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3D Printing News Briefs, June 17, 2023: Startup Accelerator, 3D Printed Violins, & More

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In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, we’ll start off with business, as Tritone’s new partnership brings it into the French market and Hexagon’s manufacturing startup accelerator has named three new advisors. MELD Manufacturing has announced a new 3D printer, and a California startup developed an admixture and inline-delivery system that allows 3D printing with standard pumpable concrete. Finally, a violinist is using 3D printing to make the instrument more affordable for kids.

Tritone Partners with Inovsys, Enters French Market

The Tritone Dim system installed at Inovsys facilities

Israeli company Tritone Technologies has announced a new partnership with French company Inovsys, which validates new processes within additive manufacturing. As a result, Inovsys has added the DIM system—based on Tritone’s MoldJet technology—to its portfolio, bringing Tritone into the French AM market. MoldJet is a sinter-based, powder-free process that enables industrial, high-speed 3D printing of high-quality ceramic and metal parts. The technology was designed to print large quantities of high-density parts with complex geometries, and makes it simple to switch between a variety of ceramic and metal materials for parallel manufacturing. As Matthieu Lafare, Development Manager at Inovsys, said, the company should be able to reach a larger audience in the AM field with Tritone’s DIM system, and expand its own customer reach.

“Inovsys and Tritone have a shared mission of enhancing the capabilities of manufacturers by introducing innovative production-level additive technologies. Our goal is to expand deployment of the MoldJet technology, to find innovative applications, and to discover development opportunities, to the benefit of the industry,” explained Amnon Sommer, Product Manager, Tritone Technologies. “Inovsys is a company that operates at the forefront of advanced industry in France, and so the choice to add MoldJet to their portfolio serves as a powerful affirmation of Tritone’s value proposition and will no doubt help expand Tritone’s reach into these markets.”

Hexagon’s Sixth Sense Program Names Senior Program Advisors

Leading industrial software company Hexagon has named three new advisors to its Sixth Sense Program, an open innovation platform and 10-week accelerator program. The first senior advisor is Martin McCourt, who was the CEO of Dyson for 15 years and now holds non-executive positions in several manufacturing companies, such as e-bikes motors producer FreeFlow Technologies, outdoor cooking leader Weber, and advanced machinery and robotics firm Tharsus. The second, Chris Varley, a Principal with Goodyear Ventures, has led new business and product creation efforts for many major corporations, including AT&T and The Walt Disney Company. Finally, Elaine Warburton, who judged Hexagon’s first Sixth Sense cohort, is the co-founder and NED of QuantuMDx Group, co-founder and Executive Chair of ReadyGo Diagnostics, and Chair of Javelo Health.

The accelerator program, launched in 2022, is an offshoot of Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, and is offered twice a year to help early-stage industrial startups find scale and solve challenges facing humanity by connecting with major companies in Hexagon’s network, including Meta, Audi, and Airbus. Sixth Sense is meant to support increased demand for disruptive manufacturing innovation, and nearly 20 startups have participated in two cohorts so far. At the company’s recent HxGN LIVE Global 2023 event in Las Vegas, the call for startups to apply for the program’s third cohort went out, specifically requesting companies working on innovations to eliminate waste and reduce the industry’s Co2 emissions. This could apply to several companies in the AM industry.

MELD Manufacturing Introduces the MELD 3PO 3D Printer

Virginia-based MELD Manufacturing, which holds more than a dozen patents for its open atmosphere MELD solid-state process for metal, has introduced its latest AM system—the MELD 3PO printer, so named, as CEO Nanci Hardwick and Star Wars superfan mentioned in a LinkedIn post comment, “to honor my favorite multilingual droid with this – our first hybrid machine – since it is fluent in both additive and subtractive communication.” The new 3PO is the first hybrid MELD machine to feature both its additive system and an integrated subtractive one, making it more efficient and able to accelerate production timelines, while still delivering quality with a range of metal materials.

