3D Printing News Briefs: July 18, 2017

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We’re diving headfirst into some 3D printing legal and business news for today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, and then moving on to an additive manufacturing competition and a new additive manufacturing company, a new hybrid material, and a 3D printed solution to help you beat the summer heat. Shapeways has filed formal comments in the FCC’s net neutrality investigation, while the US Patent and Trademark Office is taking more notice of the 3D printing industry as a whole and Airbus has tapped Stratasys Direct Manufacturing to 3D print airplane parts for its A350 XWB aircraft. Stratasys and nonprofit organization SME have announced the winners of the SkillsUSA Additive Manufacturing Competition, and an engineering firm in the UK has launched a new 3D printing company. Finally, CIKONI is introducing its AdditiveCarbon 3D printing material for hybrid structures, and Kitronik has put out its latest electronics project kit – a 3D printed desk fan.

Shapeways Files Formal Comments on Net Neutrality

 Shapeways is weighing in on the subject of net neutrality. It has filed formal comments in the US Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) investigation on net neutrality, which is very important to the success of the Shapeways community. In a blog post, Michael Weinberg explains why open internet is important, how Shapeways “has been able to rely on an open internet since its founding, and how the current investigation undermines that reliance.”

“There have been a number of rounds to the US net neutrality fight since Shapeways was founded. Setting aside the specifics, each round has moved the FCC toward stronger rules to protect an open internet,” Weinberg explained. “No matter where we were in the cycle – rule discussion, rule creation, rule challenge – the FCC was making it clear to companies such as Shapeways that it fundamentally supported the concept of an open internet. The form that support would ultimately take might be in flux, but the underlying support was clear. This support made it clear to ISPs, internet users, and internet companies alike that there would be consequences for undermining the open internet.”

“The current investigation is the first time since Shapeways’ founding where the FCC is departing from that support so dramatically. The FCC no longer appears to be searching for the most effective way to protect an open internet. Instead, after establishing strong net neutrality rules and having those rules affirmed by the courts, the FCC now appears to be walking away from them. By extension, this is walking away from the open internet.”

“This turn is incredibly worrying to us here at Shapeways. That is why we participated in last week’s day of action and why we are submitting comments today.”

Shapeways reminds everyone that the FCC’s final decision will impact all Internet users, and that if you still want to weigh in, the deadline for adding comments to the FCC investigation is August 16.

US Patent and Trademark Office Taking More Notice of 3D Printing Innovations

Additive Manufacturing Partnership Meeting at the USPTO

Last year, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) received more than 8,000 patent applications in the field of additive material technologies alone, and it’s made the office sit up and really take notice of the 3D printing industry as the patent landscape increases in complexity. Of those applications, multiple 3D printed products were represented, such as prosthetics and household items, that are “having a positive impact on people’s lives and the economy.”

In a USPTO blog post, Elijah J. McCoy wrote, “The USPTO plays an important role in supporting American businesses in new and growing industries to get new products and technologies to the marketplace faster. This ultimately drives innovation and creates new jobs for American workers, benefitting consumers and manufacturers alike.”

The agency also works with the National Inventors Hall of Fame to run the annual Collegiate Inventors Competition, which has had some winning 3D bioprinting entries in the past, and partners with private industry in areas like bioscience and cyber security to stay up to date on new areas of technology, like 3D printing.

Stratasys Direct Manufacturing to 3D Print Parts for Airbus A350 XWB Aircraft

3D printed bracketing for the Airbus A350 [Image: Business Wire]

Airbus has selected Stratasys subsidiary and 3D printing service provider Stratasys Direct Manufacturing (SDM) to 3D print polymer parts for its A350 XWB aircraft. Stratasys and Airbus have worked together since 2013 to implement FDM 3D printing technology for Airbus tools and flying parts, which led to Stratasys’ ULTEM 9085 material becoming qualified to produce flying parts for Airbus. Non-structural parts, like brackets, and parts for system installation will be 3D printed on demand, using ULTEM 9085, on Stratasys FDM production printers, and shipped to Airbus; this will help to improve the airline’s cost competitiveness and supply chain flexibility, while also lowering material consumption and waste.

Joe Allison, the CEO of Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, said, “We are proud to work with Airbus to continually advance 3D printing in aerospace applications. Our expertise in building parts ready for installation on the aircraft, along with our unique process controls and quality procedures, will allow Airbus to improve competitiveness leveraging on the technical benefits of 3D printing.”

