With a focus on relieving serious symptoms like central airway obstruction (CAO), the research team experimented with 3D printing molds to produce drug-eluting personalized airway stents, incorporated with chemotherapy drugs like Paclitaxel that inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Interior view of current Y-stents used today, including the metallic Wallstent [A] and the Novatech® Dumon silicone stent [B] used in many CAO treatments, which do not correlate well with unique patient airway geometries [C].
Because diseases like lung cancer may leave patients struggling to breathe, pharmaceutical treatments and the use of effective devices can be critical to the quality of their lives—and even saving them in some cases. The researchers note that there are challenges with airway stents being used today due to a lack of personalization for patients, resulting in airway stent therapy that is often not effective. There may be other issues too, such as stent migration cased by improper fit.
“Unfortunately, airway stents have not developed, in large due to low relative prevalence of surgery and poor outcomes, since the release of Montgomery and Dumon stents during 1965 and 1989 respectively, despite leaps in 3D imaging and drug release technologies,” explain the researchers.
Drug-eluting stents offer potential in eliminating toxicity in delivery, as well as offering much-needed customizations for patients for better fit—reaping the rewards of one of the greatest benefits of 3D printing for the medical arena today with patient-specific treatment rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ premise for everyone. These benefits are heavily evidenced today in areas like prosthetics, heart valves, bio-active patches, and more.
Concentrations used during testing of drug elution from silicone stent materials.
Paclitaxel was added to the silicone molds, leaving the team of researchers to then perform a detailed assay on the Beas-2B cells derived from healthy patients and H23 adenocarcinoma cells derived from nonsmall cell lung cancer patients. The drug was insoluble in PBS, while ‘highly soluble in ethanol.’
Difference (f1) and Similarity (f2) factors used to determine the significance of the difference between release rates of paclitaxel concentrations and formulation methods in cured silicone coupons.
Variances in release rates of drugs demonstrate the potential for further manipulation, with adjustments to the paclitaxel in silicone coupons or via other techniques. The authors reported that there has been similar success with other stents.
Percentage of drug, paclitaxel, released from 250 mg silicone coupons in ethanol at 37°C, over 72 hours (n=3). Table 1 denotes A, B, C, D, E, and F silicone coupon conditions.
Cell viability for Beas-2B and H23 immortalised cell lines, grown on paclitaxel eluting silicone coupons, over 72 hours (n=6). An 80% cut-off was used to determine cellular viability.
“The implications of characterizing a successful controlled release of paclitaxel from cured liquid silicone rubber will allow clinicians to personalize treatment depending on airway geometry and control for the targeted dose of paclitaxel to the area of interest, thereby reducing the side effect profile of paclitaxel and its excipients (i.e. ethanol and polyoxyethylated castor oil) in systemic circulation,” stated the researchers.
“Further assessment in the comparability of paclitaxel release into lung-like environment is needed to characterize the effectiveness of drug release.”
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Prior to founding NXCMFG, Jason Murphy worked in the mold making industry, using traditional processes like CNC machines, milling and drilling to craft tooling for injection molding. He eventually established a mold making company that he ran for about 10 years before selling it. Murphy then moved onto the plastics side of the industry, where he worked in plastics processing for another 10 years. He believes that the mold making industry has become somewhat set in its ways, forgetting to look for innovation in the space. For that reason, he established NXCMFG.
NXCMFG is a tooling company that uses AM to produce metal inserts and tooling for use in plastic injection molding and metal die casting, as well as jigs, fixtures and other tools. While it may not perform high volume production itself, NXCMFG makes the parts that make the parts made through high volume production technologies. Clients range from small businesses to Fortune 500 injection molding companies.
The hardware consists of Farsoon metal Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) systems, which have the performance, resolution and the cost necessary for a relatively small businesses like Murphy’s to produce entirely new molds or inserts for existing molds. And, while typical projects consist of one-off prints, the firm typically builds multiple parts for multiple projects at a single time. According to Murphy, his is in the only company in the U.S. that is able to print H13 tool steel and 420 stainless steel using a metal DMLS process.
A mold with conformal cooling. Image courtesy of NXCMFG.
However, probably the most interesting aspect of NXCMFG’s work is the use of conformal cooling and generative design to optimize injection molds and inserts. Unlike traditional CNC processes used to integrate cooling channels into molds, NXCMFG is able to include channels that conform to the shape of the mold, which reduces the time it takes for the mold to cool and a new injection molding job to begin. According to Murphy, his company is able to introduce a 20 to 80 percent improvement in cycle time.
While conformal cooling is becoming increasingly deployed by a number of additive companies in the space, NXCMFG is designing cooling vents for molds. Murphy explained, “Before you inject the plastic in, there is air inside of the mold so that, when you inject the plastic, that air has to go somewhere. You can’t have a hole in the mold because all of the plastic would come out. So, you have these thin slots that are about one-third of the width of a human hair that all of that gas has to escape out of.”
A mold with conformal cooling. Image courtesy of NXCMFG.
Using AM, Murphy’s company can incorporate slits that measure up to one-thousandth of an inch. Moreover, NXCMFG is working on new methods of design that actually change the density of the steel molds they are printing so that the areas in contact with the liquid plastic are porous like a sponge. This would result in quick and even gas displacement, as well as more rapid cooling for improved cycle times. The firm also uses generative design to reduce the weight of molds, resulting in organic-looking tooling with material only where it needs to be for proper strength and performance.
A generative design study. Image courtesy of NXCMFG.
NXCMFG isn’t only utilizing these unique design features in new molds, but also inserts that can be used to modify older tooling. Murphy’s team is able to incorporate cooling channels and venting into a single mold insert, placing a porous steel design alongside a cooling channel for maximum performance with legacy tooling. This saves customers the money that would be used for creating an entirely new mold
A 3D-printed insert. Image courtesy of NXCMFG.
