Blooming Time: A Mechanical Flower

Beautiful project-in-progress from Samantha Song up on

When I was young, I loved to play with plants, and one of my favourites is the mimosa plant, which will close when touched. However, in fantasy tales, flowers would open when they are touched, and I wanted to recreate this magical effect in my project.

With the 1 year anniversary of my boyfriend and I nearing, I wanted to dedicate to him a special present that I made myself, hence the birth of this flower. As both of us are forgetful people, I wanted the flower to remind us of special days, with the flower lighting up in a colour for each important day. On each day of the week, one of the petals will light up, reminding you of the day of the week in a unique and fun way. Not only is it a beautiful timepiece, when the flower is touched and “open”, it will also tell you the temperature, humidity, date etc., giving it a useful daily function.

Read more.

British Airways posts top ten predictions for the use of 3D printing in planes

British Airways, the UK’s flag-carrying airline, has stated that it is exploring the possibility of using 3D printers to create aircraft cabin parts. Envisioning a future in which 3D printers are placed in airports and potentially on the planes themselves, the airline compiled a list of the top ten applications it predicts will benefit from […]

ETH Zürich researchers develop novel glass 3D printing method

Scientists from the Complex Materials Group at ETH Zürich, Switzerland, have 3D printed glass objects using a specialized resin and Digital Light Processing (DLP).  As stated in the study published in a recent issue of Natural Materials, this method leverages the photopolymerization-induced phase separation of hybrid resins containing plastic and organic molecules. This creates complex glass parts with high […]

2019 Year in Review: Industrial 3D Printing

We continue to see industrial 3D printing increase in speed, size and capability, while dropping in cost as signs point to its integration into the larger manufacturing industry. This year, there were a number of announcements that reinforce this trend, including mergers, acquisitions, partnerships and product releases.

Service Bureaus

This was one of the more important stories of the year, in this author’s opinion, in that it solidified BASF as more than a periphery agent in the AM space. The largest chemical company in the world had slowly been spready its tendrils into the space, developing materials for companies like HP and then acquiring Innofil3D, Advanc3D Materials, Setup Performance, Forward AM. It also continues to develop materials to new 3D printing processes. In addition to Multi Jet Fusion (MJF), BASF has teamed with Paxis, Impossible Objects and Origin for material development.

With the acquisition of San Francisco- and Paris-based service bureau Sculpteo, BASF has established itself as a major player. The fact that it has also invested $25 million in 3D printing software and service company Materialise indicates that it is making significant bets on the service bureau space, with its materials fueling those efforts.

BASF may be the largest chemical company in the world but it’s not the only materials giant in the 3D printing industry. DuPont, Mitsubishi Chemicals, Covestro (Bayer spin-off), Arkema (spin-out of French oil giant Total), Henkel, DSM, Evonik and others were also very active in the space this year (though of course that is to be expected).

Meanwhile, another service bureau marketplace, Xometry, has continued to grow. After closing a $50 million Series D investment earlier in the year, the startup acquired Europe’s largest on-demand manufacturing marketplace, Shift. This will allow it to expand into 12 new countries and access a network of over 4,000 manufacturers.

GKN has also continued to grow its AM activities, acquiring more metal powder makers and California-based 3D printing bureau FORECAST3D, which complements the group’s existing HP Metal Jet technology with a large fleet of Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers. Additionally, GKN Powder Metallurgy opened a third customer center in Germany and one in Michigan, which also serves as its North American headquarters.


After completing what it claims was a successful pilot program, Siemens officially launched its  Siemens Additive Manufacturing Network, which allows customers and suppliers to connect for their production needs. It will also integrate HP’s Digital Manufacturing Network and include large manufacturers, including the world’s biggest sporting goods retailer, Decathalon. The tech giant is also working on an end-to-end AM workflow that includes digital inventory, part and cost analysis, production tracking, RFQ processing and scheduling.

