In this edition of Sliced, the 3D Printing Industry news digest, we cover the latest business developments, partnerships, and acquisitions in the additive manufacturing sector.
Today’s edition features the latest on Formnext, a range of collaborative projects, an update on Xerox’s upcoming machine, the Additive Olympics, and of course, a 3D printed gnome being fired into orbit.
Read on for the most recent updates from Rocket Lab, Farsoon, Paramatters, Sharp3D, GoProto, Evolve Additive and more.
Software news from Etteplan, nTopology, Paramatters and Shapr3D
Beginning this week with software updates, technical solutions specialist Etteplan has been chosen as a “preferred design partner” by engineering software developer nTopology. The “referral partnership” will see nTopology pass on clients with design challenges to Etteplan, which in return, will gain access to a range of new digital tools for its future projects.
“nTopology is excited to announce our first referral partnership in Europe with Etteplan,” said Bradley Rothenberg, Founder and CEO of nTopology. “They provide years of experience with additive manufacturing processes, as well as deep knowledge of utilizing the nTop Platform. We are looking forward to what this partnership will bring to our Nordic customers.”
Topology optimization software firm Paramatters has released CogniCAD 4.0, a software upgrade for its 3D printing, CNC machining and die casting generative design platform. The enhanced software provides users with faster solvers and more control over a part’s geometry, which allows them to achieve a high level of feature accuracy.
Using the platform, clients can import CAD files before allowing the system to define loading, design and manufacturing criteria. Within ten minutes, users are reportedly able to obtain generative designs verified by built-in, finite-element analysis that are ready for 3D printing in either an STL, PLY or STEP format.
“With ParaMatters 4.0, both digital and traditional manufacturers can take advantage of this powerful agnostic CAD-to-CAD generative design software,” said ParaMatters Co-founder and CTO Dr. Michael Bogomolny. “Traditional manufacturers now have access to a technology that enables them to create lightweighted and structurally validated parts.”
3D modelling software company Shapr3D has announced that its mobile-first application has reached 20,000 iPad PRO users, and released a suite of new features to celebrate. The Shapr3D app utilizes touch screen controls to allow clients to access many of the features seen in more advanced desktop tools, on smaller, more portable devices.
Shapr3D has now added macOS compatibility to the platform, as well as 3D Alignment and Augmented Reality (AR) tools, which enable users to export models to Apple’s Reality Composer program. As a result, Mac users can now visualize their models and designs in a real world setting, which the firm is hoping will also entice a new group of potential clients to try out its software.
“Being the one of the fastest growing CAD companies in just a few short years, proves that there is huge demand in the industry for next-gen innovation,” said István Csanády, Founder and CEO of Shapr3D. “Reaching 20,000 PRO users and our latest feature updates is an amazing milestone, and I couldn’t be more excited about this next phase of hyper-growth.”
Formnext South China confirmed for September 2021
Formnext organizer Messe Frankfurt has announced that the inaugural edition of its Formnext + PM South China conference will be held from 9th-11th September 2021. Taking place at Shenzhen’s World Exhibition and Convention Center, the fair is expected to welcome over 10,000 visitors and host more than 200 exhibitors from around the world.
As opposed to the regular Formnext, this fair has been organized to offer a “brand new experience” to China’s manufacturing industry. As a result, the event will cover a wide variety of topics ranging from 3D design software to post-processing, and high-profile exhibitors such as Evonik and SLM Solutions have already agreed to participate.
Before the first iteration of Formnext + takes place next year though, the South China International MIM summit returns on November 26th 2020. Acting as a precursor to the main event, the Guangdong trade show will advocate the new fair to the industry, whilst providing insights into what attendees can expect from the upcoming show.
“The global pandemic accelerated smart manufacturing efforts and ushered in the long-term adoption of innovative automated production,” read a statement from Messe Frankfurt. “As the circumstances within China continue to improve steadily, Formnext + PM South China will play a crucial role in providing a much-needed platform to boost industry growth.”
Novel additive applications from HYLEMO and nTopology
Creative architecture company HYLEMO has partnered with robotics-led 3D printing business AI-build, to reimagine the way that public seating is designed in the UK. The firm’s ‘Beluga’ concept aims to change the way that train station furniture is produced, by reducing the amount of material and energy that is wasted during its intensive manufacturing.
Utilizing a robotic arm provided by AI-build, the HYLEMO team were able to create the UK’s first pieces of printed public seating, made entirely from recycled PET plastic. Each bench was fabricated using 140kg of post-industrial pellets, and at the end of its lifecycle, it too can be returned to pellet form, making it a ‘cradle-to-cradle’ product.
Elsewhere, 3D printing software developer nTopology has been awarded first place at the Additive Manufacturing Olympics. In a series of technical challenges overseen by the US Air Force, nTop worked with Stress Engineering Services, and Origin to redesign a family of clamps used on the F-16 aircraft.
The engineering team’s design was twice as stiff, 5% lighter and easier to assemble than the existing clamp, and it even managed to pass initial flight qualification criteria. Using nTopology’s proprietary software, the team were ultimately able to create a product that was not only flight-ready, but easier to manufacture, store, and assemble, in just 30 days.