All of these features end up being profitable for their customers in a variety of ways. By cutting cycle times, injection molders can make more parts more quickly, thus reducing machine hours and labor. The process also reduces plastic scrap because conformal cooling and venting reduces defects in plastic parts.
“We’re the only people in the industry 3D printing molds with a million shot guarantee. We offer a guarantee that says, ‘Look, our tooling is so robust that it’ll last a million cycles in production, which is industry standard for traditional tooling,” Murphy said.
What NXCMFG demonstrates is that the tooling sector is only beginning to feel the impact of AM. As one of the most innovative firms in the space, Murphy’s is ahead of the curve in terms of where molds are headed. By the time others follow suit, NXCMFG may be on to even newer and more unique methods for improving mass manufacturing practices.
As adoption of 3D printing spreads throughout the larger sector of industrial manufacturing, the value of the technology as more than just a rapid prototyping tool is becoming increasingly evident. Even when additive manufacturing (AM) isn’t being used to produce end parts, businesses are learning that it can be used for the fabrication of tooling for their traditional production processes. In particular, 3D printing molds and dies for injection molding and die casting holds a lot of potential due to the various benefits that AM offers in terms of making custom, on-demand and complex parts.
The most common for mass manufacturing plastic parts, injection molding involves injecting liquid plastic into a mold at high pressure. Filling all of the cavities of the mold, the plastic hardens, and the finished part is removed. Most often, the polymers used are thermoplastics, which are melted at high temperatures and cool upon entering the mold.
The four stages of screw injection molding.
Typically, molds are precision-machined from aluminum or steel, which can cost from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Therefore, injection molding is most cost-effective at high volumes in making tens of thousands to millions of parts. For low-run injection molding of 50 to 100 parts, 3D printing can be a more cost-effective option.
Other reasons 3D printing might be chosen for mold production include the short turnaround time. A printed mold can be made in just a few days or a couple of weeks, compared to a five- to seven-week lead time for molds made with a CNC machine.
A 3D-printed plastic mold used to make sensors. Image courtesy of Promolding.
Depending on the exact requirements of the parts, the AM technology chosen need not be metal. Instead, material jetting and SLA can be used to make molds with high accuracy and good surface finish. This is particularly true for smaller parts, less than 150 mm in size.
A 3D-printed mold with aluminum framing. Image courtesy of Formlabs.
As 3D Hubs explains in a particularly useful design guide for 3D printing injection molds, aluminum frames are often used to lend support for 3D-printed, plastic mold inserts against the pressure and heat of the injection process. Without such a frame, molds are more likely to warp from continued use, but conformal cooling channels can be more easily integrated into the plastic mold. If you’re 3D printing a mold out of metal in the first place, however, you don’t have to worry about this.
Die casting is a process that is very similar to injection molding except that you swap out melted plastic for molten metal. The liquid metal is injected at high pressure into a metal die (the same as a mold in this case), which fills the die’s cavities and hardens to form a metal part. Die casting is usually used for large quantities of small- to medium-sized parts. You’ll find die casting used for such components as belt buckles and car engines.
A die casting insert with integrated cooling channels 3D printed by Exco Engineering. Image courtesy of Exco Engineering.
3D printing dies has many of the same benefits as producing molds for injection molding with AM: fast turnaround and the ability to produce complex geometries. 3D printing can be much more cost-effective when the die will be used for small batch production.
Generally dies must be made from metal to survive the high heat and pressure of the die casting process, which isn’t necessarily true for some investment casting techniques. Companies that specialize in 3D printing dies and inserts (used to modify dies and molds) report having a hard time selecting the proper materials. Canadian company Exco Engineering has sometimes chosen maraging steel over H13 tool steel (which might more normally be used for traditional die-casting) due the high porosity and cracking with they’ve experienced 3D-printed molds made from H13. However, as we’ll discuss in a future post, there are technologies that open up the possibility of using multiple metals to achieve certain results for 3D-printed dies.
In the subsequent articles of this series, we will look at some of the advantages of 3D-printed molds and dies for injection molding and die casting, as well as some of the specific AM processes used and some specific applications.
Jeff Erenstone fitting a prosthetic liner on an amputee’s leg
In addition to treating patients in his upstate New York clinics, he has now focused all of his attention on Operation Namaste, the non-profit organization he co-founded that is working to ensure amputees around the world have easy access to comfortable prosthetic care.
According to the organization’s website, it helps “determined people achieve by providing tools and support to Orthotic and Prosthetic practitioners in Nepal and beyond.”
Operation Namaste has worked on several helpful projects, such as hosting a summit on prosthetics and orthotics, setting up Camp Namaste for Nepalese children with limb differences, helping a Paralympic hopeful play basketball, and completing the Nepal Warrior Trek, where a team of amputees and business owners traveled to the country to raise awareness and financial assistance for victims of the 2015 Nepal earthquake.
Its latest project is SILC (silicone interface liner comfort) Solutions, which is a system for fabricating silicone liners locally. In October, Operation Namaste volunteers took a trip to Kathmandu, Nepal to test out the new program, which will work to improve prosthetic care – using 3D printing – in developing countries.
“Part service trip and part trek, this trip featured a team of prosthetists, a physiotherapist, and an amputee peer counselor who toured the beautiful country of Nepal, visiting several prosthetic clinics along the way and putting on an educational summit for Nepali practitioners discussing the latest care techniques,” the website stated about the organization’s Nepal Trek 2019.
Prosthetic liners go between an amputee and their prosthesis in order to increase mobility and comfort…which is great for patients in high-income countries with either medical insurance or the money to pay for them.
SILC Solutions prosthetic liner
Erenstone said, “Without prosthetic liners, amputees would not be summiting the Himalayas, returning to active-duty military service, and competing against able-bodied athletes in Olympic sports.”
Unfortunately, these liners are not readily available, or are too expensive, for most amputees in low-income, developing countries like Nepal.
