The super-secret Google and 3D systems – Project ARA

In Oct ’13, Motorola announced an ambitious project. An initiative, which aimed to develop a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones. The platform will include a structural frame that holds smartphone modules of the owner’s choice, such as a display, keyboard or an extra battery, for that matter. Google however, sold Motorola to the Chinese electronic giant Lenovo, later that year, the super-secret Project ARA, got surrounded in a cloud of doubts.

But now, Google is releasing more details on Project ARA. It turned out that Google was holding onto one organization within Motorola: the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group, headed by Regina Dugan, the former director of the U.S. Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The Project ARA which aims to reinvent the smartphone that consumers can configure as they choose, is expected to have an alpha version ready at the beginning of April, and a commercial release will follow soon enough. Project ARA’s creators hope to make smartphones a whole lot more interesting, by allowing users to swap out malfunctioning modules or upgrade individual modules as innovations emerge, providing longer lifetime cycles for the handset.

Google and 3D Systems team up to create a continuous high-speed 3D printing production platform and fulfilment system in support of Project ARA.

The next generation 3D printer is capable of printing enclosures for the Project ARA modules, in volume. It will be able to print 600-dpi color images on module enclosures made out of multiple types of materials. The printer will even be able to treat the enclosure as a surface for one-of-a-kind sculptures.

Google expects that eventually, users can print electrical elements such as the antennas using 3D printers. The company will distribute development kits to software developers in the coming months.

India – Mitsubishi 3D metal printers coming…

3D printer manufactures have opened their doors to the average person, provided he could afford one. 3D printers are not hard to come by these days, and can create anything from Shoes to Torso’s. However, a 3D printer cannot be called a household item yet.

Big brand Mitsubishi is entering the arena by selling metal 3D printers. You might not think much about this initially, but the metal 3D printer, dubbed Metal Laser Sintering Hybrid Milling Machine, LUMEX Avance-25, is not meant to be installed in one’s workshop. Instead, this metal beast is targeted at commercial grade applications.

This metal beast realizes, one-machine one-process manufacturing of complex molds and parts using fusing metal laser sintering (3D SLS) technology and high-speed milling technology. The printer melts metal powders and sinters with laser while surfaces are milled in high speed to form metal parts with complex surface shapes.

Dimensions:

Matsuura Machinery’s metal printer can fabricate dies and molds of very complex geometry with dimensions as large as 250 x 250 x 180 mm.

Laser oscillator: Yb fiber laser

Laser Power: 400W

Spindle Speed: 45,000 min

Travel (X/Y/Z): 260/260/100 mm

Feed Rate (X/Y/Z): 60/60/30 m/min

Verdict:

In the end it always boils down to the obvious question “So what?” well “so this” that better commercial manufacturing techniques means more efficiency, which hopefully translates to better access to items and cheaper price tags.

3D Modeling Software for Learners

3D printing is creating quite a lot of buzz, both for good reasons and for bad ones too. But, have you ever wondered, “How do I create a 3D model, fit enough to print?” We have, and thus we decided to put together this informative on 3D modeling software.

If you’re just getting started you can try some of 3D modeling software which can be downloaded for free.

Google SketchUp – This Google SketchUp is fun and free, and is known for being easy to use 3D modeling software. To build models in SketchUp, you draw edges and faces using a few simple tools that you can learn in a short time. With Push/Pull tool you can extrude any flat surface into a 3D form. Furthermore, it works together with Google Earth, that you can import a scaled aerial photograph directly from Google Earth, or use SketchUp to build models which can be seen in Google Earth.

Art of Illusion – Art of Illusion is a free, open source 3D modeling software and rendering studio. Art of Illusion is more as a 3D design system for animated computer graphics than as an engineering CAD tool. More information about Using Art of Illusion for RepRap, is available online.

Blender – Blender is the free open source 3D modeling software, available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License. Blender was developed as an in-house application by the Dutch animation studio NeoGeo and Not a Number Technologies (NaN). It is a powerful program contains features that are characteristic of high-end 3D modeling software.

OpenSCAD – OpenSCAD is another 3D modeling software for creating solid 3D CAD objects. It is free software and available for Linux/UNIX, MS Windows and Mac OS X. it does not focus on the artistic aspects of 3D modelling but instead on the CAD aspects.

Tinkercad – Tinkercad is a new and faster 3D modeling software, which can be used for creating designs for your 3D printer. With only three basic tools you can create a wide range of useful things. Once your project is ready simply download the STL file and start your 3D print.