Atlas3D is capable of quickly orienting parts and adding support structures to minimize distortion in DMLS.

Siemens also acquired Atlas3D, which has developed a cloud-based software for automatically orienting parts for metal 3D printing and generating support structures through the use of thermal distortion analysis.

HP and GE Additive Continue to Grow

Having already released its flagship series, metal 3D printers and color 3D printers, HP launched its Jet Fusion 5200 Series, meant to be the company’s new production line. The 5200 series is marketed as more productive, accurate, consistent and efficient than the preceding 4200 line. This was followed up with the opening of a new 150,000-square-foot R&D center in Barcelona. HP also announced a partnership with Rösler AM Solutions to develop automated post-processing technology.

GE Additive opened a new 40,000-square-meter campus in Lichtenfels, Germany, which will serve as the new headquarters for Concept Laser. Investing in itself further, GE Aerospace purchased 27 new Arcam electron beam melting systems for GE9X blade production.

Mass Production Technologies

Upon receiving yet another round of massive funding in 2019, Carbon, which boasts its digital light synthesis as capable of mass production, secured new partnerships for the large batch manufacturing of bicycle parts for Specialized and fizik, eyeglasses for JINS, nightguards and splints for Keystone Industries, and car parts for Lamborghini.

A 3D-printed fuel cap for the Urus SUV.

Additive Industries also suggests that its modular MetalFAB1 3D printer is suited for mass production and, in addition to selling six of its expensive metal 3D printers to a US aerospace company (and later on a seventh!), it partnered with Airbus and Premium AEROTEC subsidiary APWORKS to further certify its technology for serial production of aerospace parts.

HP’s MJF is also designed for mass manufacturing, which was further demonstrated when Smile Direct Club announced the use of the technology to 3D print over 50,000 dental aligner molds per day.

Niche Sectors

Sectors ripe for additive disruption are starting to gain more attention. In particular, the railway sector has seen more activity related to 3D printing. Stratasys, for instance, partnered with Angel Trains in the U.K. in a pilot program that has 3D printed four passenger armrests and seven grab handles for Chiltern Railways. Europe’s “Mobility goes Additive” network made the first 3D-printed safety-relevant component for rail: a metro brake unit that is already being used in Hamburg, Germany.

mu Space CEO & Founder James Yenbamroong and Relativity Space CEO & Founder Tim Ellis stand in front of Relativity’s Stargate, the world’s largest metal 3D printer.

In addition to rail, the marine and space industries have been impacted by AM. Companies like Relativity Space, Launcher and Rocket Lab (if you count news from last year) are all working on 3D-printed rockets for use in the launch of small payloads. And this is beyond the existing work with mainstream launch companies like United Launch Alliance and Space X. German steel giant thyssenkrupp has also made continuous headway into the maritime field, certifying a facility for 3D printing marine parts and partnering with a large shipping firm for the 3D printing of spare parts.

All of this paints a picture in which 3D printing for end part production is no longer experimental, nor is the entry of large and unique businesses into the space. AM is still far from saturating the much, much, much larger manufacturing industry, but it now has a significant foothold.

The post 2019 Year in Review: Industrial 3D Printing appeared first on | The Voice of 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing.

South Africa: a 3D Printing Campaign for Blind Children

For visually impaired people educational resources don’t come by easy. Learning to read braille is essential but costly and not always effective (it may take up to three times as long as other students to read a text), while assistive technology, such as closed-circuit TV, screen-magnification or screen-reading software, could help them to read or access the internet; is not available everywhere. With 285 million people suffering from blindness and reduced vision problems, there is a great need to provide materials in accessible formats that help adapt the information to a format that is suitable for them. 3D printing is providing a very helpful tool for the disabled, for example, a volunteer at the National Museums Scotland, in Edinburgh, used a 3D printer to turn CT scans of fossils into physical objects enabling the visually impaired to have more tactile experiences. Other known causes like a collaboration between Indian designer Tania Jain and German educational toy company Ravensburger, came up with a new 3D printed puzzle designed to help the user learn how to read Braille.