Demonstration at educational conference in Nepal
Operation Namaste’s new SILC Solutions method uses CAD-designed, 3D printed molds to create standard-sized silicone liners. Compared to typical liners, which can cost upwards of $200, the sustainable ones created by the organization will cost less than $50 to fabricate – making them far more accessible to amputees in developing countries.
Erenstone mixing silicone to make a liner in Nepal
Erenstone has firsthand experience in seeing the positive difference that a quality prosthetic liner can make in the life of an amputee, especially in places like Nepal.
“I’m really excited for this project take off in Nepal, and beyond. Our goal here was to make liners affordable, accessible, and sustainable, and I think we are achieving that,” said Erenstone.
ROMP (Range of Motion Project), a Colorado-based nonprofit organization with dovetailing goals, is partnering with Operation Namaste to help achieve the goal of improving prosthetic care all around the world.
“Gel liners are just not within reach for most people in developing countries,” said Eric Neufeld, the chair of the board at ROMP. “This has been a limiting factor in the quality of care for amputees.”
3D printed liner mold
During Operation Namaste’s recent trip to Nepal, the team of volunteers successfully tested out the new SILC Solutions program, determining that it was possible to use 3D printed molds to make lower cost prosthetics anywhere. The organization plans to finalize its SILC prosthetic liners ahead of another planned trip to Nepal in spring 2020, where volunteers will deliver necessary materials to fabricate the liners and train practitioners on the process.
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We’re talking about art and business in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs. An art installation at Millennium Park was created through the use of 3D printed molds, provided by Fast Radius. Farsoon has signed a joint development agreement with Rapid Manufacturing, and EVOK3D is partnering up with the Currie Group to accelerate its sales growth.
Fast Radius Makes 3D Printed Molds for Art Installation
Artist Edra Soto was commissioned to build an outdoor art installation in Chicago’s popular Millennium Park, which resulted in her freestanding Screenhouse, constructed by Navillus Woodworks out of over 400 custom-cast concrete blocks and opening today in the park’s Boeing Gallery North. Navillus enlisted the help of Fast Radius to create 3D printed molds for the blocks, which helped save on development time and money. The company printed the molds out of PA 12 material, using HP’s MJF technology. 3D printed lattice structures were used in the construction, which also helped reduce the weight of the piece.
“Our mission is to make new things possible to advance the human condition. I can think of no better way to serve that mission than helping bring Edra Soto’s beautiful design to life in Chicago’s Millennium Park, where it will be enjoyed by our fellow Chicagoans and visitors from around the world. This project with Navillus shows the potential of additively manufactured molds to redefine construction project design,” Fast Radius CEO Lou Rassey said in a case study about the project.
Farsoon and Rapid Manufacturing Sign Joint Development Agreement
PA12-based parts fabricated by Rapid Manufacturing on the beta-Flight-HT403P in Rümlang.
Stuttgart-based Farsoon Europe GmbH, a subsidiary of Chinese company Farsoon Technologies, has signed a joint development agreement for beta testing of its Flight technology with Rapid Manufacturing AG, headquartered in Rümlang, Switzlerland. Per the agreement, earlier this month Farsoon installed its new Flight-HT403P, with a 400 x 400 x 540 mm3 build cylinder and 500W fiber laser, at Rapid Manufacturing. After completing initial tests successfully, the Swiss company is now using the laser sintering system to make plastic PA12 components and parts with high resolution, low surface roughness, and good mechanical properties for its customers.
“We are impressed by the strong will power to increase the competitiveness of laser sintering, which Rapid Manufacturing is systematically implementing with the installation of our machine,” stated Dr. Dirk Simon, the Managing Director of Farsoon Europe GmbH.
EVOK3D and Currie Group Partnering
Australian company EVOK3D, which supplies and supports both professional and production 3D printing solutions and is the HP 3D Production Specialist Partner for the country, announced that it has signed a partnership equity agreement with Currie Group, a top end-to-end Graphic Arts service supplier in New Zealand and Australia. Currie Group provides and services high-quality printing equipment, and EVOK3D will leverage its management experience to continue growing its sales and support capability.
“3D printing has moved beyond just prototyping and is now a viable direct manufacturing technology. To meet the growing demand for these technologies we needed to scale the business and Currie Group is ideally positioned having pioneered digital disruption of the 2D print industry over the last 20 years. For our clients across education, design, industry and healthcare it means they can continue to invest with confidence,” stated Joe Carmody, the Managing Director for EVOK3D.
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In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, we’re starting with a couple of stories from the recent Paris Air Show: TUSAS Engine Industries has invested in GE Additive technology, and ARMOR explained its AM materials partnership with Airbus. Moving on, Formlabs just hosted some live webinars, and PostProcess Technologies released a whitepaper on surface finishing metal 3D printed parts. Modix is sharing a lot of news, including four new 3D printer models, and finally, FormFutura has introduced sustainable packaging.
TEI Invests in GE Additive Technology
TUSAŞ Engine Industries, Inc. (TEI), founded in Turkey as a joint venture in 1985, has invested in GE Additive‘s direct metal laser melting (DMLM) technology. GE Additive announced at the recent Paris Air Show that TEI had purchased two of its M LINE factory systems and two M2 cusing machines. While the financial terms of the investment were not disclosed, the 3D printers will be installed at TEI’s Eskişehir headquarters, joining its current fleet of laser and Arcam EBM printers.
Professor Dr. Mahmut Faruk Akşit, President and CEO of TEI, said, “Today, we invest in TEI’s future by investing in additive manufacturing, ‘the future of manufacturing.’ Our longstanding partnership and collaboration with GE is now broadening with GE Additive’s machine portfolio.”
Armor and Airbus Partner Up for Aerospace 3D Printing
Air pipe prototype printed using the Kimya PLA HI (Photo: ProtoSpace Airbus)
Continuing with news from the Paris Air Show, ARMOR Group – a French multinational company – was also at the event, exhibiting its Kimya materials and a miniFactory printer, as well as its new aeronautics filament, PEI-9085. While there, ARMOR also met up with Airbus, which has frequently used 3D printing to create parts and prototypes, such as an air nozzle for the climate control system of its 330neo passenger cabin. The company has now requested ARMOR’s expertise in better qualifying its materials in order to standardize its own AM process.
