3D Printing News Briefs, March 14, 2021: Additive Manufacturing Technologies, Hansgrohe & EOS, Clive Maxfield

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We’re taking care of business first in today’s edition of 3D Printing News Briefs, and then moving on to some pretty cool 3D printed projects. First, Additive Manufacturing Technologies has raised £2.5m in new funding. Moving on, EOS helped with the creation of a 3D printed dog-friendly shower head. Finally, maker Clive “Max” Maxfield used 3D printing in a technical and interesting hobby project.

AMT Raises £2.5m Secured Funding

Additive Manufacturing Technologies (AMT), which develops equipment that automates the 3D printing post-production process of surface finishing, announced that it has raised £2.5 million in secured funding. The company, which employs over 80 staff at its Sheffield HQ, Hungary manufacturing facility, and Texas offices, doubled its revenue year-on-year in 2020, and recently joined a partnership with HP. This latest funding brings the company’s total amount raised to over £7m. Participants in this funding round were NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, which is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund;  Foresight Williams Technology; the government’s Future Fund; Royal DSM’s global startup investment arm DSM Venturing; and some private investors.

“Our mission is to be the world’s first-choice application-centric provider of end-to-end industrialized automated post-processing systems,” said AMT’s CEO Joseph Crabtree. “This latest investment will help us to unlock the full potential of industrial additive manufacturing and its sustainable impact.”

3D Printed Dog Shower Head

The Hansgrohe Group InnoLab team tests out market acceptance of innovative product ideas with low investment costs and quick turnaround, and its most recent product went to the dogs. The team’s Chief Happiness Officer, an adorable pooch named Shaggy, isn’t a fan of showering, and they had an idea for a product: a special canine shower head, called the furly, that could hopefully improve dog-owner relations. The team’s goal was to get a Minimum Sellable Product (MSP) onto the market in six months, and so they decided to use the EOS P 396 3D printer to make not only the prototypes, but also the first sales batch of 5,000 units. They ran into an unusual difficulty at the beginning, as the shower head had to meet legal requirements for drinking water, which meant getting a permit for PA 2200 plastic powder. EOS provided samples and extracts of its patented material recipe to several labs, and the furly quickly received a drinking water certification for the material. The final design, which features an extremely smooth surface finish to negate mechanical post-processing, allows the user to easily switch between different types of water jets, and the water stops flowing once the shower head is released, meaning the device can operated with only one hand; an essential feature if you’re trying to keep a wet dog in the tub!

“With the EOS P 396, we were able to develop our dog shower head within a short time frame and quickly test whether it would be accepted on the market,” said Jochen Armbruster, Head of CA-Tools & Prototyping at the Hansgrohe Group. “Our customers were impressed with the high quality and resilience of the end product. Thanks to 3D printing, we were able to expand our product range with minimal financial risk.”

To learn more about this interesting pet product, check out the EOS customer success story here.

3D Printing Helps Recreate 10-Character 21-Segment Victorian display

Author, editor, maker, electronic design automation (EDA) leader, and popular technical conference speaker Clive “Max” Maxfield enjoys working on hobby projects, partially because you learn new skills and also because it can take your mind off of the world’s trials and troubles. He’s a steampunk fan, and as such, many of his projects, such as an audio-reactive artifact, feature what he calls an “anachronistic retro-futuristic steampunk aesthetic.” As he explains in Electronic Engineering Journal, his latest project is based on a modern interpretation of 21-segment Victorian displays. To make a long story short, two of Maxfield’s friends, Paul Parry and Steve Manley, came upon a group called Smartsockets, a software and hardware system that drives multiple-segment alphanumeric displays, and one of the group moderators had found a patent for a nearly 125-year-old 21-segment display, which featured one incandescent bulb per segment and used an electromechanical switch to activate different groups in order to represent different characters. The group wanted to make their own version using multiple technologies, but Maxfield and his friends decided to make their own version of the display, using an Arduino-compatible microcontroller and 3D printed “shells” with which to house the displays. Additionally, Manley also created a printed circuit board, or PCB, that features 35 tricolor LED lights and 50 x 64 mm characters.

“Steve was kind enough to supply me with 10 of the PCBs and the design files for me to 3D print 10 shells so that I can build my own 10-character display,” Maxfield wrote.

“In addition to displaying text messages, these displays can be used to present a captivating light show. We could even make the display react to sound in a similar manner to the Audio-Reactive Artifact we discussed at the beginning of this column.”

If you want to hear the rest of the nitty gritty, technical details of this project, check out Maxfield’s EEJournal piece here.

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