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3D Printing News Briefs, September 8, 2022: Boosting Startups, Expansion in the Middle East, and More

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In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, we have lots of business, as Titomic enters the Middle Eastern markets in a new reseller partnership. Metafold has secured $500,000 CAD in pre-seed funding, and 3D Systems has appointed two new members to its Medical Advisory Board. Moving on, Geeetech has launched its new high-speed THUNDER 3D printer, and Eplus3D is 3D printing titanium alloy spinal implants. Finally, engineers from the University of Cambridge developed an algorithm that can detect and correct multiple 3D printing errors in real time.

Titomic and Repkon Sign Reseller Agreement for Middle East Markets

Titomic and Repkon signed a joint venture in July of 2022.

Australian cold spray AM technology leader Titomic announced that Repkon Foreign Trade and Marketing Inc. has signed an agreement to become an official reseller of its systems in key Middle Eastern markets, specifically Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Repkon, a specialist reseller to the aerospace and defense industry, is a sister company of Repkon Machine and Tool Industry and Trade Inc., which recently entered into a joint venture agreement with Titomic to establish the world’s first hybrid cold spray manufacturing facility for supplying the defense sector—a major application for Titomic’s technology. A specialist reseller for aerospace and defense, Repkon’s knowledge and market access will help Titomic create a strong presence in the Middle East for its consumables and manufacturing systems.

“This reseller agreement is a natural extension of our joint venture with Repkon. It will provide diverse income streams and enable additional support for Titomic’s target customers in the region, and combined with Repkon’s expertise in metal manufacturing, will further strengthen Titomic’s reach and effectiveness within these growing regional markets,” stated Herbert Koeck, Managing Director of Titomic.

“This development of Titomic’s relationship with Repkon will accelerate Titomic’s commercial growth within the region and open the door to new opportunities in the aerospace and defence industries.”

Metafold 3D Receives $500,000 in Pre-Seed Funding

Toronto software startup Metafold 3D, created out of a geometry-focused consulting agency in 2020, is working to make it easier for manufacturers to design and 3D print complex parts, and the $500,000 CAD in pre-seed funding it just raised via SAFE should help. The funding came from Vancouver-based cleantech investor Active Impact Investments, and will be used to further develop Metafold’s LightCycle platform, grow the team, and support its upcoming beta launch. Co-founders Elissa Ross, CEO; Daniel Hambleton, CTO; and Tom Reslinski, COO, realized during their time at Mesh Consultants how difficult it was to execute complex geometry in 3D printing, and say their patent-pending technology can support new applications for industrial AM by creating software that will help reduce the necessary pre-processing, iteration, and manufacturing time, and the amount of material, for products in the energy management, medical, automotive, and consumer goods industries. The sustainability and environmental implications of their goals helped Metafold land Active Impact as an investor.

Active Impact founder and managing partner Mike Winterfield explained that Metafold provides the “missing piece” to connect traditional design software to 3D printers, explaining, “There’s lots of great design software out there, there’s actually greatly improved hardware out there … but there isn’t an easy way to get your designs from traditional software over to that hardware.

“We really wanted to support this market. We really wanted to be early with our pick of who we think will be a winner in the 3D printing space.”

3D Systems Appoints Two Members to Medical Advisory Board

Dr. Toby Cosgrove & Dr. Bon Ku

3D Systems has appointed two new members to serve on its five-person Medical Advisory Board. Dr. Toby Cosgrove is the former President and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, currently serves as an Executive Advisor to the Clinic, and is very committed to medical innovation and new technologies to benefit patients, with over 30 patents filed for new clinical and medical products for use in surgical environments. Dr. Bon Ku is Co-Founder and Director of the Health Design Lab at Thomas Jefferson University, an emergency physician at the university’s Sidney Kimmel Medical College, and has authored many peer-reviewed publications focused on applying 3D printed medical devices and models to improve surgical outcomes, advance personalized medicine, and optimize treatments. The mission of the recently established MAB is to offer strategic input, guidance, and recommendations for the company’s continuing efforts in regenerative medicine. Other members of the board are Former U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar; Former President and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health Dr. Stephen Klasko; and former U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David J. Shulkin.