“We have qualified the PLA-HI and PETG-S. We are currently testing more technical materials, such as the PETG Carbon before moving on to the PEI and PEEK. We have requested a specific preparation to make it easier to use them in our machines,” Marc Carré, who is responsible for innovation at Airbus ProtoSpace in Saint-Nazaire,
“We expect to be able to make prototypes quickly and of high quality in terms of tolerances, aesthetics and resistance.
“Thanks to ARMOR and its Kimya range and services, we have found a partner we can share our issues with and jointly find solutions. It is very important for us to be able to rely on a competent and responsive supplier.”
Webinars by Formlabs: Product Demo and Advanced Hybrid Workflows
“Hybrid workflows can help you reduce cost per part and scale to meet demand, while taking advantage of a wider range of materials in the production of end-use parts,” Formlabs wrote. “Tune in for some inspiration on new ways of working to advance your own process or to stay on top of trends and capabilities across the ever-growing range of printable materials.”
PostProcess Whitepaper on 3D Print Surface Finishing
PostProcess Technologies has released its new whitepaper, titled “Considerations for Optimizing Surface Finishing of 3D Printed Inconel 718.” The paper discusses a novel approach to help improve surface finish results by combining a patent-pending chemistry solution and software-driven automation. Using this new approach, PostProcess reports increased consistency and productivity, as well as decreased technician touch time. The whitepaper focuses on surface finishing 3D prints made with alloys and metals, but especially zeroes in on nickel superalloy Inconel 718, 3D printed with DMLS technology.
“With current surface finishing techniques used that are largely expensive, can require significant manual labor, or require the use of hazardous chemicals, this paper analyzes the benefits of a novel alternative method for post-printing the part’s surface,” PostProcess wrote. “Key considerations are reviewed including part density and hardness, corrosion (chemical) resistance, grain structure, as well as manufacturing factors including the impact of print technology and print orientation on the surface profile.”
Modix Announces New 3D Printers, Reseller Program, and Executive
Israel-based Modix, which develops large-format 3D printers, has plenty of news to share – first, the company has come out with four new 3D printer models based on its modular design. The new models, which should be available as soon as Q3 2019, are the 1000 x 1000 x 600 mm Big-1000, the 600 x 600 x 1200 mm Big-120Z, the 1800 x 600 x 600 mm Big-180X, and the 400 x 400 x 600 mm Big-40. Additionally, the company has launched a reseller program, where resellers can offer Modix printers to current customers of smaller printers as the “best next 3D printer.” Finally, Modix has appointed 3D printing veteran John Van El as its new Chief Commercial Officer; he will help build up the company’s partner program.
“We are proud to have John with us,” said Modix CEO Shachar Gafni. “John brings aboard unique capabilities and experiences strengthening Modix’s current momentum on the path to become a global leader in the large scale 3D printing market.”
Dutch filament supplier FormFutura wants to set an example for the rest of the industry by not only raising awareness about sustainability, but also by stepping up its own efforts. That’s why the company has moved completely to cardboard packaging – all of its filaments up to one kilogram will now be spooled onto fully recyclable cardboard spools, which will also come in cardboard boxes. All of FormFutura’s cardboard spools and boxes are manufactured in its home country of the Netherlands, which helps reduce its carbon footprint in terms of travel distance, and the material is also a natural drying agent, so it will better protect filament against humidity.
“Over the past couple of months we’ve been brainstorming a lot on how we can make FormFutura more sustainable and help renew our branding. As over this period we have received feedback from the market about helping to find a viable solution to the empty plastic spools, we started setting up a plan to reduce our carbon footprint through cardboard spools,” said Arnold Medenblik, the CEO of FormFutura. “But as we got to working on realizing rolling out cardboard spools, we’ve also expanded the scope of the project to include boxes and logistics.”
Because the company still has some warehoused stock on plastic spools, customers may receive both types of packaging during the transition.
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We’re starting off today’s 3D Printing News Briefs with a product launch announcement – 3YOURMIND launched the full version of its Agile MES software software this week at AMUG 2019. Moving on, Sintratec will present its latest SLS 3D printer at RAPID + TCT next month in Detroit, Tiamet3D has joined Ultimaker’s material alliance program, and Sciaky entered into an agreement with KTM Consultants. Xometry just announced some important certifications, and nScrypt is 3D printing titanium parts. Moving on to the world of art and theatre, the Zurich Opera House is 3D printing props, and artist Andrea Salvatori worked with WASP to create a 3D printed art collection.
3YOURMIND Launched Agile Manufacturing Execution System (MES) Software
After spending five years providing order management systems to scale for some of the industry’s AM leaders, 3YOURMIND has finally moved its software solutions to a production environment with the launch of its Agile Manufacturing Execution System (MES) earlier this week at AMUG 2019. The software uses smart part prioritization, rapid scheduling, order tracking, and custom AM workflow creation to improve machine utilization and make production more efficient, and an Early Access Program (EAP) allowed the company to receive direct feedback on its Agile MES software from representatives at companies like EOS and Voestalpine. The next step will be working to finalize machine connectivity.
“For Agile Manufacturing, the Agile MES will need to both GET and PUSH data from all major AM machines and post-processing systems. We are already integrating the data from several vendors into our software and expect to support all major machines,” explained 3YOURMIND’s CEO Stephan Kühr. “Receiving and processing machine data allows us to provide the documentation that is needed for quality assurance and to increase the repeatability of additive manufacturing. Pushing data directly to machines will be the key to automating production.”
