3D Printing News Briefs, December 15, 2021: New 3D Printers, Business, & More


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In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, we’re starting with a little business first. Then we’ll tell you about two new 3D printers, and then move on to 3D printed homes, 3D printed eardrums, and 3D printed jewelry. Read on for the details!

BCN3D Opens US Logistics Center

Barcelona-based 3D printing solutions manufacturer BCN3D has expanded to North America, strengthening its ties on the continent by opening a new logistics center in New Jersey and appointing experienced AM industry sales executive Kevin Billett as the new Channel Sales Manager, who will build on relationships with current resellers in North America and lead the expansion of the team there. The decision to open the New Jersey logistics center is in response to BCN3D’s major growth in North America, with more customers in industries like manufacturing, engineering, and automotive adding the company’s 3D printers and Smart Cabinets to their workflows. This new centralized North American hub will allow for stronger relationships with current partners, such as Dynamism and Matterhackers, and offer better, faster, more environmentally sustainable services to customers here.

“Our expansion to the US is an important milestone for BCN3D, as it indicates that the company is now fully capable of meeting the needs and demands of BCN3D partners and customers in the region,” said Xavier Martinez Faneca, CEO of BCN3D. “The new center in New Jersey will offer great business opportunities there from 2022 onwards, enhance our relationship with customers, and represent BCN3D’s commitment to environmental sustainability as we consolidate larger shipments for more customers with a logistics hub closer to them in North America.”

Wematter Releases Gravity 2022 SLS 3D Printer

SLS 3D printer manufacturer Wematter introduced its flagship Gravity 2021 system at Formnext 2020, and recently released the latest version of the user-friendly printer. With improved repeatability and adapted for global expansion, the new Gravity 2022 is made to withstand harsh environments, able to print with more materials that can withstand fire and electrostatic discharges, and allows users to scan each individual powder package so they don’t load the wrong kind. The company began participating in international trade last year, and its SLS printers are being used in places with varying temperature and climate conditions; that’s why the Gravity 2022 includes individual cooling systems and better component selection. Because Wematter values sustainability, several components in the Gravity 2022 were replaced in order to decrease its power consumption by 25%, and the printer’s proprietary electronics were redesigned to fit a higher volume context and be less affected by the global semiconductor shortage.

“Through the annual model changes, Wematter has the chance to highlight its products’ strengths after consulting with its customers. This year we have chosen to prioritise working time,” Robert Kniola, Wematter’s Founder and CEO, said about the Gravity 2022’s new features, continuing that “…Wematter has eliminated one of the mandatory inspection steps between each SLS build job start. We have also introduced lighting in the chamber to simplify powder removal and taking out the 3D models.”

Wematter Gravity is adapted for a rental system, or product-as-a-service, meaning the hardware can be purchased with a pre-made subscription support system.

Cubicure Enables Industrial Series Printing of Polymer Parts

Cerion’s new printing concept enables the additive mass production of industrial-grade polymer parts.

Another recently released 3D printer is the new large-scale Cerion by Austrian company Cubicure GmbH, which enables industrial series 3D printing of polymer parts and is already being used by pilot customers. Cubicure has spent the last few years developing the Cerion in order to cover the entire digital manufacturing process, and this system has a scalable printing concept, featuring a revolving resin carrier film and mobile printing head—very different from most typical lithographic AM methods, as it doesn’t use material vats or resin baths. The Cerion relies on Cubicure’s Hot Lithography technology, so it has access to a variety of photopolymers, and parts are said to be printed on the system’s one meter by 30 centimeter platform with reproducibility and an optical accuracy of 50 x 50 μm2.

“This is the essential breakthrough in the industrial upscaling of lithographic printing processes. In this printing process, both the material intake and the detaching of printed polymer layers from the carrier film are scalable,” explained Cubicure’s Managing Director and CTO Dr. Robert Gmeiner. “Many factors of the building process such as process forces are now decoupled from part geometry and building platform occupancy. Even the width and length of the printing platform no longer have an influence on process performance. After three decades of stereolithography, finally an industrially scalable process has been found.”

