3D Printing and COVID-19, May 25, 2020 Update: DSM, Amazon, Fortify

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.

Dutch chemical company DSM has launched a platform for connecting healthcare providers and businesses for the supply of personal protection equipment (PPE) and other items. UNITE4COVID acts as a hub in which manufacturers and certifications labs can be linked to medical professionals in order to provide PPE and safety equipment.

Fortify is 3D printing tooling for injection molding meant to produce an adapter that converts a snorkel into a face mask. By making the tooling with its own 3D printing technology, the company believes that it could reduce the lead time for mold production by 75 percent, cutting a 14-day lead time to three days and potentially reducing costs from $2,000 to $300.

Origin has begun shipping its nasopharyngeal swabs, which are now FDA-registered, Class I, 510K medical products. Bulk orders of the swabs can be ordered on the company’s website.

A thirteen-year-old Tennessee student is using his own desktop 3D printer to produce ear savers, meant to reduce chafing caused by facial masks. Printing at a rate of eight ear savers in three-and-a-half hours, Sam Walker is running his printer 17 hours a day, giving them to local doctors, nurses, pharmacists and retirement home employees.

Also making ear savers is a collective of companies including Ultimaker, HP and other businesses, such as ImageNet Consulting, which has made over 10,000 such devices. While we have covered many of HP’s initiatives so far, Ultimaker’s involvement is made up of a two-part endeavor in which hospitals with pre-approved designs and material specifications are connected to 3D printing companies like 3D Hubs and ImageNet, a substantial U.S. reseller of IT technology and 3D printers, to produce the equipment.

Members of Amazon’s Prime Air mechanical design and hardware teams have joined a Washington State initiative that is producing face shields for healthcare workers. Based on feedback from medical professionals, the Amazon team claims to have improved the initiative’s existing face shield design, including material quality, so that they can be reusable and keep the shield in place more effectively. The new design also reduced sharp edges and pressure to the forehead, as well as improved print time. The Prime Air team subsequently made the U.S National Institutes of Health-approved design available for 3D printing and injection molding.

So far, Amazon has donated about 10,000 face shields and aims to deliver 20,000 more, using systems typically used to cut fiber materials for drone manufacturing to cut the face shield screens. Soon, the retail behemoth aims to mass produce face shields, suggesting it will be able to make hundreds of thousands over the next few weeks and have them available through the Amazon website. A recent blog post on the topic states:

“Because of the design innovations and the capabilities of our supply chain, we are confident we will be able to list them at a significantly lower price—almost a third of the cost—than all other reusable face shields currently available to frontline workers. We are looking to prioritize frontline workers and then eventually open up to all Amazon customers.”

During the pandemic, Amazon has faced harsh criticism from employees, including at Amazon warehouses and Whole Foods, who striking for better conditions as they continue to work amid the health crisis. While warehouse workers in multiple cities are demanding that Amazon shut down facilities where employees have been tested positive for COVID-19, CEO Jeff Bezos has grown his wealth by $25 billion since January 1, which the Institute for Policy Studies has described as “unprecedented in modern financial history.”

A leaked memo indicated that, after firing a worker who played a role in organizing a strike at a Staten Island distribution warehouse, company executives would discredit the worker and the larger movement to unionize Amazon workers. The employee was described as “not smart or articulate.”

According to VICE, who received the leaked documents, the company has attempted to cover its labor record in the midst of the pandemic with public relations efforts. Included in those efforts is the possibility of making free masks, with Amazon General Counsel David Zapolsky saying that the corporation should come up with “different and bold” ways for giving away surplus masks.

3D-printed medical supplies have obviously generated a lot of positive PR for companies involved in producing them. What this recent news could indicate is that the move by Amazon to participate in making 3D-printed face shields is part of a larger campaign to generate good publicity in the face of its labor disputes. Because we have seen multiple other companies laying off workers also participate in the production and delivery of medical supplies, such as GE and Boeing, it might not be unreasonable to think that similar campaigns are under way by other entities.

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 mindremain critical about the potential marketing and financial interests behind seemingly good humanitarian efforts from businesses, and to do no harm.

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3D Printing News Briefs: February 28, 2020

In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, AMUG has announced the recipients of its two scholarships, Ultimaker is marking a milestone with a new online marketplace and new Cura features, and a company has created a revolutionary 3D printed helmet to help children with flat head syndrome.