Sintratec Showcasing New SLS 3D Printer at RAPID + TCT
A few months ago, Swiss SLS 3D printer manufacturer Sintratec introduced its scalable, modular Sintratec S2. Now, the company will be presenting the printer in the US for the first time next month at RAPID + TCT in Detroit, which will also be Sintratec’s first time attending the massive event. What makes the Sintratec S2 stand out is its closed-loop workflow, as the complete system covers every process with its three modules: the Laser Sintering Station (LSS), the Material Core Unit (MCU), and the Material Handling Station (MHS). The 3D printer offers quick material changes, a 4K camera for print monitoring, improved ergonomics, and effective heat distribution through its cylindrical printing area and ring lamps.
“The Sintratec S2 will boost the design of applications and gives the user the opportunity to set foot in small series production as well. And that for an unusually attractive price-performance ratio,” said Sintratec CEO Dominik Solenicki.
“With the Sintratec S2 solution we will be opening new opportunities for companies of any size.”
The price for the Sintratec S2 starts at $39,900, and you can see it for yourself at Sintratec’s booth 1753 at RAPID + TCT from May 20-23.
Tiamet 3D Joins Ultimaker’s Material Alliance Program
Reid Larson, the Director and Co-Founder of Tiamet 3D, told us about some of the highlighted specs of its ULTRA Diamond material, including no additional nozzle wear, 6300 mpa stiffness, low moisture absorption and friction, improved thermal conductivity, and twice “the temperature resistance of normal PLA, Annealed goes to 125C HDT.” You can purchase one kg of ULTRA Diamond filament for €59.
Sciaky Increasing Sales Efforts Through New Agreement
In an effort to increase the sales efforts of its Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM) solutions in Australia, the Middle East, and New Zealand, Sciaky, Inc. has entered into an agreement with KTM Consultants, founded by metallurgist Trent Mackenzie in 2015. In terms of sheer work envelope, Sciaky’s massive EBAM systems are the industry’s most widely scalable metal 3D printing solution, able to produce parts ranging from 8 inches to 19 feet at gross deposition rates of up to 25 lbs of metal an hour. Additionally, its Interlayer Real-time Imaging and Sensing System (IRISS) is the metal 3D printing market’s only real-time adaptive control system capable of sensing and digitally self-adjusting its deposition.
“I was immediately drawn to Sciaky’s EBAM technology because of its unique and robust capabilities. Industrial manufacturers of large metal parts need to explore the significant advantages that technologies like EBAM offer. It is truly a game-changer,” said Mackenzie.
Xometry Announces New Industry Certifications
Digital manufacturing marketplace Xometry announced that it has just received ISO 9001:2015 and AS9100D certifications – some of the most rigorous, widely-recognized quality management designations in the industry. ISO 9001 helps organizations meet the needs and expectations of their customers in terms of quality management, while AS9100 meets customer demands in the exacting aerospace and defense industries. The company went through a major audit as part of the process, and its achievement definitely reflects how committed Xometry is to providing quality.
“We are thrilled to receive this designation. Our team members have a passion for providing great customer service while following the disciplines that give our customers peace of mind regarding on-time delivery, quality, and continuous improvement. It is yet another step towards achieving industry “best in class” status and being able to meet the expanded needs of our customers,” stated Xometry COO Peter Goguen.
nScrypt Develops Proprietary Method for 3D Printing Titanium
nScrypt 3D printed titanium gear, dogbone, and block
Florida manufacturer nScrypt, which develops high-precision Micro-Dispensing and Direct Digital Manufacturing equipment and solutions, is now focusing on repeatable 3D printing of metals for the medical, defense, and aerospace industries. The company has created a proprietary method for 3D printing titanium parts, which tests have shown display densities comparable to wrought parts. This method could easily work with other metals as well, such as copper, Inconel, and stainless steel, and nScrypt’s Factory in a Tool (FiT) systems can finish or polish areas with high tolerance features using its integrated precision nMill milling head. nScrypt’s Brandon Dickerson told us that the company expects to release more details on this later in 2019.
“The parts were printed with our SmartPump Micro-Dispensing tool head, which runs on any of our systems,” Dickerson told 3DPrint.com. “The parts shown in the photos were printed on our DDM (Direct Digital Manufacturing) system, also known as our Factory in a Tool (FiT) system, which can run 5 tool heads at the same time, including our Micro-Dispensing, Material Extrusion, micro-milling, and pick-and-place tool heads. The parts were sintered after the build and the current densities are in the high 90% range. We expect our system to appeal to customers who want to do Direct Digital Manufacturing and need strong metal parts, but cannot build them with a powder bed system (for example, if the geometry would trap powder inside) or prefer not to use a powder bed system (for example, if they want a cleaner system).”
Zurich Opera House 3D Printing Props with German RepRap
Finished tutu for “The Nutcracker”, which was produced with the help of the x400 3D printer
Switzerland’s largest cultural institution, the Zurich Opera House, puts on over 300 performances a year, but the behind-the-scenes magic happens in the studios and workshops, where the props and costumes are made. The opera house uses the x400 3D printer from German RepRap, with assistance from Swiss reseller KVT- Fastening, to support its creative work by fabricating props and molds. This affords the institution more creativity and flexibility, as they can design objects to their exacting needs in 3D modeling programs, which also helps save on time and money. The opera house currently uses PLA, which is easy to handle, offers a variety of colors, and is flame retardant – very important in a theatrical setting.
“Often, the wishes and ideas of costume and stage designers are very diverse and sometimes extraordinary. It often happens that props are not available in the way designers have it in their minds. This is where the 3D printer is perfect for,” said Andreas Gatzka, director of theater sculpture at the Zurich Opera House.
“There are a lot of great benefits. Special wishes of stage and costume designers can be realized quickly as well as a short-term change of the objects, for example larger, smaller, longer, shorter, or whatever is needed.”
