3D Printing News Briefs, December 9, 2021: Business, Materials, & Research


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A partnership between Prima Additive and Materialise is first up in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, followed by news on a headquarters expansion from PrinterPrezz. Service bureaus in Japan are playing an important role in driving the growth and adoption of metal 3D printing. VOID launched a new PLA filament with nanotechnology, and Desktop Metal is partnering with the University of Toledo to develop new alloys. Finally, researchers are looking into the process monitoring of material extrusion printing using a digital twin based in augmented reality.

Prima Additive & Materialise Partner to Optimize Metal AM

First, industrial metal 3D printer manufacturer Prima Additive, the Business Unit of Prima Industrie Group (Borsa Italiana, Star segment), has partnered with Materialise to optimize metal 3D printers by improving their efficiency and process control. As such, Prima Additive has integrated the Materialise Control Platform (MCP) hardware- and software-driven AM control platform into its flexible Print Genius 150 printer, a powder bed fusion system that uses two lasers to work on the same area. This integration makes it possible to obtain real-time control functions, as well as a “streamlined combination with external systems” to help with the print process. By integrating the two systems, the partners developed a laser Workload Balancing algorithm that exploit the lasers in a balanced way to optimize the workflow, automatically and homogenously distributing work. The collaboration’s first Print Genius 150 was installed this spring at the University of Leuven in Belgium.

“After the successful integration of our state-of-the-art Machine Control Platform (MCP) into the Print Genius 150, we demonstrated together that our Optics Load Balancing solution ensures an important gain in printing efficiency without loss of print quality. It was also nice to see how the Prima Additive and Materialise teams – however being located at different sites during Covid-19 travel restrictions – succeeded in delivering such a successful project in such a short time period,” said Jan Van Espen, Research Manager at Materialise.

PrinterPrezz Expands New Headquarters in California

Fremont, California-based company PrinterPrezz, which designs and manufactures next-generation medial devices using 3D printing and nanotechnologies, signed a lease to a new facility, which doubles its headquarters to about 30,000 square feet. The facility includes new offices and shared, upgraded workspaces, and the company intends to relocate its headquarters from the old location to this new one. The site also includes a large employee workspace, designed with an engineer-to-engineer experience with ergonomic workstations, and will allow PrinterPrezz to dedicate a larger space to its R&D efforts, with space for additional 3D printing and post-processing equipment, an area for product inventory management, and a room that will include a BSL-2 lab for bacterial testing.

“With PrinterPrezz being in the heart of Silicon Valley, we have easy access to technology and more opportunities for strategic partnerships. Our new Innovation Center will strengthen our ability to accelerate medical device development and it supports our mission to bring new ideas to mass production that currently reside in the hospitals with doctors, surgeons, and innovators,” stated PrinterPrezz CEO Shri Shetty.

“Looking at the medical device landscape, there has not only been an increase in medical device demand but also a strong desire to develop next generation devices that result in better outcomes. This is in large part driven by the growing older active aging population. Expanding our onsite post processing development capabilities to mirror technologies at Vertex Manufacturing allows us to transfer processes seamlessly. Our advanced platform enables PrinterPrezz to target life changing devices that result in better patient outcomes.”

Japanese Service Bureaus Driving Adoption, Growth of Metal AM

Attitude control injection nozzle manufactured in Ti-6Al-4V on EBM technology for KOUNOTORI, the unmanned cargo transfer spacecraft for the International Space Station. (Image: JAMPT Corporation/KOIWAI Co., Ltd.)

According to GE Additive, metal 3D printing is expected to grow a lot in the next few years in the Japanese domestic market, and specialist service bureaus in the country are important to this growth. Service bureaus like Japan Additive Manufacturing & Processing Technology (JAMPT), which was Japan’s first specialist metal AM service bureau to offer services all the way from powder development to mass production, allow manufacturers to see AM operations being used before they adopt an in-house system of their own. JAMPT, which recently installed the GE Additive Concept Laser M2, works with manufacturers in the aerospace, automotive, defense, and medical equipment sectors to deploy metal 3D printing, and is working on a project with JAXA, the Japanese national aerospace and space agency, to print an attitude control injection nozzle. EBM 3D printing was helpful in this case because it decreased part weight by 64%, improved material yield by 30%, and reduced the manufacturing time by 60%.

“In terms of the adoption of metal additive here in Japan, it is become clear that there are specific issues in each industry. Identifying and then solving them, will lead to the growth of the additive manufacturing market,” said JAMPT’s plant manager Shoichi Sato. “We think we have a good opportunity here at JAMPT, to play an important role and contribute to the additive manufacturing industry as it develops.