The MELD 3PO has a massive 380ft³ cubic build space, a 165″ x 89″ table size, and a build volume of 157.5″ x 106″ x 39.4″. It also features a 3-axis additive head, with a 400 bar loader capacity, and its standard 3-axis subtractive head can be upgraded to a 5-axis one. On the additive side, the deposition rate is 20″ per minute, while the subtractive side features a 6,000 RPM spindle and maximum travel speed of 475” per minute. If all that wasn’t enough to convince you of the hybrid 3PO’s speed, the fact that a second machine for subtractive processing isn’t needed should definitely seal the deal.

SpaceCrete’s Solution Enables Standard Pumpable Concrete for AM

California startup SpaceCrete wants to make it as easy as possible to create vertical concrete structures, and says it’s developed a solution that enables a form of 3D printing with standard pumpable concrete. Its system uses inline mixing to modify pumped concrete using just 0.25% of the startup’s special admixture, 3D-Admix. SpaceCrete says its solution makes it possible to stack pumped concrete vertically without forming. This would then welcome new ways to build with the material, such as insulating foam panels or placing solid concrete walls over rough excavations. SpaceCrete was the “brainchild” of serial inventor and civil engineer Michael Butler, who says that it meets all existing U.S. codes and is much greener and less expensive than shotcrete and 3D printing mortars. He also states that the startup’s method development is not 3D printing, but rapid-light slip forming.

“We work at the interface between machine control and finished concrete structure,” Butler explained. “We developed the admixture and delivery system that allows vertically-shaping fluid concrete, rather than traditional forming. The vertical shape can be defined by simple or sophisticated construction hardware or new technology – such as 3D printing – but using essentially normal concrete.

“Normal delivered concrete can become 3D print material with a very low dose of 3D-Admix injected into the pump line. Or you can slip-form vertically very rapidly with pumpable concrete. The form pressure is gone the moment you stop vibrating it.”

The system isn’t yet commercially available, as Butler is currently looking for partners, but SpaceCrete is making samples of 3D-Admix to purchase in small quantities.

Ultra-Affordable 3D Printed Violins for Young Musicians

Dr. Mary-Elizabeth Brown rehearses Harry Stafylakis’ concerto “Singularity” on an early iteration of the 3D printed violin. Credit: Shawn Peters

Concert violinist Dr. Mary-Elizabeth Brown is also the founder and director of the AVIVA Young Artists Program in Montreal, which nurtures young violinists around the world. String instruments like violins often look as beautiful as they sound, but the best ones are worth a lot of money, which can make it prohibitive for young musicians to start playing. But at the Acoustical Society of America’s December conference, Dr. Brown introduced something she’s been working on for five years: the design for a two-piece 3D printed violin, which costs just $7 to print out of PLA and less than $30 to assemble. Obviously, this is a much more affordable option for a kid at the very beginning of their music journey. On a recent episode of the Universe of Art podcast about artists who take their work to the next level using science, Dr. Brown explained the Print-A-Violin project in detail, from important partners and the physics of string instruments to the shape that makes plastic polymers sound the best (square) and the fact that the 3D printed violins can be recycled at their end of life.

“…I’m very fortunate that I have been able to play on this very fine Italian instrument for quite a long time. It’s a real joy to play on. But a beginning violinist doesn’t need that. And the goal of this has never been to replace or replicate that. The goal has been to create an instrument that is easy to maintain, that’s durable, and that gives people a really easy access point to music education,” Dr. Brown said.

“I had a student just this morning who’s eight, who said, hey, Miss Mary-Beth– which is what they’ve called me for the last 20 years. Hey, Miss Mary-Beth, could you print me a blue one? I think I might play more scales if it were blue.”

To hear a demonstration of Dr. Brown’s own classic violin, and the 3D printed one, listen to the podcast here. Print-A-Violin will hopefully be available by the end of 2023.

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