AMUG Announces Scholarship Recipients

The Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) just announced the two recipients of its annual scholarships, who will now be recognized at the AMUG Conference in Chicago next month. The Guy E. Bourdeau Scholarship is awarded to one college student with a passion for AM, and this year it went to Katherine (Kate) Schneidau, who is pursuing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Louisville. Chris Kaminsky, the Lakeshore Fab Lab manager at Muskegon Community College, received the Randy Stevens Scholarship, which is awarded to one educator who emphasizes or focuses on AM. Schneidau learned about SL, DLP, FFF, SLS, DMLM, and other methods of 3D printing through her engineering co-op, and taught others how to use the equipment, in addition to developing new process parameters for plastic and metal materials. Kaminsky makes 3D printing and design accessible to others by co-founding the MI3D organization, and is also a guest speaker about the technology.

“I’m so excited to announce that Ms. Schneidau and Mr. Kaminsky have accepted the scholarships and will attend AMUG 2020,” said Brett Charlton, chair of the AMUG Scholarship Committee. “Once again, the pool of applicants was strong, and their experiences were vast. I’m certainly in awe—the experiences of our 2020 applicants in AM are astonishing, and it bodes well for AM’s future! The talent pool made it a challenge to select the right individuals, but both of our recipients are amazing and truly deserving of this honor.”

Ultimaker Introduces Marketplace and New Cura Features

To celebrate its milestone of preparing 2,000,000 print jobs per week through Cura slicing software, Ultimaker launched a new online Marketplace, along with the release of Ultimaker Cura 4.5 and its additional features. Cura now has over 600,000 active users a month, and at the end of 2019, it was preparing twice as many print jobs per week as it had in 2018. Ultimaker Marketplace gives users access to plugins for standard software platforms, while the latest software release connects the Marketplace to Cura with new cloud functionality, which associates the plugins and optimized printing profiles directly with the user.

“Ultimaker Cura is continuously powered by its open source community and dedicated in-house software team. We see our user database is rapidly expanding every day with new students, makers and professional users. Where one user is more eager to manually tweak and test every setting available, others want to fully integrate 3D printing into existing workflows,” said Ultimaker’s CTO Dick Moerkens. “I am proud of our open approach and agile development strategy, which allows us to fully streamline and simplify the 3D printing workflow now and in the future.”

3D Printed TiMband Air Helmet

UK company Technology in Motion specializes in plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome) solutions for babies and children – namely, remolding helmets that are 3D printed so they’re more lightweight and comfortable. According to research, orthotic helmet treatment is the best way to treat severe head shape deformity, and the customizable TiMbandAir helmet (also known as the Talee in EU countries) is made with patent-pending bio-responsive technology for a better, more breathable fit – allowing the head to correct as it grows over four to six months. It has a unique three shell construction: the inner layer is a soft easy-clean liner to minimize sweating, while the mid-layer is important for shock absorption and offers flexible, gentle pressure, and the outer layer holds shape, gives strength, and provides protection. Thanks to 3D printing, these shells are also thinner than in other similar helmets, and the helmet features a breathable design to promote ventilation. Technology in Motion takes a photographic 3D scan of the baby’s head, and 3D printing, provided by partners at Invent Medical, ensures a custom fit. In 2018, the company received the prestigious Red Dot: Best of the Best design award for its recently launched TiMbandAir helmet, available in Technology in Motion clinics across the UK.

“We are extremely proud of the TiMbandAir helmet. We have had an amazing response so far, with almost 50% of parents opting for the TiMbandAir since its launch,” said Steve Mottram MBAPO, Managing Director of Technology in Motion. “We understand the distress, uncertainty and confusion parents undergo and we are excited to offer parents an improved form of flat head syndrome treatment for the future.

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

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New 3D printing jobs at EnvisionTEC and RD4, new appointments at Ultimaker

Welcome to the latest edition of our 3D printing jobs and career moves update for the additive manufacturing sector. If you are looking for a new position in the industry, we keep our 3D printing job board updated with the latest positions. You can easily apply to any of the posted jobs after creating a free […]

80 additive manufacturing experts predict the 3D printing trends to watch in 2020

Predicting the future is impossible. But that doesn’t stop us at 3D Printing Industry from inviting CEOs, CTOs and other AM experts to give us 3D printing predictions for 2020. If you want to stay up to date with the latest 3D printing news, subscribe to our free 3D Printing Industry newsletter. You’ll be among […]

3D Printing Industry Review of the Year July 2019

Articles surrounding a Liquid Additive Manufacturing (LAM) system and research around 3D printed liquid magnets were some of the most popular stories of the month.  A number of 3D printing firms also provided major updates, whether it was a new system, updated software or fresh brand image.  Liquid additive manufacturing 3D printer manufacturer German RepRap […]

3D Printing Industry Review of the Year May 2019

In May 2019, the 3D printing industry was mainly focused on the RAPID + TCT conference, one of the biggest 3D printing events of the year. The month saw various high profile releases in 3D hardware and software, from the likes of Siemens, Aurora Labs, Origin, and Essentium. News in 3D printing was also dominated […]

