Industry Lead for Cloud Commercial Communities at Microsoft. “By adding manufacturing-specific connectors to the Microsoft Flow gallery, Authentise is unlocking the workers’ creativity so they can improve the efficiency of their own work. With 54 regions across the globe delivering services to 140 countries, Microsoft Azure is uniquely positioned to help manufacturers meet their compliance obligations including ITAR and GDPR. While Manufacturers may have once shied away from the cloud, they are no longer doing so.”
Printed Solid has announced a new CEO. David Randolph, who came onboard the Printed Solid team as part of the company’s 2017 acquisition of Ranlaser. The former Ranlaser owner became a Co-Owner and COO at that time. Now in a move that Printed Solid says allows Founding CEO Matthew Gorton to focus on work/life balance, Randolph has purchased Gorton’s shares and will assume the CEO mantle as of March 29. For his part, Gorton will take on Maker Box, which Printed Solid acquired in 2018, and separate it into an independent company as his primary focus.
Two European companies welcome major investments this week.
Netherlands-based 3D Hubs announced an $18 million investment. The Series C funding round will set the company to accelerate its path toward on-demand manufacturing — which, until last year, was focused around 3D printing. Now with a fuller suite of manufacturing solutions, the business plan seems to be paying off for the company as 3D Hubs can increase its focus on automating the production of end-use parts with faster lead-times, more accurate quoting, and assured structural integrity of parts.
“3D Hubs is committed to being a radical innovator in the manufacturing industry – building pricing and manufacturability algorithms that are said to have the same potential as Google’s search algorithms,” says 3D Hubs co-founder and CEO, Bram de Zwart.
Barcelona-based BCN3D has really come into its own. So much so that a just-announced $3 million funding round is enabling the spin off into its own independent company.
Established in 2012 as a university group as part of CIM-UPC Center, BCN3D makes the popular open source Sigma line of 3D printers with IDEX (Independent Dual EXtruder) technology. The funding round included VC firms VC firms Accurafy4, JME VC, and Victoria — and now, BCN3D says, makes the company “one of the top 10 desktop 3D printing manufacturers in Europe by funding.”
Now as an independent company, the new BCN3D counts as its founders CEO Xavier Martinez Faneca and executive team Roger Antunez, Pol Domenech, Marc Felis, Jose Antonio Ortega, Eric Pallares, as well as tech advisor (and former CEO) Roger Ucenda.
“We are working on a new range of products to improve the experience of our clients and take the IDEX to a completely new level” stated BCN3D’s CEO Xavier Martínez Faneca. “With this funding, we will be able to ramp-up our production to meet the market demand and cut down the long delivery periods we have experienced in the past due to production limitations”.
HP Inc. has announced a hefty milestone for its Multi Jet Fusion technology.
In 2018, more than 10 million parts were 3D printed with MJF. The first Jet Fusion 3D printers were unveiled in 2016, with volume shipping ramping up in 2017. For the first full year of market penetration, 10 million parts made is a quantity that can turn some heads. And it’s only the start for HP, which has vowed to disrupt the $12 trillion global manufacturing technology.
Last year the company introduced new 3D printers: at SWW, the 500/300 Series of color-capable prototyping-focused Jet Fusion machines and, at IMTS, the highly-anticipated entry into metal 3D printing with Metal Jet systems. These new systems are set to ramp up the HP-3D printed numbers, as the Jet Fusion 500/300 3D printers are now shipping in volume and the Metal Jet Production Service is now widely available.
“More than 10 million parts were produced on HP’s Multi Jet Fusion technology in the last year. We are seeing an explosion of new applications across industries taking advantage of the design freedom, superior economics, speed, and industrial-grade quality unlocked by HP and its partners,” said Christoph Schell, President of 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing, HP Inc.
“As we continue to expand our plastics and metals portfolio across both prototyping and production, and build out our community of global partners, we are helping customers save money, accelerate time to market, and improve sustainability as they progress on their digital manufacturing journey.”
License: The text of "3D Printing Industry News (Weekly Digest – June 7, 2019)" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Subscribe to updates from All3DP
You are subscribed to updates from All3DP
You can’t subscribe to updates from All3DP. Learn more…