3D Printing News Briefs, December 1st, 2021: Filaments, Funding, & More


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In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, BASF has made two of its Ultrafuse filaments available for the Zortrax M300 Dual 3D printer. Moving to business, a consortium led by Authentise received a grant, the US Army awarded Florida International University with $22.9 million, and Immensa finished a Series A round with $7 million. Finally, PrintLab and Autodesk have launched their second Assistive Technology Design Challenge. Read on for the details!

BASF Engineering Filaments for Zortrax M300 Dual

Apoller cover, Ultrafuse PP GF30

First up, chemical giant BASF has made two of its Ultrafuse engineering filaments available for the Zortrax M300 Dual printer. The first, Ultrafuse PP GF30, is a polypropylene material reinforced with 30% glass fiber, while the second, a 15% carbon fiber reinforced filament, is Ultrafuse PAHT CF15; both have strong abrasive properties, so a hardened steel nozzle is necessary. These filaments are both often used to make automotive components like mirror brackets, tailgates, door module assemblies, engine covers, and more, as a replacement for aluminum, so they can offer cost and weight savings. Plus, the PAHT CF15 is strong and high temperature-resistant, so it also works for aerospace and advanced robotics applications.

“Using plastic instead of metal alloys in all those applications grants more design freedom to engineers who can achieve optimal shapes and geometries. Weight savings are also crucial, especially with the recent rise of electric vehicles where relatively heavy batteries need to be compensated for by making other components lighter to increase range. All these considerations contribute to growing popularity of polymeric materials in automotive industry,” explained Michał Siemaszko, Head of Research and Development at Zortrax S.A. “In response to this growing demand, we have partnered with BASF to make their renowned Ultrafuse PP GF30 and PAHT CF15 filaments available on our Zortrax M300 Dual 3D printer.”

UKRI Grant Awarded to Consortium Led by Authentise

SAMRCD Process Flow

The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)’s Transforming Foundation Industries’ Challenge has awarded a £1.7 million competitive grant, delivered by Innovate UK, to a consortium led by Authentise. The purpose is to develop validate new scalable digital tools that will help identify, create, and enforce rules that decrease both direct and indirect energy consumption in an effort to improve material efficiency in ceramic and metal AM. The other consortium partners in the SAMRCD (Scalable AM Rule Creation & Dissemination) project are Photocentric, which manufacturers photopolymers and LCD-based 3D printers; metal powder provider ICD Applied Technologies; the Materials Processing Institute, which provides research and innovation services to the Foundation Industries; and membership-based research and technology organization TWI. With these tools, the hope is to extend in-process control from material production to delivery by enabling users to use literature, experiments, standards, and deep learning to identify operating rules.

“Collaboration is the lynchpin for innovation across these industries, as the opportunities for mutual benefits, re-use of by-products and the exchange of knowledge and skills will be essential for ensuring their journey towards improving their efficiency and productivity to meet new market challenges,” said Bruce Adderley, director of UKRI’s Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge.

“We have seen from the quality of applications just how new technology and a commitment to combined thinking can work together to address some of the key issues affecting the sector. The development of the tools proposed within the SAMCRD project would make a profound impact in energy reduction and accelerate additive manufacturing as a viable sustainable production process as part of the UK’s manufacturing capabilities.”

US Army Awards Florida International University Five-Year Grant 

Florida International University (FIU) has received a $22.9 million, five-year grant from the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory in order to accelerate research on AM technologies that help repair and design high-performance materials, like high deposition structural alloys, used to fabricate next-generation munitions and vehicles. This particular research is looking to advance scientific understanding of Rapid Advanced Deposition (RAD) techniques, which are useful in military field operations. By collaborating with other institutions, FIU can set up the necessary research to enable manufacturing processes and materials that will support the Army’s modernization strategy. The Florida Congressional delegation is all for defense research funding that will allow the researchers to help advance defense readiness.

“There is much potential for advancing this highly innovative technique. The research at FIU will primarily focus on the development of high-performance metallic materials, which are lightweight and of ultra-great strength, using Rapid Advanced Deposition (RAD) techniques including wire arc, solid-state cold spray and friction-stir additive manufacturing,” explained Arvind Agarwal, chair of FIU’s Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and director of the Advanced Materials Engineering Research Institute.

Immensa Receives $7 Million in Series A Funding

In other financial news, technology startup Immensa, the first private 3D printing facility in the UAE, raised $7 million in a Series A funding round, which was structured by Gate Capital and led by Energy Capital Group (ECG) and Al Turki Ventures, with recorded participation from investors like Shoroog Partners, Venture Souq, and Green Coast Investments. Founded in 2016, the company’s Digital Inventory Service is based on a proprietary platform that offers an end-to-end solution for organizations looking to transition to virtual warehousing. Immensa is a leader in offering turnkey digital inventory solutions for the energy and utility sectors, inaugurating its third and largest regional facility in Saudi Arabia earlier this year, working to advance 3D printing across the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region, and continuing to grow its footprint and capabilities. The Kingdom is working to become a global leader in advanced technologies and smart manufacturing, and as 3D printing is expected to add at least $4.95 billion to the KSA economy within three years, this investment funding—which will be used to expand Immensa’s capabilities and turn it into a launchpad for targeting international markets—is a good sign.

“We are thrilled to have secured series A funding and plan to use the investment to realize our ambitious growth strategy,” said Fahmi Al Shawwa, Founder and CEO of Immensa. “Digitizing supply chains and adopting advanced and digital manufacturing is a key pillar for the realization of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Additive manufacturing is crucial to industrial growth, helping to boost productivity, increase efficiency, enhance product quality, and improve business continuity. Over $65 billion of spare parts in the energy and utility sectors will be sourced annually via the digital supply chain by 2030. That is an opportunity we are grasping early on, and investors are seeing the value of partnering with a leader in this underserved market.”

PrintLab & Autodesk: 2nd Assistive Technology Design Challenge

Finally, UK-based 3D printing curriculum developer PrintLab and Autodesk have launched their second annual make:able challenge for assistive technology design, which had more than 17,000 student registrations from 72 countries in the first iteration. This time, the challenge brief asks students to design and 3D print devices that improve the lives of the elderly or people with any disability, instead of just focusing on hand mobility devices. Additionally, an over-18 age category has been added for not only university students but also graduates, hobbyists, and the general public. Participants will work in teams and use the online challenge toolkit to learn about disabilities, 3D printing, and assistive technology; build technical 3D design skills in free Autodesk software; use design-thinking methods to identify opportunities and develop ideas; make, test, and refine a 3D printed product; and more.

“The quality of last year’s submissions is evidence that young people have the empathy, creativity and technical skills to expand outside of the classroom and solve real-world challenges,” stated Jason Yeung, Co-Founder of PrintLab. “This year, with the support of new resources and collaborations, we’re focusing on scale. Our aim is to scale up the number of participants, the number of open-source solutions created, and the number of end users impacted. We are extremely excited to once again facilitate and showcase the power of 3D printing for customised assistive technology.”

An expert panel will judge the entries, which must be submitted by May 1st, 2022. You can learn more about the make:able challenge here.

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