UMaine receives $500,000 to enable 3D printing of large-scale boats

Maine Technology Institute (MTI), a business development service, has awarded $500,000 to the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center. The award will be used to form a technology cluster of UMaine Composites Center researchers for adoption and commercialization of 3D printing in maritime.

The researchers from the UMaine Composites Center and marine industry partners will explore ways to economically 3D printed boat structures on a large scale.

James Anderson, Senior Research and Development Program Manager at the UMaine Composites Center, said, “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.”   

Boat builders from Maine visited the UMaine Composites Center. Image via UMaine
Boat builders from Maine visited the UMaine Composites Center. Image via UMaine

3D printed boats

The lead time taken to make sizeable boat molds and marine tools using traditional methods is one of the main hurdles for the small to medium-sized boatbuilders. 3D printing can help overcome these lapses, but the cost of buying a 3D printer and materials for large-scale AM is a barrier not easily crossed.

“Maine boatbuilders cannot absorb the cost of acquiring a large-scale 3D printer and testing new feedstock materials,” says Anderson.

To address the cost problem, the UMaine Composites Center will develop durable wood-filled plastic composites. These polymers will be recyclable and cost-efficient.

Executive Director of the UMaine Composites Center, Habib Dagher, explained, “[…] 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.”

the Alfond W2 Ocean Engineering Lab at the UMaine Composites Center. Image via UMaine
the Alfond W2 Ocean Engineering Lab at the UMaine Composites Center. Image via UMaine

3D printing in the marine industry

At the end of 2017 global quality assurance and risk management company DNV GL and Singapore-based shipbuilder, Sembcorp Marine partnered to 3D print large scale structures for shipping vessels.

In another project, Thermwood Corporation, a CNC and AM machine manufacturer, 3D printed a full-scale mold for a boat hull. It took 50 hours to print the 10-by-20ft structure using Thermwood’s Large-Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) system.

There are also developing services in the industry for on-demand 3D printing of obsolete spare parts. Ivaldi Group, an advanced manufacturing service provider is just one company working to bring such a project to fruition. In Singapore, Spare Parts 3D is working with DNV GL on part standardization, and the nation’s Maritime and Port Authority signed a memorandum of understanding with industry partners to make a portside hub for 3D printed marine parts.

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Featured image shows the Alfond W2 Ocean Engineering Lab at the UMaine Composites Center. Image via UMaine

Altair acquires SIMSOLID for additively manufactured lattice simulation

Altair, a 3D design and simulation software developer based in Michigan, has acquired SIMSOLID, a CAD software company developing simulation technology for designers, engineers, and simulation analysts.

“We believe SIMSOLID is a revolutionary technological breakthrough which will have a profound impact for product design. It’s incredibly fast, accurate, and robust and we believe a game changer for our industry,” explained James Scapa, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Altair.

The SIMSOLID software. Image via SIMSOLID.
The SIMSOLID software. Image via SIMSOLID.

SIMSOLID: A simulation revolution

SIMSOLID is structural analysis software which can be used to simulate complex additively manufactured lattice structures. The technology is said to “eliminate geometry simplification and meshing, the two most time-consuming and expertise extensive, and error-prone tasks done in traditional Finite Element Analysis (FEA).”

Using a unique multi-pass adaptive analysis, SIMSOLID creates CAD assemblies without requiring geometry simplification, cleanup, or meshing. The computational engine allows model preparation to be done in minutes. Furthermore, large and complex assemblies can be solved rapidly on laptop computers.

“Others have tried to accelerate the interface between CAD and simulation by degrading the mathematical robustness,” said Dr. Uwe Schramm, Chief Technical Officer of Altair.

“It is our feeling that by rapidly moving forward with the methods in SIMSOLID and expanding them across applications we can have a real effect on how design gets done while maintaining our high standards for computational excellence.”

The SIMSOLID software. Image via SIMSOLID.
The SIMSOLID software. Image via SIMSOLID.

Altair and additive manufacturing

Earlier this year, Altair launched a start-up program to allow business’ access to its suite of solutions for digital design simulation, computer-aided engineering (CAE), cloud computing and the Internet of Things. Following this, Altair entered into a partnership with Renishaw, to operate a line of projects aimed at introducing additive manufacturing to serial end-use production.

Last year, Altair added Additive Works’ Amphyon program, the simulation of powder bed based 3D printing processes, to its HyperWorks software suite. This 3D design software was previously used to design the APWorks Light Rider motorcycle.

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Featured image shows the SIMSOLID software. Image via SIMSOLID.

