3D Printing News Briefs: December 15, 2017

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In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, we’re starting with some aerospace 3D printing, then moving on to business announcements, new releases, and 3D printed art. The European Space Agency has released its first prototype design for a 3D printed satellite, while Northrop Grumman is looking for 3D printing partners to develop metal aerospace parts. Graphene 3D Lab is awarded a grant, 3D printing startup Fracktal Works received an investment to build new advanced 3D printers, and Konica Minolta Australia is partnering with Amiga Engineering for metal 3D printing. Renishaw is introducing new Smart Apps, and NewTek has announced the latest release of its LightWave 3D animation system. Finally, an artist has opened up her traveling studio to the public.

European Space Agency Releases Prototype Satellite Design 

The European Space Agency (ESA) is working on a project, backed by its General Support Technology Programme, to develop, manufacture, and demonstrate a 3D printed optical instrument for space, and this week released the first prototype of a satellite imager design. The prototype was developed by an OHB System-led consortium, made up of Materialise, Fraunhofer IFAM, IABG, the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON), and the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), which is the original designer of the Aura satellite.

The organic-looking design is for a two-mirror telescope, derived from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument that’s flying on NASA’s Aura satellite, and was developed by putting the imager’s design requirements through topology optimization software. The breadboard prototype was 3D printed out of liquid photopolymer plastic and spray painted, while the final version will be 3D printed in metal. The end goal of the project is to test a working version of the instrument in a simulated space environment.

Northrop Grumman Seeking 3D Printing Partners

Complex mechanical systems supplier Northrop Grumman Corporation has begun a partnership search and pre-qualification program, looking for suppliers with agile manufacturing and test capabilities for metal 3D printed parts. By rounding up partners willing to support multiple procurement contracts, such as low volume quick-turn aerospace product development, the unique program will streamline and accelerate the use of 3D printing for metal parts. Submissions are due on December 21st, 2017.

Northrop Grumman is looking for approved vendors in direct energy deposition, electron beam powder-bed fusion, and laser powder-bed fusion processes, with subcategories including processes with electron beams, lasers, and plasma arcs. Interested suppliers must have in-house engineering competence for 3D printing, manufacturing, inspection, and test capabilities, inventory control, quality controls for produced parts, and be willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Interested parties should submit their responses here by December 21st.

Graphene 3D Lab Receives $500K Grant from State of New York

This year, New York-based Graphene 3D Lab was included in the strategic plan “A Region in Motion” for economic development growth, by the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council (LIREDC). One of the priority projects recommended in the document to receive financial support from the state was a relocation and expansion of the company’s production capacity. This week during an award ceremony, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York State supported the strategic plan, and would be awarding the Long Island Region $83.8 million to fund the recommended projects. As part of this award, LIREDC awarded a grant of $500,000 to Graphene 3D to help finance the renovation of its new facility at Ronkonkoma, as well as the the acquisition of new equipment.

“These awards are critical to building the foundations for New York’s future and ensuring that our economic momentum continues,” said Governor Cuomo. “I congratulate each of the Councils on their awards and look forward to continuing to partner to keep our communities vibrant and thriving for years to come.”

Fracktal Works Receives Investment

Bangalore-based 3D printing startup Fracktal Works has fresh capital, which it will use to build advanced 3D printers and launch its Fractory online service platform, after receiving an investment from Hyderabad Angels in a pre-Series A funding round. Fracktal Works, which raised a large investment from 1 Neoteric Technology Solutions in 2015, offers low-volume manufacturing capabilities and works with several large manufacturing companies to research and develop disruptive applications.

G Ram Chaitanya Reddy, Vice-Chairman, Hyderabad Angels, said, “We believe, Fracktal Works’ disruptive technology will help lower manufacturing costs and increase efficiency.”

The startup’s new Fractory platform will give more customers access to its manufacturing technologies, grouping prototyping and production order processes together under the platform. Fractory will also use learning algorithms to build instant quotations and lead times for user-uploaded data points, analyze if a product is able to be manufactured as is, and provide repeatable results.

