3D Printing News Briefs: March 24, 2017

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For this Friday edition of 3D Printing News Briefs, we’ll take a look at copyright law, a 3D printer, new 3D printing products, a prestigious award and a group meeting, and some predictions for groundbreaking technology. The US Supreme Court has made a decision on the cheerleading uniform copyright case that Shapeways asked for a closer look on, while Nano Dimension makes two more deliveries of its DragonFly 2020 PCB 3D printer to beta customers. Bondtech introduced a new extruder, and E3D announced its Titan Aero all-in-one extruder and hot end. ADAPT was honored for its outstanding economic development, the first national EBM users meeting just ended, and both nano 3D printing and the Aether bioprinter are listed as some of the top emerging techs that will change the world.

US Supreme Court Hands Down Cheerleading Uniform Case Decision and a New Copyright Test

Last year, Shapeways was closely following the Star Athletica vs. Varsity Brands cheerleading uniform copyright violation case. Varsity Brands took Star Athletica to court after it released a cheerleading uniform design that aped one of the designs by Varsity Brands’ subsidiary Varsity Spirit. Star said the design was more functional than decorative, and helped to denote that it was, in fact, a cheerleading uniform. While decorative objects can be protected under copyright, utilitarian or functional objects can’t. So courts have a heck of a time deciding which items are utilitarian or decorative, and what to do about items that feature both components. As this is a great example of the kinds of intellectual property issues that plague the 3D printing community, Shapeways was obviously invested in the decision.

Once the court used its self-designed five-part test to rule in favor of Varsity Brands, and said that the design aspects of Star’s uniform were, in fact, decorative, and independent of the actual uniform, Shapeways asked the Supreme Court to design just one test to decide what can be copyrighted and what can’t. The court agreed, and gave its decision this week. The new test it designed in the decision has just two parts, and is certainly much more straightforward than its previous five. It asks:

  1. Can the object’s artistic parts be perceived as a two- or three-dimensional work of art separate from the useful article?
  2. If yes, would the artistic parts qualify for copyright protection?

If just part of a mixed object, like Studiogij’s Birdsnest Egg Cup or Smart Design’s Light Switch, passes both tests, copyright law will protect that part of the object. But it’s important to note that the only protected parts of the object in this case are the artistic parts – so while the antlers on the light switch, or the decorative branches and bird of the egg cup, are eligible for copyright protection, the functional switch plate, or egg cup itself, will not be protected. Of course, this opens up a whole new can of worms.

As legal expert Michael Weinberg explains it, “The test does not care if removing all of the artistic elements from the object allows the remaining object to keep functioning. In other words, it is not a problem if removing the artistic elements from the object would render it functionally useless.”

This isn’t an issue with the Smart Design Light Switch, because if you take away the antlers, it’s still just a light switch. But if you have to take away the parts of the Studiogij Birdsnest Egg Cup that can be thought of as 2D or 3D art, that’s pretty much the whole cup. A lot of the outcome of the test is determined by where you start – if you remove the useful parts, with little concern for the more artistic elements, less of the cup will be protected by copyright; remove the artistic elements first, without worrying about the object’s utility, and a lot more of the cup will be protected. Time will only tell how this new test plays out in the 3D printing community, and Shapeways will be watching, and providing blog updates.

Bondtech Saves Time and Money with New 3D Printing Extruder

Bondtech, which designs and manufactures dual drive extruders, just launched its newest offering. The new BMG extruder combines the company’s proven Dual-Drive technology with a high feeding capacity and low weight, to offer quality performance, minus slipping and grinding. The reliable design features the best force to weight ratio in the extruder market, giving “the most responsive and best solution for feeding material.”

When Bondtech says material, it means all material – the BMG extruder reliably feeds everything from rigid carbon-filled high-strength materials to slippery nylon material and softer TPU/TPE filaments. Users can adjust the extruder to their own preferences, and optimize it for specific materials, by using the BMG’s thumbscrew tensioner to fine-tune the amount of pressure exerted onto the filament by the drive gears.

Bondtech founder Martin Bondéus started the company back in 2014 because he was frustrated with the available and unreliable extruders he found while building his own 3D printer. He worked to solve the problem, and his first product provided a high extrusion force, without slipping on the filament. Bondéus listened to his customers’ feedback when developing the BMG extruder, and many 3D printer owners and Bondtech customers are pleased with the results.