Business news featuring GoProto, Evolve and more
In business news, 3D scanning company Wysiwyg 3D has partnered with additive manufacturing service bureau GoProto, to launch a joint printing and laser scanning service. By adding its digitising expertise to GoProto’s existing network, Wysiwyg 3D believes that it can create a more streamlined and unified service for the customers and partners of both companies.
“Our focus has always been on taking care of our customers by understanding what drives their business and providing solutions that affect the bottom line,” said Shane Rolton, MD of Wysiwyg 3D. “Combining our expertise and resources shortens the time lag between scan data and production, putting ourselves exactly where our customers need us.”
The British-based Burnley Engineering Group has defied the harsh economic climate brought about by the pandemic to launch a new business called Advanced Fabrication Solutions. Burnley Engineering has already hired a team of six, and invested in various machinery such as welding plants and a CNC turret, to operate out of a 5,000 square foot facility.
Following the group’s expansion, all of its constituent companies will now be able to handle orders that require the use of 3D printing, as well as precision machining, engineering design, jigs and fixtures.
“We’re absolutely delighted to add fabrication and metal working to our offering of services,” said Managing Director Annette Weekes. “It was a crucial part of the plan for 2020, and it’s a credit to the whole team at PDS and Tooling that we’ve achieved this despite pressure from the pandemic and the local lockdown. We’re incredibly excited for the year ahead.”
Evolve Additive Solutions, a former subsidiary of Stratasys, has chosen PostProcess as its designated ‘Support Removal Partner’ (SRP). The move will see PostProcess’ patent-pending Volumetric Velocity Dispersion (VVD) technology integrated into Evolve’s STEP 3D printing process from the start of next year.
PostProcess was reportedly selected due to its data-driven approach, which enables the creation of a digital thread of each 3D printed part, and ultimately could allow STEP to become industry 4.0-ready.
“We develop and deploy technology to create additive solutions that bring speed and quality at scale,” said Steven Chillscyzn, CEO of Evolve Additive Solutions. “Our customers look to Evolve to drive next-generation solutions. This partnership allows us to deliver on this promise by providing an end-to-end automated solution.”
Collaborative projects with NMIS, DSM, AM-Flow and more
The National Manufacturing Institute of Scotland (NMIS) has become the UK’s first member of the AMGTA sustainable global trade group. NMIS is now the 12th company to join the organization, which was set up to promote the efficiency benefits of 3D printing, and highlight its potential as a means of reducing material waste in manufacturing.
“We are developing a number of new AM techniques but we don’t yet know enough about the sustainability benefits of the many processes,” said Stephen Fitzpatrick, a Team Lead at NMIS. “Working as part of AMGTA, we will be able to tap into information from a cross section of industry, and collectively understand more about the part AM has to play in the net zero agenda.”
Dutch 3D printing companies Marketiger and Additive Center have launched a new joint venture which is designed to accelerate the development of large-scale manufacturing called AMcubator. The project, which is based in the Brainport Industries Campus in Eindhoven, has attracted the support of high-profile partners such as DSM, AM-Flow and AM Solutions, amongst others.
The campus’ 1,100 square meter facility is set to house a number of industry experts alongside some limited 3D printing equipment, forming a ‘pilot factory.’ In future, the Dutch firms are hoping that their start-up’s ideas will yield new applications of additive technologies, and make Eindhoven a global hotspot for high-volume applications.
“As a launching partner of the AMcubator, we’ll be displaying our latest innovation in the field of post-processing in additive manufacturing,” said Gerard Nijhof, Commercial Director of AM solutions. “Together with other launching partners, we’re bringing scalable applications to the market in order to make additive manufacturing a competitive manufacturing technology.”
ASU raises $2 million to widen its research into concrete 3D printing
Arizona State University Professor Narayanan Neithalath has been awarded a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to broaden the adoption of concrete 3D printing. The Professor believes that in order for the advantages of additive to become fully realized within construction, a community will be needed to research and develop the necessary technologies to drive its uptake.
As a result, the ASU intends to use the funding to create a “network of networks” called 3DConcrete, in which knowledge and opportunities can be shared across 13 countries. In addition to faculty peer relations, 3DConcete will also support student exchanges, allowing participants to spend eight weeks at another university, and see what others are doing in the field.
“We’re not saying that every construction project needs to be 3D printed concrete,” said Neithalath. “But real innovation requires consideration of alternate mechanisms and processes. This project is intended to create a shared platform that can germinate new ideas to take us toward what is possible.”
New 3D printer installations from nScrypt, HP and INTAMSYS
Microdispensing specialist nScrypt has announced that it has delivered one of its “Factory in a Tool” (“FiT”) manufacturing systems to the University of Mississippi. The university team will take advantage of the system’s nFD tool head to 3D print the structure of an electronic device, in an unspecified research project.
According to Ken Church, nScrypt’s CEO, the team’s new machine is a perfect FiT for creating electronic products. “This system is much more than just a 3D printer,” said Church. “The Factory in a Tool is perfect for printing electronic materials, conformally on virtually any surface, and making entire electronic devices with fine surface finish, and the university will be able to do cutting edge work with it.”
