3D Printing News Briefs, December 21, 2022: License Agreement, Bike Stem, & More


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In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, we’re starting out with a little business, as Velo3D has hired an Executive Vice President of Operations. Horizon Microtechnologies launched its 3D microfabrication technology at formnext, and VBN Components is reporting successful tool tests with its Vibenite, as well as a new license agreement. Five Fraunhofer Institutes are working together to develop personalized 3D printed joint implants using AI. Finally, the 3D printed IXO mountain bike stem by MYTHOS is now available for pre-order.

Brad Kreger Appointed as Velo3D’s EVP of Operations

Metal AM company Velo3D (NYSE: VLD) announced that it has appointed corporate executive Brad Kreger as its Executive Vice President of Operations. Kreger, most recently Senior Vice President of Global Operations at Fluidigm (Standard BioTools), will help the company transform and scale its production operations of the Sapphire family of 3D printers, as well as support its goals in cost reduction and quality standards. He will report to CEO and Founder Benny Buller, and have oversight of Velo3D’s manufacturing facilities and their corresponding teams, leading all operations activities at the company, including global logistics and manufacturing. Kreger, who has decades of experience in overseeing and rapidly scaling operations in hardware production, will also be responsible for managing partnerships with Velo3D’s important suppliers, as well as automating planning and procurement processes.

“Velo3D is in a unique position, as its metal additive manufacturing technology is experiencing increasing demand to meet the needs of its customers. I’m thrilled to join such an innovative company that is transforming so many important industries in meaningful ways,” Kreger said. “I am confident we will be successful in increasing the production of the Sapphire family of printers and navigating the growth we’re forecasting in the coming year.”

formnext: Horizon Microtechnologies Launched Microfabrication

At the recent formnext 2022 in Frankfurt, Horizon Microtechnologies had a successful commercial launch of its template-based 3D microfabrication technology. Its solution 3D prints conductive microscale parts with micrometer scale precision. Once the part is printed on a polymer AM platform, it’s selectively or wholly coated with a conductive layer—even difficult areas, like undercuts and long narrow channels, receive a homogenous coating. Horizon’s post-print process can also coat microfabricated 3D templates with metal-oxides to make parts compatible with aggressive chemical environments, which can increase mechanical stress and high temperature resistance, and ESD-safe parts can be made with a controllably conductive surface coating. Finally, the functionality of electronics and optics packaging can be increased with the technology, by having integrated electrical conductors or reducing stray light in the infrared. Obvious application areas for Horizon’s microfabrication solution include electrodes, electrical sensor heads, 3D microfluidics, MEMS and optics packaging, and more.

“Template-based 3D microfabrication is effectively a mechanism to exploit the usefulness of polymer micro-AM produced 3D microstructures (the template) for hitherto unserved areas of industry by adding material and functionality to the microstructure, typically with a coating process. This is a real game changer for industry,” said Horizon Microtechnologies CEO Andreas Frölich. “The key enabling technology for our processes is micro-AM, and today a number of commercially viable polymer-based micro-AM platforms exist that can achieve exacting tolerances, quickly, cost-effectively, and above all repeatably. However, these platforms are almost exclusively restricted to the production of parts in resin or plastics. Horizon Microtechnologies bridges the gap between micro-AM and parts with enhanced functionality through the use of proprietary post-build processes. This means that companies requiring the flexibility, innovation, and agility that is driven by AM for parts with conductive, ceramic, heat-resistant, or other polymer-incompatible functionalities now have a commercially viable solution available.”

VBN Reports Successful Vibenite Tool Tests, License Agreement

Blank of power skiving tool ground into final dimension

Swedish company VBN Components AB specializes in exceptionally hard, wear-resistant tool materials for 3D printing, and offers a cemented carbide and four steels under its Vibenite brand that improve performance and lifetime. The Vibenite materials are being used in successful tool tests by tool manufacturer ANAJ Czech, a.s., which is so happy with the results that it’s signed a license agreement with VBN Components to start manufacturing in-house. One of the largest manufacturers of special tools for machining in the Czech Republic, ANAJ is a longtime player in the Eastern Europe and German markets. The company has now acquired a 3D printer, and will partner with VBN to develop and optimize tools in Vibenite; VBN will provide onsite and remote training in DfAM.

