It’s officially the weekend, and we know you’re ready to kick back and relax. So, we’ve taken the liberty of putting some of the latest 3D printing business news for you here, in easily digestible, weekend-sized bites. First up is a big announcement from 3D content generation and software development startup Whispering Gibbon, which uses its innovative RenderFab technology to freeze and 3D print video game action. Just a few months ago, the British startup announced a six-figure investment from not-for-profit company Creative England to help get RenderFab and its patent-pending Grabit software off the ground. Now, Whispering Gibbon has officially launched its rebranded 3D printing technology, Perfected3D.
“We have rebranded to Perfected3D to reflect that we are now focused on automating manual model processing for all printing services and are moving our focus beyond games,” the company’s Founder and CEO, Joe Stevens, told 3DPrint.com “We’re launching a free beta of our online cloud service to automatically optimise any 3d data as print ready models.”
Perfected3D is an online, 3D technology cloud service and, according to the company, could revolutionize the way 3D printing works by fully automating its existing manual processes. This will make the technology efficient, affordable, and accessible, which could cause a sizable impact for small businesses, large scale printing services, and the manufacturing industry as a whole, from consumer all the way to construction.
“Most 3D models are manually ‘hand-fixed’ to make them print-ready which is costly and time consuming,” Stevens explained. “By fully automating the process our platform keeps costs down and vastly increase throughput. This makes 3D printing much more cost effective for bigger companies, accessible for smaller companies allowing them to create personalised content and easily scale up.”
According to the newly launched Perfected3D website, there are multiple reasons that 3D data won’t successfully 3D print, such as the amount of detail; badly structured, complex, or incompatible data; or not being well-structured for the chosen 3D printing technique. It can take a long time to identify and fix all of these issues, so production is slower, more expensive, and discourages mass customization.
But Perfected3D says that its patent-pending software corrects these issues, and automatically optimizes print jobs, creating quality, full-color, multi-material models from any form of 3D data.
“If Perfected3D can really achieve what it promises, it will have a huge impact on project timescales and costs by transforming the existing workflows from concept phase to completion of a build,” said Rob Charlton, the CEO of Space Group. “This could be the breakthrough for the construction industry that we have all been waiting for.”
The Perfected3D process looks pretty simple. Once the data has been uploaded and the size chosen, the company takes care of the rest: checking for data compatibility, adding visual enhancements and scaling or strengthening weak parts for printability, and optimizing for the proper print technique. Then, customers choose the output type and download the Perfected3D model. The technology is in the process of being rolled out to 3D printing services, like Beamler, and is being used by game company Lockwood Publishing.
“This tech allows the users of our app, Avakin Life to turn their unique video game creations into 3D print ready models and we have been really impressed with the results,” explained Joel Kemp, the director of Lockwood Publishing.
As part of its official launch, the Perfected3D beta service is currently free for businesses with access to 3D printers to try out. Businesses can print their own 3D models, and “immediately prove for themselves its ground-breaking capabilities.”
“After 3 years of research and development we’re ready to set up partnerships with more 3D printing services and printer manufacturers. We’ll be making public additional ground-breaking features over the coming weeks that will further streamline processes and increase productivity including real-time dynamic print previews and automatically placed escape holes,” said Stevens.
“We invite all 3D printing users worldwide, from the largest printer manufacturers and 3D Printing service companies to the smallest micro business to sign up for the beta trial, prove the power for themselves, and let us know how big the impact is for them.”
While the beta service is free now, it will eventually become an on-demand, pay-per-upload service. You can also sign up for a monthly subscription to the Perfected3D API. While we’ll miss Whispering Gibbon, it seems like everything is going in the right direction for what is now Perfected3D.
On to another interesting piece of 3D printing business news: Sigma Labs, which provides quality assurance software under the PrintRite3D brand, has announced the June 30th, 2016 publication of US Patent Application No. US 2016/0185048 for Multi-Sensor Quality Inference and Control For Additive Manufacturing Processes. The patent relates to real-time quality analysis during AM processes, as well as the characterization of material properties using acoustic signals that are emitted during these processes that can be used, along with optical signals, to make the qualification of printed parts simpler.
“We are at the forefront of a new era in additive manufacturing and are very pleased to announce the publication of this patent which evidences our leadership in real time process control capabilities,” said Mark Cola, the CEO of Sigma Labs. “Crucial to our continued growth and emerging market leadership is securing our intellectual property portfolio. The publication of this patent application further serves these goals.”
The Sigma Labs patent also includes a system with multi-sensor quality interference for AM. The system can discern and address three separate quality issues:
- Process anomalies, or extreme unpredictable process events uncorrelated to process inputs
- Process variations, or difference between desired process parameters and actual operating conditions
- Material structure and properties, or the quality of the resultant material created by the AM process
The system also uses the gathered sensor data to evaluate and control AM operations in real time. The company’s patent application explains how optical sensors can measure oscillations in a printer’s melt pool, and also that using a laser to artificially light up the pool could help augment these sensor readings by collecting “specular reflections that include oscillation frequency information.”
In the application, Sigma Labs also explains how an acoustic sensor can monitor a build process just by listening for any micro-cracking that takes place; this can also eliminate lengthy post-build quality control processes, like CT scans.
We’ve seen 3D printing technology and acoustics combined before, and the use of acoustic characterization during AM processes may soon grow to become more widespread across the industry.
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