Now, the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB) is running a new campaign called: 3D Printing for the Blind and can be found in social media under the hashtag #3DPrinting4TheBlind. The goal of this initiative is basically to assist the SANCB in their quest to educate visually impaired individuals who struggle with more traditional means of learning, by 3D printing a range of educational objects that students in SANCB supported schools can use.

The best part of the project is that anyone around the world can be a part of it. The basic requirement is a 3D printer and access to the nearest post office. It’s a big call out to the 3D printing community, to come together for a good cause. They are asking people to print between one and three items for this campaign. Then, all the 3D prints will be used in classrooms across South Africa to teach visually impaired students new shapes and objects that they are not familiar with. This will also illustrate the way 3D printing can be used in education and how everyone can make a small difference for a large community.

SANCB teamed up with the 3D Printing Shop, one of the biggest one-stop-shop for 3D printing hardware and consumables in South Africa, to provide 3D printing enthusiasts a list of 31 items that they can choose from. The printouts chosen for this project include animals, anatomical models, and vehicles, and should have an approximate size of 100 mm x 100 mm x 100 mm.

“This campaign was inspired by our daily task of trying to show how practical and beneficial 3D printing could be in everyday life, to help people visually impaired people in our community learn better, as well as reaffirm the importance of 3D printing in education,” suggested Bishop Boshielo, marketing manager of the 3D Printing Store. “We realized educational toys were quite expensive and that visually impaired children struggled to understand two-dimensional concepts so we decided to print them in 3D to give them a better understanding. Also with 3D printers being reasonably priced and easy to use, any parent or caretaker of a visually impaired child could organize and print whatever models they would like to give the children.”

The SANCB supports more than 20 schools for visually impaired children and teens across the country and also runs a college called Optima College, with courses in business, computer literacy, contact center training, and braille literacy. Students’ lives are also enriched with activities focusing on acquiring daily living skills which enable visually impaired students to become fully independent. According to the SANCB, there will be more campaigns like this in 2020, probably more often.

Bishop revealed to that “he hopes to witness the children interact with the 3D printed models soon, but can only imagine the relief and excitement that would come from actually being able to hold a shape or model that they had previously only perceived in two dimensions.”

3D Printing Campaign for the blind (Image credit: SANCB)

According to the forms being filled online for this initiative, the 3D Printing Store is expecting 40 models to be delivered soon. Bishop explained that even though the South African 3D printing community is still quite small, it is beginning to grow exponentially as more and more people are realizing how important the technology is and the benefits it holds.

“Our partnership with the SANCB is just starting. Hopefully in the future they will be able to buy 3D printers for each of the schools they support, to print even more educational models for the children.”

The 3D printed items can either be dropped off or mailed by January 31, 2020, to the 3D Printing Store located at:

5 Bellingham St. Highveld, Centurion, 0157, South Africa

The post South Africa: a 3D Printing Campaign for Blind Children appeared first on | The Voice of 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing.

3D Printing Functional Micro-Delivery Systems: Swimming Microtoi

In the recently published ‘Shape-programmed 3D printed swimming microtori for the transport of passive and active agents,’ international researchers explore the challenges in mimicking the ‘unique swimming behaviors’ of microorganisms—for the purposes of microfabrication. With 3D printing on the nanoscale, however, they have been able to design microscopic tori for transporting biological matter.

Active matter systems are becoming more interesting to researchers as a topic of study, but to be functional they must be able to adapt to their environment, must be capable of complex behavior, and able to function as self-propelled swimmers.

