Future Potato Chips Could Be 3D Printed

via MIT Technology Review

3D printing has broken out of the realm of plastic trinkets and become a part of the entire product life cycle, according to a talk by Desktop Metal cofounder John Hart at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Next conference today. Hart, who is also an associate professor at MIT, says that 3-D printing can do everything from conceptualizing and prototyping a product to producing its last unit.

Additive manufacturing—the formal name for 3-D printing—is increasingly used at various life stages of an item, as well as in new industries, and Hart points to this as proof of the technology’s coming of age. He sees big companies like HP successfully creating and selling 3-D printers, eyeglass companies using the technology to disrupt the supply chain, and an uptick in additive manufacturing adoption to create aerospace parts.

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GM Increases North American Factories 3D Printing Output

Dan Grieshaber, GM’s director of global manufacturing integration, stated the majority of GM’s factories have 3D printers. Utilisation of the technologies have lately elevated, leading GM to grow and standardize operations. Now, they plan to increase it further, at least for all their North American factories. The move is likely to save GM millions of […]

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Kiel University Researchers New Method For Joining Metals Without Welding

An investigation team in the “Functional Nanomaterials” working group at Kiel University (along with the organization Phi-Stone AG also from Kiel) is promoting a flexible alternative to conventional welding and gluing processes. With a different special etching process, it allows aluminium and aluminium alloys to mend together (potentially with polymers as well) developing a sturdy […]

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APWORKS and Heraeus join SAP Distributed Manufacturing platform with AMXpert

APWORKS has announced a new software tool for industrializing metal 3D printing – AMXpert. The Taufkirchen, Germany based APWORKS has recently announced a restructuring plan that made them a subsidiary of Premium AEROTEC. Premium AEROTEC is a tier one supplier of metal components for Airbus aircraft. Heraeus Additive Manufacturing will also support the AMXpert software […]

ETH Zurich researchers unlock new architectures with 3D printed molds

Over the space of two months, researchers on the MAS Digital Fabrication team at ETH Zurich created an experimental metal facade using 3D printed sand molds. Composed of 26 individual pieces and standing 3.5 meters high the so-called Deep Facade combines “the geometric freedom of 3D printing with the structural properties of cast metal,” to realize new possibilities in […]

Jay Leno’s Contribution to Auto Part 3D Printing

It is well known that Jay Leno is an avid car enthusiast and has a world-renowned collection of nearly 300 vehicles. What isn’t as well known is that his team does their own car repair and utilizes 3D printing for replacement parts. It can be difficult and costly finding parts for vintage cars that ended final production many years ago.  Most car collectors don’t have enough vehicles to justify experimenting with 3D part design and production. Specialty replacement parts providers are few and far between. Waiting for a few parts can tie up a garage repair bay for a long time. Jay Leno is showing the auto industry how to address these issues with 3D printing. Companies and individuals engaged in the classic car business are eligible for R&D tax credits.

The Research & Development Tax Credit

Enacted in 1981, the now permanent Federal Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit allows a credit that typically ranges from 4%-7% of eligible spending for new and improved products and processes. Qualified research must meet the following four criteria:

  • Must be technological in nature
  • Must be a component of the taxpayer’s business
  • Must represent R&D in the experimental sense and generally includes all such costs related to the development or improvement of a product or process
  • Must eliminate uncertainty through a process of experimentation that considers one or more alternatives

Eligible costs include US employee wages, cost of supplies consumed in the R&D process, cost of pre-production testing, US contract research expenses, and certain costs associated with developing a patent.

On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the PATH Act, making the R&D Tax Credit permanent. Beginning in 2016, the R&D credit can be used to offset Alternative Minimum Tax, for companies with revenue below $50MM and for the first time, pre-profitable and pre-revenue startup businesses can obtain up to $250,000 per year in payroll taxes and cash rebates.

The large auto manufacturers and their suppliers have experimented with 3D part design but to date have not yet evolved to volume production.  Leno serves as an additional auto parts design incubator and an example the auto industry can learn from.

Other Classic Car Part Designer Examples


Porsche is among the leaders in manufacturing specialized high-performance sports vehicles, and has been doing so for nearly 90 years. Porsche is integrating 3D printing to keep their older model vehicles running and eliminate expensive tooling and storage costs for numerous classic Porsche models. Cars such as the 1986 Porsche 959 where only 292 were built require special parts that do not exist anymore and would take a series of complex tooling to acquire a necessary part. With Porsche’s digital fabrication processes, they can simply scan and print a single part instead of producing numerous small run expensive components that require entire tooling mechanisms. Porsche is currently utilizing 3D printing to print eight other components from plastic or steel and is testing whether 3D printing can be used to reproduce many more components.