3D Printing News Sliced: TRUMPF, Renishaw, Stratasys, Banksy

From 3D printed buildings to Banksy, and outstanding financial results to industrial metal additive partnerships, today’s Sliced news digest scours all the latest news across the breadth of the manufacturing industry to keep you, our readers, well informed.

Companies featured in this edition include: TRUMPF, Renishaw, Altair, GE Aviation, Dassault Systèmes, Formlabs, Stratasys, Xaar 3D, GOM and Xometry.

From 3D printed buildings to Banksy

The Crane WASP 3D printer from Italian OEM WASP has successfully completed a small building for the technological village of Shamballa. The building, named Gaia, measures 21.6 feet in diameter and 9.8 feet tall. It is made of a cement containing 25% soil, sourced onsite, 40% straw chopped rice, 25% rice husk and 10% hydraulic lime.

When we saw Banksy’s £1 million shredding painting stunt we knew it would only be a matter of time before 3D printing got involved. Now, thanks to YouTuber Dave Buchanan, a miniature Banksy-style shredder (that also teases a $100 bill) is available for 3D printing. The files for this project, a work in progress, are available via Thingiverse here.

New York automotive startup Tarform is to reportedly use 3D printing make the outer shell of its upcoming motorcycle.

And the upcoming UK state visit of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands is to feature 3D pritned food. A 3D printer from byFlow will part of the royals’ presentation to HM  Queen Elizabeth II on the 23rd and 24th of October.

TRUMPF’s standout FY, Renishaw and Altair, GE Aviation

FY2018 has been the most successful year in the history of global machine tool provider TRUMPF. For the year ended 30th June 2018, the company recently reported a 14.6% rise in sales revenues to 3.57 billion euros. As stated in the annual report:

“Additive manufacturing is one of TRUMPF’s key areas of strategic action. More than 200 employees are pursuing the goal of generating some half a billion euros in sales by 2030.”

Photonics and Extreme Ultraviolet Light (EUV) lithography are among the company’s other strategic interests. The full TRUMPF annual report is available online here.

Aerofoil shape created using Laser metal deposition. Image via Trumpf.

UK based metal 3D printing system manufacturer Renishaw has entered into a partnership with engineering software provider Altair. Together the companies are planning to run a line of projects aimed at introducing additive manufacturing to serial end use production. Stephen Anderson, AM Business Development Manager of Renishaw Inc. states, “[…] with Altair, we are collaborating on customer-focused productivity projects, particularly in the automotive sector, which will lead to significant improvement in part volumes and lower costs per part.”

And, in the last business story for this edition GE Aviation, the biggest customer of GE Additive, has become the latest company to integrate the 3DEXPERIENCE platform from Dassault Systèmes.

3D printing in medicine – Formlabs, ITRI and Adatiiv approaches

Northwell Health, a not-for-profit healthcare network based in New York, has incorporated Formlab’s Form Cell 3D printing system into its design and Innovation Center. With the help of Form Cell, Northwell Health will be able to increase the production of customized anatomical models and surgical guides.

The Form Cell configuration. Photo via Formlabs
The Form Cell configuration. Photo via Formlabs

Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has signed letters of intent with the National Taiwan University Hospital, VR company VtR Inc.and Ingrowth Biotech, a maker of 3D printed medical implants. The collaboration will establish an R&D center for precision medicine and patient-specific medical implants. After understanding diagnostics data and identification of medical needs, the R&D center will set up a local supply chain of customized 3D printed medical implants. VtR Inc. will provide modeling and 3D printing software.

Spanish digital health company AVINENT has acquired a Stratasys J750 3D printer for making anatomical models.

And Canada’s Adaptiiv Medical Technologies Inc. has launched its AccuCALC© platform, helping cancer centers to predict revenues for 3D printed medical devices.

Insights into 3D printed furniture and future antennas

Andrew Fox, a PhD candidate Brunel University London is conducting a survey into the “Perception and use of Additive Manufacturing in the UK Furniture Industry.” Funded by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Fox’s survey has earned the support of materials testing company Exova and the Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA). Interested parties are invited to take part here.

Queen Mary University of London researchers will be encouraged to apply additive manufacturing in a £1.2 million project to develop next generation antennas. The antennas will be made to exploit the terahertz frequency bandwiths to help fuel demand for faster communications.

Leading 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys has opened its first Authorized Training Center in the UK in collaboration with its supplier Tri-Tech 3D.

High Speed Sintering technology company Xaar 3D has announced its support of the Sheffield Engineering Leadership Academy (SELA) at the University of Sheffield in the UK.

And Canadian desktop 3D printer reseller Print Your Mind 3D has launched a competition challenging high-schoolers to turn waste plastic into useful tools. Details of the Crowdsourcing Waste PLA Recycling Challenge can be found here.