Tori with two types of surface coating. a A High-resolution transmission electron microscope (STEM) image of “glazed” Janus torus on a carbon lacey TEM grid. The metallic cap has been applied to the top of the tori. The scale bar is 3 μm. b SEM image of a “dipped” Janus tori on a carbon TEM grid. The bottom of the torus is “cut off” at the bottom to provide a stable base during printing and the metal evporation. The scale bar is 2.25 μm. c A graph representing the propulsion velocity dependence on the concentration of hydrogen peroxide. Red and orange horizontal bars are respectively the propulsion velocities glazed and dipped tori (with 40 nm Ni and 10 nm Pt) on a gold substrate at 0% H202. Green and yellow squares are respectively the propulsion velocities glazed and dipped tori (with 40 nm Ni and 10 nm Pt) on a gold substrate at 5% H202. Dark green diamond is the propusion velocity of glazed tori (with 40 nm Ni and 10 nm Pt)on a glass substrate at at 10% H202; and comparitively,teal diamond is the propulsion velocity of dipped tori (with 40 nm Ni and 10 nm Pt) on a gold substrate at 10% H202. Purple and dark blue triangles are, respectively, the propulsion velocities glazed (with 40 nm Ni and 10 nm Pt) and dipped tori (with 10 nm Ni and 40 nm Pt) on a gold substrate at 15% H202. Magenta, lime, and ice blue circles are the propulsion velocity of 3 μm diamater glazed tori, 7 μm glazed tori, and 7 μm dipped tori at 30% H202. The three tori have a coating of 40 nm Ni and 10 nm Pt. A full legend can be found in Supplementary Fig. 3 and in Supplementary Note 2. The error bars represent a unique standard deviation for that particular sample

“Bacterial systems show a wide variety of complex behaviors, including spontaneous alignment in the presence of chemical gradients and altering rheological properties of the fluid,” stated the researchers. “Translating these complex behaviors to artificial systems is especially attractive for applications in fluid transport, small-scale mixing, and targeted cargo delivery but is hard due to intrinsic nanofabrication limitations.”

Many of the simplest constructs so far have proven to be inferior in terms of swimming and other behavior—making it obvious that greater strides must be made before such particles become a functional reality for scientists. In this project, the researchers created swimming tori manipulated by a magnetic field. These constructs were able to transport the following:

  • Other artificial swimmers
  • Bimetallic nanorods
  • Passive colloidal particles

They created a hydrodynamic and propulsion mechanism independent model ‘to account for the new emergent phenomena in swimming microtori near boundaries,” along with pinpointing the elements required for swimming—self-induced slip velocities across the surface and electrostatic potentials. This left the team open to experimenting further with alternative mechanisms, with findings that are relevant to other biocompatible systems like mounted enzymes, and light.

Swimming trajectories. a Extracted and re-centered trajectories for linearly translating dipped and glazed Janus tori. b Trajectories of vertically oriented tori in an increasing magnetic field. The trajectories change continuously from cyclodial to linear. Blue trajectories are for 0.8 G; green trajectories are for 0.9 G; and red trajectories are for 1.0 G

Using two-photon lithography, the researchers 3D printed programmable structures, with tori that were both chemically powered, and imbued with nanoscale features. The research team explains in their paper that tori were either glazed or Janus, or patchy.

“In the presence of hydrogen peroxide, the tori instantaneously begin to hover above the surface because of the self-electrophoretic propulsion. Due to the charge instability, i.e. moving surface charges arising from self-electrophoresis, the tori spontaneously break symmetry and tilt to a stable angle. The tori then glide across the surface; eventually organizing into dynamic clusters that swim in three dimensions,” explained the authors.

“The addition of more complex external fields and chemical gradients can be used to indirectly and directly guide the autonomous swimmers. The tori could then be directed to deliver living cargo, such as cells, to specific sites for cell therapy; or collectively organize the tori to direct their flow for cellular transport and sorting.”

