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News digest: Innovate UK, Lockheed Martin, Photocentric, FIT Additive Manufacturing Group and more

This edition of our 3D printing news digest Sliced, new funding for additive manufacturing, a company hoping to help hurricane victims with 3D pens, 3D printed exoskeleton, 3D Printed Titanium Lumbar Cages, 3D models for the visually impaired, FIT’s supersonic 3D printer, 3D printed electric boat and 3D printed idols.

£20 million for cutting-edge technologies

The UK’s non-departmental funding body for innovation and research, Innovate UK, has allocated £20 million funding for the development of “disruptive ideas and cutting-edge technologies” with commercial potential.

The award is available to UK-based businesses and projects must also be developed in the UK with the  British population the market of the final product. Successful applicants can receive up to £500,000.

Comparable in many ways to America Makes in the U.S.,  Innovate UK actively funds early-stage technologies. In August, Innovate funded the Open Architecture Additive Manufacturing (OAAM) project led by The Welding Institute (TWI), an independent research and technology organization.

Innovate UK funds disruptive and cutting-edge technologies. Image via Highways Industry
Innovate UK funds disruptive and cutting-edge technologies. Image via Highways Industry

Brimrose granted SBIR Award

Brimrose Technology Corporation, a Maryland-based R&D company specializing in aerospace and defense, was awarded the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) by the U.S. Department of Energy. The company won the Phase I award worth $149,995. The aim of Phase I research is to test additive manufacturing composites’ characteristics and properties using an ultrasonic scattering technique (UST). The results will demonstrate the feasibility of the technique.

Mass Portal partners with The 3D Connectors

Mass Portal, a Latvian-based manufacturer and supplier of 3D printers, has partnered with The 3D Connectors, a 3D printing services provider in the U.S. The American company will market Mass Portal’s 3D printers and filament dryers in the U.S.


A collection of Mass Portal's 3D printers. Image via Mass Portal
A collection of Mass Portal’s 3D printers. Image via Mass Portal

Addition Design & Research at TCT

Addition Design & Research, the R&D services and AM training provider, will be exhibiting at TCT Birmingham 25th-27th September. Visitors to the company’s stand K49 can learn more about 3D printing and sign up for 3D printing courses.

3Doodler helping hurricane-affected areas

3Doodler, the U.S-based maker of 3D pens, are working with Donors Choose (New York), an education charity, to fund its pre-existing projects in North and South Carolina schools, the state affected by Hurricane Florence. A couple of projects in Houston, Texas will also be funded. The city of Houston was impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

3Doodler’s co-founder Maxwell Bogue said, “any damage caused by a storm like Hurricane Florence will further press already difficult school budgets.”  

The projects will feature 3Doodler products.

3D printed FORTIS Exoskeleton

Deakin University’s Institute for Intelligent Systems Research (IISRI), Victoria, Australia, has announced a 12-month partnership with Lockheed Martin Australia, the American aerospace and defense company. A combined team will work to extend FORTIS Exoskeleton’s capabilities.

In the latest modification, the IISRI team have installed a 3D printed attachment to the exoskeleton for carrying external loads. Previously, these loads had to be carried on the users back.  

Deakin University has been involved in some of the pioneering research in additive manufacturing. Last year, researchers at the university developed Boron Nitride Nanotube (BNNT)/Titanium composite for additive manufacturing.

Photocentric wins Queen’s award

Photocentric, a Peterborough-based manufacturer of photopolymers, has received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. The award was granted through an open funding program of Innovate UK.

The company’s research focuses on finding cheaper alternatives to curing objects than digital and laser projectors. The company has introduced 3D printers which use LCD screens to cure the resins at a reduced cost.  

Sarah Karmel, senior research scientist at Photocentric. Photo via Innovate UK
Sarah Karmel, a senior research scientist at Photocentric. Photo via Innovate UK

FDA clears Captiva Spine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) has approved Captiva Spine’s proprietary 3D printed titanium lumbar cages. The Florida-based designer and maker of medical and surgical devices, is marketing the lumbar as TirboLOX-L. Lumbar cages are used in spinal surgery to manage lower back pain.

Captiva Spine's TirboLOX-L 3D printed lumbar cages. Image via Captiva Spine
Captiva Spine’s TirboLOX-L 3D printed lumbar cages. Image via Captiva Spine

Interactive 3D models for visually impaired

See3D, a gofundme project, initiated by a high school graduate, Caroline Karbowski, is helping the visually impaired explore the world of their visions and dreams through 3D printed models.

People without sight can give a description of a word on which a 3D model can be built. The person can then physically interact with that model.

3D printing technology has helped blind people “visualize” in various ways. The Hasso Plattner Institut (HPI), University of Potsdam, Germany, created a 3D printed interactive map that helps the blind explore the city.

DigiFabster adds CNC milling

DigiFabster, a California-based 3D printing and online quotation software company, has added Computer Numerical Control (CNC) milling applications to its repertoire of services.

To celebrate the initiation of its new service, DigiFabster offered a special discount of $1,000 on its annual service for the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) attendees. The offer will remain open to the non-attendees as well until the 30th of September.

Among other companies within this industry, Xometry offers software-as-a-service for CNC milling. Its manufacturing partners include CNC precision milling companies, such as Zero Hour Parts and PT&R, Inc.

Summary of DigiFabster's software-as-a-service. Image via DigiFabster
Summary of DigiFabster’s software-as-a-service. Image via DigiFabster

FIT acquires supersonic 3D printer

The German AM company FIT Additive Manufacturing Group, has ordered a supersonic 3D printer from Spee3D, an Australian manufacturer of 3D printers based on cold spray technology.

The supersonic 3D deposition printer (SP3D) fires metal powder from a nozzle at three times the speed of sound. This method is in contrast to the powder bed fusion process which spreads the powder over a layer, usually with a roller.

SPEE3D's SP3D metal printer LightSPEE3D. Photo via SPEE3D
SPEE3D’s SP3D metal printer LightSPEE3D. Photo via SPEE3D

Korean university 3D prints electronic boat

A research team led by Professor Namhun Kim from Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) has produced an electric boat called 3D Willy. The whole body of the boat is made using 3D printing technology. The battery-run boat had a successful test drive in Gamak pond of the institute.

Imam slams 3D printed idols

A Kuwaiti Imam has condemned a shop selling what the cleric considered to be 3D printed cult idols. In a sermon, cleric Sheikh Othman al-Khamis said the life-like 3D replicas of people are against Islamic principles, which could lead to idol worshipping.

The Sheikh said, “what this shop does is an abomination and more dangerous than selling alcohol because it could lead to some people making idols of their children.”

The unnamed store was closed by the Kuwaiti authorities. A number of social media contributors have said that the shop was a branch of DOOB 3D, the German 3D printed replica company.

DMDII names new executive director

The Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) has announced that Chandra Brown will be the institute’s new executive director. DMDII is an applied research and development institute in partnership with UI Labs and the Defense Department. It has invested nearly $90 million providing digital tools and expertise to the U.S factories.

On her appointment, Brown said, “I am honored to join DMDII and further its mission of making U.S. manufacturers more capable, productive and secure.”

Earlier this year, DMDII’s previous executive director, Thomas McDermott, spoke with 3DPI about 3D printing and digital manufacturing in the U.S. The institute also spent $750,000 Cyber Hub to protect 3D printing enterprises from cyber threats.

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Featured image shows the Bloodhound SSC, a project enabled by Innovate UK.