3D Printed Art Collection
Artist Andrea Salvatori 3D printed the eye-catching pieces for his new collection, titled Ikebana Rock’n’Roll, using the Delta WASP 40100 Clay 3D printer – designed by WASP to be used by ceramic and clay artists. The collection just opened on stage at THE POOL NYC in Milan last week, and will be available to view until May 31st. With these 3D printed vases, Salvatori wanted to use “a miscellany of ceramic insertions” to mess with the high quality shapes 3D printing can achieve by adding asymmetry.
“The process of depositing the material and setting the spheres is a central theme in the Ikebana Rock’n’Roll collection, to the point of convincing Salvatori to name the works “Composition 40100”, as if they originated from a musical dialogue of the most varied tones. The artist upsets the algorithm reiterated slavishly by the machine with imperfect musical accents, the result from time to time of spontaneous actions and reasoned processes,” WASP wrote in a blog post.
“The ikebanes, proposed by Andrea Salvatori in the exhibition, transcend the experimental limits of an abstract investigation, representing a concrete territory in which 3D printing and ceramic art co-exist synergistically. The Master challenges the confrontation with the public, becoming also in this sector, precursor of a new genre in which WASP feels itself fully represented.”
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L-R: City of Saint-Eustache Mayor Pierre Charron and AP&C President and CEO Alain Dupont
GE Additive‘s Canadian subsidiary, Advanced Powders & Coatings (AP&C), which produces and distributes metal powders for 3D printing, has been operating out of the Innopark Albatros in Saint-Eustache, Quebec since 2016. But last week, AP&C announced that it had purchased an additional piece of land at the location. This new location, just outside Montreal, is where the company will be concentrating its expansion activities in an effort to support its growth plans.
“We are thrilled to work with the dynamic Ville de Saint-Eustache team! Our firm is currently enjoying rapid growth and we need more space for our projects, along with a good location for drawing fresh talent. Innoparc Albatros meets both of these urgent needs,” said AP&C CEO Alain Dupont. “It is clear that AP&C’s future is right here in Québec and, in particular, Saint-Eustache!”
This past Friday at the Saint-Eustache Town Hall, Dupont and Saint-Eustache Mayor Pierre Charron concluded the sale of the new, almost 40,000 square meter plot in the presence of Town Clerk Mark Tourangeau and notary Jean-Luc Pagé. AP&C already employs roughly 100 people at its Allée du golf facility in the Innoparc Albatros business district, but with this new addition, the company will be able to increase the amount of high added-value jobs in the area.
“We are extremely proud that AP&C, the flagship of its industry, has decided to multiply its activities in Innoparc Albatros, thereby making big contributions to Saint-Eustache’s economy,” said Mayor Charron. “Innovation breeds more innovation and we are confident that AP&C’s increased presence will bring new businesses to our techno-park and encourage other hitech firms to come here.”
This new space will be a big help, as the company, which mainly serves the biomedical and aerospace sectors, distributes its powder products in over 40 nations.
But this expansion isn’t the only news GE is sharing. Speaking of aerospace, a new GE Reports has come out regarding the next-generation RACER helicopter hybrid by Airbus, which is the concept aircraft for the European Union’s Clean Sky 2 project.
“The future of flight is an ever-evolving topic ranging from new supersonic passenger jets to hybrid helicopter-like aircraft that fly more like a plane,” Yari M. Bovalino wrote in GE Reports.
“One recent example of such a flying machine is Airbus’ RACER.”
According to Airbus, the RACER, or “rapid and cost-effective rotorcraft,” can hit a cruising speed of over 400 km an hour, making it one of the fastest helicopters in the world. The RACER combines an airplane’s speed and distance capabilities with the helicopter’s versatility; i.e., it can take off and land vertically and also hover. This aircraft could bring about greener, faster, and less expensive air travel, which fits right in with the EU’s project goal of lowering the impact of aviation on the environment.
Over 600 entities in 27 countries are working together to develop more “environmentally benign” aircraft technology as part of the Clean Sky aviation banner. The goal is to lower nitrous oxide emissions by 80%, fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by 50%, and external noise by 50%, when compared to their levels in the year 2000. Clean Sky is looking at the big picture to make a real difference, and working on things like improving wing aerodynamics.
The RACER has a body like a helicopter, with a large rotor on top, but rather than a tail rotor, it has two skeletal wings, each with a backwards-facing propeller. One wing moves clockwise while the other moves counterclockwise, and the propellors work with the RACER’s low-drag wings to help it pick up speed while also maintaining lift.
For a long time, aviation engineers have been looking for that special flight vehicle that’s fast, cost-effective, and agile at the same time…and it looks like the RACER is checking all of those boxes.
Tomasz Krysinski, head of research and innovation at Airbus Helicopters, said, “The RACER is 50 percent faster than a traditional helicopter, but has lower costs, and brings together several new technologies.”
In order to obtain the necessary technology to get the RACER flying, Airbus turned to England-based GE Aviation Integrated Systems and Avio Aero, an Italian GE Aviation company. The two are working on building the components and subsystems for the hybrid aircraft, such as the transmission system for the wing and rotor propellers and the RACER’s cradles, which connect the wings to the gearboxes.
While traditional helicopter cradles were made with heavy parts that had been pre-made and were not cost-effective, the RACER’s cradles will be made with 3D printed casting molds, which helped lower cost, part count, and weight.
Paul Mandry, the engineering program leader for GE Aviation, said, “This is the first time we’ve ever designed such a complex cast component.”
The RACER also has some other new components that Airbus Helicopters and Avio Aero designed together, such as 3D printed heat exchangers for the transmission based on the experience that engineers gained while developing GE’s Catalyst engine. Because the craft is more lightweight, it will also save Airbus money on fuel costs over its lifetime, and will be much more environmentally friendly.
In order to take the RACER on its maiden flight in 2020, Airbus is planning to start assembling the first prototype later this year.
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This week, the Maine Technology Institute (MTI) awarded the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center (UMaine Composites Center) a $500,000 grant to form a technology cluster with a very specific purpose – help boatbuilders in Maine gain a competitive advantage in the industry by incorporating large-scale 3D printing with economical wood-filled plastic materials.
