3D Printing News Briefs: April 6, 2019

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

Last year, Dutch 3D printing specialist Tiamet 3D, founded in late 2014, worked with Finland-based Carbodeon to develop the first nanodiamond-enhanced 3D printing filaments, which went on the market in September. Now the company has joined Ultimaker as a partner in its Material Alliance Program. Together, the two will offer end-users simple one click downloads of Tiamet’s ULTRA Diamond material profile, which is now available on Ultimaker’s Cura software. This collaboration is formally backed by Tiamet’s manufacturing partner Mitsubishi Chemical Performance Polymers (MCPP Netherlands).

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.”

Discuss these stories and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.

3D Printing News Briefs: November 17, 2018

Continuing with the week’s second edition of 3D Printing News Briefs, or rather formnext 2018 News Briefs, we’ve got more announcements coming from the huge trade fair, which just ended today in Frankfurt. 3D Systems introduced two new 3D printers and a new material, while Solvay showcased its two new medical grade filaments. ViscoTec revealed its new two-component print head, and Additive Industries announced a partnership with Air Liquide on the show floor. Finally, Honeywell FM&T engineers are using topology optimization to shorten the design process at the DOE’s Kansas City National Security Campus.

3D Systems Showcases Two New 3D Printers 

DMP Factory 350

This week at formnext, 3D printing leader 3D Systems announced two additions to its DMP metal 3D printing platform, along with a new aluminum alloy material. This platform allows customers to scale from the new DMP Flex 350 – successor to the ProX DMP 320 – all the way up to the new DMP Factory 350 as their production needs shift. These 3D printers were built to provide repeatable, robust metal parts production 24/7. The $575,000 Flex 350 offers an improved print productivity of 15% over previous models, comes with improved gas flow technology for uniform part quality, and allows for more efficient production of very dense, pure metal parts. The $763,000 Factory 250 combines all of these advantages and features with a little something extra – integrated powder management. An in-unit viewing panel allows for a visual inspection of the ultrasonic sieve, and also includes real-time process monitoring. In addition to its two new DMP 3D printers, 3D Systems also introduced a new aluminum alloy material, LaserForm AlSi7Mg0.6 (A), which offers electrical ductility, corrosion resistance, and high-thermal conductivity.

“At Formnext 2017, I announced 3D Systems’ intent to bring 3D printing to the factory floor with a new generation of additive manufacturing solutions. Today I am happy to report that over the last year we have brought to market an unrivalled series of plastic and metal 3D printers, materials and software that are optimizing workflows, enabling new design innovations, and reducing costs,” said Vyomesh Joshi, the President and CEO of 3D Systems. “The new innovations we are announcing today – DMP Flex 350, DMP Factory 350, and LaserForm material– further expand 3D System’s customer-first, solution approach to drive the transformation of manufacturing.”

The DMP Flex 350 and DMP Factory 350 should be available in late Q4 2018.

Solvay Introduces New Medical-Grade Filaments

Global specialty polymer supplier Solvay was also at formnext this week to launch new products. The company introduced three new additions to its high-performance 3D printing filament portfolio – KetaSpire PEEK (NT1 HC), a 10% carbon fiber-reinforced KetaSpire (CF10 HC), and Radel PPSU (NT1 HC), which are Solvay’s first medical-grade materials for limited contact applications in the healthcare industry. The KetaSpire PEEK filaments enable high part density, achieve great printed layer fusion, and provide excellent part strength, along the z-axis in particular. Radel PPSU delivers the same exceptional fusion, and also has toughness, transparency, and high elongation. These three new grades are available immediately in both North America and Europe through Solvay’s e-commerce platform.

“The healthcare industry is quickly emerging as a leading market to benefit from AM technology which makes customized parts for single use or low volumes possible. However, there is still a very limited choice of high-performance filaments that meet the stringent regulatory requirements in healthcare and this is the gap we want to close with our new selection of medical grade products,” said Christophe Schramm, Additive Manufacturing Business Manager at Solvay’s Specialty Polymers global business unit.