Sample parts from the Crowdsourcing Waste PLA Recycling Challenge. Photo via Print Your Mind 3D
Sample waste plastic for the Crowdsourcing Waste PLA Recycling Challenge. Photo via Print Your Mind 3D

What’s new in 3D technologies?

Precision 3D measuring equipment manufacturer GOM has released two new advanced devices: the ATOS 5 and ATOS 5X. Andrew Cuffley, Managing Director at GOM UK, explains, ” The speed and overall performance of these latest sensors is allowing us to deliver great data for the most challenging applications.”

Xometry has upgraded its Quoting Engine so customers can now place a request for injection molding services.

Advanced composites materials specialist Hexel Corp. has demonstrated its latest technology combining carbon fibers and PEKK plastic. The 3D printed

Component 3D printed using HexPEKK material. Photo via Hexcel
Component 3D printed using HexPEKK material. Photo via Hexcel

structures were presented alongside the HexShield thermal-management system at the CAMX conference this week in Dallas, Texas.

And Kudo3d, the manufacturer of Titan series SLA DLP 3D printers, has released its Print Job Preparation Software. According to the company the program has a slicing speed “at least 5 times faster than the free slicers” and has integrated support structures suited to jewelry, engineering, dental, medical and art applications.

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Featured image shows the Sliced logo over the 3D printed Gaia house. Original photo via WASP

Bright lights of 3D printed lithium-ion batteries demonstrated by DukeU and Texas State

Already incredibly versatile, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) are reaching new levels of flexibility thanks to 3D printing.

Using a desktop 3D printer and PLA filament, researchers at Texas State University and Duke University, North Carolina, have found a cost-effective way of fashioning LIBs into wearable devices and coin cell batteries.

A study of the process has been recently published in ACS Applied Energy Materials journal.

3D printed coin cell battery construction made in the DukeU, Texas State study. Image via ACS Applied Energy Materials
3D printed coin cell battery construction made in the DukeU, Texas State study. Image via ACS Applied Energy Materials

PLA batteries?

Though an unconventional battery material, PLA is chosen by researchers in this study because, firstly: it is one of the cheapest and most common 3D printer materials, and secondly: it is easy to work into any shape your required.

The main barrier here however, is that PLA filament is not a natural ionic conductor. One of the important discoveries in DukeU and Texas State’s research was how to overcome this challenge – a condition met by infusing PLA filament with LiClO4.

Next, it was necessary to determine the appropriate material combination to turn 3D printed PLA samples into anodes and cathodes with high capacity. Of the trial compositions, the research states, “The highest capacity was obtained with lithium titanate and graphene nanoplatelets in the anode, and lithium manganese oxide and multiwall carbon nanotubes in the cathode.”

Once formulated, the respective PLA anodes and cathodes were made using an unmodified desktop 3D printer from award winning developer Prusa Research.

Layer construction of DukeU and Texas State's single-print battery. Image via ACS Applied Energy Materials, Supplementary Materials
Layer construction of DukeU and Texas State’s single-print battery. Image via ACS Applied Energy Materials, Supplementary Materials

Streamlining electronic design

A coin cell was chosen as the first proof of concept sample. Though this is not the first time enhanced PLA filament has been used to 3D print coin cell batteries, the DukeU and Texas State project presents a novel advancement in its other samples.

Through further experimentation, the team succeed in incorporating 3D printed anodes and cathodes into the design of darkening LCD lens sunglasses, and a light-up bangle battery. The remarkable feature of these designs is that the 3D printed LIBs are perfectly concealed first, in the arms of the glasses, and second, in the wrist band of the bangle.

In summary, “These results should benefit those seeking to create energy storage materials and devices that can be 3D printed to create batteries in arbitrary shapes.”

3D printed LCD darkening sunglasses and a bangle battery. Image via ACS Applied Energy Materials
3D printed LCD darkening sunglasses and a bangle battery. Image via ACS Applied Energy Materials

3D printed batteries

Elsewhere, at Brunel University London, researchers are seeking commercial applications for their 3D printed flexi-batteries integrated into wearable chargers. In July 2018, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Missouri University of Science and Technology collaborated on a study termed “a major advance in 3D batteries.”

Three-Dimensional Printing of a Complete Lithium Ion Battery with Fused Filament Fabrication” as discussed at length in this article is published online in ACS Applied Energy Materials journal. It is co-authored by Christopher Reyes, Rita Somogyi, Sibo Niu, Mutya A. Cruz, Feichen Yang, Matthew J. Catenacci, Christopher P. Rhodes and Benjamin J. Wiley.