L-R: Chris Moran of Compounding Solutions; Kohl Shaw of the UMaine Composites Center; Camerin Seigars of the UMaine Composites Center; Joe Wilson of Compounding Solutions; Nate Thompson of Hodgdon Yachts; James Anderson, UMaine Composites Center senior program manager; Burr Shaw of The Hinckley Company; Kevin Burns of Back Cove/Sabre Yachts; Josh Moore of Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding; Kevin Houghton of Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding; and Habib Dagher, UMaine Composites Center executive director. [Image: the Advanced Structures and Composites Center]
While small and even medium-sized boatbuilders can run into difficulties with the amount of lead time and money it takes to make traditional boat molds and marine tools, UMaine Composites Center researchers say that 3D printing can be used to lower the production time by up to 75%. But even though some companies in the boat and ship industry are using 3D printing, widespread adoption is still slow due to expensive 3D printers and feedstock materials.
That’s why MTI awarded the grant – so the UMaine Composites Center can set up a technology cluster to combine the expertise of marine industry leaders and researchers in order to continue developing and commercializing the technology so boatbuilders in the state can start reaping the benefits.
“The combination of additive manufacturing and cost-effective, bio-filled materials is a potential game-changer for Maine’s boatbuilding industry by reducing the cost of marine tooling by as much as 50 percent. Maine boatbuilders cannot absorb the cost of acquiring a large-scale 3D printer and testing new feedstock materials,” said James Anderson, Senior Research and Development Program Manager at the UMaine Composites Center. “The UMaine Composites Center and the Maine boatbuilding industry share a tradition of innovation. We have the tools and knowledge to help Maine boatbuilders increase productivity, reduce costs and, ultimately, continue their tradition of excellence in the boatbuilding industry.”
Habib Dagher, the center’s executive director, said that for the last 18 years, the center has been busily developing technologies to extrude plastics filled with nanocellulose fibers and wood cellulose; these plastic materials can contain up to 50% wood fiber by weight.
With the help of MTI’s grant, the UMaine Composites Center will address how expensive large-scale 3D printing is, and help to lower the cost, by creating a range of economical wood-filled materials for applications in composite tooling.
“Now, we will use these same stronger and stiffer plastics in very large 3D printers to develop 20- to 100-foot boat molds and other boat parts for Maine boatbuilders. By 3D printing plastics with 50 percent wood, we aim to produce boat molds much faster and cheaper than today’s traditional methods,” said Dagher. “As we learn, we will be working with boatbuilders to incorporate 3D printing in their production process for larger boat parts and, eventually, the boats themselves.”
By using wood-based fillers to 3D print boat molds and parts, the materials’ toughness and stiffness will go up, while the cost will go down. In addition, the materials will help improve recyclability and lower the impact on the environment. The university is also working other companies in Maine to develop a local supply chain for its bio-filled materials, so it’s likely that boatbuilding will not be the only industry to benefit from these research and development efforts.
The consortium put together by the UMaine Composites Center will collectively design and 3D print boat molds and marine tools for testing and evaluation purposes. Also, as part of the 3D printing adoption and commercialization process, the consortium will be putting together a training course for area boatbuilders.
To form the technology cluster of UMaine engineers and researchers, and Maine boatbuilders, the UMaine Composites Center’s $500,000 grant from MTI will be matched by an additional $500,00 from the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development & Engineering Center. Boatbuilders in the cluster will include Back Cove Yachts in Rockland, Compounding Solutions in Lewiston, Custom Composite Technologies in Bath, Front Street Shipyard in Belfast, Hinckley Yachts in Trenton, Hodgdon Yachts in Boothbay, Kenway Composites in Augusta, Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding in Rockland, and Sabre Yachts in Raymond.
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We’re bringing you the latest 3D printing business news in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, plus a little 3D printed art to round things out. FATHOM is partnering with SOLIDWORKS software reseller GoEngineer, while L’Oréal is working with INITIAL, a Prodways Group company. Kickstarter and Autodesk are releasing a new open source 3D printing test, and 3D LifePrints has renewed its collaboration with the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. Fargo 3D Printing has formed a new spin-off business, a metal 3D printed parts bureau has purchased an EBAM system from Sciaky, and 3D Systems’ SLA technology is being used to deliver customized dental solutions. Finally, we take a look at some fun and creative 3D printed artwork.
FATHOM and GoEngineer Announce Strategic Partnership
SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD software and Stratasys 3D printer reseller GoEngineer has announced a new strategic agreement with 3D printing company FATHOM. GoEngineer has purchased FATHOM’s 3D printing equipment reseller business, so that FATHOM can focus solely on its digital manufacturing services. Thanks to the agreement, the two partners will be able to scale their respective businesses in different, but significant ways, leveraging their strengths in order to create a large product development ecosystem of hardware, software, engineering, design, manufacturing, and training solutions that customers can use to drive innovation.
Michelle Mihevc, the Co-founder and Principal at FATHOM, said, “It’s exciting for our industry because both FATHOM and GoEngineer are uniquely positioned to meet the ever-increasing demand for advanced tools and services that enhance and accelerate a company’s product development and production processes.”
L’Oréal and INITIAL Increasing Development of 3D Printed Thermoplastic Parts
The cosmetics industry has a constant challenge in quickly marketing new products to meet the many specific demands of customers. That’s why L’Oréal is teaming up with INITIAL, a Prodways Group subsidiary – the two are ramping up development of 3D printed thermoplastic parts. More specifically, INITIAL’s new solution, 3D Molding, uses 3D printing to make plastic injection molds for “final material” parts at less cost and in record time. Recently, L’Oréal needed 14 resin test molds, along with 20 injection molding test runs and several hundred molded parts. By using Prodways’ patented MOVINGLight 3D printing technology and PLASTCure Rigid 10500 resin, the company was able to achieve accurate 3D prints in just two weeks.
