Though the additive manufacturing (AM) industry experienced a number of shakeups and developments over the course of the past year, many of our readers have been most taken by what’s happening in the desktop space. In this list of the 10 most popular posts on our site from 2023, you’ll see some articles that verge off the topic, but, in particular, stories about Bambu Lab and its competitors have received some of the most traffic of the year at 3DPrint.com.
10. F1 Racing
3DPrint.com contributor Benjamin Perez created a fantastic infographic the increasing use of 3D printing in Formula 1 (F1). The artwork and an accompanying article highlighted various innovative projects where AM has significantly impacted motorsports. F1 teams like McLaren have used fused deposition modeling (FDM) printers for parts like rear-wing flaps, accelerating car development and adapting to specific circuit requirements. Ferrari has explored metal 3D printing for engine pistons using steel alloys with lattice designs for weight reduction and increased reliability. These examples underscore the growing role of 3D printing in F1, driving innovation and efficiency in a sport where speed, weight reduction, and rapid development are crucial.
9. 3D Printed Stop-motion Animation
3DPrint.com’s latest contributor Jay Rincher wrote a popular article focused on microelectronic engineer Yuksel Temiz and his innovative use of 3D printing in creating stop-motion animations. Temiz utilizes his Creality Ender 3D printer to produce multiple figures in different poses and stages, combined with hundreds of photographs and custom-designed props, to create short, captivating animations. His process involves meticulous work, as exemplified by his animation of a running cat, which was made using a custom-designed zoetrope from a filament spool, seven cat prints, and about a hundred photographs. Another notable creation is a disassembled Benchy, achieved using a magnet-held, specially sliced version of the model and over 180 photographs. Temiz also built a custom camera rig using a Raspberry Pi and LEGO parts to capture the perfect shots of his prints.
In an article on VulcanForms, known for its innovative approach to laser powder bed fusion (LPBF), we detailed the company’s struggles despite its ambitious beginnings and high valuation. Despite significant investments in production facilities and machinery, the company encountered issues with machine uptime and mass production feasibility. These technical difficulties were compounded by management problems, with criticisms focusing on the CEO’s leadership style and decision-making. In October, the startup seemed to make a significant move to improve its operations by taking on seasoned executive Mona Sabet as Chief Corporate Development and Administration Officer.
7. A Composite Reckoning of Titanic Proportions
In June 2023, the OceanGate Titan submarine suffered a catastrophic implosion, leading to the presumed death of five individuals, highlighting safety concerns in the design and use of deep-sea exploration technology. In an article discussing the event, 3DPrint.com Executive Editor Joris Peels reflected on the repercussions of the disaster for the 3D printing industry, particularly as it related to safety and use of materials like composites in high-stress environments. Joris pointed out how the disaster underlined the importance of a safety-first culture, challenging the prevailing ‘move fast and break things’ mindset, especially where human lives are at stake.
6. 3D Printed Guns
Vanesa Listek’s excellent coverage of law enforcement trends in 3D printed firearms were widely read. The most popular was Vanesa’s article on the U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)’s authority to regulate untraceable “ghost guns,” including 3D printed firearms. The decision came amid increasing concerns and arrests related to their use in criminal activities. The Supreme Court’s ruling, therefore, plays a crucial role in maintaining regulatory oversight over these weapons, as the ATF continues to navigate the complexities of emerging technologies like 3D printing in the realm of firearms manufacturing and control.
5. Military Adoption
3DPrint.com Macro Analyst Matt Kremenetsky provided in-depth coverage of the increased push for AM adoption worldwide, with a particular focus on government initiatives. Leading the charge was the U.S. military, which will spend a total of $300 million directly on AM in 2023. This is according to Additive Manufacturing Research’s first ever intelligence report on the 3D printing market for defense, “Additive Manufacturing for Military and Defense.” Matt’s most popular story on the topic delved into how the U.S. military is leading a significant shift in technological innovation through advanced manufacturing techniques like 3D printing and robotics. This shift moves research and development from traditional academic and nonprofit settings to practical, frontline applications, enabling rapid, on-site creation of parts and new products. Highlighted examples include SPEE3D’s cold spray additive manufacturing in extreme temperatures and nScrypt’s fabrication of replacement PCBs and biomedical braces in harsh environments. The article also mentions the U.S. Navy’s development of a new tool using metal 3D printing, illustrating the increasing integration of advanced manufacturing directly into military operations.
