We’re all business in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs! MakerBot has a new distribution partner, and ANSYS is launching a new product. Sintavia has acquired an additional Arcam 3D printer from GE Additive. Finally, Nexa3D and Henkel are introducing a new material for 3D printing medical and athletic devices.
MakerBot Welcomes New Distribution Partner
MakerBot announced that it has expanded its distributor network by entering into an agreement with the Distrinova division of the Unitum Group, which will distribute the MakerBot METHOD 3D print platform throughout Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. This partnership will increase the availability of the entire platform, which offers industrial capabilities and engineering-grade materials, to more customers in the Benelux region who need professional, powerful 3D printing solutions. The METHOD platform consists of the METHOD and METHOD X printers, various accessories like an experimental extruder, METHOD Carbon Fiber editions, and materials like Nylon Carbon Fiber, ABS, ASA, SR-30, and PC-ABS FR, and Distrinova’s network of channel partners will distribute all of them, in addition to MakerBot’s educational 3D printing solutions.
“We are very proud to introduce MakerBot and the METHOD technology into our product portfolio,” said Guy Van der Celen, CEO of Unitum Group BV. ” With the METHOD range we can provide our resellers network not only reliable, state-of-the-art 3D printers, but also the opportunity to offer their customers high value-added solutions for a broad range of new application areas. In addition, the introduction of MakerBot corresponds perfectly with Distrinovas’ strategy to develop strong partnerships with the leading innovative global manufacturers of 3D printers.”
ANSYS Event to Launch Discovery Product
Engineering simulation software company ANSYS released its Discovery Live tool for real-time 3D simulation back in 2017, and will soon be introducing a brand new ANSYS Discovery product, kicking things off with a virtual launch event on July 29th. The company states that the product can help companies improve their product design processes, increase ROI, and provide answers to important design questions earlier, without having to wait for the results of a simulation.
“This reimagining of the Discovery line of products aims to maximize ease of use, speed and accuracy across thermal, structural, fluids and multiphysics simulation all from within a single consistent user interface (UI),” Justin Hendrickson, Senior Director, Design Product Management, wrote in a blog post about the new ANSYS Discovery.
“Traditionally, simulation has been used during later stages of design when making corrections can be costly and time consuming. However, with the new Ansys Discovery, every engineer will be able to leverage simulation early during concept evaluation as well as during design refinement and optimization. This means that they will be able to optimize products and workflows faster and on a tighter budget.”
The launch event will feature a keynote address from Mark Hindsbo, Vice President and General Manager, Design Business Unit, a product demonstration by Hendrickson, two customer success stories, and several interactive breakout sessions, including one focusing on thermal simulation and another exploring the tool’s generative design capabilities. You can register for the event here.
Sintavia Acquires Second Arcam Q20+ 3D Printer
Tier One metal additive manufacturer Sintavia announced that it has acquired a second Arcam Q20+ 3D metal printer from GE Additive, bringing its total number of electron beam printing systems to three and its overall number of industrial metal 3D printers to nineteen. This additional Arcam Q20+ will be installed next month in Sintavia’s Hollywood, Florida production facility, where the other Q20+ is located with an Arcam A2X, a Concept Laser M2, three SLM 280 systems, a Trumpf TruPrint 3000, and nine EOS 3D printers – six M400s and five M290s.
“Over the past several years, we have worked to qualify the Q20+ for aerospace manufacturing and now have several aerostructure product lines that depend on this technology. Electron beam printing is an excellent option for complex titanium aerospace components, and this business line will continue to grow for us. Even in a difficult overall manufacturing environment, the demand we have seen for EB-built components is very encouraging,” stated Sintavia CEO Brian R. Neff.
Nexa3D and Henkel Commercializing New Material Together
Together, SLA production 3D printer manufacturer Nexa3D and functional additive materials supplier Henkel are commercializing the polypropylene-like xMED412, a durable, high-impact material that can be used to print biocompatible medical and wearable devices. Henkel is the one manufacturing the medical-grade material, which is based on its own Loctite MED412 and was designed to offer high functionality and consistent part performance—perfect for printing products like athletic and diving mouth gear, respirators, orthotic guides and braces, and personalized audio projects. The lightweight yet sturdy xMED412 material, which can withstand vibration, moisture, and impact, has been tested by Henkel Adhesive Technologies on the NXE400 3D printer, and is now also cleared to print nasal swabs.
