3D Printing News Briefs, July 1st, 2023: Digital Fashion, 3D Printed Boulder Replica, & More


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In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, we’re getting down to business first, as Albert Invent has raised $7.5 million in seed funding, and Lithoz delivered its CeraFab S65 printer to WZR to help with production of green hydrogen. Kornit Digital reported a very successful experience with its digital fashion solutions at ITMA 2023. On to construction, ICON announced that its 3D printed wall system is now ICC-ES evaluated and approved in accordance with a standard code for new building technologies. A Scottish climber practiced on a 3D printed replica before successfully completing the world’s toughest boulder climb. Finally, researchers in Illinois want to have a cocktail party for 3D printed talking robot heads.

Albert Invent Announced $7.5 Million in Seed Funding Round

Albert Inventory

California-based Albert Invent, which is working to help global organizations speed up innovation, announced that it’s raised $7.5 million in seed funding to help bring new products to market more quickly. The secure, collaborative, end-to-end R&D platform, built by scientists for scientists, allows the chemicals and materials science industry to “capitalize on data insights that support all stages of the innovation process,” which can help speed time to market and lead to smarter experimentation. Albert Invent reimagines what R&D can be in the lab with modules like Inventory, which has a pre-loaded library of over 50,000 commercially available chemicals, and Regulatory Automation, which enables organizations to ship products same-day with automated Safety Data Sheets and label generation. The investment round was led by Index Ventures, with participation from HomebrewF-Prime Capital and prominent angel investors, and the funding will allow the company to onboard more companies. Current users include Applied Molecules, which manufactures formulated coatings and adhesives; 3D printing giant 3D Systems; and Henkel, the world’s leading producer of adhesives, sealants and functional coatings.

“Albert exemplifies the type of software company we seek to back. The platform was developed by a team with deep industry expertise, built specifically for customers who are digitally transforming their R&D efforts and developing the lab of the future,” said Paris Heymann, Partner at Index Ventures. “We are thrilled to partner on this journey to fundamentally change how physical products are created.”

Lithoz Delivers CeraFab S65 to WZR for Green Hydrogen Production Project

Austrian company Lithoz GmbH, a leader in ceramic 3D printing, has delivered its CeraFab System S65 to Germany-based material development service provider WZR ceramic solutions GmbH in order to print important components for green hydrogen production. WZR is working on the Redox3D project with the DLR (German Aerospace Center) to produce green hydrogen in solar tower power plants through thermochemical processes, and will use the Lithography-based Ceramic Manufacturing (LCM) system to print cerium oxide components with complex lattice structures for the generation of hydrogen independently from fossil energy sources, which would be a major breakthrough. Their goal is to find the ideal lattice structure for optimal solar heat penetration into cerium oxide components, and WZR has determined that Lithoz’s LCM technology could be the key. The solar-thermochemical process will use sunlight as the primary energy source, and 3D printed ceramic as the main enabler, to generate green hydrogen, which could actually help make zero emission societies a reality.

“Using Lithoz’s powerful 3D printing technology and their proactive partnership approach, we are confident that we will achieve the levels of complexity and intricacy in filigree structures needed to achieve our goals in this project. Thanks to the speed and high-quality surface finish of this technique, we will once again be able to further drive innovation forward, this time with the production of green hydrogen,” said Dr. Dieter Nikolay, Managing Partner, WZR.

Kornit Digital Reports Successful ITMA 2023 for Digital On-Demand Fashion

Kornit Apollo

At the recent Textile & Garment Technology Exhibition (ITMA) in Milan, Kornit Digital, the leader in sustainable, on-demand digital fashionx and textile production, had a very successful showing. With plenty of engagement from new customers and prospects in key regions like China, India, and Central America, the company has validated the market readiness for mainstreaming its digital on-demand production. More retailers and brands are looking to digitally transform their analog supply chains and meet demand for faster time-to-market, efficient inventory management, and more sustainability, and Kornit is ready to deliver with its digital pigment-based 3D decoration for textiles. The company demonstrated its enhanced Kornit Presto MAX, with vibrant NeoPigment Vivido digital inks, and this received a strong reception. Plus, it showcased the anticipated Kornit Apollo platform, built on its Kornit MAX technology and delivering automated, high-throughput, digital garment decoration at scale and on-demand.