E3D Develops New All-In-One Titan Aero Extruder and Hot End

After developing its Titan extruder last year, E3D decided to add a hot end and compress it into a compact, all-in-one extruder and hot end. Keeping in mind that it needed to be kept as small as possible, be compatible with the current Titan design and the V6 and Volcano ecosystem, and be all metal in design, E3D got to work. The team also needed to keep the filament path short, so the extruder would be more responsive, and therefore attain better print quality. The hard work paid off, and E3D has presented its new 2-in-1 HotEnd and Extruder Titan Aero.

The Aero is 25 mm shorter than the original Titan, and a V6, and has a short length of filament between the nozzle tip and the hobb. It takes a standard V6 threaded heatbreak, so it still works with V6 sensors, nozzles, and heaters. The compact hot end is screwed to the body of the extruder, making the Aero very rigid, so the extruder can follow the movements of the motion system, resulting in less potential print collisions. It has Titan’s smart usability features, and Aero users can also work with less powerful motors without the machine shaking too much, due to its Titan-original 3:1 gearing.

The E3D team worked hard to make sure that its new Titan Aero performed as well as a V6, and starting running simulations early on in the design process.

E3D explained, “However even the best simulation is meaningless without real-world testing to back it up. Luckily Santa was really generous last Christmas and gave us some new toys to let us do more complex prototyping in-house, allowing us to iteratively improve our design. We started with a foam model just to see how it all went together before going to functional aluminum prototypes.”

The prototypes were put through rigorous testing, and even put the Aero in an enclosed print volume with an ambient temperature of 400°F, to discover how far its thermal performance extended; the Titan Aero’s heatsink performed very well with PLA material. The final design features a raw, aluminum finish, and translucent fans, so users can see inside the machinery. The Titan Aero is already available for purchase, and can be used as a Titan and VG upgrade, or as a full 12V or 24V 3D printing kit.

ADAPT Research Consortium Honored at Industry Appreciation Awards Breakfast

The Jefferson County Economic Development Coalition (Jeffco EDC) in Colorado recently honored ADAPT, the Alliance for the Development of Additive Processing Technologies, for its achievement in economic development. The Colorado-based research consortium works to develop technologies that will speed up the certification and qualification of 3D printed metal parts. Jeffco EDC is made up of both public and private members, and governed by a board of directors. It focuses on creating, building, and holding on to high-paying jobs that “fuel the economic health and vitality of Jefferson County.”

At the recent 24th annual Industry Appreciation Awards Breakfast, Jeffco EDC honored ADAPT with its Genesis Award.

President and CEO of Jeffco EDC Sam Bailey said, “The Alliance for the Development of Additive Processing Technologies (ADAPT) represents a vital partnership moving Jefferson County and the State of Colorado’s economy forward. This partnership of small and large businesses, the State of Colorado, Manufacturer’s Edge, and Colorado School of Mines embodies Jefferson County’s spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship, workforce development, and a shared interest of building the next great generation of advanced industries technologies.”

Businesses that contribute to building up the county’s economic vitality, through things like primary job creation and increased capital investment, are annually recognized by Jeffco EDC. Several different entities nominated candidates for the Genesis Award, and a volunteer committee chooses the winners.

Heidi Hostetter, ADAPT’s industry board chair, said, “Our entire ADAPT team accepts this honor with tremendous pride. This recognition is validation to our center that we are doing what we set out to do. We strive to help companies big and small research data and find new approaches to additive solutions to achieve the best possible manufacturing outcomes. The ADAPT team is committed to being a major contributor to the economic ecosystem here in Colorado and beyond.”

The award itself recognizes “outstanding economic development achievement,” which adds to the county’s long-term economic vitality, and honors innovation, creative leadership, facilitation, and collaboration both inside and outside Jefferson County, Colorado.

Swedish EBM Users Have First Group Meeting

In the last few years, the number of EBM (Electron Beam Melting) machines in Sweden has grown extensively, and there’s a lot of value in getting together with other users of the technology, to discuss knowledge of the method and share usage experiences. The EBM method builds up layers of metal powder, and uses a powerful electron beam to melt the layers together, to correspond with the geometry exacted by a computer 3D model. This creates sophisticated metal components.

Over the last two days, EBM users in Sweden attended the first national EBM user group meeting in the Swedish locality Åre, best known for its ski resort. The meeting was organized by KIMAB and held in Mid Sweden University’s Sports Tech Research Centre, which has extensive EBM additive manufacturing experience. Representatives from both KIMAB and the Sports Tech Research Centre attended the meeting, along with participants from Sandvik, Lasertech, and University West.

