3D Printing News Briefs, June 10, 2023: Makerspace, 3D Printed Jet Engine, & More

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In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, we’ll cover one story each on 3D printing in education, aviation, construction, and healthcare, and then finish up with news about a DMLS metal 3D printer. Read on for all the details!

Elon University Deploys 3DPrinterOS to Maker Hub

North Carolina-based Elon University is committed to fostering a culture of innovation, and has deployed 3DPrinterOS, a connected ecosystem by 3D Control Systems, to improve its Maker Hub. The university’s makerspace began in 2014 as a mobile cart, and has since grown to two locations with hand tools, power saws, a CNC router, a drill press, laser cutters, and 15 Ultimaker 3D printers. The Maker Hub has dedicated 80,000 hours to 3D printing in those years, and printed over 16,000 objects. The 3DPrinterOS solution is helping Elon manage its makerspace more efficiently, which enables an optimized 3D printing experiences for the faculty, students, and staff who use it. The cloud OS platform connects all 3D printers, users, and files, so that admins can easily monitor and audit the process. The software’s secure reporting tools ensure that each print out of the Maker Hub is optimized, which saves time and money and reduces waste.

“We’re excited to bring 3DPrinterOS to Elon’s Maker Hub. This platform is helping us manage our makerspace more effectively, allowing us to provide students with a better 3D printing experience. The connected ecosystem is also preparing our students for the workforce, where they will be expected to work within a connected system,” said Dan Reis, Senior Instructional Technologist at Elon’s Maker Hub.

“We’re thrilled to see how 3DPrinterOS is helping us optimize our makerspace. We look forward to seeing the creativity and innovation that will come out of this enhanced technology.”

PTC Showcasing Fully 3D Printed Micro Turbojet Engine

Technology company PTC helps industrial companies establish a digital thread that spans the product lifecycle with its AR, CAD, PLM, and IoT technologies. The company showcased what it says is “the world’s first” fully 3D printed jet engine at its recent LiveWorx 2023 event in Boston, and is also taking it to the Paris Air Show next week. The micro turbojet engine, which weighs 8 lbs. and was printed out of Inconel on an EOS system, was designed in PTC’s Creo CAD software, and is a complete, single assembly, including all the complex stationary and rotating components. The design and printing of a single assembly, self-supported engine, including a 50,000 RPM turbine, is a big breakthrough in DfAM, and took advantage of many of Creo’s advanced design capabilities, including lightweight design and self-supporting geometries.

Dr. Ronen Ben Horin, a VP of Technology at PTC and a Senior Research Fellow at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, and Beni Cukurel, an Associate Professor of Aerospace at Technion, conceived the 3D printed jet engine project, and called on their many years of engineering expertise and deep scientific research in jet propulsion to make it a success. PTC spoke with Cukurel about the project, and he said that for both him and Dr. Horin, it is a “rewarding accomplishment” after years of research. He also acknowledged Creo’s “powerful engineering system” and how it was able to support their innovative vision. The 3D printed jet engine is a “proof point for additive manufacturing” that could definitely impact manufacturing in the aerospace industry.

“First” 3D Printed Building in the Arctic

Speaking of possible 3D printed firsts, Gazprom Neft, the third largest oil producer in Russia, has built what’s being called the first 3D printed building in the Arctic. The company, which has experience both in the Arctic and with 3D printing, fabricated the walls of the building out of foam concrete, using a Russian 3D printer, on a pre-installed foundation. The building was created for Gazprom Neft’s employees in the Russian Arctic town of Labytnangi in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, and also features 3D printed furniture and décor elements. According to Arctic Russia, the walls have been decorated with drawings featuring elements of indigenous ornaments, and there are also games like foosball inside, so it seems like a very nice place!

The 3D printed building blends well into the natural landscape of the Ob River pier, and the building maintains a comfortable enough temperature, thanks to the energy efficiency of the material, that heating is not required in spring and autumn, though an electric heating system is used during winter. Reports say that it was 30% less expensive to 3D print the building than it would have been to make it using traditional methods of manufacturing, and that the construction process itself was roughly 1.5 times faster as well.

Materialise CO-AM Enables Mass Personalized O&P Medical Products

It’s critical to digitalize the supply chain in the medical device sector to ensure accuracy and connectivity, eliminate unnecessary communication, and simplify manual tasks. A good example of this is the use of the Materialise CO-AM platform to connect family-owned Berretta Medical Inc. (BMI), online software platform Toolkit3D, and BMI’s qualified brace supplier Extol, and create a digitally integrated workflow to design and 3D print bespoke knee braces. BMI traditionally used milling and molding to manufacture products for the orthopedic and prosthetics industry, but a number of reasons led them to explore 3D printing. After scanning the patient, BMI now uses Toolkit3D’s Shapeshift 3D design engine to generate and customize the brace design, but there were still several steps to go before the brace was printed on HP’s MJF 4200 printers. The Toolkit API solution connects to CO-AM, which Extol uses, and now the three companies are connected by a digital thread. CO-AM’s API can link different systems, like factory, operating, manufacturing, and fulfillment, in one platform, and its ability to interface with other mass personalized apps will keep costs down, which could lead to increased adoption of custom medical devices, like BMI’s bespoke braces.

“The most impactful way to accelerate the acceptance of mass personalization in the O&P market is to reduce cost. It’s the third leg of the stool, as technical feasibility and user desirability have been proven. Business viability is the next challenge. Manually transferring data, entering orders, and tracking thousands of unique files is labor intensive, and doing it at scale is cost prohibitive,” explained Kyle Harvey, Business Unit Manager — Additive Manufacturing at Extol. “CO-AM and its API allow different islands of automation to connect, enabling an end-to-end digital process. And by being able to centralize our HP MJF 4200 printers in one platform, it helps us streamline our production capacity along with other work orders queued for production. That’s an important key to scaling patient-specific medical devices as it’s a simple solution that offers business viability.”

Rennscot MFG Acquires First DMLS 3D Printer from EOS

Massachusetts-based advanced manufacturing provider Rennscot MFG, founded in 2017 and growing fast ever since, has added metal additive manufacturing to its portfolio with the acquisition of its first direct metal laser solidification (DMLS) system. The high-productivity EOS M 300-4, with its 300 x 300 x 400 mm build area, 7.0 m/s scan speed, dual material recoaters, and four 400w precision fiber lasers, will help the company expand its prototyping and industrial 3D printing capabilities across the aerospace, automotive, and medical industries. Metal AM is an important growth area for Rennscot MFG, and the EOS M 300-4 offers an expansive materials portfolio, much higher productivity, and can achieve up to 50% reduced cost-per-part, all of which will help in its new industrial applications. Additionally, the acquisition of the DMLS printer, combined with its end-to-end manufacturing capabilities including design, product development, and production, has led EOS to announce that Rennscot MFG is the newest member of its Service Provider network.

“After visiting EOS’ facilities in Germany, it was clear that an EOS machine was the right choice for us. This technology allows us to create complicated parts that couldn’t be produced using traditional manufacturing methods,” said David Bamforth, Rennscot MFG President and CEO. “Not to mention, this technology allows our customers to have a single source for highly complex additive parts that may also require post-machining.”

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