3D Printing News Briefs, May 29, 2021: KINGS 3D, GKN Aerospace, Bastion Cycles, Tufts University, Apple

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We’re starting with a little business in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, and then moving on to modes of transportation, before some materials news and a 3D printed Apple accessory.

KINGS 3D Receives Nearly $16M in Series B Financing

KINGS 3D’s largest SLA 3D printer, KINGS 2700Pro, with 2700 x 900x 800 mm build size

KINGS 3D, a high-tech enterprise in Shenzhen, China that’s dedicated to R&D and efficient 3D printing innovations, recently announced the completion of a Series B financing round of over 100 million RMB, which equals close to $16M. Rongyi Investment led the round, and was joined by several other institutions such as Jiafa Venture Capital, Furong Capital, Zhongwei Yihe Equity Investment Fund, Qingjue Capital, and previous shareholders Firstfortune Investment and SGT Capital. The company, which employs over 30, has applied for more than 130 patents over the years, and its SLA printers are independently developed and designed by the company in order to offer 3D printing solutions in multiple industries, including automotive, aerospace, medical and dental, architecture, footwear, and mechanical equipment. This new financing will be put mainly toward continuing R&D of SLA technology, in addition to ceramic 3D printing, metal printing for dental applications, new materials, and forming a global commercial network.

“Based on years of industry accumulation, Kings has a profound and unique understanding of the 3D printing industry and ecological chain. After 5 years of development, Kings has a mature full range of SLA printer manufacturing capabilities, and has been highly recognized by customers from various industries. In the field of technical product development, Kings will continue to increase investment in research and development, and strive to make breakthroughs in core technologies to provide higher-quality products to the market to serve customers’s needs. In 3D printing applications, KINGS 3D will continue to take strong foothold in shoe molds and prototypes and at the meanstime strive to explore applications in dental, medical, military aerospace, ceramic fields and so on. For the key markets, KINGS 3D will put efforts in domestic as well as international markets by taking advantage of offline and online multi-channel to promote its 3D printing solutions. On the basis of consolidating the existing market, Kings will focus on the growing markets,” said Zexing Jiang, Chairmen of KINGS 3D.

“I am very glad to be able to gain the trust of new shareholders and the support of old shareholders. Under the concept of “Faith will move mountains”, Kings will continue to make breakthroughs and innovations to create greater value for customers, and contribute to the development of the global 3D printing industry.”

GKN Aerospace Delivers First ICC to UltraFan Engine Demonstrator

Global company GKN Aerospace, a multi-technology tier 1 aerospace supplier with facilities in 13 countries, has delivered the first Intermediate Compressor Case (ICC) to the Rolls-Royce UltraFan engine demonstrator program. The UltraFan, which is a next-generation engine family, has a goal of offering a 25% improvement in fuel efficiency over the automaker’s first generation of Trent engines, and has a geared design and new engine core architecture. GKN Aerospace is a Core Partner in Clean Sky 2—Europe’s largest aeronautics research program and funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020—as well as in the UltraFan demonstrator program, and is responsible for designing and manufacturing the ICC, which is a structure located between compressor cases that carries the rotor gas loads to the engine casing and thrust mounts. In developing, manufacturing, and testing the ICC, GKN has validated several new technologies, including a sectorized fabrication concept with castings that uses a computer simulation-based welding method, 3D printing, optimized bleed system aerodynamics and acoustics, and more. The goal is to achieve full engine ground testing during 2022, followed by actual flight testing.

“The delivery of the UltraFan engine ICC to Rolls-Royce is a true milestone. It reaffirms the success of the Clean Sky2 collaboration programme and we are excited to have implemented our latest sustainable technologies in the ICC’s development,” stated Henrik Runnemalm, Vice President of GKN Aerospace’s Global Technology Centre in Sweden. “We are extremely proud to be a partner of the Rolls-Royce team and to contribute to this energy efficient aero-engine of the future.”