3D printing is connected with a fascinating range of scientific projects, to include delivery systems on the nano- and micro-scale—whether in using hydrophilic matrices, micro reservoir devices, or even spermbots. What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts; join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at

Collective states a–b Images of horizontally oriented and vertically oriented Janus tori clusters. Horizontally-oriented Janus particles form dynamic, unstable clusters. The vertically-oriented dimers swim in three dimensions. c An image of clustering, active patchy (dipped) tori. The polymer is transparent, and the metallic patches are reflected brightly in white. The dipped tori attach to nearby particles at the catalytic cap. All scale bars are 6.5 μm.

Active cargo transport by swimming tori. a A timelapse showing the hydro- and electrodynamic attachment of a swimming bimetallic nanorod to a microtori. The scale bar is 7 μm. b A timelapse showing a 3 μm diameter tori transporting numerous bimetallic nanorods. The scale bar is 2.5 μm. c A cartoon showing the vertical orientation of the micoscopic tori relative to the bimetallic nanorods near the surface. The bimetallic nanorods align along the self-generated fluid streamlines of the microscopic tori when nearby. The scale bar is 2.5 μm

[Source / Images: ‘Shape-programmed 3D printed swimming microtori for the transport of passive and active agents’]

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Sustainability in additive manufacturing?

2019 has been the year of environmental sustainability, with global protests and increased political and social focus. The additive manufacturing industry isn’t an exception; sustainability is on the agenda. But how?

We are entering a new era for additive manufacturing now. One in which the increase in adoption for production applications requires the industry to mature and demonstrate the reliability, repeatability and quality of more established manufacturing techniques. This was clear during the recent Formnext 2019, where there was a significant message coming from most OEM’s, which was more focused on delivering on previous promises made of their technology. During the recent Formnext 2019, newly appointed CEO of EOS, Marie Langer, was asked about her priorities for the coming years, she discussed a focus on delivering repeatable and transferable processes, usability, quality and reliability. However, there was another significant topic that came up during that press event, and as the week progressed, it was a topic widely discussed on the Formnext floors. The topic was sustainability in additive manufacturing.

The topic was discussed in press conferences, in panel discussions, at networking events, and in one-on-one conversations.

For Marie Langer sustainability is a critical subject and one the whole industry should be championing. This was echoed by Brian Neff, CEO of Sintavia, who also commented on the opportunity and advantage AM has, as a more sustainable production technology than traditional subtractive manufacturing technologies. Langer spoke about developing more sustainable materials that could be recycled and re-used. Brian highlighted that for metal AM, there is far less material waste and that through distributed manufacturing, shipping could be reduced and therefore the overall carbon footprint of producing a part could be lowered.

The topic of sustainability was also taken up by Rush LaSelle, Senior Director, Additive Manufacturing, at Jabil Additive, as he was on a panel on Formnext TV. LaSelle described the benefits of distributed manufacturing from the perspective of sustainability. Moreover, senior leaders in companies like Carpenter Additive, HP, and DSM, made it clear, that sustainability is on the agenda. Camille Caron, HP’s Director of Education and Sustainability for their 3D printing business has recently written an article about this topic.

It seems clear that AM has the opportunity to lead the global manufacturing market as a sustainable production technology. The benefits offered through reduced material waste, supply chain innovations that reduce the needs for shipping parts thousands of miles, the use of recycled plastics and metals in materials, as well as the development of new recyclable materials, can all position AM as the most sustainable production solution for companies. It comes at a time where large companies are all under pressure to reduce carbon footprint and do more to protect and preserve the environment. Therefore this opportunity is one that could further support the acceleration of the AM industry as a whole. However, while this topic was widely talked about at a senior level, there is still very little being done to actually drive sustainability initiatives. Part of that problem likely lies with the question “Who is responsible?”. How many AM organisations, be they machine OEM’s, Materials Companies etc. have a Head of Sustainability, or at least an internal champion to take ownership? This is something Alexander Daniels Global are going to explore more and early in 2020 plan to prepare a report looking directly at what the major companies are doing to further this very important cause.

By Nick Pearce, Director of Alexander Daniels Global

The post Sustainability in additive manufacturing? appeared first on | The Voice of 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing.