Some of the topics of discussions and presentations included:

  • additive manufacturing using the EBM method
  • future challenges and opportunities, based on service providers and researchers’ perspective
  • opportunities for collaboration
  • a tour of the AIM Sweden’s Frösön facility

Nano Dimension Ships Dragonfly 2020 3D Printer to Two New Beta Customers

An international defense solutions provider and a smart transportation company are the two newest beta customers for leading Israeli 3D printed electronics company Nano Dimension. Both companies received Nano Dimension’s flagship DragonFly 2020 3D Printer this week, bringing the total number of beta customers up to eleven.

The DragonFly 2020 3D printer was unveiled at the Printed Electronics USA 2015 show in California. Nano Dimension says it’s the first desktop 3D printer in the world that’s solely dedicated to making 3D printed circuit board prototypes. The beta program uses a leasing model to deliver its 3D printer to partners and leading companies all over the world. Previously announced beta customers that have already taken delivery of their units include an Israeli defense company, PHYTEC, and a US bank holding Fortune 500 company, among several others active in industries ranging from additive manufacturing to consumer goods, defense, and medical and finance industry technology.

The beta customers make payments on their leases, and use their DragonFly 2020 3D printers to speed up their own product development cycles, while also qualifying the printer’s technology, getting enhanced R&D IP security, and offering Nano Dimension valuable product development feedback.

Top 50 Multi-Billion Dollar Emerging Technologies List Includes Nano 3D Printing

Growth partnership company Frost & Sullivan‘s global TechVision practice recently announced its 2017 analysis of the top 50 technologies which will transform our world and energize industries. The listed disruptive technologies have the potential to ramp up commercial growth, fuel global innovation, and bring about novel business models and products. TechVision uses a proprietary innovation index methodology to identify this top 50, which this year includes nano 3D printing. TechVision’s Emerging Technology Service (ETS) identifies and evaluates the emerging global technologies that are deemed most valuable and innovative.

“These top 50 technologies are like beacons that will guide the strategic moves of innovation-focused organizations and professionals in the next six to eighteen months,” said Rajiv Kumar, Frost & Sullivan Senior Partner and Global Head of TechVision. “This annual flagship research from the TechVision team is the perfect vade mecum for strategic decisions on investments, market entry and growth.”

Each technology listed in the “Top 50 Emerging Technologies: Spawning Growth Opportunities of Strategic Imperative” analysis represents a growth area of intensified investments, market potential, increased IP activity, and amplified R&D. Several of these technologies will undoubtedly converge, which will open new revenue model opportunities, and a new generation of solutions and products.

The analysis includes, but is not limited to, daily research insights that focus on multiple countries, technologies, industries, and applications, and coverage of “innovation epicenters” of nine “Technology Clusters,” which represent the center of innovative R&D activity. Some of these clusters include chemicals and advanced materials, advanced manufacturing and automation, medical devices and imaging, and microelectronics. The TechVision list also provides an in-depth analysis of all the listed technologies, which include Smart Glass, Biosensors, Wearables, and Nano 3D Printing.

Aether 1 Bioprinter Listed as One of the Top 20 Medical Devices Expected to Change the World by 2020

Speaking of technology lists, Medical Technology Schools (MTS) recently published its list of “Medical Devices Expected to Change the World by 2020.” One of these medical devices is none other than the Aether 1 Bioprinter. Most bioprinters only serve one function, but the Aether 1 is different, because in addition to biomedical materials, it can also print prototypes, food products, and other products. That’s because the bioprinter is equipped with lots of modular attachments, like laser engravers, hot syringe extruders, and microscopes, which increase its versatility. At the same time, the Aether 1’s four automation features make long and difficult processes much more efficient.

It will be released later this year, and cost about $9,000; if you think that’s steep, remember that most bioprinters cost at least $250,000. Aether has already donated dozens of its bioprinters to universities, to be used in medical research projects. Aether 1 uses gel-like bioinks, that are compatible with human tissue, to print out tissue-like structures. It has eight different methods of fabrication, and 24 different biomaterials to choose from. The Aether 1 landed on the MTS list because bioprinting is “one of today’s most dynamic medical technology research areas.”

We’ve seen 3D printed liver tissue, bones, and hearts, and more innovation is coming all the time. 4D printing (using biomedical materials that change behavior or shape in response to stimuli) is also on the rise, which could someday lead to 3D printed transplant organs. Discuss in the News Briefs forum at 3DPB.com.


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