3D Printing News Briefs, April 23, 2022: Business, Bioprinting, & More

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We’re starting with plenty of business in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, as Xaar, AddUp, and Sigma Labs all have new executives to announce. Moving on, polySpectra is offering a free massless prototyping tool for 3D printing users. We’ll finish with bioprinting, as the VA Ventures project is working on 3D printed living bone replacements, and researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago are bioprinting tissue-like constructs that can change shape in a controlled fashion.

Xaar Names Chief Operating Officer

First up, inkjet printing technology group Xaar has appointed one of its own as the company’s new Chief Operating Officer. Graham Tweedale joined Xaar as a technician on the R&D team back in 1997, helping to develop the company’s first generation of inkjet printhead products. He worked at Xaar’s first manufacturing facility in Sweden for five years, opened the Huntingdon factory in the UK in 2007, and has held several other senior management positions, leading many product launches and business-critical programs. Tweedale was most recently General Manager for the Printhead Business, and helped launch the company’s ImagineX platform. As COO, he will now report to John Mills, the CEO of Xaar.

“I am proud and excited to have been appointed as Xaar’s COO, especially at such an important point in the evolution of inkjet technology. The extraordinary speed of innovation I have seen in the first 25 years at Xaar, looks set to be matched and even surpassed in the next 25,” Tweedale said.

“Our creativity, passion and collaborative development with clients will ensure Xaar plays a leading role in unleashing the power of inkjet.”

AddUp Appoints CEO of North America

Metal additive manufacturing OEM and PBF/DED technology service provider AddUp, a joint venture created by Michelin and Fives, has named former Jabil executive Rush LaSelle the CEO of AddUp Inc., the group’s North American subsidiary. LaSelle has more than 25 years worth of experience with advanced manufacturing systems, with leadership roles in companies including Adept Technology, Fanuc, and Jabil. AddUp Inc. recently renovated its 20,000 sq. ft. facility in Cincinnati, Ohio, adding a dedicated AM workspace, applications training facility, metallurgical lab, post-process machining department, and more. LaSelle will help facilitate the growth of AddUp—headquartered in France—in North America, and help its clients meet their objectives by using the company’s array of metal additive manufacturing solutions.

“AddUp’s commitment to safer, cleaner and more efficient manufacturing provides a foundation from which its customers can achieve the promise of digital manufacturing. By delivering positive manufacturing outcomes using factory proven systems, AddUp is positioned to assist OEMs, especially those in regulated markets, to participate in the billion-dollar metal additive manufacturing industry,” LaSelle said. “I am tremendously honored to join such a passionate team of professionals who are dedicated to the success of our customers.”

Sigma Labs Promotes COO to CEO

Finally, mere months after promoting Jacob Brunsberg to President and Chief Operating Officer, quality monitoring software developer Sigma Labs (NASDAQ: SGLB) announced that Brunsberg is now the company’s new CEO, effective April 1st. He was previously a P&L leader for GE’s Binder Jet Technology unit, and joined Sigma Labs as Senior Vice President in September of 2021. In this role, he was responsible for product direction, sales, marketing and engineering, and strategic relationships, and has continued to strengthen the company’s IPQA product development and commercialization programs. As CEO, Brunsberg will help the company’s business model evolution continue to accelerate to enable distribution at scale. Sigma Labs’ current CEO, Mark Ruport, will transition to Chairman of the Board of Directors, replacing John Rice, who will continue in his role as a Director.