Shanghai-based 3D printer manufacturer INTAMSYS has announced that its German subsidiary has received its first order for the FUNMAT PRO 610 HT 3D printer. The machine was acquired by a “world-class” German industry research institute, which reportedly chose the system due to its advanced specifications and industrial capabilities.
“Our material eco-system strategy allows our customers to develop applications for its industrial clients using the best available materials,” explained Bart Leferink, VP of EMEA, at INTAMSYS. “Equally important is our partnership to develop industrial applications that are beneficial to our future industrial customers. This is just the beginning.”
Sporting goods company Decathlon’s Add Lab research center has announced the installation of two HP JetFusion 5200 3D printers, four processing stations and six production units. Leveraging its new machines, Decathlon will be able to fabricate spare parts, but also engage in small production runs, prototyping and design validation.
The company plans to test and validate any spare parts it produces, and to add them to a ‘Spare Part Index,’ which allows any of its branches to download and print them on-demand. Not only could the firm’s new process cut out the products’ associated costs and lead times, but in future, it also holds the potential to become an in-house spare parts service for its customers.
“We are delighted to count DECATHLON as a benchmark site for the HP Multi Jet Fusion technology,” said Nicolas Aubert, HP’s Director of 3D Printing in France. “[The project] allows businesses, whatever their sector of activity and wherever they may be, to discover this technology in service and benefit from DECATHLON’s valuable feedback.”
AuMed launches medical part website
Singaporian medical simulator supplier AuMed has announced the launch of its online store at au-med.com, featuring a range of 3D printed for surgical planning and training applications. The firm initially operated as part of the Creatz3D service bureau, but it was spun-off in 2019, with the aim of better serving its clients in the medical industry.
In addition to respiratory swab collection training simulators, AuMed’s site also offers a heart series, which claims to be able to simulate “pathology-specific” muscles. Similarly, the company sells ear models with simulated ear drums, which enable effective myringoplasty procedural training.
“Off-the-shelf models are typically generic and lacking in detail,” explained Sean Looi, General Manager of AuMed. “Users are looking for models that show specific conditions or offer tactile feedback to replicate scenarios as realistically as possible. Our models are derived from DICOM and include features that off-the-shelf models lack.”
ExOne qualifies new material, Farsoon launches bio-polymer
Binder jetting 3D printer manufacturer ExOne has announced an agreement with the ceramics producer ITOCHU Ceratech to validate its Naigai Cerabead materials for use with its sand 3D printers. Cerabeads are a form of ceramic foundry sand that’s used to create molds and cores for metal casting products in the automotive, mining and construction industries.
The materials reportedly feature a high-level of heat-resistance and low thermal expansion, yielding parts with improved resolution that minimize the amount of material wasted. As part of the deal between the firms, ExOne will develop and optimize the process settings of its S-Print, S-Max, and S-Max Pro sand 3D printers for use with the Cerabeads.
Chinese 3D printer manufacturer Farsoon, meanwhile, has launched a number of bio-compatible polymer powders that have been designed for use within medical applications. The firm’s flagship FS3300PA polyamide in particular, has been cleared for use within medical settings, and passed irritation and skin sensitization evaluations.
Utilizing Farsoon’s plastics, which reportedly demonstrate a high level of stability and durability during processing, companies such as the Huaxiang Group have been able to fabricate medical grade devices. So far, Huaxiang has successfully 3D printed parts for a range of projects in R&D, surgical planning and operational tools for short-term mucosal membrane contact.
Xerox provides an update on its new liquid metal system
Following the release of its Q3 2020 financials, Xerox, the American manufacturer of printers and photocopiers, has provided an update on its upcoming liquid metal 3D printer. During the firm’s follow-up call with analysts and investors, John Visentin, the CEO of Xerox, revealed that it is currently validating aluminum 4008 for use with its new system.
The company is qualifying several alloys to work on the machine, and negotiating with various potential clients within “multiple industries.” As part of a road map that is set to last “two or three years,” Xerox plans to continue expanding on the compatibility of its machine, and develop a working prototype by 2021.
Valve and Rocket Lab to launch additive gnome into space
President of video game developer Valve Gabe Newell, has announced that his company will be working with aerospace firm Rocket Lab to launch a 3D printed gnome into space. The stunt is being performed to aid the paediatric unit at Starship Children’s Hospital in New Zealand, and the companies have pledged to donate $1 (USD) for every streamer of the launch within the first 24 hours.
Known as “Gnome Chompski,” the character is a popular meme from Valve’s Half Life 2: Episode 2, in which players can earn the “Little Rocket Man” achievement by carrying Chompski to the end of the game. Now the gnome, which will be fabricated from 150mm of titanium, is set to be attached to Rocket Lab’s 16th Electron rocket and launched into space on November 15th 2020.
Sadly though, the gnome will remain attached to the rocket’s Kick Stage, burning up on re-entry in the atmosphere. RIP Chompski.
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Featured image shows the Sliced logo on top of the 3D printed gnome that’s set to be launched into space later this month. Photo via Rocket Lab.