3D Printing News Briefs, March 2, 2023: Micro 3D Printer & In-Situ Inspection & More


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In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, B9Creations has a new micro 3D printer, Castheon is expanding its hypersonic production and research capabilities to a new facility, and Arburg is opening an Additive Center at Faberlab. Software startup Phase3D opened an Early Adopter program for its real-time inspection offering. Finally, STRAUSS partnered with OESCHLER to 3D print ergonomic knee pads.

B9Creations Launches New Elite Micro 3D Printer

Resin 3D printer manufacturer B9Creations has launched a new ultra-precision 3D printer for use in medical and industrial applications. The new B9 Elite Micro 3D printer can print fairly thin wall thicknesses, and micro holes, for parts that, according to the company, push “the boundaries of feature size capabilities,” but at a quarter of the cost of higher-end micro 3D printers. Additionally, it’s said to print at tolerances that meet, and even exceed, those of micro injection molded parts, and offers a native pixel size of 20 microns, as well as ultra-high resolution and the ability to print complex geometries, and it can use B9Creations resins or third-party materials. All of these features and more, such as its automated sanitizing and curing post-processing units, advanced print preparation, control, and monitoring software, and ability to print within 15 minutes of unboxing, make it a good choice for a range of industrial and medical applications.

“There are so many parts I see a machine like this finally making possible to create, that otherwise might have been out of reach for many due to system costs,” said the Senior Principal Design Technician at the largest medical device manufacturer in the U.S. “This machine brings respectable precision, on a reliable platform already established for its ease of use, along with decent build rates – and you did it for a reasonable price in relation to its capabilities.”

Castheon Moves into New Facility to Expand Production & Research

Castheon, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of ADDMAN Group, is a comprehensive R&D and production partner for the hypersonics, space, aerospace, and defense industries. Due to a surge in demand for its expertise, its parent company is investing in the expansion of its operational and engineering infrastructure in California. Castheon specializes in AM materials for use in extreme environments, like hypersonics and rocket propulsion, and has been printing refractory alloys like Niobium C103 for over eight years. It’s also continuing to innovate for its aerospace and space propulsion customers, developing metallic alternatives for legacy composite hypersonic thermal protection systems and strong 3D printing technology that can print smaller features with tighter tolerances. Now, it’s moving into a new facility with over 40,000 square feet of R&D, engineering, and production space, which gives it room to add extra manufacturing processes and machines, like heat treatment, precision machining, large-format 3D printers, and inspection. Castheon is also forecasting continued growth, and expects to triple its headcount by this time next year. All of this will allow the company to provide its customers with highly responsive lead times, and speed up development of next-generation materials.

“When we 3D print the refractory alloys using our unique approach to metallurgy, we are seeing the intrinsic material properties that far exceed that of wrought equivalent. The magnitude improvement in strength, oxidation resistance, and creep resistance all derived from the additive process’ ability in controlling the microscopic level of metallic grains plus the additive processes form creating capability which makes the final product superior and affordable,” said Castheon Founder Dr. Youping Gao. “That is what will change our industry. This is the next generation of hypersonic technology. ADDMAN’s investments are helping us get there faster for our partners.”

Arburg Opening Faberlab Additive Center Today

Today, Arburg is set to open a new additive center in Italy, after a year of planning and development. The “Faberlab powered by Arburg” Additive Center will be opened in Origgio, near Milan, at Faberlab, an industrial AM service provider. The two companies will collaborate in order to demonstrate the potential of industrial AM to existing, and prospective, customers, and will offer advice on the technology, as well as all the services associated with it. The pilot project is based on the same blueprint as Arburg’s Prototyping Center, operated at its Lossburg headquarters and China and U.S. branches; now, customers in Italy will be able to have their materials qualified and benchmark components 3D printed nearby. This enables Arburg to meet local expectations, and better serve the Italian market, through the onsite team at the additive center.

The two companies complement each other well, and the facility will also be offering services like component design, rapid prototyping, and training. In addition to laser cutting machines and other digital manufacturing technologies, an Arburg Freeformer 200-3X, a high-temperature Freeformer 300-3X, and an innovatiQ TiQ 5, which can process high-performance thermoplastics, will be installed and operated at the “Faberlab powered by Arburg” Additive Center, which means that customers can choose ahead of time whether they want to use Arburg’s Plastic Freeforming or innovatiQ FDM technology for their parts and applications. The facility will also offer a wide range of stable, high-quality original materials, colors, and material combinations for industrial scale production.

Phase3D Launches Early Adopter Program for 3D Printing Inspection

Operator runs real-time inspection using Project Fringe. Source: Phase3D

Phase3D, a spinout from the University of California, has introduced the Early Adopter Program for its patent-pending Project Fringe, a real-time quality monitoring system. Its flagship in-situ inspection system for 3D printing uses structured light in each powder layer to objectively detect and classify print anomalies that lead to defects. Project Fringe presents its data in 3D, which allows users to see anomalies in real time, and is currently compatible with multiple 3D printers, including the Concept Laser M2, EOS M290, Renishaw AM400, ExOne/Desktop Metal Innovent, and DMG MORI LASERTEC 30. The new Early Adopter Program is targeting production-oriented businesses that have in-house binder jet or powder bed fusion systems, though limited space is available. The program will offer early access and reduced pricing structures for commercial installation, and includes hands-on time with the Phase3D team to initialize Project Fringe onsite, retrofit installed printers, and keep up and running via a monthly software license. The hardware and software package attaches to any powder bed printer.

“At Phase3D, we’ve created a real-time inspection system using rapid height measurement technology to detect and classify process anomalies during 3D printing. Our goal is to reduce the cost per part in AM by shifting the paradigm from in-situ monitoring (i.e., identifying outliers) to in-situ inspection, a repeatable quality and certification system based on direct measurement,” said Niall O’Dowd, PhD, Founder and CEO of Phase3D.

“After validating the technology with partners at NASA, the Air Force Research Lab, and several Department of Energy labs, we are excited to unveil the Early Adopter Program this February. We are offering our inspection tool to manufacturers for a greatly reduced software fee, in exchange for data exchange.”

STRAUSS and OECHSLER Partner to 3D Print Ergonomic Kneepads

Finally, top European workwear brand STRAUSS is always on the lookout for solutions to improve working life for its customers. As detailed in a case study, it collaborated with OECHSLER to use 3D printing for ergonomic kneepads in its recently launched Master Grid 6D collection. Depending on a product’s geometry and alignment of lattice cells, 3D printing can improve energy recovery or damping properties, which is helpful for workwear like kneepads. After looking at several lattice designs, OECHSLER engineers chose a hexagon shape that meets protection requirements for absorbing pressure and loads, and the 3D printed lattice structures are also good for comfort elements as well. Extensive tests for bending load, abrasion, and washability were completed, and OECHSLER validated that durable Carbon EPU 41 would be the best choice. Using a DfAM approach, OECHSLER integrated additional functionality into the kneepads, and optimized them to enable series production at scale at its AM Hub in Germany. The 3D printed kneepads meet all workwear requirements, such as ISO 14404 and ISO 20347, and have achieved optimum pressure distribution of 70% energy absorption and 30% restoring force when kneeing.

“With our technology partner OECHSLER we are able to step into a totally new world of workwear. A world of products that is asking for maximum safety requirements and individuality,” the STRAUSS design team said. “The 3D printing technology enables us to design the highest level of comfort, stability and protection in a sustainable and long-lasting way. It helps us to translate valuable customer feedback rapidly into our development process and fulfill their demands on high-end workwear products.”

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