3D Printing: The Stories We Missed — February 25, 2017


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Fabrisonic has received another patent for Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing. ‘Design your own 3D printed dolls’ startup MakieLab has been acquired by Disney. Cura, Ultimaker’s open source slicing software, has gotten a new update. 3D scanning company Artec has partnered with Threeding to digitize and make available digital paleontology models. Nanogrande and CRITIM announce a $1.6 Million R&D project, and Chuck Hull wins the Washington Award.

Fabrisonic Receives Patent for UAM

Fabrisonichow-it-works-inforgraphic-web has received another patent for Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing. Fabrisonic’s technology is a hybrid 3D printing process whereby 3D printing is combined with milling on one machine. 3D printing builds up the object, and milling then smooths it down to the required size and surface. Hybrid 3D printing processes can be mounted on traditional CNC equipment, which is what Fabrisonic is doing – as are Sciaky, Optomec and Trumpf 3D printing metal technologies. Fabrisonic’s technology is interesting because it lets one produce relatively large metal parts of around 180 x 180 cm, making it suited for large scale industrial applications. With Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing you can also embed electronics in metal, or weld together two different metals. You can use this to design a specific material with specific properties for one application. The idea of using gradient materials, designer materials or metamaterials is a very powerful one that could penetrate a lot of engineering markets. For now most companies are unsure what precisely to do with gradient materials, but think of metals that flex in one particular certain way for turbine blades, for example, or parts that fail in one direction only and you can see that there may be many applications for this. You could make layers with different properties: some that are conductive and some not conductive, for example. Fabrisonic uses sound to 3D print; the process uses ultrasonic welding to weld together metal tape. You can see how that works below.

MakieLab is Acquired by Disney

makies-moving-jan4th2016-homepage-2‘Design your own 3D printed dolls’ start up MakieLab has been acquired by Disney. MakieLab lets kids and adults design and accessorize their own 3D printed dolls. You could design your own doll along with a matching outfit. The app was notable not only in giving you the freedom to design your own dolls but also including a much wider variety of body styles and skin tones to be more inclusive. At the moment you can not order more dolls from the site. The team has relocated to the United States and has become a part of Disney. It is unclear what Disney will do with the software tools and the customization app. It could be that Disney will use MakieLab’s capability to offer customization in the same vein albeit on a larger scale. Disney could also change the tool so you could, for example, make your own Star Wars character or similar. Disney has been inventing many new 3D printing applications but has yet to join the 3D printing industry in any significant way. Will the MakieLab acquisition mean that Disney will be entering 3D printing? Furthermore, what will existing content owners do with 3D printing? Will they let their users be creative? Or will they center their engagement in a limited way around their own existing IP?

Cura 2.4 Has Been Released

prime-towerCura, Ultimaker’s open source slicing software, has gotten a new update. Cura is used by approximately 50% of all desktop FDM 3D printer users. Initially Cura was developed by a mad wizard of a man. Think Sauron, but younger and more opinionated. Then a whole team of LARP-ing enthusiasts coded the slicing tool, in the bucolic cow- and dike-littered confines of a Dutch town called Geldermalsen. The software became an early favorite by offering a better UI and faster slicing than alternatives. Over the past years commercial software such as Simplify3D has been encroaching on Cura’s territory while Cura still remains dominant alongside Slic3r and other apps. In the face of new competition, what does Cura have to offer? The app now lets you save settings for your entire build volume. This is a very handy feature if you’ve got complex assemblies to print or if you have optimized a full build for a particular large thing or series of things. An essential feature for industrial users, I hope that this means that we can at one point share these “saved build volume settings” so that complex files with many parts can be shared properly. You can now live stream your 3D prints through the app. Perhaps users will use this to monitor 3D prints and add more quality control to 3D printers. The team has come up with Concentric 3D infill which is an infill pattern developed for better top layer adhesion. First layer fan speed can now be adjusted as can first layer build platform temperature. This should help people get good adhesion with tricky materials. Many of the updates are Ultimaker 3-specific, but other FDM 3D printer users should also find a lot in Cura to like. I skipped a bunch of Cura upgrades but using this with Ultimakers and other printers felt comfortable, stable and fast. (Full Disclosure: I used to work at Ultimaker and they gave me free sandwiches, like all the time. I’ve tried not to let that influence or impinge my impartiality.)