“We are exceptionally pleased to welcome Dr. Cosgrove and Dr. Ku to our Medical Advisory Board. These two professionals have impeccable track records of combining hands-on medical practice experience with a clear passion for utilizing innovative approaches and modern technology to transform healthcare outcomes,” said 3D Systems’ President and CEO, Dr. Jeffrey Graves. “Both Dr. Cosgrove and Dr. Ku will be uniquely positioned to advise 3D Systems as we build a world-class regenerative medicine business and pursue 3D printing-based advancements in areas such as accelerated pharmaceutical development, human tissue and organ printing, medical device innovation, and personalized medicine.”

Geeetech Launching New High-Speed THUNDER 3D Printer

Geeetech is releasing a new 3D printer THUNDER with up to 300 mm/s printing speed.

Chinese electronics and 3D printer manufacturer Geeetech is preparing to launch a Kickstarter campaign for its new high-speed FDM consumer 3D printer, THUNDER. Since 2020, the company has been focused on engineering this system, and developed AM mature technology that allows the THUNDER to print up to 300mm/s—with acceleration of 5000 mm/s² for X-axis and 4000 mm/s² for Y-axis—without compromising print quality, which is great news for those who are used to relatively slow consumer FDM printers. Geeetech says that depending on the complexity of the model, THUNDER users can save 30-70% on print time.

Featuring an all-metal body for stability and those high print speeds, the THUNDER also features a strong cooling system, 250 x 250 x 260 mm print volume, high-powered heating module, dual drive gear extruder, and a large volume nozzle for efficient extrusion. The high-speed, high-performance consumer 3D printer also offers five fans for hot end and model cooling and five different print modes, and supports functions like password protection and break-resuming capability. The Kickstarter campaign for the new THUNDER will begin soon, with the early bird price set at $399. Geeetech is also offering a subscription and giveaway activity on its website for the THUNDER FDM printer.

Direct 3D Printed Titanium Alloy Spinal Implants by Eplus3D

Eplus3D systems have been used in multiple industries, including automotive, tooling, consumer goods, aerospace and aviation, and healthcare. In the past, spinal surgery patients would have autologous or allogeneic bone filled in with titanium mesh to act as an interbody support material. Unfortunately, the patient is then at risk of paralysis if the mesh is displaced and compresses the spinal cord. That’s why the company’s metal powder bed fusion technology can be used to create direct 3D printed titanium alloy spinal implants. First, the team uses CT scanning data to establish a precise 3D model, designing an interior mechanically optimized lattice structure and the surface of a 3D polygonal structure. Bone cell growth is facilitated by the topological frame structure and spongy microporous structure, and the 3D printed lumbar implant can achieve stronger bone fusion. It takes about 12 hours to print the implant out of titanium alloy on its industrial EP-M260 system, before heat treatment, cutting, and sand blasting to complete the process.

“The 3D printed artificial vertebral body is completely reconstructed and fixed according to the anatomy of the patient,” Eplus3D wrote about a specific patient. “After installing the precise and personalized artificial spine, the patient who was a truck driver recovers well and was able to drive a few months later.”

Machine Learning Algorithm Corrects 3D Print Errors in Real-Time

Example image of the 3D printer nozzle used by a machine learning algorithm to detect and correct errors in real time. Highlighted regions show aspects of the image that the system focuses on, providing potential insights into how the algorithm makes predictions. Credit: Douglas Brion

3D printing could potentially revolutionize the production of complex, custom parts, and speed up supply chains, but it is still vulnerable to production errors. Engineers from the University of Cambridge developed a machine learning algorithm that can detect and fix a variety of errors in real-time for different materials, parts, and printers. This low-cost approach, detailed in a research paper, can be added easily to new or existing printers, and systems using the algorithm could even learn to print new materials by themselves. Most automated 3D print monitoring systems only detect a limited range of errors, and in only one material, part, and printer. The algorithm this team developed is akin to a “driverless car” system for 3D printing, in that it can generalize across multiple materials, parts, and print conditions. They showed their deep learning computer vision model about 950,000 images automatically captured during the printing of 192 objects, each labeled with the printer settings and how far they were from “good” values, which taught the algorithm how errors occur. With the support of the Cambridge Enterprise commercialization arm, first author Douglas Brion, from the Department of Engineering, formed a spinout company called Matta that will further develop the team’s solution for commercial applications.

“Once trained, the algorithm can figure out just by looking at an image which setting is correct and which is wrong—is a particular setting too high or too low, for example, and then apply the appropriate correction. And the cool thing is that printers that use this approach could be continuously gathering data, so the algorithm could be continually improving as well,” explained senior author Dr. Sebastian Pattinson, also from the Department of Engineering.

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