In this week’s fresh edition of “The Stories We Missed This Week”, we see a number of prominent companies getting involved with 3D printing, from automotive to the toy industry. For starters, the upscale British car manufacturer Aston Martin has announced that they will integrate more use of 3D printing technology and robotics into their manufacturing process. The drone manufacturer SlidX has launched to market their KAYRYS quadcopter, which is equipped with a fully 3D printer cover. The Seattle-based biotech startup Pembient is working to 3D print rhino horn replicas to help curb poaching of these endangered animals, estimating that they are about two years to market. Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing has decided to invest heavily in 3D printing technology for automotive applications. A national survey taken on behalf of Proto Labs shows that a whopping 71% do not perceive manufacturing jobs as high-tech employment options, despite the ongoing digital manufacturing revolution. The Google Campus in Warsaw will hold “3D Printing Opportunities for Startups”, which will be hosted by the Polish 3D printing company VSHAPER. Lastly, Toys R Us has partnered with the Taiwanese 3D printing company XYZprinting to market a range of their family-friendly da Vinci 3D printer models.

Aston Martin Turns to 3D Printing and Robotics on Production Line

swm-astonAlthough the British car manufacturer Aston Martin has always prided themselves on their “handmade” production process, it seems as if they’re prepared for a near future involving robotics and 3D printing. At the recently held Financial Times’ Manufacturing Summit, chief executive Andy Palmer expressed that parts of their production line would need “further robotification” to ensure profitability. Though he claimed that a majority of the manufacturing process would still be done by hand, the company is looking to alleviate some steps with 3D printing and robotics. Currently, the car manufacturer has jut one robot in their Gaydon, UK facility, but will look to further integrate these automated technologies into this facility, as well as their newly planned production plant in Wales.

“Our manufacturing facilities will need further robotisation. When you’re going down a route of beyond lean manufacturing then you need things like 3D printing machines to make some of those unique structures. Therefore we will invest in those kinds of facilities,” Palmer said at the summit.

SlidX Launches KAYRYS Quadricopter with Fully 3D Printed Cover

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-12-03-17-pmWhen we first covered the Montreal-based startup SlidX and their 3D printed KAYRYS drone back in September, we discovered that it would primarily be used to assist in medical emergencies. Now, SlidX has released their second KAYRYS quadcopter drone, a new version created with the help of their partner Lezar3D. The drone is equipped with a fully 3D printed cover, utilizing a PLA material that is both flexible and resistant to vibrations. The Unmanned Ariel Vehicle (UAV) is capable of carrying 13kg and can be used for multiple applications. According to SlidX, the latest KAYRYS drone will be available to purchase this month, ahead of their previously scheduled 2017 release. As a part of their partnership with Lezar3D, SlidX will offer their 3D printers on their online store.

Biotech Startup Aims to 3D Print Replica Rhino Horns to Stop Poaching

swm_rhinoAs the poaching of rhino horns is leading the species towards extinction, one Seattle-based biotech startup, named Pembient, is attempting to alleviate this crisis with the help of 3D printing technology. Pembient’s idea is to bio-fabricate rhino horns out of keratin, the same type of material that makes up our fingernails and hair. Their goal is to put a dent in the rhino horn market by 3D printing replicas genetically identical to the real ones on every level. Not only will these 3D printed rhino horns be made from an identical material, they will also look and feel like a real rhino horn as well, essentially making it impossible to distinguish between the two. Pembient is still in their early stages as a company, and haven’t exacted the cost of the fabricated horns, but they claim that the replica will be inexpensive to produce, and thus will be sold at a lower price, helping to deter the market from purchasing poached rhino horns. These fabricated horns will eventually — in about two years —  be sold as raw material in Asia and used to produce traditionally high-valued goods that are currently sold on the black market, such as bracelets and combs.