BRL-CAD – BRL-CAD is a powerful cross-platform open source 3D modeling software that includes interactive geometry editing, high-performance ray-tracing for rendering and geometric analysis, image and signal-processing tools, a system performance analysis benchmark suite, libraries for robust geometric representation. BRL-CAD has been the primary tri-service solid modeling CAD system used by the U.S. military to model weapons systems for vulnerability and lethality analyses for more than 20 years. It became an open source project on 21 December 2004.

Stratasys launches new dental material for 3D printing

Stratasys, one of the major 3D printer manufactures in the game today has announced the launch of a new dental material to be used with its 3D printers, namely – Objet Eden260V Dental Advantage 3D Printer and VeroGlaze (MED620).

The Objet Eden260V Dental Advantage 3D printer, produces surgical guides and dental models in-house directly from intraoral scanner output. The small copier-sized printer can also be used in orthodontic labs to 3D print accurate and smooth models for orthodontic appliances. It features a custom-tailored materials package and a build tray that is 20 to 40 percent larger than that of alternatives for the dental sector. This allows users to improve workflow and optimize productivity by printing more models in a single build. The 3D printer also features printing speeds up to 33 percent faster than other dental 3D printing products, according to the company.

The Objet Eden260V Dental Advantage 3D printer is easy-to-use and offers affordable access to digital dentistry.” says Stratasys.

Specifications:

  • Tray size: 260 x 260 x 200 mm (10.24 × 10.24 × 7.9 in)
  • Layer thickness (Z-axis): horizontal build layers 16 microns (0.0006 in)
  • Build resolution: X-axis 600 dpi; Y-axis 600 dpi; Z-axis 1600 dpi
  • Material cartridges: four sealed 3.6 kg (7.9 lbs) cartridges
  • Power requirements: 110-240 VAC 50/60 Hz; 1.5 KW single phase
  • Machine dimensions: 870 x 735 x 1200 mm (34.25 x 28.9 x 47.25 in)
  • Machine weight: 410 kg (902 lbs)

VeroGlaze (MED620), is the dental material that is optimized for 3D printing models for crowns, bridge restorations, diagnostic wax-ups, and try-in veneers. It is an opaque white acrylic material for realistic veneer models and diagnostic wax-ups that require A2-Shade color match. It gives 3D printed model a natural looking with fine details and resolution. VeroGlaze can be used by the Objet EdenV and OrthoDesk line of dental 3D Printers, which print ultrafine 16 micron layers for exceptional dental detail and surface finish.

Pediatric Surgery sees a new hope with 3D printed organs

Until recently 3D printers have been used for many purposes, making guns, being one of them. It is really a tragedy that such marvelous technology, be used to take life away. How then could you define this term of events, when a 3D printer was used to give back, the gift of life to someone’s child?

Congenital heart disorders are one the most common birth defects, affecting thousands every year, if not more. These defects are never alike, and may vary from person to person. Doctors often use 2D scanning of the organ to study and determine the course of a pediatric operation.

Roland Lian Cung Bawi, a 14 months old boy, was born with heart problems that included a hole in the heart and misaligned aorta and pulmonary artery. He couldn’t sleep and had breathing problems, said Roland’s mother Par Tha Sung. “I didn’t think he would survive.

Nowadays however, Surgeons are finding 3D printers to be a lifesaver on the operating table. At Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, heart surgeon Erle Austin used a 3D printed model to plan and practice a complex operation for a young pediatric heart patient in Kentucky.

Dr. Austin turned a 2D scan of the boy’s organ into a 3D model, in a hope that a pre-operative 3D model might clarify the better path and raise the quality of surgery on this young patient.

“Some people think when you do heart surgery, you go in and can see everything. Well, to see everything, you have to slice through vital structures,” said Austin. “Sometimes the surgeon has to guess at what’s the best operation.”

“Once I had a model, I knew exactly what I needed to do and how I could do it.” said Austin.

The model was made about two times actual size so doctors could see clearly its structure in order to create a tunneled pathway between the aortic valve and a ventricle, avoiding more cuts and multiple surgeries.

Let’s face it, 3D printers are the pillars of a better tomorrow, why then are we holding it back?

Now, an Anti – Gravity 3D metal printer

A Dutch designer, in collaboration with ACOTECH, has developed a new 3D printer – MX3D Metal.

The setup uses an industrial robot, together with an advanced welding machine. The MX3D-Metal printer can print with metals, such as steel, stainless steel, aluminum, bronze or copper without the need for support-structures. By adding small amounts of molten material at the time, the MX3D Metal 3D printer is able to print lines in mid-air. The team uses different types of software that work closely together to control the welding torch on the robot arm.

