Todd Grim. president of T. A. Grimm & Associates, giving a very animated “What’s New” talk at RAPID +TCT [Photo: Michael A. Parker]

This year’s RAPID + TCT was jam packed with new 3D printing technology and was by far the largest 3D printing expo that I’ve personally seen. There was an awful lot to take in. So where to begin? If only there was a rundown highlighting some of the most significant new technologies that attendees were to witness in the exhibit hall. Well, on the first day of RAPID, Todd Grimm packed his rapid-fire What’s New talk with loads of 3D printing news, highlighting fantastic new technologies to see on the show floor. And unlike some snooze-fests (I’m not the biggest fan of lengthy lectures), Grimm’s talk was energetic, and his frenetic energy was infectious. It revitalized the audience.

Todd Grimm has been working in the additive manufacturing field for 25 years, is the president of T. A. Grimm & Associates and was named as one of TCT Magazine’s 20 most influential in the additive manufacturing community. As the author of User’s Guide to Rapid Prototyping, he’s literally written the book on 3D printing, so when he talks about what’s new in the industry, you’d be wise to listen closely. And boy, there were loads of new products, materials and processes to keep track of, as Grimm explained:

“A lot of the pieces are falling into place on what’s going to build our future and allow us to do more and more applications, be more powerful, more efficient, and I’m really pleased to be up before you to help paint the picture of what this puzzle is looking like and what pieces are now dropping into place. But be forewarned, this is a fast-paced presentation,” said Grimm. “I’ve done (this) several years, I usually use a metaphor: it’s like drinking from a firehose, there’s information flying at you from the stage. Last year, I used the metaphors of let’s get rid of the regulator of the hose, you’re drinking right from the fire hydrant. THIS YEAR, you’re going to be trying to drink from a wall of water, FLOOD WATERS raging towards you!”

Todd Grimm preparing to run through what’s new in 3D printing [Photo: Sarah Goehrke]

Grimm went on to explain that much of the new innovations seen at RAPID weren’t even possible just 12 months ago. In fact, there were so many developments in additive manufacturing in the last 12 months that it would be too much to cover during his presentation. His goal was to provide an overview of a plethora of new developments, that the audience could delve further into on their own, with some caveats, as he explained:

“(This is a) carefully selected, tip of the iceberg, not everything that is out there,” warned Grimm. “Now keep in mind these aren’t all products that you can purchase today; some is early research, some is late stage research, some is alpha, some is beta, some in launch. All different phases, but everything related to the mechanical engineer, design engineer, manufacturing personality. No construction, no dentistry, no bio in here, that’s the list I came up with, that’s the list that I had to choose from.”

ASTM Classifications for 3D printing technologies [Photo: Sarah Goehrke]

He started by laying news in additive manufacturing from August 2016 through January 1, 2017, and continued listing developments through May 2017. Grimm utilized the ASTM classification system, to break down the updates by manufacturing technology; Binder jetting (consisting of a bed of powered material with a binder material jetted onto it like an ink jet printer), directed energy deposition (a process using a focused energy source with material deposited into that focal point of energy), material extrusion (extruding material in a continuous bead or thread), material jetting (jetting material as opposed to jetting a binder agent), power bed fusion (a bed of powder with the material melted or sintered by a laser or other energy source), sheet lamination (sheets of material bonded together), vat photopolymerization (uses photopolymers and light to cure it), and hybrid (uses one or more of the other ASTM processes or other manufacturing technology in the same machine).

Under the category of auxiliary, which Grimm also referred to as the mundane, he highlighted Freeman Tech for their FT4 Powder Rheometer for testing the flowability (otherwise known as rheology) and process-ability of powder. He classified it as “early-stage for R&D material development or process optimization.” Elcan has developed a Hi-sifter, which uses high energy to screen metal powders for contaminants, sieving down to 10 microns or less to help with particle distribution for metal 3D printing, to get high-quality prints. Ruwac USA’s NS35 is a dust collection system with an emergency separator and built-in vacuum to safely collect conductive metals, explosive or impact-sensitive materials or glowing media. PostProcess Technologies specializes in post processing of additive manufactured parts. Their SF DECI Rectangular is their largest machine for surface finishing and was on display at RAPID. Grimm was also excited to announce that Formlabs would be introducing their new Form Wash + Form Cure.

Grimm announced that just that morning there was a press release for a new company, Paxis, that didn’t quite fit into any established category. Paxis developed a new technology called WAV, for Wave Applied Voxel, a technology we found to be very interesting. Grimm had this to say about WAV:

“I have seen this technology, I’m impressed by this technology, I cannot describe this technology because it’s early stages… I will tell you that it was born out of necessity in working with stereolithography machines in a service bureau environment. What is really interesting is that it is inherently scalable, and it’s inherently configurable, and it’s great for making fast small parts. It’s great for making many, many, many fast small parts. It’s great for for making big parts and it’s great for making many big parts, all fast, through the configurable method of the technology.”

Grimm presenting “just a taste” of what’s new [Photo: Sarah Goehrke]

And this is just scratching the surface, the tip of the iceberg of Grimm’s fast-paced presentation. Stay tuned for more additive manufacturing tidbits from his What’s New talk and more news from RAPID…

 

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