4. Mergerocalypse Saga
While it didn’t always capture the attention of our readers, who were often more focused on the day-to-day of the AM industry, our coverage of the drama surrounding Stratasys often hit number one throughout the year. This was most notable when 3D Systems first made its bid to acquire Stratasys, a story that included multiple updates. Stratasys’s board, advised by J.P. Morgan, deemed this proposal inferior to its planned merger with Desktop Metal. This turned out only to be the beginning of a long saga that ultimately ended in no one merging with anyone.
3. The CBAM 25 from Impossible Objects
This year, Chicago-based Impossible Objects launched the CBAM 25, a new composite 3D printer with a printing speed 15 times faster than its competitors. The CBAM 25 employs the firm’s unique composite-based additive manufacturing technology that layers binder ink and thermoplastic powder on reinforcement material, fused together in a furnace. This process creates strong and durable parts, combining carbon fiber sheets with PEEK, a highly resistant polymer. CEO Steve Hoover emphasized this printer’s role in transitioning 3D printing from prototyping to mainstream manufacturing. The CBAM 25, set to be commercially available in early 2024, is expected to attract interest from industries like aerospace, defense, and transportation due to its ability to produce robust parts quickly, potentially revolutionizing the carbon fiber 3D printing sector and beyond.
2. Bambu Killing 3D Printers
In a series of articles, Joris outlined how Bambu’s low-cost, ultra-fast fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printers are impacting the desktop AM space. In one story in particular, Joris compared the pre-Bambu market, characterized by a mix of low-cost, mid-market, and premium printers from various brands using common software and components, with the post-Bambu landscape. Bambu Lab’s innovations have reshaped industry dynamics, driving competitors to develop more integrated and sophisticated printers that emphasize software synergy, optimized hardware, and comprehensive user experiences.
For this reason, two of the other most popular articles from 2023 are about potential Bambu-killing 3D printers, including the Magneto X and Prusa MK4. Priced at $1,999, the Magneto X from Peopoly features the innovative MagXY motion control system with magnetic linear motors for improved accuracy and speed. The Magneto X challenges Bambu Lab’s dominance by prioritizing hardware advancements over software, catering to diverse users from home enthusiasts to professionals and open-source advocates.
Meanwhile, the Prusa MK4 from Prusa Research, a significant upgrade to the popular MK3 3D printer, features advanced technologies like a 32-bit architecture, improved printing speeds, and enhanced part appearance thanks to a Klipper-inspired overhaul. It includes user-friendly features such as quick-swap nozzles, better stepper motors to eliminate moiré patterns, and a load cell sensor for precise calibration. The MK4’s success also depends on its ability to outperform emerging 3D printers like Bambu Labs’ models, which offer unique architectures and smart features.
Audience interest in Bambu killers even extended into Joris’s Unpeeled series of live video news updates. Among those that made it into the most popular stories of 2023 was Creality’s launch of the K1, a CoreXY 3D printer with impressive features like a 600 mm/second print speed, AI-powered error detection, and advanced cooling, priced at $699, with a larger Max version at $999, positioned to compete with Bambu Labs’ printers.
1. Everything Sarah Saunders Does
3DPrint.com Senior Writer & Editor Sarah Saunders contributes endlessly to the entire site, often in ways that are not entirely visible to the readers at large. This was noted throughout the year’s traffic reports, where all of the sponsored Zones on 3DPrint.com were among the most visited pages we host. Thanks to Sarah’s tireless promotion of these Zones on social media, readers were regularly introduced to the offerings of such companies as EOS, 3D Systems, HP, Velo3D, BASF, and Desktop Metal. However, even outside of these pages, all of the articles in this list have received Sarah’s touch through copyediting, general fixing, and sharing through social media. Therefore, in addition to such great stories as her interview with GE’s Brian Birkmeyer about GE Additive’s binder jetting technology, she’s also responsible for all of the articles on this list. That also doesn’t include her regular 3D Printing News Briefs and Event roundups.
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