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Featured image shows a fully-3D printed bangle battery with integrated LED light. Photo via ACS Applied Energy Materials

What to see at Formnext 2018: TRUMPF, Ackuretta, AMFG, Renishaw, Materialise, Mitsubishi Chemicals

3D Printing Industry will be in Frankfurt from 13-16 November, delivering all the latest news and releases from Formnext 2018.

Hall 3, Messe Frankfurt, where the exhibition takes place every year, measures 28,129 Sq m. This year, both the upper and lower floor of Hall 3 will be occupied by specialists across additive manufacturing, 3D scanning, materials and other related peripherals.

Following up on last week’s what to see at Formnext 2018, we have another teaser of upcoming presentations from TRUMPF, Ackuretta, AMFG, Renishaw, Materialise and Mitsubishi Chemicals.

The RenAM 500Q stands on the corner of Renishaw's booth at formnext 2017. Photo by Beau Jackson for 3D Printing Industry
The Renishaw booth at last year’s formnext 2017 Photo by Beau Jackson for 3D Printing Industry

Trumpf automated 3D printing solutions

German machine tool manufacturer TRUMPF that recently reported the greatest FY on record, will be showcasing its latest automated innovations at the event in Frankfurt. Centering around the Truprint 5000 Laser Metal Fusion (LMF) system launched by the company at last year’s fair demos include on the fly inspection and melt pool monitoring technology.

Visitors can find TRUMPF in Hall 3.0, Booth D50.  

Trumpf's Truprint 5000. Image via Trumpf
Trumpf’s Truprint 5000. Image via Trumpf

FreeShape 120, Ackuretta’s precision DLP printer

Taipei-based DLP 3D printer manufacturer Ackuretta, will be launching the FreeShape 120 system at the show. From a company specializing in high resolution applications including jewelry making and dentistry, the FreeShape 120 promises to be “precise and affordable.”

Ackuretta can be found in Hall 3.0, Booth A64.

Sample of Ackuretta's QuraWAX material. Photo via Ackuretta
Sample of Ackuretta’s QuraWAX material. Photo via Ackuretta

AMFG automated workflow for post-production

AMFG, headquartered in the UK, is the developed of a additive manufacturing automation software. At Formnext 2018, the company will have demos of its post-production management system, which takes care of quoting, tracking, quality assurance, from ordering through to a finished part. 

Earlier this year, AMFG partnered with MakeLab, a 3D printing service bureau, to help fulfil order demand. According to MakeLab, AMFG’s automation solutions will save the service bureau countless hours of human resources, best spent on product development.

AMFG’s showcase will be in Hall 3.0, Booth F68.

Chart of AMFG's capabilities. Image via AMFG
Chart of AMFG’s capabilities. Image via AMFG

Future of AM with Marc Saunders of Renishaw

Returning to Formnext after the release of the RenAM 500Q in 2017, Global engineering company Renishaw promises visitors insight into the potential of multi-laser technology and its impact on part quality. 

Marc Saunders, Director of Global Solutions Centers at the company, will also give a talk on the future of 3D printing and how technology can increase productivity. Interested parties can make their way to the TCT introduction stage between 11.30-11.45 am, on Tuesday, 13th November.

Find Renishaw’s stand in Hall 3.1, Booth E68.

The RenAM 500Q stands on the corner of Renishaw's booth at formnext 2017. Photo by Beau Jackson for 3D Printing Industry
The RenAM 500Q on the corner of Renishaw’s booth at formnext 2017. Photo by Beau Jackson for 3D Printing Industry

Materialise brings software and material innovations

Award winning 3D software company Materialise is promising to “introduce innovations in 3D printing software & services” at formnext 2018.

Among the latest applications of the company’s Magics Suite, the company will also be showcasing its patented e-Stage for metal 1.1 the most recent upgrade of this support generation platform. 

Lieve Boeykens, Market Innovation Manager at Materialise, will also be presenting on “Reducing Costs and Speeding Up the Validation of AM Parts” at 4pm on the TCT stage, November 15.

Find Materialise in Hall 3, Booth C48.

Materialise 3D printer facility in Leuven, Belgium. Photo via Materialise
Materialise 3D printer facility in Leuven, Belgium. Photo via Materialise

Mitsubishi Chemical makes formnext debut

And, for the first time, Mitsubishi Chemical in Europe, a regional branch of Japan’s Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, will be displaying its materials and the large-format Colossus 3D printer, making chairs in real-time.

The company debut at the show follows its acquisition of Dutch filament producer MCPP Netherlands, and is expected to send “a strong signal to the 3D printing industry.”