3D Printing Industry Review of the year: February 2019

The month of February 2019 saw conferences such as SOLIDWORKS 2019 and TCT ASIA in Shanghai, innovations from start-ups such as UrbanAlps and Hexo Helmets, as well as the presentation of what is said to be “the largest 3D metal printed part for a working vehicle in automotive history.” SOLIDWORKS 2019 3D Printing Industry was present […]

Polymer 3D printing at the 2019 TCT Show

3D Printing Industry has arrived in Birmingham, UK, once again for the latest edition of the TCT Show. The design-to-manufacturing event at the NEC is host to an abundance of 3D printing equipment, including new several new systems. As a returning attendee, the landscape is noticeably different from the desktop 3D printer-friendly machinery at TCT […]

Ultimaker Releases S3 and the S5 Bundle

Dutch company Ultimaker today released the S5 bundle meant to improve the results of its S5 printers and also its new S3 printer.

The S5 bundle includes the Ultimaker S5 Air Manager. This Air Manager encloses the printer and controls the air inside your printer. This improves the safety of your device and its environment. I really welcome this step since while printing TPU, carbon fiber and carbon nanotubes but also with the less exotic ABS toxic and even potentially carcinogenic particles can come off of your 3D printer. In addition to the safety benefits, this controlled air will improve your print results since it minimizes distortion from airflows from air conditioners and the like while also keeping humidity constant. I would expect similar packages or functionality to be added to all Pro printers in the future. Air filtration and safety coupled with better print results are an absolutely essential step if I want to have 3D printers in our homes, schools and offices.

The Ultimaker Material Station is also a welcome addition to any 3D Printer operator’s arsenal. The station lets you load six different material spools into your 3D printing bay where they will be kept in a low moisture environment. Silica gel will keep humidity below 40 percent relative humidity. This reduces breakage problems in PLA and can let you print with PA and other materials that suck up a lot of moisture. I’m skeptical that the pre-feeding will work well but again this is something that all Pro printers will have eventually. I’m also wondering how the silica gel’s performance will stack up to more active cooling solutions such as the industry-leading dryers from Mass Portal that let you condition and manage your filament temperature as well as humidity actively. Such a solution will be superior to the Ultimaker approach but the Material Station should be a tidy place to store filament and reduce breakage for most people.

DSM’s Hugo Da Silva is optimistic,

“The inclusion of the Ultimaker S5 Air Manager and Ultimaker S5 Material Station with the successful Ultimaker S5 is another step toward taking additive manufacturing into production environments. The additional functionality will allow engineering materials, such as those of DSM, to be printed more safely and consistently. This will bring additive manufacturing technology within reach of many more players and help us manufacture tomorrow.”

This is especially true for them since DSM makes a lot of PA and this has been problematic to print for most operators due to moisture filling the material in a matter of hours. The fact that the bundle costs 9.100 USD or 8.685 Euros indicates that Ultimaker is moving upmarket and towards higher-priced enterprise offerings. This is a smart move because there really isn’t much available between $1200 printers that work OK but require too much labor and enterprise like office systems that cost $20,000 or so. 10k or more is a fantastic price point for Ultimaker to operate at. If they were to up their game and obtain the same performance that Mini Factory, Intamsys and 3DGence have in 3D printing PEEK then access to ultra-high-performance polymers would let them sell a good enterprise solution for 20-25,000. As it stands the current bundle is probably a good deal for most businesses and has a great chance of becoming the default printer for most businesses.

For companies and individuals that are looking for less expensive solutions Ultimaker has launched the S3. The S3 which costs 3.995 Euros or 4.395 USD.

The company touts its, “heated build plate, advanced active leveling, a stiffer build platform, and accurate stepper drivers result in the highest print quality of a machine in this form factor. The dual filament flow sensors can detect empty filament spools in the Ultimaker S3 and will automatically pause print jobs so that users can immediately replenish materials and keep the machine running seamlessly.”

I’m not sure why businesses won’t just spring for the S5 bundle, and I suspect that specifically for air quality you’d want to do that in almost all cases. As for consumers and people on a budget, they could get 4 Prusa Originals for this? I could buy a Formlabs Form 3 and a Prusa Original i3 for this price? Would it be worth it? Whereas the S5 Bundle seems like a great product for many companies I’m not sure who the S3 is for exactly. To me, Ultimaker is really giving businesses what they need if they could just up their game to give the S5 the ability to print at 420C. Then they’d have an industry-leading solution. As it stands they have something that should work for many businesses. The S5 is a great printer and these additions should improve results but this launch has really given companies such as 3DGence and Minifactory a lot of breathing room to prosper for more demanding users.




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