“We are thrilled to bring this product to market in collaboration with Nexa3D. We developed and tested with Nexa3D’s NXE400 3D printer a multitude of approved workflows designed to unleash the full potential of xMED412’s outstanding physical properties and biocompatibility,” said Ken Kisner, Henkel’s Head of Innovation for 3D printing. “Nexa3D and Henkel have provided a digital manufacturing solution for a growing number of medical devices, athletic wearables and personalized audio products. Especially with regard to the current Covid-19 pandemic, we are pleased that nasopharyngeal swabs manufactured with xMED412 on the NXE400, in accordance with our published procedures, have already been cleared through clinical trials and are in compliance with ISO 10993 testing and FDA Class I Exempt classification.”
A collaboration that began last year between GE Additive and GE Aviation and the U.S. Air Force is now coming to fruition. As the U.S. Air Force sought help with creating a metal additive airworthiness and certification path, beginning mid-2019, they received a proposal from GE offering a streamlined plan for readiness, affordability, and sustainment in an AM program.
With some aircraft reaching 60 years of service for the military, the U.S. Air Force’s Rapid Sustainment Office (RSO) began considering better ways to perform maintenance and manufacture spare parts. As the GE team reached out to the ROS, they realized that GE had the experience in qualifying and certifying AM parts that they required.
“The RSO is excited to partner with GE Additive and its efforts to deliver additively manufactured parts for the Air Force,” said Nathan Parker, deputy program executive officer for the RSO who oversees and provides funding for the project with GE. “Their successes will help ensure our systems rapidly obtain the high-quality parts they need to stay flying and at the ready.”
As continued proponents of 3D printing and additive manufacturing processes—for years, before most people were even aware of such technology—both GE Additive and a variety of different military divisions have continued to innovate, expanding AM facilities around the world, developing new materials, and creating new parts for U.S. Air Force planes and even runways. In this partnership, the two organizations have developed a multi-phased program that ascends in both complexity and scale as each phase is completed.
“The Air Force wanted to go fast from day one and gain the capability and capacity for metal additive manufacturing, as rapidly as possible, to improve readiness and sustainability,” explains Lisa Coroa-Bockley, general manager for advanced materials solutions at GE Aviation.
“Speed is additive’s currency, and by applying our additive experiences with the LEAP fuel nozzle and other parts additively printed for the GE9X, being able to offer an end-to-end solution and also applying lessons learned of a robust certification processes, we’ve been able to accelerate the pace for the USAF,” added Coroa-Bockley.
The program, based on a spiral development model, begins with basic part identification and then moves forward to part consolidation and certifying more complicated systems like common core heat exchangers.
“The collaborative effort between the US Air Force and GE shows great promise toward the adoption of metal 3D printed parts as an option to solve the US Air Force’s current and future sustainment challenges. This capability provides an alternate method to source parts for legacy propulsion systems throughout their life cycle, especially when faced with a diminishing supplier base or when infrequent demands or low volume orders are not attractive to traditional manufacturers,” said Colonel Benjamin Boehm, director, AFLCMC/LP Propulsion Directorate.
So far, the collaborative team has completed Phase 1, identifying GE Aviation spare parts for the F110 and TF34 engines, and then evaluating and proving their readiness for flight. Work had already been started on a sump cover (in use already for F-15 and F-16 aircraft) for the General Electric F110 engine, and it became the focal point of the first phase in the program.
Phase 1b, in the planning stages, will reflect continued complexity in the stages, as the team works on a sump cover housing. This is a ‘family of parts’ currently found on the TF34 engine—part of an aircraft that has been in use for over four decades.
“Re-engineering legacy parts and additively manufacturing low quantities of traditionally cast parts has incredible potential to improve USAF supportability. It’s worth our focus to develop a fast, highly repeatable process,” said Melanie Jonason, chief engineer for the propulsion sustainment division at Tinker Air Force Base (AFB).
Excited about the project from the beginning, Jonason is working with the GE Aviation military team, the chief engineer, Dr. Matt Szolwinski, James Bonar, and a team of GE Additive engineers.
“Compared to other parts on the F110 engine, the sump cover might have lower functionality, but is incredibly important. It needs to be durable, form a seal and it needs to work for the entire engine to function – which is of course critical on a single engine aircraft like the F-16,” said James Bonar, engineering manager at GE Additive.
GE Additive and GE Aviation have worked together closely in designing the aluminum sump cover—with the first builds produced on GE Additive Concept Laser M2 machines running cobalt-chrome at their Additive Technology Center (ATC) in Cincinnati.
“The program with GE is ahead of schedule and the preliminary work already done on the sump cover has allowed us to move forward quickly. As we build our metal additive airworthiness plan for the Air Force, the completion of each phase represents a significant milestone as we take a step closer to getting an additive part qualified to fly in one of our aircraft,” said Beth Dittmer, division chief, propulsion integration at Tinker AFB.
What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.
