3D Printing News Briefs, February 12, 2022: Business, Aerospace, Guns, & More


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Business, post-processing, aviation, automotive, and guns—that’s what on the menu in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs! AMT appointed Magnus René as Chairman of the Board, Optomec announced major growth in orders for its 3D electronics and metal printers, and Protolabs launched vapor smoothing for its 3D printed parts. MIMO Technik qualified an SLM 3D printing process for Boeing, and 1016 Industries has unveiled its first 3D printed Rolls Royce Cullinan. Finally, four people in the UK are facing terrorism-related charges, partially because of 3D printed gun parts.

Magnus René is AMT’s New Chairman of the Board

Magnus René, AMT Board Chairman (Source: AMT)

3D printing company Additive Manufacturing Technologies (AMT), which invented the automated post-processing technology platform PostPro, announced that it has appointed AM industry veteran Magnus René as its new Chairman of the Board of Directors. Previously the CEO of Arcam AB and currently the Supervisory Board Director and Vice Chairman of SLM Solutions GmbH, René has decades of experience in executive leadership, helping to grow both private and public international technologies. René is also the Board Chairman for satellite communications operator Ovzon AB, the Board Director for MIT polymer AM spinoff Inkbit, and the Board Director of agricultural technology company Bomill AB.

“The appointment of Magnus René is strategic on several fronts. His experience in additive manufacturing speaks for itself having grown Arcam to one of the leading AM metal companies. Our goals for AMT are set high, and we are on the right track,” said AMT’s CEO and Founder Joseph Crabtree. “In the past 2 years alone, we have doubled our revenue, raised a total of $25M funding for growth, and we have underpinned the world’s largest additive manufacturing operations with our automated post-processing platform. We are excited to welcome Magnus as Chairman, and I know that his long history of international leadership in the public markets will help accelerate AMT’s strategic direction for the next stage in our growth journey.”

Optomec Announces Major Growth in AM System Orders

Optomec LENS and Aerosol Jet Printers

Privately-held supplier of 3D printed electronics and metal solutions Optomec Inc. announced that it experienced nearly 60% growth in new orders for both its proprietary Aerosol Jet (electronics) and LENS (metal) industrial printers during fiscal year 2021. The company previously had 50% growth in 2019, and this major leap in recent sales puts the company’s business activity ahead of its pre-pandemic levels. This increase in demand for its system is largely due to repeat sales from its production customers, including the US Navy and Fortune 500 companies, and Optomec’s total installed base of 3D printers has reached nearly 600, across more than 250 customers.

“After an admittedly slow start to 2021, coincident with the global spike in COVID severity, sales quickly recovered in the second quarter and remained at a robust level through year end, despite the lag in recovery for historically fruitful commercial aviation and international markets. While much of this activity was born of long-standing relationships with production customers, the relative strength of our broader pipeline makes us optimistic that the growth trend will continue into 2022 and beyond,” said Optomec CEO David Ramahi.

“We are further encouraged by the purely organic nature of our growth, the strong uptake of newly released products developed over the last year, and the fact that we were able to maintain profitably throughout the downturn and set the stage for margin improvement moving forward. These developments reaffirm the differentiated and strategic nature of our offerings, with their proven high ROIs and unique ability to deliver unparalleled performance gains.”

Protolabs Launches Vapor Smoothing for 3D Printed Parts

Moving on, digital manufacturer Protolabs has announced the launch of its new vapor smoothing service to give 3D printed parts an improved surface finish—even those with complex geometries. The automated process also offers increased elongation at break and impact strength, and the sealed, smoother surfaces are easier to clean, as well as as being water and airtight, which means it can be used for applications like valve covers, fluid bearing pipes and ducts, and tanks. Once the parts have been 3D printed out of PA12 and TPU-01 using SLS or MJF technology, Protolabs transfers them into a smoothing chamber, which heats them and introduces a finishing agent. The agent evaporates under controlled conditions, and the vapor spreads across the part’s surfaces, causing it to melt and liquify, and then the material is redistributed to make peaks and troughs more even, and seal all cavities, no matter how small.

“Whilst 3D printing allows an engineer to design and produce complex parts and is ideal for low production runs when compared to injection moulding, the surface finish of the latter is far smoother,” said Andrea Landoni, Protolabs EMEA’s 3D Printing Product Manager.

“Now, using vapour smoothing, we can bridge that gap for additive manufactured parts to smooth and seal even the smallest cavities on the surface.