VisctoTec Launches New Two-Component Print Head

This spring, Germany-based ViscoTec, which is well known for its innovative 3D print heads, introduced the vipro-HEAD, a print head with an optional heating function for viscous fluids. The vipro-HEAD 3 and vipro-HEAD 5 allow the company’s 3D printing customers to process viscous fluids and pastes, and now ViscoTec has delivered again. At formnext this week, the company launched its new two-component print head, vipro-HEAD 3/3 and 5/5, which allows for the 3D printing of two-component viscous fluids and pastes.

The print head, which comes in two sizes, has parallel, independently running motors, which receive direct signals from the 3D printer itself. Bleeding screws can be adapted to the vipro-HEAD 3/3 and 5/5 for venting during start-up, and optional integrated pressure sensors can monitor the output pressure at the static mixer, so dosing is automatically stopped if any pressure fluctuations occur so the rotor and stator aren’t damaged. With ViscoTec’s new print head, nearly all two-component viscous fluids and pastes can be dispensed continuously and gently.

Additive Industries and Air Liquide Announce Partnership

The last piece of formnext 2018 news to share with you today is the newly announced partnership for industrial 3D printing between France-based Air Liquide and Netherlands company Additive Industries. The two have long enjoyed a working relationship, and decided to increase this into a professional partnership, in order to develop a dedicated infrastructure for gasses. Air Liquide will add its solutions for supplying and storing shielding gasses, and an infrastructure blueprint for Additive Industries’ MetalFAB1 3D printer will allow customers in demanding markets to increase the safety, quality, and post-processing of 3D printing.

“On our continuous quest to improve the performance of our systems while offering our users a fully integrated solution, we have identified the gas infrastructure for argon and nitrogen as an often overlooked but important piece of the puzzle,” said Daan Kersten, CEO of Additive Industries. “Because of our partnership with Air Liquide, we now can offer a blueprint to our customers to guarantee a reliable gas storage and supply as well as a higher level of safety, our number one priority.”

Topology Optimization Used by Honeywell FM&T Engineers

Honeywell FM&T, an engineering, manufacturing and sourcing enterprise that’s part of the aerospace company Honeywell, manages and operates the Kansas City National Security Campus for the US Department of Energy. It used to take the engineers months to design and produce materials to use for tooling and testing purposes. But Honeywell FM&T is now saving time by using digital manufacturing technology, which allows the engineers to bring their ideas to fruition in days, instead of months.

Topology optimization, or TO, shortens the normal design process by creating a prototype based on the functional and physical requirements, and then simulating production with it. 3D products designed with TO are less expensive, more lightweight, and stronger, and the Honeywell FM&T team recently used the technology to redesign a part that would meet structural requirements, but also weighs 46% less as well.

Discuss these stories and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below. 

Tsinghua University Investigates if Blends of PLA and PBS are Suitable for FDM 3D Printing

A trio of researchers from Tsinghua University in Beijing recently published a paper, titled “Preparation and Characterization of Poly(butylene succinate)/Polylactide Blends for Fused Deposition Modeling 3D Printing,” about preparing material blends of PLA and PBS with various compositions, then validating if they are suitable for use as filaments for FDM 3D printing.

The abstract reads, “To obtain a new type of biodegradable material with high toughness and strength used for fused deposition modeling (FDM) printing, a series of poly(butylene succinate) (PBS)-based polymer materials was prepared via blending with polylactide (PLA). The rheological, thermal, and mechanical properties as well as FDM printing performances of the blends, such as distortion, cross section, and the interlayer bond strength, were characterized. The results show that with increasing PLA content, the blends possess higher melt viscosity, larger tensile strength, and modulus, which are more suitable for FDM printing. Especially, when the content of PLA is more than 40%, distortion due to residual stress caused by volume shrinkage disappears during the printing process and thus products with good dimensional accuracy and pearl-like gloss are obtained. The results demonstrate that the blend compositions with moderate viscosity, low degree of crystallinity, and high modulus are more suitable for FDM printing. Compared with the low elongation upon breaking of commercially FDM-printed material, the PBS/PLA blend materials exhibit a typical ductile behavior with elongation of 90−300%. Therefore, besides biodegradability, the PBS/PLA blends present excellent mechanical properties and suitability as materials for FDM printing. In addition, our study is expected to provide methods for valuating the suitability of whether a thermoplastic polymer material is suitable for FDM printing or not.”