Hong Kong Billionaire Li Ka-shing Makes Investment in 3D Printing Technology

swm-li-ka-shingAfter making some early investments in Siri and Facebook back in the day, Hong Kong-based billionaire Li Ka-shing is now looking to get involved with 3D printing technology and artificial intelligence. According to the Li Ka Shing Foundation director Frank Sixt, Ka-shing has been using his charity to invest in 3D printing technology for automotive applications, and is also interested in startups working in artificial intelligence, big data, and high-tech foods. The 88-year-old billionaire runs the telecommunications giant CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd., but he’s clearly very interested in emerging technologies as well. Ka-shing is also invested in Spotify, Airbnb, and Google’s DeepMind, and is especially intrigued with AI in light of the recent surge in computing power.

Proto Labs Study Shows Majority of Americans Don’t See High-Tech Career in Manufacturing

swm_manufacturing_-_americansAlthough the digital manufacturing revolution is in full effect, a recent survey conducted by ORC International on behalf of the digital manufacturer Proto Labs shows that 71% of Americans don’t perceive manufacturing as a viable high-tech occupation. The survey showcases the lack of awareness about digital technologies’ vast impact on industrial production, which will need to be changed in the very near future with the estimated 3.5 million manufacturing jobs that will be created during the next decade. Those currently employed in manufacturing were asked to describe their daily routine, 55% of which cited images of workers among machines. The survey also found that a majority of these employees see their occupation as high-paying, as only one-third of those surveyed felt otherwise. Still, the public misconception of US manufacturing jobs is creating around 3.5 million jobs, 2 million of which may go unfilled as Baby Boomers start to retire.

“Skilled workers in computer development and engineering are breathing new life into a storied industry,” said Vicki Holt, CEO of Proto Labs. “The same skills required of software developers at places like Google, Facebook and Amazon are now being applied in the manufacturing industry.”

Google Campus Warsaw to Hold 3D Printing Meeting with VSHAPER

campuswarsaw_vshaperThis coming week, on October 12, the Warsaw-based Google Campus will host a meeting called “3D Printing Opportunities for Startups”, which will explore the possible ways that this emerging technology has revolutionized the process of designing and producing functional objects. The educational meetup will offer entrepreneurs an inside look at the potential 3D printing could have on business development. Speaking at the event will be Konrad Kowalski of the Polish 3D printing company VSHAPER, who will showcase practical examples of how 3D printing can impact a business startup. Other lecturers include Maciej Stefańczyk from the Polish 3D printing solutions provider Cubic Inch, as well as renowned designer Krzysztof Rychławski. The Campus Warsaw event, which will be held this Wednesday at 7:30 PM, is free to attend once registration is complete.

“We are going to present the possibilities of practical implementation of 3D Printing in business that we’ve learnt from our Customers’ experience. You will also have the chance to see one of our devices in action,” says Konrad Kowalski from VSHAPER.

Toys R Us and XYZPrinting Partner to Put da Vinci 3D Printers in Toy Store

swm-xyztoys3D printing technology just got a major bump in the toy world thanks to a new partnership between the Taiwanese 3D printing company XYZprinting and gigantic retail toy store franchise Toys R Us. The deal will put a number of da Vinci 3D printers onto the toy store’s shelves, including the child-friendly da Vinci miniMaker (£239.99), the new da Vinci Mini (£249.99), and the slightly larger da Vinci Junior (£399.99). The convenient plug-and-play style of XYZprinting’s da Vinci models make it the perfect family introduction to 3D printing technology. The 3D printers will be offered in select stores starting this year, and can also be purchased online.

“Our aim has always been to make 3D printing accessible to everyone, and our partnership with Toys R Us is a fantastic step in helping children get their hands on 3D printers for study and play,” said Simon Shen, CEO of XYZprinting. “We want young people to be able to access and learn about 3D printers as easily and safely as a paper printer, so this range has been designed with children front of mind.”

What was your favorite topics? Discuss further in the Week’s 3D Printing News forum over at 3DPB.com.

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