Konica Minolta Australia and Amiga Engineering Launch Partnership

ProX DMP 320

Integrated solutions and managed services provider Konica Minolta Australia is partnering with Amiga Engineering in order to launch it into the future with metal 3D printing capabilities. Konica Minolta will provide Amiga with support, and a high-performance 3D Systems ProX DMP 320 metal printer. As the landscape of Australian industry continues to change, advanced manufacturing technologies like 3D printing are being used more often in machine and engineering shops to help them survive, which is why Amiga looked to Konica Minolta, and the ProX DMP 320, for help in keeping up.

“Amiga Engineering has been following the growth of this technology. We decided that now is the time to take the plunge into this concept area to grow it and expand the business. Without a way to reinvent the business it is probable that we would be like many other engineering shops across Australia: falling by the wayside or becoming a conservative small business surviving on whatever business comes in. We believe that 3D metal printing will take Amiga Engineering to the next level and ensure our future,” said Michael Bourchier, Amiga Engineering’s General Manager.

“Amiga Engineering chose Konica Minolta because of the passion and willingness to invest in getting the idea off the ground for Amiga Engineering. Other considerations included ongoing service, longevity in the market, and who had the resources to not let us down.”

Amiga is planning to install the ProX DMP 320 by the end of this month.

Renishaw Introduces Two New Smart Apps

Renishaw recognizes that mobile technology, and the apps associated with it, can be used to help people in multiple working environments. With that in mind, the company announced that it has developed two new mobile apps for smartphone users who also utilize the company’s machine tool probing hardware. The free iOS and Android apps are available globally, with support in 15 different languages, on Google Play and the App Store.

Enabling technology GoProbe is embedded in Renishaw’s latest macro-based software packages, and has a single-line command programming format, making it easy for users to work the company’s tool setters and machine tool probes. The GoProbe app lets users, even if they are inexperienced in programming basic probing and tool setting cycles, quickly and easily create this single-line command, by choosing the required cycle from the menu and populating several data entry fields. The process of configuring and customizing Renishaw’s machine tool touch probes is known as Trigger Logic, and the Trigger Logic app gives users a fast, simple method for customizing both optical and radio probe settings.

Latest Release of LightWave 3D Animation System

Texas-based NewTek has announced that the latest version of its comprehensive LightWave 3D animation system, LightWave 2018, has been released, and the Windows and Mac software will be available on January 1st, 2018. Some of the new features of LightWave 2018 include render and light buffers, a virtual reality camera, new light capabilities and modeler features, noise reduction filter, a modifier stack with new deformation nodes, and a more integrated FiberX. The new iteration also enhances its Viewport Preview Renderer (VPR) and includes Unity 5 support.

Dr. Andrew Cross, the President and CTO of NewTek, said, “We’re proud that LightWave has a long history of being the ‘go to’ 3D application for artists who need to deliver the finest, most realistic art and animation on time and on budget. LightWave 2018 furthers that tradition with finely tuned tools that improve every aspect of the user experience from rendering to lighting to surfacing, cameras and more.”

You can purchase LightWave 2018 for $995, upgrade an earlier version of LightWave 3D for $295 through March 31st, or download a 30-day trial for free. NewTek is also offering educational pricing.

Join 3D Artist M’s Creative Adventure

3D printed One Infinity ring in sterling silver

A self-taught American artist, who goes by M, started out as an oil painter in Mexico before moving back home to New York for a few years. She then began traveling the world, visiting many countries and living in Thailand, Spain, Italy, Tunisia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Albania. In 2013 she co-founded boutique design firm sloris and began 3D modeling and 3D printing wearable art, like fashion and jewelry accessories, so she could have a creative outlet that would sustain her frequent travels better than painting.

Now M, who currently lives in Italy but plans to return to Albania after spending the holidays in London and Dublin, is opening her traveling studio to her patrons and followers with the launch of her Patreon page. She will give supporters an inside look at her works in progress, as well as offering them a chance to hold and examine her watercolor studies and 3D printed prototypes and offer their advice on the pieces. As M puts it, the Patreon page is a great way for many types of people to “take part in the development of artistic ideas and the 3D printing revolution.”

“I left the comfort of my studio in Brooklyn, New York, seven years ago to live and work around the world. I love my lifestyle, but truly miss having a stable artistic community,” M said. “I’m looking for individuals who are excited to engage in the creative process at whichever level is right for them.”

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts below. 


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