Mercedes-Benz is a global automobile marquee known for their luxury vehicles and trucks that has been a consistent adopter of the latest technology to improve upon their past, present and future product lines. Mercedes-Benz can essentially print any part for any car they’ve ever built just as long as they have the schematics or part in hand to duplicate it. Customers are closer now to having access to a large catalog of replacement or custom parts that Mercedes can print and ship in a short amount of time. The utilization of 3D printing removes the overhead of machining expensive parts and tools while setting up a market to sell what were once very expensive parts, for a fraction of the cost.

Freshmade 3D

Freshmade 3D in Ohio is a team of highly skilled individuals with extensive experience in additive manufacturing, materials and processes, industrial design and reverse engineering. They strive to provide precious antique and valuable classic car parts that become increasingly difficult to find every day through the use of 3D printing methods, and are poised to lead the industry in serving restoration and custom automotive markets. With few alternatives for finding a classic car replacement part, Freshmade 3D gives enthusiasts a valuable option to use additive manufacturing to engineer quality parts or prototypes that would be much more expensive if the parts were to be machined. Freshmade 3D offers a wide range of materials and small-medium scale manufacturing that will satisfy most car part needs.


PartWorks is a 3D printing and CNC machining company out of Georgia that uses the latest technology to deliver the best manufactured parts for many of the leading industries. PartWorks has become especially adept in the vintage car sector where they are capable of engineering obsolete and custom parts that cannot be found in production today. PartWorks is unique because they utilize precision laser scanners, 3D printers, CNC machining and injection molds/stamps that allow their customers the options of having the part made in house or offering an open format file of a 3D model that can be printed or edited by the customer themselves.


GRYP is a French startup that is using 3D printing to create classic car parts on-demand in an attempt to reduce restoration costs. Their goal is to allow collectors to restore their vintage cars at a consistent and affordable cost to continue the prestigious heritage of such vehicles. GRYP works with numerous automobile clubs and associations, spare parts distributors, and local 3D printing companies in an attempt to integrate large scale 3D printing not only to the classic car sector but to the automotive industry as a whole.


The world had enjoyed Jay Leno’s humor for many years. Now he’s bringing his expertise and creativity to provide design leadership for the automotive industry while having his own fun. Even though Leno retired from late night public television, he still continues his on-camera appearances with his own YouTube channel called Jay Leno’s Garage, dedicated to 3D printing and cars, and has garnered more than 2 million subscribers as he spreads the benefits of utilizing 3D printing.

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

Charles Goulding & Ryan Donley of R&D Tax Savers discuss automotive 3D printing. 


Shapeways Unveils In-house Customizable Jewelry Collection

We’ve previously covered the new set of services and tools Shapeways’ announced recently. Among these plans, Shapeways announced the Spring and Wonder collection, which Shapeways has just launched for the public. The Spring and Wonder collection promises fully customizable jewelry to its customers along with custom packaging. The company has stated that they built the […]

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French Artist Presents the Tiniest 3D Printed Self-Portrait You’ve Ever Seen (Or Not Seen)

Michel Paysant

There’s something magnificent about a mural or a massive statue, but when it comes to art, bigger does not always mean better. In fact, some of the most remarkable pieces of art are so small that they can’t even be seen by the naked eye. Consider this nanoscale nativity scene, or this itty-bitty Wall of China, or this miniscule pyramid. 3D printing has evolved to the point that it can create items of incredible detail at sizes smaller than a human hair, and that’s pretty cool, to put it simply.

Microlight3D is a French company that specializes in bioprinting, two-photon polymerization and 3D microfabrication. In a collaboration with artist Michel Paysant, the company has created what it is calling the smallest sculpture in the world. Paysant, who has exhibited at the Louvre, combines art with technology to create striking visual works including a series of self-portraits. One day, he decided to 3D print his own head. He certainly wouldn’t be the first one to do so, but he didn’t want to create just an ordinary 3D print, so he contacted Microlight3D after 3D scanning himself.

Microlight3D took the high-resolution scan and 3D printed it at a resolution of 0.2 microns, or 0.0002 millimeters. Michel Bouriau, CTO of the company, handled the 3D printing and came up with a work of art so small that it requires a microscope to see. Once you look through that microscope, however, you can easily see the amazing detail in the sculpture, which has a height of 80 microns, or 0.08 millimeters, about the size of an ant’s eye. Never thought much about the size of an ant’s eye? That’s because you can’t see it – not without a microscope.