Keep up to date with Formnext 2018 and other industry events. Subscribe to the 3D Printing Industry newsletter, join us on Facebook and on Twitter. For new opportunities across additive manufacturing visit 3D Printing Jobs

Featured image shows Messe Frankfurt, the home of Formnext. Photo by Michael Petch.

Additive Manufacturing European Forum 2018 to take place in Brussels next week

Next week, on the 23rd and 24th October 2018, a consortium of industry stakeholders will take to Brussels to for the Additive Manufacturing European Forum (AMEF2018). Funded by the European Union Horizon 2020 Programme AMEF2018 is the work of AM-Motion, a consortium created to encourage the rapid uptake of 3D printing across the continent.

It is supported by 13 partners across 7 constituent nations, including European Additive Manufacturing Strategy lead CECIMO, award winning 3D printing stakeholders Siemens and Materialise, TNO, TWI Limited, Airbus and the European Powder Metallurgy Association (EPMA).

According to the AM-Motion mission statement:

“Additive manufacturing is a key driver of European industrialization and digitalization, a vital enabler of the industry 4.0 revolution.”

Next week’s forum will give participants the opportunity to network and debate the economic, social and technical challenges presented by the current state of additive manufacturing, and the role of European policies in overcoming them.

Distribution of AM-Motion partners across Europe. Image via AM-Motion
Distribution of AM-Motion partners across Europe. Image via AM-Motion

€250 million invested in additive manufacturing 

According to AM-Motion, the European Union has allocated more than €250 million (the equivalent of $290 million) to research & innovation (R&A) projects focusing on additive manufacturing.

Through Horizon 2020, this includes funding for CELLINK’s SilkFUSION project to genetically engineer platelets for “transfusion and drug research,” €2.7 million for sustainable automotive materials Project BARABARA, and the BADGER robot, that aims to dig and print water pipes underground.

Consortium co-ordinator Prodintec is also collaborating on a project for the European Defence Agency, that seeks to applying 3D printing to improve MRO, costs and “sustainability in warfighting and peacekeeping missions.”

BADGER bot tunnels underground without disruption to the surface above. Image via BADGER robotics
Horizon 2020 funded BADGER bot tunnels underground without disruption to the surface above. Image via BADGER robotics

EU policy topics

Next week’s AMEF2018 event will see talks and presentation across 6 key topics:

The first, “An innovative industrial and social renaissance for Europe” including the European Commission’s address Horizon Europe: the next research and innovation framework programme.

Second is “Additive Manufacturing industrial challenges,” reviewing AM strategy in steel and process qualification.

The third topic, “Beyond the technological aspects” centers on barriers to adoption, such as “availability of an operational workforce, concerns about managing, protecting, and transferring IP.”

Fourth and fifth, the forum will tackle “The international dimension” and “The regional dimension” providing continental scope within the wider global sphere.

And finally, the event will close with discussion of “Key Additive Manufacturing projects,” giving a progress update on some of the initiatives that are gradually overcoming challenges. This includes presentation of the Maestro Project: a modular direct metal laser sintering system, also funded by Horizon 2020.

Key outcomes of AM-Motion. Image via AM-Motion
Key outcomes of AM-Motion. Image via AM-Motion

AM-Motion roadmaps

As announced in March 2018, AM-Motion has now published the first draft of its additive manufacturing roadmap, and accepted revisions to this version up until September 10. The document present AM-Motion’s vision of 3D printing progress for 2030, identifying key actions for successful uptake across all valuable sectors, i.e. healthcare, automotive, aerospace, consumer goods, tooling and energy. An updated version of the roadmap is expected for release in the near future.

With CECIMO, AM-Motion has also succeeded in mapping, among others, all currently available educational initiatives for 3D printing; EU, National and regional initiatives;  and relevant Research Development and Innovation (RDI) programmes.

Keep up to date additive manufacturing policymaking and other news from the industry. Subscribe to the 3D Printing Industry newsletter, join us on Facebook and on Twitter. For new opportunities across additive manufacturing visit 3D Printing Jobs

Featured image shows EU flags outside European Parliament. Photo by Walerian Walawski/SublimeStar.com

University of Utah develops 3D bioprinting for ligaments and tendons

A new 3D bioprinting method has been developed by biomedical engineers from the University of Utah.

With the aim to improve a patient’s recovery, biomedical engineering assistant professor Robby Bowles, and his team, have developed a method to 3D print stem cells from a patient’s own body fat to form tendons and ligaments.

“[This] will allow patients to receive replacement tissues without additional surgeries and without having to harvest tissue from other sites, which has its own source of problems,” said Professor Bowles.