“This allows parts in these materials to be used for a wider range of applications that demand a very fine smooth finish for aesthetic and functional reasons.”

MIMO Technik Qualifies SLM 3D Printing for Boeing

Together, SLM Solutions and leading aerospace part manufacturer MIMO Technik have jointly qualified selective laser melting (SLM) 3D printing for aerospace industry parts and processes. Using SLM 500 systems, MIMO was able to successfully meet the material specification performance for ALSi10Mg aluminum powder for Boeing, which has resulted in immediate flight insertion of hundreds of certified defense and space components for the company. MIMO says that because of SLM Solutions’ open architecture philosophy and fast technology, it’s now able to qualify processes, parts, and materials for the aerospace industry faster than ever, and plans on qualifying high-strength aluminum alloys on SLM Solutions machines for Boeing next.

“SLM Solutions technology enables us to create parts and design processes that are just not possible on any other platform. Their open parameters, open architecture system, and engineering spirit let us refine our processes and create parts to the highest standards in critical systems,” stated Jonathan Cohen, CEO and Co-founder at MIMO. “From structures to electronics, the entire system is customizable to achieve the needed results. SLM’s open architecture has been a key component in our success.”

1016 Industries Launches 1st 3D Printed Rolls Royce 

On to automotive, as 1016 Industries unveils what it calls the first custom 3D printed, carbon fiber-filled Rolls-Royce Cullinan, a limited-edition series from the company starting at $500,000. 1016 Industries is well-known in the automotive world for its use of carbon fiber processes and 3D printed parts in high-performance exotic cars, like the Ferrari F8, the Lamborghini Huracan, and the McLaren 720S, and just like those cars, the Cullinan has been raised to an even higher level of customization, thanks to the technology. The car is luxurious, yet features all-terrain capabilities, and now also has what the company calls “an intricate array of expertly conceived carbon fiber throughout.” The Cullinan has the same Rolls-Royce front bumper, but new fender flares and running lights, and thanks to the carbon fiber, it’s also stronger and more lightweight as well.

“1016 Industries engineers vehicles with an OEM-plus attitude, which means every piece of forged carbon in our new Cullinan seamlessly integrates into the existing bodywork. Our company is dedicated to resetting the boundaries of auto engineering and our carbon fiber work highlights the latest innovations in 3D printing processes. We’re incredibly pleased with the new Cullinan, which utilizes advanced manufacturing techniques that have never been successfully adopted in the industry before on this scale,” said 1016 Industries CEO Peter Northrop.

“We are really proud of the new 1016 Industries custom Cullinan and the work that went into successfully designing this very special custom. Nobody is making forged carbon at this level of quality here in the United States except for us. Additionally, another plus side of our company focusing on manufacturing here in the United States is that 1016 Industries can make sure our clients get what they want quickly right when they order it. Our vehicles are ready in weeks. Not months, not years.”

Accused Members of Fascist Cell Allegedly 3D Printed Guns

A plastic pistol completely made on a 3D printer at a home in Austin, Texas. (Image: Jay Janner, Austin American Statesman via AP File)

Finally, four people are currently on trial in the UK, accused of being members of a fascist cell, encouraging and celebrating terrorism, and using a 3D printer to create pistol parts. Jurors at the Sheffield Crown Court heard that Samuel Whibley, Daniel Wright, Liam Hall, and Stacey Salmon communicated using the Oaken Hearth Telegram channel, set up by Whibley last year, to share racist ideology, videos of atrocities committed around the world, and terror manuals, many of which included instructions on how to manufacture weapons. The defendants are facing a number of related charges, including possessing articles for terrorist purposes and possessing and manufacturing a firearm, and according to prosecuting attorney Annabel Darlow, QC, the channel’s chat advocated for major political violence. Jurors were told that Whibley is the one who researched and posted details about making a pistol, while the other three were linked to firearm parts that were recovered later, though it’s not specified if these parts were 3D printed.

“These four defendants were members of an extreme fascist and terroristic cell during the first four months of 2021,” Darlow said.

“They embraced extreme right-wing propaganda and celebrated racist violence and killing.

“The defendants demonstrated an active interest in the manufacture of explosives and weaponry.

“They sought out the means and technical information required to manufacture firearms at home, using 3D printers to print plastic parts which could then be assembled together with metal components, with the intention of creating functional and lethal firearms.

“The prosecution allege that the ideology embraced by these defendants, and the violent, terroristic views they expressed, clearly demonstrate that their actions in respect of these homemade firearms was terrorist in nature and intent.”

The defendants have denied all charges.

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