This week’s news includes some 3D printing challenge winners for Thingiverse’s “Make It Float” challenge and MakerBot’s “Kids Make It” challenge as well. And 3D Hubs has announced a photo competition to celebrate reaching the establishment of its 20,000th Hub! Other news includes how UK-based Kingston University’s award-winning electric car racing team uses 3D printing to enhance its cars’ features. And a new device allows you to turn your 3D printer into a laser cutter for under $200. Also, on the business side of things, a report has been released suggesting that China’s 3D printing market could reach a whopping $1.6 billion by 2016. But not all 3D printing business news is good news this week: Munich-based Alphaform AG has declared bankruptcy for reasons that are yet unclear. Finally, in filament news, Innofil3D plans to release a new PET filament that it claims may become a new 3D printing standard!
UK Electric Car Racing Team Turns to 3D Printing
In 2013 and 2014, the UK’s Kingston University’s electric car racing team was named the highest scoring Formula Student electric team in the annual Formula Student race. It clearly knows its electric car racing, and now, it has turned to 3D printing to develop ready-to-use car parts. Use of durable plastic 3D printed parts, instead of metal, has made the cars lighter overall. They have also used 3D printing to reduce labor time, and create many variations of a design. 3D printed designs include a shutdown button mounting and housing for a main switch and an exhaust fan. These parts were printed using a Stratasys 3D printer, and ABS plus production-grade thermoplastics. Since this team is already top of its game, it appears 3D printing will only allow them to streamline its car part production process, thus improving its overall performance on the tracks!
Thingiverse’s Make It Float Challenge Winner: An AirBoat!
The winner of Thingiverse’s Make It Float challenge is a payload sensing GO-GO airboat, designed by Macakcat — otherwise known as David Choi, a Brooklyn-based electronics developer and prototype designer. This project is quite impressive, as are so many of the entries in this very competitive challenge, because it is a payload-sensing boat that is propeller-powered and motorized. This fun boat can be 3D printed easily enough, and it’s rigged with motors and sensors to be able to sense its penny load. Once there are enough pennies loaded onto it, the motor revs up and the boat propels itself! As for printing the boat, the GO-GO AirBoat has four STL files that can be printed using any desktop FDM 3D printer. Choi also provides a very extensive set of instructions for making your own GO-GO AirBoat here. Describing this project as a “physics concept and electronics learning kit,” Choi’s hope is that it serves an educational purpose. It’s clear you can get many educational uses out of this project if you choose to do it yourself: who said school couldn’t be great fun too?
MakerBot’s Kids Make It Challenge Winners Announced
And in other challenge winner news, we see first hand the educational value of 3D printing as MakerBot announces its winners in the Kids Make It challenge. The winning models include: a toy fishing boat; an alien friend with a propeller; a penguin mobile; a “souped up” soup can; and a working fishing pole! What imaginative ideas coming from our younger Makers! MakerBot partnered with ThinkFun to make available Maker Studio Construction Sets, which were available on Thingiverse, and kids were encouraged to use the set’s “Gear, Winches and Propeller” files and guidelines to build suggested projects or come up with their own ideas. It looks like the future of Making with 3D printing is in good hands, as the new winners enjoy their awards of MakerBot PLA filament, collections of ThinkFun games, and most importantly, their new title of “Master Maker.”
3D Hubs’ #WeAre20K Photo Contest
From challenge winners to new giveaway contests: 3D Hubs has hit the 20,000 mark of Hubs across the world and it wants to celebrate by sponsoring the #Weare20K Giveaway. This is a contest that celebrates 3D Hubs’ exponential growth in only 2.5 years (!) by requesting Hub owners post original creative photos featuring their 3D printers using the hashtag #WeAre20K and linked to the Hubs’ profile page. Photos will be posted for the next 20 days, and featured Hubs will receive 3D Hubs hoodies. Most original photos will be awarded $500, $250, or $100 in credit to be used with a 3D Hubs perk partner such as Colorfabb or Proto-Pasta. There are some more contest details here that serious participants should read over before taking those cool shots of your own little slice of 3D printing heaven to be shared with many in celebration of 3D Hubs’ progress.
Chinese 3D Printing Market Speculated to be $1.6 Billion by 2016
Evidence of 3D printing’s growth is everywhere, with 3D Hubs hitting the 20,000th Hub mark as just one example. This growth is not limited to the West, as China’s own 3D printing market is positioned to hit the $1.6 billion mark in 2016. This information comes from Researchmoz, which has released a report suggesting the value of China’s growing 3D printing market. The report traces some of this value to the fact that China owns 8.7% of the world’s 3D printers, and only two countries have more printing patents than China. Also, Chinese 3D printers are reaching global markets. One example of this is that overseas sales of Tire Time’s UP! series, which is a desktop 3D printer, generates 70% of the company’s overall revenue. The report lists 19 3D printing enterprises in the Chinese market, and there are global companies that have also taken quite an interest in the Chinese 3D printing market. With all of these factors combined, we will see if the report’s prediction is correct. China’s 3D printing market was worth about $600,000 USD in the beginning of 2015, so to speculate that it will be $1.6 billion USD by the end of 2016 is quite risky, to say the least!
Alphaform AG Files for Bankruptcy
While some 3D printing markets, like China’s, seem to be taking off, stories like established and highly reputable 3D printing companies going bankrupt give us pause to consider that things can also go wrong with this new technology. Alphaform AG is a German rapid prototyping company that offered one of only a small number of 3D printing stocks for investment. Well, that has all changed for this Munich-based company that has been around since 1996. It’s not going anywhere, but a recent bankruptcy filing appoints an administrator who will supervise the firm’s restructuring. Last year, the company reported revenues of €29 million, and there’s no news yet on why it has filed for bankruptcy. More details to follow as they become available!
New Start-Up Creates “L-Cheapo” for Laser Cutting
Meanwhile in Russia: Specializing in telepresence rigs, business robots, and lasers, Russian-American start-up Endurance is a new (founded in January 2015) versatile company that has its hands in many pots, so to speak. One recent innovation, the L-Cheapo, is a 2.1 or 3.5 watt laser diode that can be attached in a few hours turning any FFF 3D printer or CNC milling machine into a laser cutting machine. For under $200, (current cost for L-Cheapo is $195), it’s no surprise that Endurance has already sold 1,000 of these units. The laser has a dot size of .25mm at 1/8 inch depth, the laser can turn your printer into a cutting machine working on plywood, wood, leather, and acrylic.
Innofil3D Plans New PET Filament Release Next Month
Finally, in filament news, we save the best for last as filament is the stuff that stuff is made from. So far in 3D printing of plastics, ABS and PLA filaments have dominated, but that could change. 3D printing filament manufacturer Innofil3D, which is a project of the Dutch Applied Polymer Institute (API), is preparing to release a new PET filament that the company thinks will be the new standard in 3D printing. The PET release process begins with EPR PET filament on 750 gram reels, and Innofil3D will be selling this filament at a price approximating its other filaments. Innofil summarized all of the qualities that it believes will have this PET leading the pack: it can show more design details; it has the ease of PLA; it has ABS’s strong layer cohesion; it can print with a larger operating window; and it doesn’t smell bad! Sounds like Innofil3D has covered its bases with the new EPR PET filament, which will be available starting next month for you to see for yourself what the future of filament promises!
Let us know which of these stories caught your eye in this week’s Stories We Missed forum thread over at 3DPB.com.