The Material:
The team is developing different kinds of print heads and printing strategies for the different kinds of metals. Stainless Steel, for example, melts/fuses at very different temperature from Aluminum or other metals. Hence vertical, horizontal or spiraling lines require different settings. So the printer might need to adjust pulse times, layer height or tool orientation during a metal print. All this information is currently being incorporated in the software.

Verdict:

We have seen lots of developments in 3D printers recently, including one, which can print Carbon Fiber. However the major downside to 3D printing metal, is that it takes its own time to cool down and fuse together, before further layers can be built upon it. Then again, we must not forget the big advantage of it all; this 3D metal printer can create structures of almost any size and shape and it could lead to a new form language that is not bound by additive layers.

Considering the pros and cons, I think, it would be wise to say that this technology, no doubt innovative and fresh, needs to develop further.

India: Wake up to realize the 3D printing opportunity

The same advances that are changing the IT landscape are also creating new opportunities. For example, advances in robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and 3D printing are making it cost effective to move manufacturing back from China to the US, Europe and India.

AI is making it possible to develop self-driving cars, voice-recognition systems, and computer systems that can make human-like decisions. AI technologies are also finding their way into manufacturing and are powering robots such as Baxter. Baxter, the robot from Rethink Robotics has two arms, a face that displays simulated emotion, and cameras and sensors that detect the motion of human beings that work next to it. It can perform assembly and move boxes — just as humans do. It will work 24 hours a day and not complain. It costs only $22,000. This is one of many such robots.

3D printing, the new form of additive manufacturing is taking the world by storm, it is now possible to cost effectively “Print” products. 3D printers can create physical mechanical devices, medical implants, jewelry, and even cloths. The Cheapest 3D printers, sells anywhere between 300 to 100 USD.

We already have printers, which can print toys and household products. By the end of this decade, we will see 3D printers doing the small-scale production of previously labor-intensive crafts and goods. In the next decade we may be 3D printing buildings and electronics.

Where is the opportunity?

These technologies are becoming readily available and cheap, but manufacturing plants aren’t geared up to take advantage of them. Most don’t have the know-how. This is where Indian companies could step in. They could master the new technologies and help foreign firms design new factory floors and program and install robots. They could provide management consulting on designing new value chains and inventory management. They could operate and monitor manufacturing plant operations remotely. This is a higher-margin business than the old IT services. We are talking about a trillion dollar market opportunity.

Mark One – Worlds first Carbon Fiber 3D printer

3D printing has entered a new dimension with Mark One, the world’s first 3D printer, which can print using a Carbon Fiber filament.

Carbon Fiber has long been the material of choice for automotive, aeronautics and various other industries, due to its light weight and extreme durability and strength. So far, 3D printing Carbon Fiber was nearly impossible, until now. The ©MarkForged – Mark One, is the world’s first 3D printer designed to print composite materials, thereby overcoming various strength limitations.

The Mark One uses Composite Filament Fabrication (CFF), in harmony with the traditional Fluid Filament Fabrication (FFF). The parts printed using this technology, are reinforced with continuous strands of Carbon Fiber, and embedded in a thermoplastic matrix. MarkForged, the company behind the Mark One 3D printer, claims that the parts printed, are up to 20 X stiffer and 5 X stronger, as compared to basic 3D printed parts using ABS plastic. The strength depends on the type, orientation and volume of the reinforcing fibers.

The magic is in the print head, says MarkForged. CFF utilizes a thermoplastic matrix that solidifies immediately after extrusion. CFF parts are ready for use as soon as they have finished printing. No nasty chemicals, no post curing. Aside from carbon fiber, the Mark One can also work with other composites, like fiberglass, nylon and PLA plastic.

The printer will be able to achieve a layer resolution of up to 100 microns for materials such as plastic and nylon. For composite materials such as carbon fiber, the resolution is 200 microns.

You can print parts, tooling, and fixtures with a higher strength-to-weight ratio than 6061-T6 Aluminum. According to the company, the Mark One can print to a maximum size of 305 x 160 x 160 mm (12 x 6.25 x 6.25 in).

Dell to sell MakerBot 3D printers online

3D printers have moved far beyond early adaptations and hobbyists, and is now being used widely in business applications, where substantial cost and time to market benefits are gained. Continue reading “Dell to sell MakerBot 3D printers online”