Winners of SkillsUSA Additive Manufacturing Competition Announced

Joshua Martelle and Denver Wiederin, Center for Technology, Essex test their prototype in front of the Additive Manufacturing Competition judges [Image: Business Wire]

Speaking of Stratasys, the company, together with nonprofit organization SME, has announced the winners of the Additive Manufacturing Competition held during the 53rd annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. 34 high school and post-secondary teams competed in the co-sponsored challenge to win a MakerBot Mini 3D printer and scholarships from the SME Education Foundation. Participating teams had to design and print a track piece (fixture) that could move a marble to a designated location after it rolls down a ramp. The piece had to remain stable during the test, and connect with the ramp at specific points.

“Each year, we attract more students to participate in the SkillsUSA Additive Manufacturing Competition and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the growth. This is an exciting time for additive manufacturing and 3D printing and we are proud to be at the forefront of its evolution and making sure our future manufacturing leaders will be prepared for what lies ahead as the industry progresses,” said Jeff Krause, executive director and CEO of SME.

The first place team members in the high school division are Cameron McLaughlin and Mathew Marinelli from Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School in Massachusetts, and the first place team members in the college division are Collin Goddes and Thomas Houston from Calhoun Community College in Alabama. The rest of the winners from this year’s competition are listed here, and you can see the 3D printed fixtures the teams designed here.

UK Engineering Firm Opens New 3D Printing Business 

Phil Smith and Simon Scott with the new technology developed by Renishaw.

As part of its plans to grow its £4 million turnover to £7 million by 2020 , Staffordshire Precision Engineering, based in Newcastle and run by brothers Phil and Gary Smith, invested £1 million to open a new company, Eclipse AM, which obviously specializes in 3D printing. The Smith brothers and metal 3D printing pioneer Simon Scott, now the managing director at Eclipse AM, saw a gap in the marketplace and decided to launch the business in order to support companies which need the types of complex solutions the technology offers, but don’t have the capacity to install their own 3D printers. Technology created by Renishaw‘s UK 3D printing division, located in Stone Business Park since 2015, has been installed at Eclipse AM, and the venture is now open for business.

“This company has always been a forward-thinking company. When 3D printing was first introduced it was largely unknown and ignored, but we jumped at the chance when we were given the opportunity to create this great new company alongside Simon Scott,” said Phil Smith. “Adopting additive manufacturing as a process within our business makes complete sense and is a move which will give Staffordshire Precision a competitive edge against other additive manufacturing suppliers.”

CIKONI Introduces AdditiveCARBON Material for Automated 3D Printing

Germany-based CIKONI, founded in 2015 by former employees of Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), developed a carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) material, called AdditiveCARBON, which allows for combined, fully automated 3D printing of hybrid structures. While engineers enjoy nearly unlimited design freedom with 3D printing technology, material properties are not nearly as comparable in terms of CFRP’s high-load bearing capacities. But by using AdditiveCARBON, continuous carbon fiber reinforcement follows the load paths directly, while the additively manufactured base structure is used as support for compressive loading.

The material reduces the building volume of the 3D printed parts, and the base structure takes away the necessity of using a separate tool for CIKONI’s robot-supported 3D winding process. AdditiveCARBON allows for a higher level of productivity, and CIKONI engineers also developed a modular system, using hybridized, injection-molded metal components, to make sure that the process is able to be used in cost-sensitive areas.

Kitronik Launches Latest Electronics Kit

Electronic project kit and educational resource provider Kitronik has introduced its latest project, which combines electronics and 3D printing and is perfect for the middle of July – it helps students create their own 3D printed USB fan. The easy project is based on Kitronik’s existing USB Fan Kit, and includes a breakdown of the process, starting at the initial concept and ending with the finished product; this offers students inspiration to take on their own design projects. The project includes comprehensive guidelines and resources, to teach kids how to make a cool and functional custom enclosure for the USB Fan Kit. Kitronik used a jet engine design, for greater airflow through the fan’s body, used Fusion 360 to design and model the fan, and printed the prototype on a Robox 3D printer, without having to use any support materials.

“In coming up with our latest kit, we were inspired by memories of hot stuffy days in the classroom. We thought designing and making the fan would be motivating and practical opportunity for students and teachers,” said Kevin Spurr, co-founder of Kitronik. “We wanted the project to be quick to design, easy to print and have minimal overhangs, be easy to assemble, incorporate an on/off switch and of course…move enough air around to actually cool you down! This is an area in which students may which to engage in further research, experimenting with other shapes and designs to see if air flow results can improve still further.”

Discuss these stories in the News Briefs forum at 3DPB.com.

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