Microlight3D is a young company that has only been selling its 3D printers since January 2017, but 15 years of research into two-photon polymerization at the University Grenoble-Alpes has led to a great deal of expertise in tiny 3D printing. Nanoscale 3D printing is a technology that is still in development, and it has a lot of potential for next-generation medical treatments, computer applications, aerospace engineering and more.

Just a few months ago, YouTube star James Bruton made the record books for creating the tallest 3D printed sculpture of a human. His statue came in at 3.62 meters, or nearly 12 feet, tall. If you enjoy math, I challenge you to calculate how many of Paysant’s microscopic sculptures could fit on Bruton’s giant one. When Bruton broke the record, it hadn’t been held for very long, and neither had the previous record before that. We’ll see how long Bruton holds it, because 3D printed creations just keep getting bigger and bigger. Size isn’t really a limitation when it comes to 3D printing, so it won’t be surprising if someone else comes up with a smaller sculpture than Paysant’s before long.

Paysant’s nanoscale sculpture will be on display to the public – with microscope handy – at the Artotheque FRAC Limousin New Aquitaine from June 27th to November 3rd.

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

[Images: Microlight3D]


Creating Customized Gifts

Weddings are filled with gifts, and not just the ones you receive. The mother of the bride, the bridesmaids, the groomsmen, they all get gifts from the bride and groom. I wanted to give my groomsmen gifts they couldn’t get anywhere else, and that meant designing them myself.

lightbulb cufflink for groomsmen

If you’re haven’t been following along, I’m Dan, and this month I’m sharing how I used 3D printing to personalize my wedding. For my groomsmen, I wanted something uniform they could wear at the wedding, but also something that was unique to each of them, so I made them cufflinks. Like the engagement and wedding rings I designed and 3D printed, I got much more for my money than I would have if it I’d bought cufflinks retail, and the gifts were meaningful and truly personal.

Dream Up the Design

This was the hardest part: deciding what to make for each of them. Some ideas came more fully formed and I started with those. Others I needed to play with for a bit, sketching out various ideas until I landed on the one that felt right.

3D model of lightbulb cufflink

3D model of lightbulb cufflink

Model the Designs

I used OnShape, learning hands-on as I went. I started with the designs I knew I could model while researching the features to make the other shapes. At one point I discovered I couldn’t make as intricate a design as I wanted, so had to rework my idea until it came out right.

… or Alter an Existing Model

For the airplane cufflinks I made for one of my groomsmen who loves to travel, the perfect 3D printed plane already existed on Thingiverse. The copyright was open to use, and I confirmed with the artist that he was okay with my altering his design, so I simply replaced the base he had for the airplane with a cufflink stem.

plane cufflink for groomsmen

Airplane Jet Cufflink

Add a Monogram

To personalize these even more, my groomsmen’s initials were engraved into the base of each cufflink. I designed this in CAD as I couldn’t mirror the text for the left and right cufflink but needed to mirror them separately, then change the orientation and add it into my OnShape model of the design.

Prototype the Design

I printed the cufflinks in Versatile Plastic to test out the designs on one of my shirts. I discovered I needed to thicken the stem as well as tweak a few of the designs to make them all approximately the same size. Then I printed the final versions in Silver.

Globe cufflink before and after processing

Before and after using silver polish

Give it a Handmade Touch

I’d seen that you could polish silver, adding a chemical patina to it that gave the design more depth and detail. I tested this out on a sample and then polished each cufflink with Liver of Sulpher to give it more of a multi-dimensional, handmade feel.


The gift wasn’t a total surprise since I’d told my groomsmen they didn’t need to get cufflinks for their tuxedo shirts, but that I’d designed each cufflink for them complete with monogram blew them away. They were excited by this and had fun showing them off at the wedding and explaining the meaning of their wearing a plane, a globe, a lightbulb, a guitar and a wedge of cheese.

custom made cufflinks for groomsmen

The whole process took about two months, designing the cufflinks on a rolling basis, with about a week or two to conceive and model a design and two weeks to print it. You can always use Design with Shapeways to help you create your ideal gift.

And no, I did not design cufflinks for myself. I found the perfect pair in one of our community members’ shops instead!

What would you design for your wedding party or to wear at your wedding?




**Updated by Kendall Fately on 6/21/18

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