University of Utah biomedical engineering assistant professor Robby Bowles with a customised 3D bioprinter. Photo via Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering.
University of Utah biomedical engineering assistant professor Robby Bowles with a customized 3D bioprinter. Photo via Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering.

Controlling cell deposition

Following two years of research, Professor Bowles and his team created a 12-channel pilot printhead to enable the deposition of stem cells in complex patterns said to be previously unattainable. The researchers state that “cells that make up a tendon or ligament must gradually shift to bone cells so the tissue can attach to the bone.” Professor Bowles added:

“This is a technique in a very controlled manner to create a pattern and organizations of cells that you couldn’t create with previous technologies. It allows us to very specifically put cells where we want them.”

The bioengineers collaborated with Carterra, Inc., Salt Lake City-based developers of microfluidic medical devices, to create the printhead. This custom part was then attached to a Carterra 3D printer which was formerly used to deposit antibodies for cancer screening applications.

According to the research team, replacement tissue harvested from another part of the patient’s body or a cadaver can be of poor quality. Such areas as spinal discs contain “complicated structures with bony interfaces that must be recreated to be successfully transplanted.” This motivated the team to create a new 3D printing technique to remedy such problems.

Furthermore, Bowles believes the technology in the printhead could be adapted for any kind of 3D printer and contributes to the goal of 3D printing whole organs.

Regenerative medicine and 3D printing

Additive manufacturing has proven to be an asset in biological studies and experimentation. In the realm of regenerative medicine, 3D bioprinting has allowed for the creation of cell structures that work to heal wounds inside the human body.

Earlier this year, researchers from George Washington University (GWU) developed a 3D bioprinting technique to create multi-responsive smart structures for nerve regeneration. Prior to this, a study produced by four research institutions in Brazil demonstrated the ability of two 3D printable biocompatible polymers to create structures ideal for cell-growth.

The method article “Microfluidic Flow Cell Array for Controlled Cell Deposition in Engineered Musculoskeletal Tissue” is co-authored by David Ede, Nikki Davidoff, Alejandro Blitch, Niloofar Farhang, and Robby D. Bowles.

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Featured image shows University of Utah biomedical engineering assistant professor Robby Bowles with a customized 3D bioprinter. Photo via Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering.

IN(3D)USTRY 2018 interviews: 3D printing in healthcare from CELLINK, AVINENT, Arburg

3D Printing Industry is in Barcelona this week for the third edition of the IN(3D)USTRY: From Needs to Solutions Additive and Advanced Manufacturing Global Hub.

Under the umbrella of Barcelona Industry Week, this year’s IN(3D)USTRY welcomed companies, speakers, and visitors all, according to Events Director Miquel Serrano, exceeding in the number of attendance from last year’s IN(3D)USTRY 2017.

Exhibitors including Renishaw, HP, Formlabs, demonstrated additive innovations in automotive and aerospace, however, the healthcare sector had the largest presence. As a result, 3D Printing Industry spoke with a variety of companies to understand the demand both the medical and dental industries have for additive manufacturing.

In one of these interviews Serrano, stated:

“Health is a necessity not only for professionals, innovators, and patients in Barcelona but worldwide. As new technologies develop, so has the quality of health care, which leaves us with inventions not seen in other industries.”

Inside IN(3D)USTRY. Photo by Tia Vialva.
Inside IN(3D)USTRY. Photo by Tia Vialva.

Accelerating regenerative medicine with CELLINK

Throughout the selection of exhibitors, I was compelled to pay a visit to CELLINK, a Swedish biotechnologies company, who happened to have its BIO X 3D printer on display. Sharing my observations on the abundance of healthcare companies, Joris van Aken, an Application Engineer at CELLINK, offered his insight into the importance of additive manufacturing in medical research.

“Research is the most important thing to further the standard of healthcare today and additive manufacturing has only driven tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.”

“This is because, in health, every person is not the same. If you break your bone or your body falls ill, it’s different. That’s why I believe that 3D bioprinting has overwhelming potential over other advanced sectors. For, example, using cartilage, we can print something in the shape of an ear specific to an individual. With a CT scan this is able to be custom made- and that’s exactly what healthcare needs – customization.”

“However, I think that we’re not that far from further medical implementation. If a bioprinting process or ink is functional, its FDA approvals and clinical trials that sets us back a few years.”  

Joris van Aken, an Application Engineer at CELLINK next to the BIO X 3D printer. Photo by Tia Vialva.
Joris van Aken, an Application Engineer at CELLINK next to the BIO X 3D printer. Photo by Tia Vialva.

“3D printing in medicine is here”

Moving from medical research to use cases of 3D printing technologies in the healthcare sector, I spoke with Albert Giralt Cadevall, General Manager of AVINENT, a Spanish digital technologies company, who explained how additive manufacturing has become a supporting tool for medical practitioners.