Appearance of the PBS/PLA blend bars prepared by FDM 3D printing.

When it comes to prototyping, FDM is one of the most widely adopted technologies, and plenty of materials research has been conducted for the technology. Researchers have been working hard to develop new polymer materials for FDM 3D printing with both high dimensional accuracy and good mechanical properties. PLA, which theoretically can be degraded into just carbon dioxide and water under natural conditions, is often used, but it’s unfortunately a brittle material, which limits its applications.

PBS, with great thermal stability, has a decently low melting point and excellent ductility, which would make it good for FDM 3D printing. But, there haven’t been a lot of studies published on the use of the material as a 3D printing filament.

“One reason is that its low melt strength makes it difficult to continually form monofilament when extruded, which makes printing fail halfway,” the researchers explained. “Moreover, the distortion caused by the relatively large volume shrinkage during cooling probably happens after crystallization, thus resulting in defective products. Therefore, modification of PBS is quite necessary to solve the drawbacks mentioned above and make the material suitable for FDM printing.”

By blending materials, the advantages of these two components can be combined – that’s why this modification method is used so often for polymer materials. There is little research about the use of PBS blends in FDM 3D printing, so the Tsinghua research team stepped up.

“The rheological, thermal, and mechanical properties of the blends were investigated, and different specimens were printed with these filaments to evaluate their suitability for FDM system,” the researchers wrote. “Interlayer bond strength in the printed products was also measured. Furthermore, we expect to find a relationship between the properties of materials and the performance of FDM printing so as to give a reference for judging whether a thermoplastic polymer material, not limited to polymer blends, is suitable for FDM printing or not.”

Vertically printed PBS40/PLA60 samples for testing the interlayer bond strength.

The team first dried PBS and PLA pellets at 65°C for 12 hours in a vacuum oven before processing them and extruding the blended pellets into filaments for FDM 3D printing.  In addition to a few other shapes, like a rabbit, a cuboid model was printed to show distortion, which can be an obstacle to overcome in FDM.

The shear viscosity of the polymer blend melt was measured, along with the thermal properties, such as glass transition temperatures. The researchers also injection-molded the polymer blend pellets to make dumbbell-shaped and cuboid bars for tensile and impact tests, in addition to performing a thermal analysis on these bars to “investigate the effect of FDM printing process on the crystallization behavior of the PBS/PLA blends.”

“All blends exhibit excellent processing properties and can be extruded as monofilaments with 1.75 mm diameter via a single-screw extruder. With increasing PBS content, the elongation at break and impact strength of the blends arise,” the researchers explained. “However, distortion of the printed bars increases due to larger volume shrinkage resulting from the higher degree of crystallinity in the blends. In addition, the interlayer bond strength improves due to the decreased melt viscosity. When PLA content in the blends is not less than 40 wt %, FDM printing can proceed smoothly with neither observable distortion nor detachment from the platform at room temperature.”

The paper also states that PBS60/PLA40 and PBS40/PLA60, in terms of interlayer bond strength, material toughness, and distortion, are the “optimal blend compositions” for use in FDM 3D printing.

SEM images of cross sections of the FDM-printed bars.

“Therefore, with pearl-like gloss and good mechanical properties as well as dimensional accuracy, the bio-based PBS/PLA blends are new promising materials for producing FDM filaments for applications in many fields, especially for architectural design,” the researchers concluded. “Furthermore, our study is expected to provide methods for evaluating whether a thermoplastic polymer material is suitable for FDM printing or not.”

Co-authors of the paper are Qing Ou-Yang, Baohua Guo, and Jun Xu.

Discuss this research and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.