“As the adoption of metal 3D printing among our various manufacturing communities, the demand for specialist metal 3D printing service bureaus in Japan is increasing. If you are getting started, encountering challenges with additive manufacturing, please contact us. Let us seek solutions together using our metal additive technology and apply the expertise and knowhow that we have developed.”

VOID Technologies Introduces New, Tougher PLA Filament

Scanning electron microscope, 5,000x magnification. L-R: Standard PLA, VO3D PLA.

Wisconsin-based materials science company VOID Technologies has launched a new PLA filament that it says has four times more toughness than standard PLA . VO3D PLA, based on the company’s patented nanotechnology licensed from the Kimberly-Clark corporation, was designed for ease of use, with no necessary heated chamber or ventilation, and is good for hobbyists and professionals that want a high impact performance similar to what ABS offers. The material contains nanoscale additives comparable with the PLA matrix polymer, but which, upon impact, de-bond from the PLA; this process disperses the impact’s energy, which decreases the likelihood of material failure. VO3D PLA’s impact resistance was validated through independent testing by Intertek for Notched Izod Impact Strength (ASTM D256).

“VO3D® has proven very popular with hobbyists who want greater performance and toughness in their 3D prints,” said George Melton, Commercial Manager at VOID. ” With this new product we bridge the gap between PLA and ABS. We have had especially good feedback from drone and remote-control vehicle users who require material with excellent impact performance.”

Desktop Metal, University of Toledo Developing Nickel-Based Alloys

Desktop Metal Production System P-50

Desktop Metal announced a partnership with the University of Toledo’s Institute of Applied Engineering Research to develop nickel-based titanium (Nitinol) alloys, along with nickel-based Rene alloys and other nickel-based, non-weldable, high-temperature materials. The metal materials will be for use on Desktop Metal’s binder jetting Production System platform, which uses its patent-pending Single Pass Jetting (SPJ) technology to deliver extremely high print speeds. Desktop Metal’s CEO Ric Fulop said that these new materials will open a major opportunity for aviation, medical, and space binder jetting applications.

“Our partnership with Desktop Metal will bring a Production System P-1 to our lab and open new horizons in materials and application development. By combining our metallurgy, software, chemistry, and design expertise, this partnership will allow us to pursue the development of numerous advanced materials, including Nitinol, a shape memory alloy used for many medical applications; ultra-high temperature nickel-based superalloys, such as Rene alloys, for aerospace; conductive materials such as pure copper for electrification; and lightweight materials including advanced aluminum alloys for automotive applications,” said Behrang Poorganji, Ph.D., Research Professor and Director of Advanced Manufacturing at The University of Toledo College of Engineering. “We believe our collaboration with Desktop Metal will accelerate our education, training, and workforce development, which will be key to successful technology adoption in the industry for the future years ahead of us.”

Augmented Reality-Based Digital Twin for AM Process Monitoring

Overview of the developed AR-based digital twin: (a). Process parameters and indicators; (b). Digital twin in virtual environment; (c). Ultimaker 3 in the real environment; (d). Activation image; (e). Printing process with the printing head shown; (f). Ultimaker 3 and the digital twin in AR application; (g). AR application using mobile phone; (h). Printing process with printing head hidden.

Finally, researchers from TU Kaiserslautern’s Institute of Manufacturing Technology and Production Systems published a paper on process monitoring the economic and environmental performance of a material extrusion 3D printer—specifically an Ultimaker S3—using a digital twin based in augmented reality. The team proposed an idea for getting a component’s digital representation by using cumulated small cylinders, or Volume Approximation by Cumulated Cylinders (VACCY), to approximate its geometry. They first created a CAD model of the printer, and then modeled four process indicators—electricity use, manufacturing cost, greenhouse gas emission, and primary energy consumption—which were then integrated into the AR-based digital twin. Based on the VACCY approach, they were able to digitally model the 3D printing process of the component.

“Based on the study, the following conclusions are made:

AR technology is suitable for developing digital twins of AM processes

The proposed VACCY approach is feasible to simulate the printing process of a virtual component in the digital twin

The “reality gap” of a digital twin can be caused by failures in data interfaces and detection of the real printing process. In terms of this study, the mean porosity of three cases is 7.57%.

The implementation of the AR-based digital twin on a mobile AR-platform requires a high amount of calculation power. The FPS of the AR-based digital twin on the mobile phone of this study will eventually drop to 3–6.”

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