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3D Printing News Briefs, December 17, 2022: PAEK Patents, Private Flying Vehicle, & More

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In 3D Printing News Briefs today, Oxford Performance Materials has acquired Ketonex’s PAEK patent portfolio. A 3D scanning app for mobile devices that turns photos into high-fidelity 3D models is now available on iOS, and a collaborative team of researchers developed a method to automatically assemble thousands of products. Finally, Sinterit’s SLS technology was used to make parts for the first private flying vehicle.

OPM Acquires Ketonex PAEK Patent Portfolio

Advanced polymer science, coating technologies, and 3D printed biomedical device leader Oxford Performance Materials, Inc. (OPM) was founded in 2000 to commercialize the world’s highest performing thermoplastic, PEKK (polyetherketoneketone). The company recently announced that it has come to an agreement to acquire the high-performance PAEK patent portfolio of England’s Ketonex, Ltd.; terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The two began working together over ten years ago, and collaborated on the initial scale-up and development of Ketonex’s PAEK (polyaryletherketone) polymer synthesis technologies, built upon a low-temperature synthesis (LTS) method that was originally commercialized by BASF. The technology has several advantages over other PAEK synthesis methods, such as producing polymers with great purity, stability, reproducibility, and controlled morphology. By adding the Ketonex synthesis patents to its current portfolio, OPM has increased its capabilities as a leader in PAEK materials.

“OPM has been working with Ketonex over many years to validate this technology and understand its potential. At the outset, our groups were convinced that conventionally produced PAEK polymers had reached their limits of performance. Today’s markets are demanding improved processability and higher performance for ever-broadening material applications, and OPM will be working with industry partners that have specific applications for this unique PAEK technology,” said Scott DeFelice, CEO of Oxford Performance Materials.

RealityScan App for Mobile Devices Available on iOS

RealityScan is a 3D scanning app for mobile devices created by photogrammetry solution developer Capturing Reality, part of Epic Games. As part of its goal of making 3D scanning more accessible to creators, Capturing Reality partnered with Quixel, which created the world’s largest scan library, to develop RealityScan, which turns photos into high-fidelity models, and is now available to download for free on iOS.

The app was designed to be extremely easy to use, so you don’t need any prior experience to use it—just use your tablet or smartphone to take photos of the object you want to replicate in 3D, and RealityScan will assemble them into an ultra-realistic 3D model using cloud processing. Once you like how it looks, just export it to Sketchfab, where you can publish, share, and sell 3D, AR, and VR content. Once you’ve uploaded your first RealityScan model, you’ll automatically be upgraded to a Sketchfab Pro account for a year.

Researchers Develop AI Method to Automatically Assemble Objects

While the manufacturing industry definitely uses artificial intelligence, engineers do often have to manually design assembly plans and instructions before sending parts to the assembly line, which equals a high potential for error and high costs. A team of researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), Autodesk Research, and Texas A&M University developed an accurate, efficient method to automatically assemble thousands of objects that’s generalizable to many complex real-world assemblies. The algorithm first determines the necessary order for multipart assembly, and then it looks for a physically realistic motion path for every step. Using the example of a screw attached to a rod, the algorithm would find the assembly strategy through disassembly and assembly stages, first looking for a collision-free path to remove the screw from the rod. Then, using physics-based simulation, the algorithm applies different forces to the screw and observes how it moves, eventually landing on a torque rotating along the rod’s central axis to move the screw to the end, and then separating the two with a straight force point away from the rod. In the assembly stage, the disassembly path is reversed to determine the assembly solution from individual parts. Using a large-scale dataset with thousands of industrial assemblies and motions, the team successfully tested their method, solving 80-part assemblies within just several minutes.

“Assembly is a longstanding challenge in the robotics, manufacturing, and graphics communities. This work is an important step forward in simulating mechanical assemblies and solving assembly planning problems. It proposes a method that is a clever combination of solving the computationally-simpler disassembly problem, using force-based actions in a custom simulator for contact-rich physics, and using a progressively-deepening search algorithm. Impressively, the method can discover an assembly plan for a 50-part engine in a few minutes,” explained Yashraj Narang, senior robotics research scientist at NVIDIA. “In the future, it will be exciting to see other researchers and engineers build upon this excellent work, perhaps allowing robots to perform the assembly operations in simulation and then transferring those behaviors to real-world industrial settings.”

The researchers published their work in ACM Transactions on Graphics, and will also present their findings at SIGGRAPH Asia 2022.

Sinterit 3D Printing Parts for First Private Flying Vehicle

Finally, Swedish company Jetson wants to change the way we travel by making the skies available to everyone through its personal, private flying vehicle, the Jetson One. By making the aircraft extremely lightweight, Jetson knew it wouldn’t have to pass all of the typical certification requirements that airplanes do, and set out to make a flying vehicle that was not only super lightweight, but also extremely easy to use. So Jetson turned to 3D printing, specifically SLS technology by Sinterit, to make parts with narrow lattice patterns and hollow structures that will make them stiff and strong, but also keep the weight down. The company uses 3D printing mostly for prototyping purposes, but also to make some final parts as well, like brackets and GPS antenna, and SLS is the perfect fit because of the high quality, strength, and accuracy it delivers, along with the lack of support structures. Jetson worked with Sinterit’s Italian distributor Manufat to get support and training on the compact Lisa X printer, Sinterit Studio software, and post-processing. 

We have welded aluminum space frame and we need to know where to mount all of the different components on it. So we are able to 3d print jigs, and drill guides which makes it for us a swift process to go from CAD to the actual product. We made a part and 3D printed it, and at the same time, we made a template. Building the jets becomes much easier, as there are not as many measurements and the chance of mistakes is much lower,” said Alec Bialek, Head of Jetson’s R&D.

The Jetson One is currently available for preorder, and the first deliveries are planned in late 2023.

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