[Source / Images: Source / Images: GE Additive]
Companies, organizations, and individuals continue to attempt to lend support to the COVID-19 pandemic supply effort. We will be providing regular updates about these initiatives where necessary in an attempt to ensure that the 3D printing community is aware of what is being done, what can be done and what shouldn’t be done to provide coronavirus aid.
Established AM service provider, FIT Additive Manufacturing Group, has developed a filter-carrying mask for the general public. The mask is made up of two pieces, a 3D-printed mask and a disposable filter. While the 3D-printed component can be easily disinfected, the filter can be made from just about any cloth material, such as a paper towel or tissue paper, which can then be swapped out and disposed of quickly. According to a study by the University of Cambridge, a vacuum cleaner bag exhibits the performance characteristics most similar to surgical masks.
Given the fact that the Centers for Disease Control is now recommending that the general public wear cloth masks, this may be a suitable method of creating one, while freeing up respirators and surgical masks for medical workers. The president of the German Medical Association too called for the wearing of protective masks. FIT is currently designing a smaller model specifically for children. The file for the existing version, optimized for selective laser sintering, can be found here.
Markforged is the latest company to jump into 3D printing nasal swabs, alongside Carbon, Formlabs, EnvisionTEC and HP. Working with Neurophotometrics, the additive manufacturing (AM) startup is 3D printing 10,000 swabs daily with plans to scale to 100,000 daily. The partners are working with the San Diego Covid Research Enterprise Network (SCREEN) Initiative to manufacture the tools, made with base of 3D-printed nylon and a tip of wrapped rayon.
The group has tested the nasal swabs with 50 volunteers, with patients who tested positive for COVID-19 re-tested three to 14 days later with both commercially available swabs and 3D-printed counterparts. According to Markforged, the commercial swab detected the virus in most but not all of the patients, but all of the 3D-printed swabs came back positive. This indicates the possibility that the 3D-printed swabs may be more effective at collecting viral particles and reduce the rate of false negatives (albeit with an extremely small sample).
Upon completing clinical validation with the institutional review board at Rady Children’s Hospital and the University of California San Diego, Rady Children’s has ordered 30,000 swabs. The swabs are being sold at the Neurophotometrics website. As discussed in yesterday’s update, nasal swabs are in short supply to perform COVID-19 tests; however, they are only one part of the problem. There is also a lack of testing equipment, reagents, and trained staff to process tests.
Metal powder bed fusion (PBF) systems manufacturer SLM Solutions launched a coalition directed toward rapidly producing parts needed for COVID-19 medical supply efforts. The Additive Alliance Against Corona is aimed at leveraging machines and processes already certified to current European “Medical Device Regulation” and ISO 13485 guidelines to make medical parts and tooling for medical parts. According to the company, SLM metal PBF 3D printers in the U.S. are already being used to manufacture metal injection molding tools to produce face shields. Companies that can lend their support are invited to join the coalition via SLM’s dedicated webpage.
GE continues to produce personal protection equipment (PPE), specifically face shields, which can help extend the lifespan of the N95 respirators beneath said shields. GE Additive has designed a 3D-printed adapter that converts a standard hard had and visor into a face shield.
Due to the fact that hard hats have lateral and frontal tabs above the rim for mounting accessories, GE’s solution is a simple one. The adapter fits into the lateral tab of a standard hard hat and features a twist bolt that grabs onto the visor. The visor can also be easily raised and lowered. The adapter is 3D printed on fused deposition modeling systems from ABS plastic. There have been some reported issues with autoclaving 3D printed ABS with parts failing sterilization or warping during the process during both flash and regular autoclave. The company has provided the file online and suggests that any hobbyist system can print it.
Interestingly, the design introduces another element that is dependent on the currently disrupted supply chain: finding hard hats. GE’s partner in the endeavor, TriHealth, reached out to an industrial supply company for the accompanying hard hats.
As mentioned in our interview with Dr. Beth Ripley, Director of the VA 3D Printing Network in the VHA Innovation Ecosystem, 3D printing is currently acting as a stopgap solution for rapidly producing necessary medical supplies until mass manufacturing can produce parts in larger quantities more quickly.
In this case, GE Additive is providing a stopgap in the PPE supply chain while only partially ramping up production in the ventilator supply chain. GE Healthcare has quadrupled ventilator production at its Madison, Wis. location, but GE Aerospace has laid off employees due to financial issues caused by the COVID-19 outbreak as its own aerospace workers demanded the production of jet engines be redirected toward supporting GE Healthcare’s ventilator operations.
As the pandemic continues to grip the world, we will continue to provide regular updates about what the 3D printing community is doing in response. As always, it is important to keep safety in mind, remain critical about the potential marketing and financial interests behind seemingly good humanitarian efforts from businesses, and to do no harm.
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