“We produce the 3D Printing mould and the final material parts are then directly injection-moulded,” said Yvon Gallet, INITIAL’s Chairman. “With our 3D printing and injection expertise, we were best placed to develop this unique solution. It is aimed at designers in the development phase and complements our traditional machining and injection solutions. It is an innovative alternative that meets the needs of manufacturers, like L’Oréal, that could benefit from this technological advance to reduce their time to market.”
Kickstarter and Autodesk Releasing Open Source 3D Printing Calibration Test
Prints of the test file from Cubibot and Robo printers.
The evidence speaks for itself – Kickstarter is a great place for 3D printing. The popular crowdfunding site requires that 3D printer creators demonstrate the functionality of their systems through various means, but it can be hard to compare the performance of different machines, because not everyone shows off the same test prints, like the 3D Benchy. So Kickstarter is working at Autodesk to address this lack of a common standard for assessing FDM 3D printer performance, and will soon be releasing a new open source 3D printer test for Kickstarter creators, developed by Autodesk research scientist Andreas Bastian.
“We believe this test procedure will support greater transparency in our community,” Zach Dunham wrote in a Kickstarter blog post. “We started with FDM printers because they’re the most common model on Kickstarter. Our goal over time is to expand this calibration test to other printing technologies like stereolithography. Though this test is optional for creators to share on their project pages, electing to do so opens a frank conversation about quality. And backers of any 3D printer project can share images of their own tests by posting them with the hashtag #FDMtest.”
Creators can download the single, consolidated STL file and instructions to test their 3D printers’ alignment, dimensional accuracy, and resolution on Github.
3D LifePrints and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital Renew Collaboration
The Alder Hey Children’s Hospital has signed a long-term collaboration agreement with 3D LifePrints, a UK-based medical 3D printing company and a founding member of the hospital’s Innovation Hub. The company has had an embedded 3D printing facility at the 1,000 square meter underground co-creation space since 2015, and was supported by the hospital for its first two years there, showcasing the impact of its work and establishing its unique 3D printed offerings. Under the agreement, the company will continue supplying the hospital with its specialized 3D printing services.
“I am really proud of this milestone in our ongoing partnership. Incubating a start-up company in a hospital, to the point where they have series A funding, a multi-year contract with the NHS and diffusion to other medical centres around the country is an enormous vindication of what the Innovation hub was set up for,” said Iain Hennessey, Clinical Director and a paediatric surgeon at Alder Hey. “I couldn’t be more pleased to see 3DLP help integrate this emerging technology into clinical practice.”
Fargo 3D Printing Forms 3D Printer Repair Business
North Dakota-based Fargo 3D Printing has formed a new business out of its 3D printer repair segment, called Fargo 3D Printer Repair. While its parent company continues to focus on multiple aspects of the industry, the five-person repair team at the new Fargo 3D Printer Repair can devote 100% of its time to providing 3D printer repair and service to individuals, schools, OEMs, and businesses. The new spin-off company currently provides production-scale warranty servicing, maintenance, and repair services for multiple OEM 3D printing companies across North America; service and repair requests can be made through an intuitive form on its website.
“We don’t sell any 3D printers ourselves, so we are able to remain brand impartial when recommending and performing 3D printer repairs,” said John Olhoft, the CEO of Fargo 3D Printer Repair, who started working in the original shop as a repair technician. “Original Equipment Manufacturers like that they can trust us to provide high quality repairs with a quick turnaround, and not push a competing brand on their customers.”
Sciaky Providing EBAM System to Metal 3D Printing Bureau
Metal 3D printing solutions provider Sciaky will provide one of its Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM) systems to Michigan-based FAMAero (Future Additive Manufacturing in Aerospace), a privately-owned metal 3D printed parts bureau. According to Sciaky, this custom EBAM system will be the largest production metal 3D printer in the world, with a 146″ x 62″ 62″ nominal part envelope that will be able to produce metal parts over 12 feet in length. FAMAero will use the massive new EBAM system to provide metal 3D printing services to customers in the aerospace, defense, oil & gas, and sea exploration industries.
Don Doyle, President of FAMAero, said, “FAMAero is entering the market as the first private, dedicated parts bureau in North America for large-scale 3D printed metal parts. Our Factory as a Service concept, combined with Sciaky’s industry-leading EBAM® technology, will provide manufacturers a new avenue to significantly slash time and cost on the production of critical parts, while offering the largest build platform and selection of exotic metals to choose from in the 3D parts service market.”
Creating Customized Dental Solutions with 3D Systems’ SLA 3D Printing
In order to make over 320,000 invisible dental aligners in a single day, Align Technology uses SLA 3D printing from 3D Systems. The company’s technology allows Align to create the unique aligner forms so that they are customized to each individual patient’s dental data. So far, Align has treated nearly 6 million patients, but using 3D printing technology is helping the growth of its business accelerate.
“What makes Align’s mass customization so unique is not only are we producing millions of parts every month, but each one of these parts that we produce is unique,” said Srini Kaza, the Vice President of Advanced Technology for Align Technology. “And this is really, as far as I know, the only true example of mass production using 3D printing.”
Ben Fearnley Uses SLA 3D Printing to Bring Artwork to Life
SLA 3D printing isn’t just good for use in dental applications, however. Ben Fearnley, a designer, illustrator, and 3D artist based out of New York City, uses the technology to, as he told 3DPrint.com, “bring my work to life from the 3D world to the real world.”
One interesting piece of 3D printed art Fearnley creates is Good Vibes Only Typography – script style typography lettering sculptures modeled in Cinema 4D and 3D printed on his Form 2. But my personal favorite are his Sculptmojis, which look pretty much exactly how they sound. These pieces, which are a combination of traditional sculpture art forms and modern emojis, originally began as a digital art project, and have now been brought to amusing, quirky life through 3D printing. You can purchase Fearnley’s unique 3D printed artwork here.
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