Interdisciplinary Team Addressing 3D Printed Affordable Housing

Auburn University faculty are part of an interdisciplinary research team looking to develop composite materials from waste resources for use in 3D printing of affordable housing. From left are Auburn’s lead scientists, Maria Auad of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, Sushil Adhikari of the College of Agriculture, and Brian Via and Maria Soledad Peresin of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences.

An interdisciplinary research project between Auburn University and its partner institution the University of Idaho is investigating the feasibility of creating affordable housing with 3D printing, thanks in large part to $3.9 million in funding from the National Science Foundation’s Research Infrastructure Improvement Program. According to Brian Via, Auburn School of Forestry of Wildlife Sciences professor, only half of the US population enjoys affordable housing, so the purpose of the project is to create environmentally-friendly materials, based on waste products or natural sources, that can be used to 3D print houses. The team is currently working to develop bioresin as a 3D printing feedstock, as well as converting biomass into nanomaterials and chemicals to make the resin more sustainable.

“Recently, the U.S. is trending toward mass timber buildings as a first-generation material to reduce our carbon footprint. However, advanced manufacturing can help to utilize more biomaterial waste from forest resources that can then be 3D printed into housing or building components,” said Via, who’s also the principal investigator for the research project.

“We will manufacture 3D-printed wall panels that can be used in housing and building construction. This will allow for precise construction in a manufacturing environment using sustainable materials that can be shipped to the construction site. Through biobased polymers and fibers, we can 3D print building components that allow for end-of-life recycling.”

Using Technology to Help People Hear Again

L: Scientists successfully tested the prototype hearing aid inside a model human ear (Credit: Adapted from ACS Nano 2021; DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.1c04242). R: Researchers developed a synthetic polymer-based ink system that enabled them to 3D print a device mimicking the native tympanic membrane with its pattern of radial and concentric collagen fibers (Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University).

With hearing loss, which can be caused in many ways, either the eardrum is perforated, or the tiny hairs inside the cochlea are damaged. Scientists from the Wyss Institute at Harvard University have come up with a solution to the first problem, while researchers at China’s Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) are tackling the second; both teams used advanced technology like 3D printing to come up with their solutions. The PhonoGraft biofabrication platform, developed by Harvard researchers and acquired by Desktop Health, is a 3D printed biocompatible graft implant that provides a scaffold for natural cells in the eardrum to regenerate and restore hearing in people suffering from a perforated eardrum. The implant, 3D printed out of a synthetic polymer-based ink, mimics the shape of a natural eardrum, and has already entered commercial production, with the founders working to get FDA clearance for their innovation.

The HUST team designed a prototype hearing aid device, with no batteries, that can be implanted into the ear and translate soundwaves into matching electrical signals, basically simulating healthy cochlear hairs without having to rely on an external power source. The scientists created a spongey material that uses piezoelectric (compression) and triboelectric (friction) qualities, and created the sensitive acoustic sensing prototype device using this material. During testing in a model ear, the prototype produced a frequency of 170 hertz, which is within the range of most adult voices.

Instone 3D Printing Bespoke Jewelry

Finally, Instone is a modern, bespoke approach to 3D printed jewelry, offering personalization, customization, and more sustainable manufacturing all in one. Customers can visit the website to view the collections, and select their style and material. CAD designs of the final pendant are submitted to a manufacturer, though we don’t know which one, and the custom piece is 3D printed, cast, and polished per customer specifications. Instone’s debut, Collection 001, features pendants of a heart (starting at $139), a cross (starting at $127), and a hand (starting at $115). Collection 002, offering “slightly more complex and intricate pieces,” includes the Ravenna and Valletta pendants, starting at $143 and $122, respectively. The pendants are available in black steel, white and yellow gold, and polished sterling silver, and the chain varies depending on the selected material.

“Even though @shopinstone collections draw inspiration from all over, the most striking and unifying element of all Instone creations comes from the Cycladic islands of Greece: From the wind-swept, sun-drenched, rugged landscapes and dreamy waters of lesser-known islands, such as Koufonisia, to the buzzing streets and lively culture of the more celebrated locales turned global destinations, such as Mykonos and Antiparos, the Cycladic Islands are a major source of creative influence, greatly informing design codes and ethos of Instone.”

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