“Mark’s tenure and achievements as CEO positioned the company with first mover advantage supported by a strong financial foundation which positions us to deliver on our goals. He and the team have built a company with a portfolio of customers that are the leading 3D metal AM organizations in the world and led our transition to a business model focused on their success, recurring revenue, and profitability,” Brunsberg said about Ruport. “I am thrilled to lead Sigma Labs into its next exciting phase as I believe its aggressive shift to software only for OEMs will allow us to continue to scale and accelerate the adoption of AM by setting the standard for In-situ Quality Monitoring and Analytics. I look forward to working with Sigma Labs’ executive team in driving growth for the company and building long-term-shareholder value.”

polySpectra Introduces Free Augmented Reality Prototyping Tool

Advanced materials company polySpectra recently introduced a new tool, called polySpectra AR, which offers free massless prototyping for engineers and designers. The tool provides an in-browser augmented reality (AR) preview of users’ .STL files, without having to sign up or download an app. The polySpectra AR tool can be launched from the native browser of most Android and iOS mobile devices and tablets, and a unique QR code can be used to move .STL files on a desktop machine so they can be viewed on a mobile device or tablet. Once the file has been loaded, the user can select the color of the component for their AR preview, and share the results with a unique link. The virtual design iterations enabled by the tool should help designers and engineers speed up their workflows. In addition, polySpectra AR is part of the company’s larger massless mission to use distributed digital manufacturing to reduce global energy usage by 25% by 2050.

“Save your money for when you are sure that you want to make it real. polySpectra AR is completely free,” polySpectra wrote on its website. “Your .STL files are processed privately on your local device and only stored on our encrypted server if you choose to save them or share with others. We can’t wait to see the use cases that you will come up with!”

Living 3D Printed Bone Replacements by VA Ventures

Living BioBone grafts (image: VA Ventures)

On to research, as the VA Ventures project from the Department of Veterans Affairs is working on getting 3D printed bone replacements to VA hospitals as part of the BioBone grafts project. The goal is to enable the onsite 3D printing of artificial bone grafts at VA clinics, in order to use a patient’s own blood cells and decrease the waiting time as well. VA Ventures partnered with Advanced Solutions Life Sciences to use its BioAssembly Bot for 3D printing structures from patients’ cells that can then be vascularized into living bone; this would mean less time in the operating room, which is always good. According to Dr. Beth Ripley, the VA Director of VA Ventures, these 3D bioprinted grafts should be available in VA clinics in the next three to five years, in order to help veterans in need of reconstructive surgery.

“While we are still working on our 3D printed bone tissue recipe, results have been extremely promising,” Dr. Ripley stated. “Now, we are focused on how to accelerate the time it takes to grow the bone, ensure vascularization to support successful implantation and optimize our rigorous quality checks so we are able to bring the recipe successfully through the regulatory process.”

Tissue-Like Constructs Able To Make Controlled Shape Change

Bioprinted cell-rich bioconstructs showing controlled, complex 4D shape transformations. (Image: Eben Alsberg and Aixiang Ding)

Finally, a team from the University of Illinois Chicago published a study on the new cell-laden bioink they created, which can bioprint 4D tissue-like constructs able to make controlled, complex shape changes under certain physiological conditions. By adding this fourth dimension of shape transformation over time to 3D bioprinted biological parts and tissues, printed constructs can morph several times in either an on-demand or pre-programmed way in response to external signals. Then, they can better mimic the body’s natural development processes, and be more useful in tissue morphogenesis studies. The bioink is made up of tightly packed, flake-shaped living cells and microgels, and the team conducted multiple experiments of prototype hydrogels, which resulted in complex bioconstructs with high cell viability and well-defined configurations.

“The bioinks have what are called shear-thinning and rapid self-healing properties that enable smooth extrusion-based printing with high resolution and high fidelity without a supporting bath. The printed bioconstructs, after further stabilization by light-based crosslinking, remain intact while, for example, bending, twisting or undergoing any number of multiple deformations,” explained study corresponding author Eben Alsberg, Richard and Loan Hill Chair, who has appointments in the departments of biomedical engineering, mechanical and industrial engineering, pharmacology and regenerative medicine, and orthopaedics. “With this system, cartilage-like tissues with complex shapes that evolve over time could be bioengineered. Another key achievement was engineering a system that enables fabrication of bioconstructs capable of undergoing complicated 3D-to-3D shape transformations.”

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