“ANAJ Czech, a.s. sees great potential in additive technology. Our conviction is evidenced by the establishment of a cooperation with VBN Components AB and the purchase of technology for our production. We hope that we will be able to use the materials and know-how of VBN to produce complex tools with high added value for the customer,” said Vojtěch Pečinka, Sales Manager of ANAJ Czech.

“The joint development of the additive technology with VBN is directed in the first phase towards the printing of semi-finished tools for gear manufacturing (i.e. gear hobs and power skiving). Subsequently, in the second phase, we will focus on the development of tools for machining of non-ferrous alloys (Al, Ti and Mg).

“We still have a long and challenging road ahead of us to successfully implement additive technology, but we are confident that additively manufactured tools will outperform current cutting tools.”

Fraunhofer Institutes 3D Printing Personalized Finger Joint Implants

The FingerKIt implants are produced using special 3D printing processes which enable a high level of detail and different surface qualities.

Someone with an inflexible finger joint, caused by injury or illness, can face serious limitations, as well as mental and physical strain, but the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Additive Manufacturing Technologies IAPT, the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS, the Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine ITEM, the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Medicine MEVIS are working on a solution to restore this lost mobility. It’s called the FingerKIt consortium, and the institutes are using artificial intelligence to develop personalized 3D printed finger joint implants. Current silicone implants often come loose and must be reattached, and basic standard implants are only available in certain sizes, and don’t allow for full movement. For the best patient care, a personalized implant should be used, as it won’t slip out of place and also restores the patient’s lost mobility.

An automated process chain enables the production of personalized finger joint implants out of ceramic or metallic materials in a safe, fast, and certified way. Fraunhofer MEVIS scientists developed AI-based software that can turn 2D X-ray images into 3D models of the inflexible finger bones, while also correcting its position. Fraunhofer IAPT researchers use AI to come up with with the design for each individual implant, and send it for 3D printing, using metal binder jet technology. The implants are produced using near net shape manufacturing at Fraunhofer IKTS, which makes it possible to use ceramics in a slip casting process. Fraunhofer IWM is responsible for simulation of the mechanical loads, and Fraunhofer ITEM takes care of questions regarding the certification and biological compatibility of the implants. The results of the FingerKIt project show that it may be possible to offer effective treatment for normal and even complicated cases, and personalized 3D printing could save up to 60% of the normal amount of time needed for the whole process. The consortium is now looking for corporate partners to bring the AI-created, 3D printed medical devices to market.

MYTHOS Announces 3D Printed IXO Bike Stem Availability

Finally, UK brand MYTHOS launched earlier this year to make 3D printed bicycle components more widely available, and brings decades of cycling-specific engineering knowledge from METRON Additive Engineering and founder Dimitris Katsanis. Now, it’s announced what’s being called the world’s first commercially available 3D printed mountain bike stem, the 3D printed IXO. The 147g stem, featuring a contemporary design, is 3D printed out of aerospace-grade titanium (Ti6Al4V), using electron beam melting (EBM) technology, and the AM process takes place in-house, in Derbyshire, under strict quality controls, validated by the brand’s aerospace AS/EN9100 certification. CAD software and a manual topology optimization method were used to switch between FEA (Finite Element Analysis) simulations to design the IXO stem, which enabled identification of load paths to minimize the amount of material used and deliver maximum stiffness and strength. MYTHOS benchmarked the performance of the IXO stem against an equivalent high-end alloy stem, and testing shows that the IXO is 11% stiffer in bending, and 16% stiffer in torsion.

“Once the final design was approved and passed our FEA stress analysis, the stems went through an extensive testing program based on the ISO 4210 test standard. Every size of the IXO stem has exceeded a 200,000 cycle fatigue testing program at the ISO specified forces. Prototypes were also sent out to a small selection of riders during the summer, who have ridden the stem on some of the finest jumps and trails the UK has to offer.”

The 3D printed IXO stem from MYTHOS is now available to pre-order, direct-to-consumer from the website, for £300 (including UK VAT). Delivery is expected before the end of January 2023.

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