“Our firm strategy is to bring sustainable digital on-demand production to the mainstream, and our presence at ITMA Milan made clear this moment has arrived. Digitizing end-to-end fulfillment helps brands and suppliers take control of the supply chain, stabilize and scale operations, create winning consumer experiences, and make textiles a cleaner, more responsible industry. These trends point to even greater innovations to come from Kornit,” stated Ronen Samuel, the CEO of Kornit Digital.

ICON Receives Important Acceptance Criteria for 3D Printed Walls

ICON’s 3D printed wall system

Construction 3D printing leader ICON announced that its 3-bead, 3D printed wall system has been evaluated and approved by the International Code Council’s Evaluation Service (ICC-ES) in accordance with the Acceptance Criteria 509 (AC509) standard. This standard is meant to fill in gaps for new building technology codes, and was written specifically for evaluating the design, performance, and quality control of concrete 3D printed walls. Now that ICON’s 3D printed wall designs have been approved by third party testing, confidence in the industry should improve, along with development of more mainstream standards and codes.

ICON and ICC-ES have been partnering since last fall to improve the AC509 standard for the construction 3D printing industry, and ICON has even led criteria modifications for the standard. Its high-performance 3D printed buildings were designed for improved resiliency and sustainability, able to withstand heat waves, high winds, and other extreme conditions. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors estimates a lifespan of 100 years or more for concrete structures, and the Evaluation Service Report (ESR) 4652 covers the ICON 3-bead wall system using #3 horizontal rebar. All of ICON’s projects to date are AC509-compliant, and the company will continue working to make sure its future building projects and designs are as well.

Boulderer Practices on 3D Printed Replica Before Tough Climb

Will Bosi on the replica with 3D printed elements. (Image Credit: Will Bosi)

24-year-old Scottish climber Will Bosi is only the second person to successfully climb the extremely difficult Burden of Dreams boulder in Finland. He spent just two weeks—a major record—working on the four-meter boulder before nailing the climb, but before that, Bosi also spent ten practice sessions on a 3D printed replica of the boulder. The Burden of Dreams is graded V17, which is the most difficult bouldering surface, and it’s considered the toughest boulder problem—sequence of technical climbing moves—in the world. The route on the granite slab is just five moves, but laid out on a 40-45° angle. Finnish boulderer Nalle Hukkataival was the first to complete the climb in 2016, after making more than 4,000 attempts over three years, and Bosi decided to try after becoming the third climber to ascend another V17-graded rock, the Alphane boulder in Switzerland. Bosi said the 3D printed replica featured “very precise” recreations of holds on the real boulder, made from 3D scans taken by fellow climber Aidan Roberts.

“It felt like every replica session was almost as good as a session on the real boulder, which meant that I got an extra 10 days of very good training and learning of the moves.

“Also, without the replica I don’t think I would ever have thought I could climb it and probably wouldn’t have even come to Finland.”

Researchers Hope 3D Printed Talking Robot Heads Improve Audio Tech

A team of researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Augmented Listening Laboratory believe they can develop better audio technology by throwing what sounds, to me at least, like a terrifying cocktail party, where the guests are 3D printed humanoid robot heads. The idea is that they can investigate how humans receive sound with the robots talking and listening to each other, and then create large data sets with realistic cues, because this is how humans localize and separate sounds. 3D printing was used to fabricate the realistic heads out of separate components, which were later assembled; this allows for low-cost customization. The mouthlike loudspeaker, called a “talkbox,” mimics human vocals, and different parts of the detailed ears on the robot heads have been fitted with microphones to simulate both Bluetooth earpieces and regular human hearing. Special attention was paid to the neck to facilitate more lifelike motion, and the team also created wheeled and pully-driven systems to simulate walking. They made the 3D model of their head design open source, so that other teams can download and modify it for their own research.

“Simulating realistic scenarios for conversation enhancement often requires hours of recording with human subjects. The entire process can be exhausting for the subjects, and it is extremely hard for a subject to remain perfectly still in between and during recordings, which affects the measured acoustic pressures. Acoustic head simulators can overcome both drawbacks. They can be used to create large data sets with continuous recording and are guaranteed to remain still,” explained Austin Lu, a student member of the team, which detailed its work at the recent 184th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America.

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