Bastion Cycles Introduces New 3D Printed Cockpit System

At the Handmade Bicycle Show Australia, custom bike builder Bastion Cycles revealed its new integrated cockpit system, which features a one-piece bar stem and clean internally routed fork and was made using 3D printed titanium and carbon fiber. It has three main parts: the fork, with its 3D printed titanium crown and dropouts, carbon fiber legs, and steerer tube; the bar stem, featuring a 3D printed titanium stem and drops with a one-piece carbon fiber crossbar; and the 3D printed titanium compression plug that’s bonded into the steerer, which lowers the risk of damage due to over-tightening. Bastion says the new cockpit system allows for increased ride quality and optimized handling, and the aesthetic is also much cleaner, as the system can hide all the usual hoses and wiring.

“We really tried to balance adding some aerodynamic benefits with the overall aesthetics and are extremely happy with where it has ended up. We definitely feel it achieves that optimal condition of satisfying both form and function,” said Bastion’s engineering director James Woolcock.

Thanks to 3D printing, the company can customize the dimensions of the integrated cockpit system for each rider in order to maximize aerodynamics, comfort, and efficiency.

Tufts Researchers Turn Silk into 3D Printable Leather

A small clutch purse demonstrates the utility of silk leather in manufacturing products

For many years, we humans have been using leather to make all kinds of products, from shoes and purses to vehicle interiors and saddles, due to its quality, reliability and the fact that it’s long-lasting. However, the only way this multi-billion dollar industry can keep up with the demand is by treating the skin of more than 3.8 billion cows a year, which is not at all environmentally friendly—the whole process leads to deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, water and land overuse, and environmental pollution. But researchers at Tufts University School of Engineering say they’ve developed a 3D printable, leather-like material that is recyclable, less expensive, and actually comes from silk proteins, which is a much greener alternative. The Silklab research team, which published a study about their work, only needs to use mild chemicals at room temperature to convert silk fibers into the firmer, yet still flexible, leather-like material, which can be 3D printed into different textures and patterns.

“Our work is centered on the use of naturally-derived materials that minimize the use of toxic chemicals while maintaining material performance so as to provide alternatives for products that are commonly and widely used today. By using silk, as well as cellulose from textile and agricultural waste and chitosan from shell-fish waste, and all the relatively gentle chemistries used to combine them, we are making progress towards this goal,” said Fiorenzo Omenetto, Frank C. Doble Professor of Engineering at Tufts School of Engineering, director of the Tufts Silklab and corresponding author of the study.

3D Printing Combines Apple TV Remote with AirTag

So on the one hand, Apple has the Siri Remote, which is super unpopular because it gets lost really easily due to how slick it is. On the other hand, Apple also released something called AirTag trackers, which use local ultra-wideband tracking and a Bluetooth network of other Apple devices to help you find your missing Apple items, regardless of how far away they might be, thanks to a small speaker and UWB chip. But when Apple redesigned the Siri Remote, it didn’t include this chip so the remote could be tracked by other iPhone devices when it’s inevitably lost in your couch cushions, and that just seems like an ridiculous missed opportunity, especially since the company produces cases for most of its other products. Thank goodness for makers, who are busily creating 3D printed templates—available on Thingiverse, Etsy, and eBay for starters—for Siri Remote cases that can hold both the remote and an AirTag tracker.

“To be clear, this is the lamest workaround for the fact that Apple didn’t just put a UWB chip and a tiny speaker in its $60 remote. It can’t be a cost thing: AirTags have one and they only cost $30. Roku has been putting tiny speakers in its remotes to make them easier to find for years. There was even a strange message in Siri that seemed to hint at the possibility of finding a lost Siri Remote using the virtual assistant — but Apple removed the message a few hours later,”

“As such, I cannot explain why Apple has refused to embark down this mind-bogglingly obvious path. But I am puzzled why Apple isn’t making a nicer version of this exact 3D printed concept (ideally out of nicer, more durable materials that actually match the rest of the hardware and would be more enjoyable to use on a daily basis).”

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