3D Printing News Briefs, July 19, 2023: Local Motors IP Acquisition, Pizza Delivery, & More


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We’re starting with materials in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, as parts made with Arkema’s bio-based Pebax(R) Rnew(R) elastomeric materials are now available from Erpro 3D Factory. On to business news, as Prototek has named a new CEO and RapidFlight has acquired the intellectual property portfolio of Local Motors. Finally, a flying pizza delivery at a music festival was possible thanks to 3D printing!

Erpro 3D Factory Printing Parts with Arkema’s Bio-Based Elastomers

Custom SLS 3D printed parts made from Arkema’s bio-based Pebax Rnew elastomers are now available from Erpro 3D Factory, as the latter has developed an integrated supply chain in Europe to produce them. The materials are renowned for their use in demanding applications, like medical devices, consumer electronics, and high-performance sports shoes. The elastomers, most commonly manufactured by injection and extrusion processes, are partially produced from renewable castor beans, and can create parts that are both lightweight and offer excellent energy return. Erpro Group CEO Cyrille Vue says the partnership introduces a “ground-breaking improvement over TPU materials,” and the fact that Erpro 3D Factory can now make custom 3D printed parts out of Pebax Rnew powder will open up many new possibilities for its customers.

“We are delighted to announce this exciting new launch which further strengthens our unique range of advanced bio-based 3D printing solutions. By working hand in hand with Erpro 3D Factory, we were able to develop this innovative elastomeric powder optimized for advanced laser sintering and we look forward to working with our customers to soon bring exciting new applications to the market enabled by 3D printing,” said Adrien Lapeyre, Arkema 3D Printing Program Director.

For streamlined ordering, parts 3D printed using these materials will soon be available on Arkema’s user-friendly EASY3D platform for instant quotes and ordering.

Prototek Appoints New CEO and VP Sales & Marketing

Headquartered in New Hampshire, Prototek Holdings LLC provides numerous on-demand manufacturing capabilities, including precision sheet metal fabrication, CNC machining, and additive manufacturing. The company announced that Bill Bonadio, most recently the President and CEO of aeroderivative marine and industrial gas turbines manufacturer Vericor Power Systems, will serve as its new CEO, effective immediately. A graduate of the U.S. Navy Nuclear Propulsion Program and former U.S. Navy officer, Bonadio has held executive leadership positions at several of the top global manufacturing organizations, including the Vice President of Business Development at Danaher Corporation, where he led strategy and M&A for the Tool Group sector. He also held several important roles at Boeing, including Chief Operating Officer of the Electronics and Information Solutions division, Vice President of Strategic Development for Defense, Space, and Intelligence, and more. Now, Bonadio will guide Prototek’s strategy, working to foster innovation and helping the management team refine operations, speed growth, and strengthen the company’s relationships with partners and clients. 

Bill’s wealth of experience and proven track record at the highest levels of leadership make him the perfect fit to lead our company and usher in a new phase of growth and innovation. Given his engineering expertise, visionary leadership style and dedication to Prototek, we have an exciting future ahead of us with Bill at the helm,” said Jay Twombly, Prototek’s Chairman.

The company also appointed Jason Kopras as Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Prototek Digital Manufacturing.

RapidFlight Acquires Local Motors’ Intellectual Property Portfolio

Local Motors was a pioneer in the use of large format additive manufacturing technologies with a focus on large scale transportation vehicles.

Virginia-based unmanned aircraft manufacturing company RapidFlight announced that it has successfully acquired the intellectual property (IP) portfolio of Local Motors. The American automobile manufacturing company was founded in 2007 and successfully used large-format 3D printing to build transportation vehicles and autonomous buses, most famously the electric Olli shuttle. It shut down in early 2022, but during its journey, Local Motors, funded through millions in venture investments, contributed significantly to advancing affordable, practical, commercial deployments of AM, and developed a pretty major IP portfolio along the way. RapidFlight uses 3D printing to meet the needs of its national security customers by producing superior unmanned aircraft systems that meet their tight timelines, demanding challenges, and changing requirements. By acquiring Local Motors’ extensive IP portfolio, which includes designs, patents, and engineering expertise, the company can boost its product development efforts and help welcome a new age of aircraft manufacturing.

“We are thrilled to announce the acquisition of Local Motors’ IP portfolio, which aligns perfectly with our mission to revolutionize the unmanned aircraft industry through advanced additive manufacturing technologies,” said RapidFlight CEO Jay Gundlach, PhD. “We are bringing cutting-edge technologies from the venture-funded commercial sector to the national security space and delivering products to the DoD with them.”

Pizza Delivered to Glastonbury Festival via 3D Printed Jetpack

Finally, at the recent Glastonbury Festival in the U.K., attendees who were there to listen to good music might have noticed a rather unusual Domino’s pizza delivery—via a real jetpack—that thematically matched the weekend’s closing performance of “Rocket Man” by the legendary Elton John. The jetpack, by Gravity Industries, is actually the first patented jet suit, and has been used for aviation and flight training, rural search and rescue trials, and some commercial events, like the music festival. The company partnered with Ricoh 3D back in 2021 to develop a polypropylene structure, using 3D printing, for the jet suit. Before, it took over two weeks to custom build a core structure for the jet suit out of aluminum riveting and bolt it all together, but 3D printing reduces that timeline to just two days: one day for printing and another for assembly. The two continue to partner while developing components for the next-generation eSuit.

“3D printed polypropylene is a unique material that is strong, chemically resistant, lightweight, and flexible. It enables manufacturers to prototype in the end-use material, which gave Gravity the design freedom to make human flight a reality,” explained Ricoh 3D’s Additive Manufacturing Manager Mark Dickin.

“The original product is also 90% recyclable, lightweight and flexible while still being incredibly durable – ideal for taking to the skies!”

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