3D Printing News Digest

3D printing industry news sliced: Stratasys, SYS Systems, FARO, Ricoh, Mitsubishi, Sartomer and more

In this edition of Sliced, the 3D Printing Industry news digest, we cover the latest business developments, partnerships, and acquisitions across our industry. 

Today’s edition features updates on industry events, 3D printing awards, the newest material launches, renovated automobiles and an autonomous mechanical arm. 

Read on for the most recent updates from MACH, AM Polymers, Paxis, Zortrax, Bilsing Automation and more.  

Additive award nominations as ceremonies go-ahead

Beginning with the several AM awards, the UK-based 3D printing services company Ricoh’s apprenticeship training program, has been shortlisted for the prestigious Made in Midlands Award. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Ricoh’s Apprentice Academy trainee scheme, which is aimed at transforming business processes and information management. The program offers staff the opportunity to study for qualifications covering numerous aspects of the business, including engineering, tool making, commercial IT, business development and data science.

Training is split between ‘on the job’ tuition across a variety of departments at Ricoh, and educational programmes through centres and universities in York, Stafford, Aston and Shrewsbury. The awards ceremony was delayed from April to September 3rd due to COVID-19, and will now take place at the Macdonald Burlington Hotel in Birmingham later in the year. Other nominees for the award include: JJ Churchill, In-Comm Training, Make UK, Envisage Group and WCG. Mark Dickin, now a Moulding Engineering Manager within Ricoh’s 3D printing operations, graduated from the company’s apprenticeship scheme himself in 1999. 

“Everyone at Ricoh is delighted to be shortlisted for this award, and the Apprentice Academy is a programme which we are all extremely proud of. Of the current workforce, I’m one of 35 people who has been an apprentice and gone on to remain with the company – and that’s in addition to the 18 apprentices we currently have. Developing the next generation of talent is something which is close to all of our hearts,” said Dickin. 

Organizers of the 3D Pioneers Challenge 2020 have revealed the competition’s 52 finalists that will be moving ahead into the next stage of the 3D design and printing contest. These entants, who have submitted innovative designs across ten categories, are still in with a chance of winning a portion of the competition’s €35,000 prize money. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the event’s usual gala at Messe Erfut will no longer be possible, but a digital ceremony will take place instead. In fact, holding the event online has enabled the contest to include more finalists than usual, according to the competition’s planners. 

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, this year’s challenge has been the most diverse yet, including a wide range of submissions, and entries from 28 countries on six continents. The categories being judged include: architecture, design, digital, electronics, fashion tech, materials, med tech, COVID-19 and mobility and sustainability. Winners will receive a share of the prize money and a 3D printed trophy, while the best student work is to be rewarded with a MakerBot Replicator+ 3D printer. The judging panel will consist of 21 industry experts, with voting to take place remotely, due to social distancing restrictions. 

And last but not least, the largest of all 3D printing awards events, our very own 3D Printing Industry Awards. Nominations are open for this year’s awards. You can submit your nominations here. We have some exciting news about this year’s event coming soon.

This year's 3D Pioneers Challenge has led to innovations such as the 'world's first' concrete pavement printed with a mobile 3d printer on-site. Photo via The 3D Pioneers Challenge.
This year’s 3D Pioneers Challenge has led to innovations such as the ‘world’s first’ concrete pavement printed with a mobile 3d printer on-site (pictured). Photo via The 3D Pioneers Challenge.

MACH announces 2021 exhibition will be a “kickstart” for AM 

The organizers of MACH, the UK engineering and manufacturing exhibition, have declared that the event will be part of 3D printing’s “kickstart” into 2021. Taking place from 25-28th January, the exhibition will see the return of the Subcon conference, alongside existing partners such as Drives & Controls, to make it a big week for British manufacturing. By combining their resources, expertise and experience, the two organisations will be better able to better support the UK economy’s “bounce back,” as the sector starts to rebuild and adapt to the “new normal.” In addition, the Manufacturing Technologies Association’s (MTA) annual dinner will return at its usual Vox Centre location, on Tuesday, January 26th 2021. 

“Our intention is to ensure MACH is not just a showcase for the manufacturing technologies sector, but a celebration of the manufacturing industry at its best. MACH is a content-led event, and brings together the latest advanced engineering and manufacturing technologies in operation and all under one roof,” said James Selka, CEO of the MTA.

“Highlights for the show will include a significant focus on the digital factory, with more automation and connected manufacturing processes, power by the hour and new cost-efficiency solutions, that will dramatically improve production processes and help shape the industry over the next decade.”

New material partnerships for Paxis, Sartomer, Mitsubishi and AM Polymers 

Illinois-based OEM Paxis is working with 3D printing materials manufacturer Sartomer to co-develop custom materials for Paxis’ WAV (Wave Applied Voxel) additive manufacturing technology. According to Paxis, its production process enables the scalability in size and speed of 3D printed parts, a significant reduction in post-processing requirements, lower operating costs, and the ability for components to be embedded. The collaboration will see the companies develop a library of new custom materials, which are tailored to work with WAV technology, and solve application-specific needs. In addition, the partnership will identify new market opportunities for the resulting materials moving forwards.  

“Sartomer is a historic partner for 3D printing innovators, and we are excited to collaborate with Paxis because WAV technology is positioned to change manufacturing as it exists today,” said Sumeet Jain, Senior Director, 3D Printing Worldwide at Arkema. “Through our joint efforts, we aim to develop next-generation products and solutions that will continue to disrupt and advance the way parts are mass manufactured.”

The Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (MCC) and German new materials start-up company, AM Polymers GmbH (AMP), have partnered to co-develop polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) powder products for industrial 3D printing. Located in Willich, Germany, AMP specializes in producing and selling thermoplastic powders with optimized processability and part performance for selective laser sintering (SLS) and powder bed fusion (PBF) processes. The new powder products for industrial 3D printing will be made using PBT feedstock, and a beta version of their Rolaserit PBT01 powder will be soon unveiled in Europe for client evaluation. This new powder resin demonstrates much lower moisture absorption characteristics than polyamide 12, a common material for SLS/PBF, according to MCC, making it ideal for automotive and aerospace applications. 

Paxis and Sartomer are working together to create 3D printing materials using Paxis' WAV 3D printing process. Photo via Paxis.
Paxis and Sartomer are working together to create 3D printing materials for use with Paxis’ WAV 3D printing process. Photo via Paxis.

ABCar Oldtimers use 3D printing to renovate classic cars 

European classic cars specialists ABCar Oldtimers has used Zortrax 3D printers to produce spare car parts that have increasingly become difficult to source on the market. The restoration process is not just about shaping metal sheets or replacing engines, and particular elements of the car equipment or bodies require extreme accuracy. Moreover, vintage cars, especially those built before WWII, feature numerous tiny and sophisticated custom elements, that their wealthy owners had installed at great expense. For instance, the thin needles in the display of tachometers and speedometers mounted in the vehicles provided by Mercedes Benz were manufactured with crescent moons at their tips. These details cannot be accurately recreated using standard production methods, hence the need for Zortrax’s 3D printing technology. 

Using Zortrax’s Inkspire 3D printer has allowed ABCar Oldtimers to reproduce complex elements in just a few minutes. Patryk Mikiciuk, a Polish automotive journalist, plans to use Zortrax’s accurate stamp technology to restore a Ferrari 599 at a fraction of the cost of purchasing a new one. The company was able to reconstruct a system of LEDs fitted to the car’s steering wheel, to create an exact replica of the original, producing the lights’ covers using a black resin which allowed the light transparency necessary for the part. According to ABCar Oldtimers, utilizing 3D printing to create spare parts for vintage cars could save other automotive companies several months and a great deal of cash, by preventing the need to find and purchase the genuine articles. 

Bilsing adds new 3D printing process, FARO launches its new GAGE machinery

Tooling manufacturer Bilsing Automation, has announced the addition of the Laser Metal Deposition (LMD) 3D printing process to its portfolio of services. The manufacturing technique often referred to as laser cladding, is usually used for the repair of aviation components such as landing gear bearing rings and automotive stamping or casting dies. Compared to traditional cladding methods like thermal spray or arc welding, LMD provides a better metallurgical bond, enhanced corrosion protection, a smaller heat-affected zone, and less distortion, according to the company.

During the process, metal powder is fed into a laser beam, which is scanned across a surface, where it deposits powder material in a precise web-type formation. As a result, material can be added to worn or corroded surfaces to accommodate design changes, and components or tooling can then be modified or repaired without having to reproduce the entire part. In addition, the environmentally-friendly technology is scalable and can be used to quickly fabricate or repair parts measured in millimeters or meters.

3D scanning and imaging provider FARO Technologies has launched its latest 3D portable coordinate measuring machine (CMM), The FARO Gage. The mechanized limb is the most accurate FaroArm ever produced, making it well-suited to the daily high-accuracy tasks performed by small and medium-sized businesses. While the device’s lightweight design makes it portable, the arm still offers the precision of a lab instrument and the ruggedness of a shop floor device, according to the company. In addition, the Gage features quick-change smart probes with automatic recognition and no recalibration and is compatible with the full line of FARO metrology software. The resulting advanced metrology device, provides fast and accurate 3D measurement, potentially replacing the need for hand tools such as calipers, micrometers, and height gauges. 

FARO's new mechanized arm is the most powerful that the company has ever produced. Photo via FARO Technologies.
FARO’s new mechanized arm is the most powerful that the company has ever produced. Photo via FARO Technologies.

SYS Systems named Stratasys platinum partner for an eighth consecutive year

Finishing with accreditations, UK-based reseller SYS Systems has been re-accredited with 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys’ industry-standard platinum partner status for the eighth year in a row. The qualification, which is the highest level of recognition possible by Stratasys, is only awarded to high-performing partners based on strict proficiency criteria, including high levels of customer service, training, and support to back up machine sales. Stratasys’ leadership was also impressed with SYS Systems’s Additive Manufacturing Centre, a state-of-the-art demonstration and production facility near Derby, in the UK. 

“After the challenges brought by the global coronavirus pandemic, it was fantastic to receive official word that we had been awarded Stratasys platinum partner status for 2020. I’m incredibly proud of all of our teams, from sales and marketing to service and accounts, whose hard work has been pivotal in helping us to gain this standard,” said Matt Fulton, Managing Director of SYS Systems parent company the Carfulan Group. 

“We as a company consistently receive an amazing level of support from Stratasys both here in the UK and from overseas, and we are sincerely thankful for that. Our relationship continues to go from strength to strength.”

The nominations for the 2020 3D Printing Industry Awards are now open. Who do you think should make the shortlists for this year’s show? Have your say now. 

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Featured image shows the sliced logo on an experimental juice bar that produces 3D printed cups, which has been nominated for a 2020 3D Pioneers Challenge Award. Image via The Pioneers Challenge.