“There are so many disciplines within the healthcare sector; we see this all the time with the work we do with hospitals all over Catalonia. Barcelona has always placed great importance on developing patient care and thanks to additive manufacturing, that is something that is happening today.”

“From metal to resin, 3D printing in medicine is here, and not only in the future.”

“We are a company of 300 people and we mainly work within our domestic market. We have three categories of products from anatomical models to surgical guides to patient-specific implants. The anatomic models go from plastics to resins and some have been made on the Stratasys J750. We also have at our disposal, the EOS M290 machine for metal, patient-specific implants, and the Renishaw AM250 and 3D systems for modeling of resins.

“Now is the time for demand incentivization. The technology, the supply chain, the service bureaus, and hardware are all here. But, from the demand side and the practitioner, something must be done to motivate the growth of that demand. I think there is sometimes a misunderstanding on the business model behind additive manufacturing. This is because of the fashion that 3D printing is now in our day-to-day life – people think they can press a button and get a heart.”

“But I would say that I am realistic about 3D printing. We have the material and the use cases from collaborating with medical data such as CT scans. So, let’s not think about printing a beating heart, but apply what we have already established to improve the overall standard of patient care.”

An anatomical model from Avinent printed on the Stratasys J750. Photo by Tia Vialva.
An anatomical model from Avinent printed on the Stratasys J750. Photo by Tia Vialva.

“Additive manufacturing is equipping the medical sector”

Conversely, Ramon Cortada, Project Coordinator at Arburg S.A.,a German machine manufacturing company, shared a different perspective on healthcare and 3D printing. One that was focused on additive manufacturing hardware used to make medical devices.

“The medical sector is very important for us as it accounts for around half of our customers. In our case, universities and laboratories alike purchase our machines which use Plastic Freeforming (APF) to create implants and hearing devices.”

“Due to this, we can see that additive manufacturing is equipping the medical sector.”

“Our technology is unique as it can use inexpensive qualified standard granulates instead of expensive special materials. This creates functional components from tiny plastic droplets without a mold. From this, many who own our machines have utilized it increase their understanding of health through such models as 3D printed surgical guides. With advanced technologies such as additive manufacturing, time can only tell how healthcare will change for the better.”

Ramon Cortada, Project Coordinator, Arburg S.A holding a 3D printed skeleton of the hand. Photo by Tia Vialva.
Ramon Cortada, Project Coordinator, Arburg S.A holding a 3D printed skeleton of the hand. Photo by Tia Vialva.

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Featured image shows the exterior of the Montjuïc Venue, Barcelona. Photo by Tia Vialva.

University at Buffalo tracks infill fingerprints back to source 3D printers

PrinTracker is a 3D printer identification system recently developed by researchers at the University at Buffalo in New York. With this system, 3D printed objects can be tracked back to the machine that created them. Its purpose is to help law enforcers crack down on the potential unethical and criminal use of 3D printers.

Counterfeiting, IP infringement and even the row over 3D printed guns are put in their place by this new system.

The PrinTracker fingerprinting process. Image via Xu et al. University at Buffalo
The PrinTracker fingerprinting process. Image via Xu et al. University at Buffalo

3D printing and security 

Security procedures for 3D printing are in experimentation across the industry for the potential dangers their pose to development sectors in defense, aerospace, automotive and beyond. Such features span from blockchain technology for protecting master files; through to secure supply chain monitoring; and embedded QR codes to help ensure the 3D printed part is authentic.

PrinTracker’s niche within this area is the ability to recognize source 3D printer based on the unique way that they deposit material. As with human fingerprints however, this system requires a database, or at least a suspect machine for verification.

Infill fingerprints

The PrinTracker research is based on the principle that while a certain brand of 3D printer may all be manufactured in the same way, no two machines produced en masse will be identical. Wenyao Xu, associate professor of computer science and engineering at the University at Buffalo and lead author on the study detailing PrinTracker’s capabilities, explains “3D printers are built to be the same. But there are slight variations in their hardware created during the manufacturing process that lead to unique, inevitable and unchangeable patterns in every object they print.”

This study found that the infill patterns of 3D printed objects varied in accuracy between 5 and 10 % of the initial CAD file. These variations were tracked on a layer by layer and machine by machine basis using scanning and texture analysis. The result was a unique calling card or fingerprint database containing each 3D printer.

