3D Printing News Briefs, May 12, 2021: Sigma Labs, Vallourec and Total, Imperial College London

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In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, we have a software update to tell you about, followed by a 3D printing first in the offshore equipment sector. Finally, we’ll finish things out with a little research.

Sigma Labs Releases PrintRite3D 7.0 

PrintRite3D 7.0: 3D Volume Workspace; Anomalies shown in red

Sigma Labs (NASDAQ: SGLB), which develops and provides in-process quality assurance (IPQA) software to the commercial additive manufacturing industry, has just released the next generation of its IPQA PrintRite3D solution. The company created the updated PrintRite3D Version 7.0 after receiving input from universities, standards organizations, existing customers, and industrial metal 3D printing manufacturers, and the new release includes upgrades to several existing features. But, it also adds important new functionalities, including temperature monitoring and calibration, 3D visualization diagnostics, User Roles and Login for enhanced security, multi-laser quality metrics, and more.

“We believe the release of PrintRite3D version 7.0 marks a significant milestone in the evolution of in-process quality assurance,” said Mark Ruport, President and CEO of Sigma Labs. “Our commitment to radical collaboration and setting a high-quality standard in 3D metal printing will benefit not only Sigma Labs customers but we expect that it will also help accelerate the growth and prosperity of the entire additive manufacturing industry.”

First Pressure-Containing Component with WAAM Technology

Waterbrushing

Vallourec, an international company that provides tubular solutions to demanding industries like energy and oil and gas, recently announced a major premiere in offshore equipment manufacturing: the first pressure-containing component made with Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) technology, designed by Vallourec, has been successfully run on French energy company Total’s EIG Elgin-Franklin rig. The 220 kg 3D printed waterbrushing, measuring 1.2 meters high, is a safety-critical component used in the oil and gas drilling industry to counter hydrocarbon kicks from wells in construction, and it’s imperative that this part is reliable and strong, or equipment destruction can occur. Vallourec and Total worked together for over a year on the project, and the waterbrushing was rigorously tested before it was deployed in the North Sea this winter.

“The project came out of an open innovation collaboration with RAMLAB, a Rotterdam-based startup. The aim of this project was to go beyond Proof of Concept to successfully develop the Quality Assurance and Quality Control frame of supply for components using WAAM technology,” said Bertrand Maillon, Additive Manufacturing Business Development manager at Vallourec.

“Additive manufacturing enables us to move one step closer to the industry goal of a digital warehouse, increasing availability of crucial parts and reducing waste.”

UK Researchers Print Conductive Circuit Boards

Figure 1: Examples of Thermoformed Circuit Board Devices: a) Tree-shaped touch sensitive lamp with 555 timer IC; b) Light
sensitive pendant light; c) Hot wire foam cutter; d) Stand-alone contactless temperature sensor with OLED display

Thanks to conductive thermoplastic filaments, it’s easier to 3D print electronics on desktop systems, but unfortunately they’re often restricted to capacitive sensing, as it’s hard to print traces in vertical directions. A trio of researchers from Imperial College London published a paper, titled “Thermoformed Circuit Boards: Fabrication of highly conductive freeform 3D printed circuit boards with heat bending,” that introduces their novel approach to build double-sided, rigid, and highly conductive freeform circuit boards able to withstand current applications through the use of copper electroplating. This inexpensive method, called Thermoformed Circuit Board, or TCB, uses heat bending of 3D printed thermoplastic conductive traces, and the researchers showed off several examples of their TCB’s capability, including different interaction mechanisms, shapes, and electrical characteristics. In addition, they demonstrated a new design tool extension for an existing CAD environment that lets users parametrically draw the conductive trace and substrate, and export 3D printable files.

“In this paper we presented Thermoformed Circuit Boards together with a novel approach to their construction yielding freeform, rigid and double-sided 3D circuit boards based on heat bending conductive PLA,” the researchers concluded. “We demonstrated that TCB is an inexpensive and highly accessible fabrication technique that enables rapid construction and exhibits good electrical performance. We demonstrated the applicability of TCB through a range of examples. These included designing TCBs for a variety physical form factors, electrical performance requirements, and interactive devices. We examined the electrical and mechanical properties of TCB devices, providing design insights for future TCB devices. We described and provided a new parametric design editor for TCBs, which allows designers to write circuit elements directly onto the substrate and make quick alterations through a graphical user interface. We showed that TCB can achieve fine trace resolution and space widths that can accommodate the use of SMD components, which we will explore in future work to construct more compact and complex TCB devices and objects. We hope TCBs can become a useful resource to the HCI community, broadening research participation in prototyping 3D printed electronics and artefacts. Although the technique extends known methods of prototyping electronically interactive objects, its relative simplicity, speed and cost effectiveness are attractive. We believe TCBs can be useful within various research areas including wearables, displays and robotics.”

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