Artec and Threeding Digitize Paleontology Models 

threeding_animal_anatomy_3_03D scanning company Artec has partnered with Threeding to digitize and make available 3D paleontology models.

“Artec 3D and Threeding.com have digitized models which consist of animal remnants, impressions and traces, primarily dating back to the Pliocene, Miocene and Paleocene epochs,” states Threeding. “This project has made more than 150 unique paleontology models available to the 3D printing community and offers the chance to dig into history.”

“The collection includes various animal skeletons, bear and duck skulls, mammals’ vertebrae and many others.”

3D printing historical artifacts and skeletons can really give students of all ages deeper insight into history. By letting people touch, feel and demonstrate such models, learning can be made more interactive and fun. 3D printing is potentially a low cost way for more people to get their hands on our history. Will more museums worldwide digitize their collections of artifacts? Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could 3D print and remix thousands of artifacts from all over the world?

Nanogrande and CRITIM Announce $1.6 Million R&D Project

 "honey, could you pass the NanoGrande guac please"

“honey, could you pass the NanoGrande guac please”

Nanogrande, which sounds more like a dipping salsa than a 3D printing company, makes 3D printers that print on the molecular scale. Printing in that size range means that complex shapes can be constructed with all manner of functionalities. Nanogrande and similar nanotech 3D printing companies could make huge impacts in medicine, materials science, fluidics and many other areas. The application area is vast and we can not now know just how much impact these technologies will have on our lives.

“Nanogrande, is pleased to announce a close to $1.6 million research and development project that it will co-finance with its collaborators, which includes the Consortium de recherche et d’innovation en transformation métallique (CRITM), a financial partner of Ministry of Economy, Science and Innovations of Quebec, and McGill University, also a CRITM member,” the company says. “This agreement will allow the refinement of metal powders 3D production protocols used by Nanogrande’s nanometric printers. Furthermore, this agreement includes the delivery of printers that will be used, among others, by McGill University’s researchers within this process of refinement of the production protocols.”

“This is an important milestone as it will enable us to have a worldwide visibility. CRITM has several major partners such as Bombardier, École polytechnique de Montréal, ÉTS, Alcoa or the Innovative Vehicle Institute, which are based in Quebec. But there are also international players such as the Volvo Group Canada, Pratt & Whitney, General Electric, and Rio Tinto, to name a few.”

Nanogrande has up until now filed for patents and collaborated with a number of Canadian research organizations. The information on its website is quite limited, but if this company does manage to commercialize a molecular scale manufacturing technology then this could have huge impacts on many areas.

Chuck Hull Wins Award

Chuck Hull using a 3D print to graphically illustrate 3D Sytems' stock price.

Chuck Hull using a 3D print to graphically illustrate 3D Sytems’ stock price.

Chuck Hull, the inventor of stereolithography, has won an award. The Washington Award, named sadly not for Denzel but for the former president, was given to Hull, who invented stereolithography in 1984 and commercialized it in 1986 through the company 3D Systems. He is the number one reason that our industry exists today.

“I’m incredibly honored to receive the 2017 Washington Award and am grateful to the Western Society of Engineers for this recognition,” said Hull. “It’s humbling to be in the company of such influential previous award recipients as Henry Ford, Orville Wright and Neil Armstrong, among others.”

If you want an entertaining read, here is a 3DPrint.com story about Alain Le Méhauté who was part of a group of 3 researchers that actually submitted a stereolithography patent before Chuck Hull but abandoned it because managers could not see the potential of the technology. Oops. Discuss in the Stories We Missed forum at 3DPB.com.








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