Experimental setup in PrintTracker research. Image via Xu et al. University at Buffalo
Experimental setup in PrintTracker research. Image via Xu et al. University at Buffalo

Identified with 99.8% accuracy

In the PrinTracker experimental section, the researchers tracked and tested the infill variations of 14 desktop 3D printers:

– 3 x Ultimaker 2 Go
– 1 x Ultimaker 2 Extended
– 2 x MakerBot Replicator
– 2 x MakerBot Replicator 2X
– 2 x XYZ Printing Da Vainci Mini Maker
– 4 x Formlabs Form 1+

Each of these 3D printers were tasked with creating a set of five door keys. After 3D printing, these keys are scanned by a regular desktop scanner 50 times and the images are fed into an algorithm, trained to identify the signatures of each machine.

According to results, PrinTracker matched the key to respective 3D printers with 99.8%. Furthemore, when the keys were damaged in attempt to obscure the data, PrinTracker successfully operated with 92% accuracy.

Further reading

Though this operation would be ineffective without the “offending” 3D printer, it does present some interesting food for thought on the topic of security.

Discussing the potential applications of the PrinTracker system, Xu explains, “3D printing has many wonderful uses, but it’s also a counterfeiter’s dream.” Furthermore, if the impracticality of 3D printed guns is to be ignored, “[…] it has the potential to make firearms more readily available to people who are not allowed to possess them.”

With this study, Xu believes that, “We’ve demonstrated that PrinTracker is an effective, robust and reliable way that law enforcement agencies, as well as businesses concerned about intellectual property, can trace the origin of 3D printed goods.”

PrinTracker: Fingerprinting 3D Printers using Commodity
Scanners” is published in the Proceedings of the 2018 ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security. The paper is co-authored by Zhengxiong Li, Aditya Singh Rathore, Chen Song, Sheng Wei, Yanzhi Wang and Wenyao Xu.

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Featured image shows a 3D printer’s fingerprint. Image via Wenyao Xu/University at Buffalo.

Formlabs trials mass customization in 3D printed razor handles for Gillette

Gillette, the shaving supply and razor brand of Procter and Gamble, has partnered with Boston 3D printer developer and manufacturer Formlabs.

Through a pilot project in the U.S., dubbed Razor Maker™: powered by Gillette®the two businesses are providing consumers with custom 3D printed razor handles.

Pankaj Bhalla, Director of Gillette & Venus North America, comments, “The Razor Maker™ pilot furthers our commitment to place power in the hands of consumers and literally have them custom-make their razors exactly the way they want them – tailored to their grooming preference, budget, look, color and style,”

“This is one of the many ways we are fulfilling our commitment to being The Best A Man Can Get.”

Custom razor handles 3D printed in the Form Cell system. Photo via Gillette/Business Wire
Custom razor handles 3D printed in the Form Cell system. Photo via Gillette/Business Wire

Gillette’s “a razor by you”

Razor Maker handles are available in 48 3D printed designs that would be impossible to make using traditional manufacturing techniques. Each one is sorted into one of three different levels of 3D printing, i.e. partially printed, fully printed, with chrome effect. These level relates to the cost of the overall product:

– Partially 3D printed with a black rubberized grip: $19
– Fully 3D printed: $25
– Finished with chrome: $45

The designs, taking shape as waves, honeycombs and other organic textures, are completed by a choice of seven color options and text or initials set by the customer. When finished, the handles are compatible with either three-blade MACH3 or five-blade Fusion5 ProGlide cartridges.

The next 3D printed mascara brush?

A hot topic for brands seeking a custom finish to their mass produced products, 3D printing is seeing a variety of applications in the consumer goods industry.

EOS and Under Armour, adidas and Carbon and the Reebok Liquid Factory are some of the notable 3D printed sneakers projects that have some to the fore in recent years. On the introduction of the Fuse 1, Formlabs also launched its own 3D printed footwear partnership with New Balance.

In terms of 3D printed products available to purchase in-store, one brand that stands out is Chanel. In March 2018 the famed fashion house introduced 3D printed tips to a brand of mascara brushes.

“Mass customization with 3D printing is finally becoming a reality for consumers to experience end-use printed products,” comments Dávid Lakatos, Chief Product Officer of Formlabs. “Historically, 3D printing has been involved in the development or manufacturing processes for most products people interact with every day, but consumers have had little interaction with 3D printing itself,”

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Gillette. These new custom razor handles are the next step towards changing that dynamic and getting 3D-printed products directly into the hands of consumers.”

A wave handle design from the Razor Maker™: powered by Gillette®line. Photo via Gillette/Business Wire
A wave handle design from the Razor Maker™: powered by Gillette®line. Photo via Gillette/Business Wire

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Featured image shows the Razor Maker™: powered by Gillette® line of handles. Photo via Gillette/Business Wire