The latest Marlin Firmware 2.0.0 supports Adafruit Grand Central / SAM5D @MarlinFirmware @arduino @adafruit


Marlin Firmware

First created in 2011 for RepRap and Ultimaker by Erik van der Zalm et. al., today Marlin drives most of the world’s 3D printers. Reliable and precise, Marlin delivers outstanding print quality while keeping you in full control of the process.

As an Open Source project hosted on Github, Marlin is owned and maintained by the maker community.


The latest Marlin Firmware 2.0.0 supports the new Adafruit Grand Central.

This is a major release. We’ve spent the last 15 months building in 32-bit support, adding several new features, and making many helpful improvements to your favorite 3D printer firmware.

Read more, and download.

Camper Spanish Footwear is Designed on 3D Printers on the Island of Mallorca

3D printing—specifically with the use of BCN3D’s 3D Sigma and Sigmax printers—has allowed Spanish footwear multinational, Camper, to journey down paths they never expected with their line of footwear; experiencing so many of the benefits of this progressive (and often seemingly futuristic) technology they are now able to create designs that previously may have been impossible—not to mention the element of flexibility they are enjoying with materials, as well as the ability to fabricate new iterations on the spot.

Based on the Island of Mallorca, in Spain, Camper’s team has become immersed in 3D printing and additive manufacturing, with creativity flowing daily amidst their on-site desktop printers. In a recent case study, they explained that with the ‘giant leap’ into 3D printing, their team was able to enhance their design capabilities, along with ‘streamlining the creative processes of future collections.’

Each set of footwear is designed a year ahead of time, and the Camper team states that their shoes offer a geometric complexity, requiring technology capable of manufacturing their men’s, women’s, and children’s collections with great accuracy.

“Working with a 3D printer is very useful because if we have an idea in mind, together with a technician, we can obtain quick and direct results for the dimensions of components. This enhances our ability to be reactive,” said Job Willemsen, Senior Designer at Camper.

The 3D Sigma and Sigmax printers allow the Camper team to use materials flexible and capable enough of rendering extremely realistic prototypes. They can design products more rapidly, with even higher quality. The need for molds is eliminated, and intricate design elements can be integrated into new products.

“Because we have a dual-extruder system, we can use water-soluble print material. As a result, we can work with more complex geometric shapes and reduce design time for the collection,” said Jordi Guirado, Product Engineer at Camper.

The design process at Camper these days involves the team getting together and discussing new shapes for designs—each day—with their technical department. The team then creates 3D printed models, which are ready by the next day. This level of speed registers in stark comparison with more conventional methods that meant models and prototypes might not be ready for up to a month. Now, decision-making amongst the team is more rapid, and both designs and the impending results are greatly improved. Products are lightweight, ergonomic—and accommodate what customers are requesting these days.

 “With various 3D printers on site, Camper’s designers now have new designs literally in the palms of their hands. This is a huge advantage for designers because they can now validate volumes, dimensions and geometric shapes that they could not visualize with a digital model. If designers can print a shoe model in 3D the next day, the design team can take their creative potential further,” said Xavier Martínez Faneca, CEO of BCN3D. “With collaboration, they can really achieve the product they are looking for.”

Camper has been around since 1975, created by Lorenzo Fluxa. His goal was to create footwear unlike any other—with his foundation rooted in the shoemaking business of his family—beginning with his grandfather in 1877, who brought the first sewing machines to Mallorca. Fast forward to the present, and Camper shoes are still made in Mallorca. The team crafts about 500 models each season—with one difference these days: they are in stores in over 40 countries!

3D printing is having a huge impact on the fashion, and footwear industry, from high heels to ballet shoes and athletic shoes.

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at

[Source / Images: Camper case study]

The post Camper Spanish Footwear is Designed on 3D Printers on the Island of Mallorca appeared first on | The Voice of 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing.