Rostec allocates $44.5 million to introduce additive manufacturing to Russian aerospace

Russian state-owned industrial technology holding conglomerate Rostec is allocating $44.5 million (₽3 billion) to the development of a specialist additive manufacturing technology center.

Named after a celebrated inventor and nitrogen chemistry specialist, the V.V. Chernyshev Center for Additive Technologies (CAC) will be established by Rostec in collaboration with three other members of the nation’as aviation cluster: Russian Helicopters, engineering company Technodinamics and radio electronic holdings KRET.

“Industrial 3D printing is becoming one of the indispensable attributes of modern industry,” comments Anatoly Serdyukov (source in Russian), Rostec’s industrial director of the cluster.

“We see the high potential of this technology and introduce it into our production practice.”

Additive manufacturing for Russian and global aerospace

The purpose of the V.V. Chernyshev CAC is to introduce additive manufacturing to the serial production of Russian gas turbine engines, servicing both national and international aerospace business. Overall targets are to reduce the cost of components by 44%; wight by 25%; and production times by 50%, taking care of the whole process from design through to classification.

The first products from the center are scheduled to be certified by 2025-2030 and, as previously reported, production for the Aviadvigatel PD-35 next generation airline jet engine is likely to be part of the plan.

Projected revenue generated by the center is expected to reach in the region of almost $200 million (₽13.2 billion) between 2018 and 2027, with sales profits over $53 million (₽3.6 billion).

The PD-35 predecessor - Aviadvigatel PD-14 engine. Photo by Vitaly V. Kuzmin
The Aviadvigatel PD-14, predecessor of the fortcoming  PD-35 engine. Photo by Vitaly V. Kuzmin

Additive in Russia

V.V. Chernyshev CAC founding member, Russian Helicopters, has already shown its commitment to the advance of additive manufacturing in its Ka series helicopter line.

As FITNIK, German 3D printing service bureau FIT AG, recently established a joint venture in the country with Russian engineering firm NIK. The Russian state has also developed its own large format 3D printer.

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Featured image shows metal 3D printed component. Photo via Russia’s United Engine Corporation

Hong Kong researches develop 3D printed microrobots for in situ cell regeneration

Researchers from the City University of Hong Kong have created 3D printed microrobot carriers which transport cells within living organisms (in vivo) for targeted therapy and tissue regeneration.

The spherical and barbed structure of the robots were fabricated using a Photonic Professional GT laser lithography system from Nanoscribe, which provided “sufficient flexibility to optimize the robot structure,” according to the research paper.

SEM images of a microrobot cultured with MSC cells for 12 hours. Image via Science Robotics/City University of Hong Kong.
SEM images of a microrobot cultured with Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC) for 12 hours. Image via Science Robotics/City University of Hong Kong.

Cell regeneration through 3D printed Microrobot carriers

Regenerative medicine uses healthy cells from an organism (animals, plants, or humans) to repair or replace diseased cells or tissues. However, challenges arise when transporting functional cells to a damaged location within an organism. The study states:

“The delivery of [stem]cells in vivo requires a suitable three-dimensional (3D) structure that creates an environment that supports cell adhesion, proliferation, and differentiation while functioning as a carrier.”

Thus, the research team created several 3D printed microrobot carriers with magnetic and porous properties to mechanically support tissue and organ in situ regeneration. Furthermore, the researchers observed that a 2D cell-culturing artificial environment would be ineffective as it quickly loses its shape.

With a minimally invasive design, the microrobot carriers have the potential to access smaller and more complex regions of the human body. This includes gastrointestinal organs, the brain, and the spinal cord. Considering this, the research used Nanoscribes’ two-photon lithography technology which is capable of high-resolution 3D patterning through photonic crystals. The microbot carries were fabricated from a negative photoresist SU-8 50 material. 

In addition, the microrobots were coated with nickel and titanium solutions for magnetic actuation and biocompatibility.

The structural design of the microrobot before and after cell seeding. Image via Science Robotics/City University of Hong Kong.
The structural design of the microrobot before and after cell seeding. Image via Science Robotics/City University of Hong Kong.

The mouse and the zebrafish embryo

To test its cell-controlling and delivery capabilities, the research team dispersed a swarm of microrobots carrying HeLa protein cells, capable of generating tumors, into a mouse. Following four weeks of cultivation, the mouse developed tumors in the surrounding location of the injected microbot carriers.

Moreover, microrobot carriers were dispersed into the yolks of zebrafish embryos to observe injection accuracy and its ability to overcome viscous resistance.

Both tests were observed under a microscope and were deemed successful for precise, automatic cell transportation. Concluding the experimentation phase, the researchers found that the spherical 3D printed structure of the microbot carriers “enhanced the magnetic driving capability allowing easy fusion of the microrobot with host tissues and facilitating cell transfer from the robot to tissues.”

In vivo fluorescence imaging of a mouse injected with a swarm of microrobots carrying with HeLa cells. During a four-week period a tumour developed inside the mouse. The white arrows represent the position of the injection.Image via Science Robotics/City University of Hong Kong.
In vivo fluorescence imaging of a mouse injected with a swarm of microrobots carrying HeLa cells. During a four-week period, a tumor developed from the microbots. The white arrows represent the position of the injection. Image via Science Robotics/City University of Hong Kong.

The researcher paper “Development of a magnetic microrobot for carrying and delivering targeted cells” is co-authored by Junyang Li, Xiaojian Li, Tao Luo, Tao Luo, Chichi Liu, Shuxun Chen, Dongfang Li, Jianbo Yue, Shuk-han Cheng, and D. Sun.

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Featured image shows SEM images of the 3D printed microrobot carrier cultivating cells over a period of time. Image via Science Robotics/City University Hong Kong. 

 

Voxeljet reports revenue growth for Q2 2018 led by strong 3D printing services segment

Industrial 3D printer manufacturer voxeljet AG (NYSE:VJET) has released its financial results for the second quarter and first half of FY2018.

Headline revenue for the three months ended June 30, 2018 was reported at €5.3 million, an increase of 2.1% on the same period in 2017 which was €5.1 million. The rise in revenue from this period was led by a strong performance in the company’s 3D printing Services segment, which experienced an increase of 26.4% to €3.4 million, compared to €2.6 million in Q2 2017.

The Systems segment, responsible for the sale of 3D printers, peripherals and maintenance, was reported at €1.8 million, a decrease of 25.9% to on the comparative period in 2017, and constituted 35.8% of total revenues, in comparison with 49.9% in Q2 2017.

H1 2018 revenue was reported at €10.3 million, the comparative for the previous year was €9.7 million. Furthermore, the company has reaffirmed its guidance for the full year, expecting revenue within the range of €28 million and €30 million.

voxeljet customers and industrial additive manufacturing machines. Photo via voxeljet AG.
voxeljet customers and industrial additive manufacturing machines. Photo via voxeljet AG.

3D binder jetting

voxeljet 3D printers employ binder jetting technology to produce sand investment castings, plastic parts and ceramics. As of 2017, its VX2000 system is also integrated with High Speed Sintering (HSS) technology.

In addition to the hardware and materials for these systems, voxeljet offers industrial 3D printing services from facilities located in India, China, Germany, the U.S. and the UK.

Most recently, in Q1 2018, voxeljet agreed to 3 year contract contract supplying Tooling and Equipment International (TEI) in Livonia, Michigan, with over 500,000 liters of 3D printed sand.

Good performance in America and Germany

The strongest growth for Services revenue contributions in Q2 2018 was generated by the voxeljet America subsidiary and operations at the company’s German base. In the U.S. revenue for Q2 2018 was reported at €1.1 million, 21% of the overall revenue for the period. In Germany, the company generated €1.2 million in revenue, a respective 23% of the total for the period.

Summary of revenues by region – voxeljet financial results Q2 2018.
  Three months ended June 30,  
  Q2 2018 Variance Q2 2017 Variance
  (€ in thousands)
EMEA 3,690 70.13% 3,554 68.97%
Germany 1,220 23.19% 2,023 39.26%
France 1,160 22.04% 503 9.76%
Others 1,310 24.90% 918 17.81%
Asia Pacific 449 8.53% 1,001 19.43%
China 135 2.57% 808 15.68%
South Korea 181 3.44% 165 3.20%
Others 133 2.53% 28 0.54%
Americas 1,123 21.34% 598 11.60%
United States 1,115 21.19% 579 11.24%
Others 8 0.15% 19 0.37%
Total 5,262   5,153  

Overall decrease in Systems revenue when compared to Q2 2017 was due in part to a lower rate of machine sales. According to the company, two 3D printers were delivered in Q2 2018 (one new, one refurbished), as apposed to the three new 3D printers delivered in Q2 2017.

The 3D printing industry’s inflection point

Gross profit for Q2 2018 was reported at €2 million, with the comparison for Q2 2017 at €2.1 million. voxeljet reported a net loss of €2.7 million in Q2 2018. Net loss for Q2 2017 was €2.6 million.

Summary of Condensed Balance Sheets – voxeljet financial results Q2 2018.
  Q2 2018 Q2 2017 H2 2018 H2 2017
  (€ in thousands)
Revenue Systems 1,883 2,542 3,258 4,235
Revenue Services 3,379 2,611 7,056 5,448
Total Revenue 5,262 5,153 10,314 9,683
Gross Profit 2,053 2,110 4,320 3,691
Net Loss -2,748 -2,674 -4,330 -5,105

In a statement relating to the results Dr. Ingo Ederer, CEO of voxeljet, comments,

“Today I can say that, together with our partners, we are reinventing the manufacturing landscape by launching the world’s first fully automated 3D production solution capable of replacing conventional manufacturing in serial-production,”

“The 3D printing industry is at an inflection point and this achievement marks a key milestone in our mission.”

The full report of voxeljet’s financial results for the second quarter of 2018 can be viewed online here.

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Featured image shows large scale casted/3D printed objects made by voxeljet. Photo via voxeljet

Makelab partners with AMFG for automated 3D printing on-demand

Brooklyn-based on-demand 3D printing service bureau, Makelab, has partnered with automation software developer AMFG. With the help of AMFG’s software utilities, Makelab is to streamline it’s 3D printing service requests in response to high demand. 

According to Christina Perla, Makelab co-founder, there was a clear need to partner with AMFG. Perla said, “as we scale our business, we’re always looking for innovative ways to solve key issues like keeping track of all our machines, effectively packing builds and ultimately, optimizing our workflow for maximum efficiency. AMFG answered all of these questions and more, so we can provide a faster, more efficient service for our customers.”

The new customer portal of Makelab allows users to upload, customize, and 3D print their files. Image via Makelab
The new customer portal of Makelab allows users to upload, customize, and 3D print their files. Image via Makelab

Makelab, the 3D printing service bureau

Makelab works with designers and technical experts to bring people’s ideas to life through 3D printing. Its services range from designing a product to 3D printing a prototype and producing a finished product.

The company has a wide variety of clients, including, graphics processing unit designer NVIDIA, crochet artist London Kaye, online novelty story The Unemployed Philosophers Guild, and architectural company Aardvarchitecture.

Perla and the team elected AMFG’s workflow automation software to save Makelab valuable resources which can be concentrated on other projects and developing a wider market. AMFG’s software will manage quoting, scheduling of production jobs, parts tracking, post-processing services, and quality assurance.

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

AMFG and automated 3D printing

AMFG, formerly known as RP Platform, provides workflow automation software specifically for the additive manufacturing industry.

The company aims to provide 3D printing companies its software capabilities to fully automate manufacturing operations, including, quotation, workflow organization, product management, and post-production. In June 2018, AMFG launched a new Artificial Intelligence platform in a step toward its long-term goals. Even more recently, the company launched its Holistic Build Analysis tool, which helps the user estimate the cost of production.

AMFG’s business development manager, Felix Doerr hopes that the partnership with Makelab will expand the company’s client base outside the UK. Doerr said, “our partnership with Makelab marks AMFG’s further expansion into the US market.”

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Featured image shows 3D printed E.T. finished with gold. Photo via Makelab

NRC Canada and AP&C develop new method of metal powder analysis

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and GE Additive spherical powder specialist AP&C have developed a method for anaylzing metal additive powders.

Currently validated for use titanium the method is capable of detecting particle contamination, and assessing the properties of a material to avoid potentially critical faults in 3D printed parts for medicine and aerospace.

Image via GE Additive
Image via GE Additive

Addressing powder recycling

The appropriate storage, qualification and management of materials is a critical part of any undertaking in additive manufacturing, especially with particulate powders.

Highlighting some of the challenges with material handling Frederic Larouche, Executive Vice President and CTO of AP&C, explains, “The competiveness of 3D printing relies heavily on the capability of machine users to recycle their powders; however, the industry is concerned that foreign particles will be introduced in the feedstock as the powder is recycled.” Here, Larouche makes reference to the so-called “Devil Particle,” tungsten. With the highest melting point of all known elements, even the smallest trace of tungsten, garnered from nozzles made from the metal, or even the tips of ballpoint pens, can cause potential problems in the 3D printing process.

As industry collectives work to establish sufficient standards to help protect powders from such concerns, companies are developing innovative technologies to help manufacturers in their material analysis.

A finer point on materials analysis 

The NRC and AP&C have developed a method of materials analysis using x-ray micro-computed tomography (micro-CT).

Larouche says, “The method we are developing could help confirm that the feedstock maintains the utmost cleanliness during processing.”

According to the research collective, this micro-CT method improves upon the sensitivity and distinction of current chemical analysis techniques. Together the parties plan to expand the abilities of the method to analyse other metals and materials, including nickel alloys.

Larouche adds, “Leveraging our complementary research and development competencies should help speed the development of 3D printing technologies.”

From strength to strength

Late 2017, AP&C expanded its metal powder production capacity with a new $31 million facility in St. Eustache, Quebec.

At 2018’s Farnborough Airshow, the company recently became the preferred supplier of TiAl powder for GE Aviation, and subsequently bolstered its titanium and nickel alloy powder production with the relocation of Avio Aero’s gas atomization facility.

According to Louis-Philippe Lefebvre, Powder Forming Team Lead at the NRC’s Medical Devices Research Centre, “As a leader with over 30 years of experience in powder metallurgy and additive manufacturing, the National Research Council is pleased to have joined forces with AP&C to improve the reliability of the manufacturing process and metal powder behavior.”

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Featured image shows application of powder analysis technology developed by NRC and AP&C. Photo via NRC/CNRC

3D Printing News Sliced 3D Systems, PyroGenesis, NASA, Autodesk, ETH Zurich

This edition of our 3D printing news digest Sliced follows the latest developments in Local Motors’ autonomous, 3D printed bus shuttle; NASA aborts flight tests of the Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 space engine; and ETH Zurich researchers create concrete structures with 3D sand printing.

News also features Renishaw, Autodesk, PyroGenesis, CGTrader, FARO, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

NASA aborts testing of 3D printed space shuttle engine

A team from NASA’s Stennis Space Center rocket testing facility in Mississippi has aborted tests of its Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 space shuttle engine – manufactured using SLS. The test intended to run for a flight duration of 500 seconds to evaluate the performance of a new main combustion chamber (MCC), however, an early cut was issued at 319 seconds due to a “facility issue.”

Nevertheless, according to Stennis Space Center, the objectives of the engine test regarding fuel propellant conditions were achieved before the early cut of the launch. Another test will take place in September.

RS-25 Engine Test at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center which concluded with a duration of 319 seconds. Photo via NASA Stennis.
RS-25 Engine Test at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center which concluded with a duration of 319 seconds. Photo via NASA Stennis.

In other news, Autodesk has partnered with NASA’s Swamp Works laboratory in Florida, to develop 3D printed human-habitable structures made from lightweight regolith, a sediment found on Earth and the Moon.

“Additive manufacturing technology has the potential to revolutionize the way we do construction here on Earth,” said Massimiliano Moruzzi of Autodesk’s computational science research group.

“If we can repurpose plastic pollution and use readily available natural resources to robotically print houses on Mars, we can use the same approach to sustainably build streets, sidewalks, and even playgrounds here at home.”

A team at the NASA Swamp Works laboratory experiment with regolith. Photo via Autodesk.

3D printed bus shuttle Olli arrives at University at Buffalo

Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Local Motors, the manufacturer of Olli, an autonomous, electric, 3D printed shuttle, has partnered with the University at Buffalo (UB) to test the mobility of the vehicle.  

“We are pleased to partner with the University at Buffalo and the State of New York to implement and customize Olli for their mobility testing and sustainability strategies,” said Matthew Rivett, Executive Vice President of Local Motors.

“This partnership showcases how campuses, states, and others can invest in and explore the future of transportation. Local Motors looks forward to assisting UB and future partners on practical solutions and research opportunities for mobility challenges.”

Olli - the autonomous 3D printed vehicle. Clip via Local Motors.
Olli – the autonomous 3D printed vehicle. Clip via Local Motors.

ZARE installs Italy’s first 3D Systems ProX SLS 6100 3D printer

3D Systems has announced that ZARE, an Italian service bureau, is the first in the country to install its ProX SLS 6100 3D printer. This printer is designed to produce heavy-duty prototypes and production parts from a range of industrial-grade nylon materials.

ZARE expanded its CNC machining services with additive manufacturing in 2009, and now solely offers additive manufacturing solutions to its customers. After viewing the ProX SLS 6100 at the Formnext 2017 exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany, ZARE worked with 3D Systems’ Italian channel partner 3DZ on the purchase and installation.

“The ProX SLS 6100 is a perfect solution for businesses like ZARE that need to produce highly accurate parts with excellent surface finish that can withstand the rigors of daily use,” said Andrea Simeoni, CEO at 3DZ.

The 3D Systems ProX SLS 6100 3D printer installed at ZARE. Photo via ZARE.
The 3D Systems ProX SLS 6100 3D printer installed at ZARE. Photo via ZARE.

PyroGenesis reveals powder performance results from undisclosed OEM

PyroGenesis, Canadian manufacturers of spherical metal powders for 3D printing, has announced that its TI-6AL-4V grade 23 titanium powder has “met or exceeded rigorous properties requirements under intensive chemical and mechanical analysis” carried out by an undisclosed 3D printer OEM.

The undisclosed OEM, whose name remains confidential for competitive reasons, is now discussing commercialization strategies with PyroGensis. This may lead to the OEM becoming an approved supplier of the TI-6AL-4V grade 23 titanium powder for its end-users. 

“This is indeed an incredible milestone and achievement when considering the short amount of time from when PyroGenesis announced it was re-entering the powder production business,” said Massimo Dattilo, Vice President Sales of PyroGenesis.

“Of note, this is not the only printer OEM we are in discussions with.  We have made significant inroads to being approved on other printer types as well, and we look forward to making additional announcements as events unfold.”

Metal alloy powder. Photo via PyroGenesis
Metal alloy powder. Photo via PyroGenesis

CGTrader 3D model marketplace accumulates 1.5 million members

CGTrader, a 3D model marketplace based in Vilnius, Lithuania, has reached 1,500,000 members, a six-fold increase since 2015. CGTrader has attributed this milestone to the increasing amount of Fortune 500 companies and 3D designers joining its community on a daily basis. 

“With each day we are becoming a massive force that is changing the 3D industry for the better. We strive to be the most designer-friendly 3D marketplace in the world for designers, while at the same time we are attracting customers from over 180 countries,” said CGTrader in a recent post.

CGTrader users from 2011 to present. Image via CGTrader.
CGTrader users from 2011 to present. Image via CGTrader.

Renishaw graduate scheme gains national recognition

Renishaw’s Graduate Scheme has been recognized at the JobCrowd Awards as the UK’s number one in the engineering and manufacturing sector as companies employ more than 30 of its alumnae a year.

The Graduate Scheme is a two-year program which trains students in eight different divisions of the company, including additive manufacturing. The graduate employees then have the option to take on a permanent position at the end of the scheme.

“Renishaw’s graduate scheme is a challenging, rewarding opportunity that offers the potential for rapid progression,” explained Sam Bishop, Learning and Development Advisor at Renishaw.

“The company’s CEO, Will Lee, joined Renishaw as a graduate in 1997. A position at Renishaw can take you almost anywhere in the world, working in industries as diverse as neurosurgery to additive manufacturing.”

Renishaw was also ranked 42nd overall in the top 100 graduate schemes across all sectors.

Graduate students with the RenAM 500M llaser powder bed fusion additive manufacturing system. Photo via Renishaw.
Graduate students with the RenAM 500M laser powder bed fusion additive manufacturing system. Photo via Renishaw.

3D printing applications

Researchers on the MAS Digital Fabrication team at ETH Zurich, who created an experimental metal facade using 3D printed sand molds, have fabricated an 80lightweight concrete slab using the same process. Dubbed by its creators as the “Smart Slab”, this 80m2 lightweight concrete block is said to be the world’s first full-scale architectural project to use 3D sand printing for its formwork.

The Smart Slab is placed on the ceiling of the DFAB HOUSE. Photo via ETH Zurich.

In other news, artist and architect Tobias Klein has published a research paper titled “Augmented Fauna and Glass Mutations: A Dialogue Between Material and Technique in Glassblowing and 3D Printing” which explores digital and traditional craftsmanship.

3D printed cast glass replica and original deer pelvis bone. Photo via Tobias Klein.
3D printed cast glass replica and original deer pelvis bone. Photo via Tobias Klein.

Betatype, additive manufacturing technology developers based in London, and Progressive Technology, CNC machining specialists based in Berkshire, have produced 384 automotive headlight components within a single build using metal laser powder bed fusion (LPBF).

In its case study, Betatype demonstrated its optimization technology to produce cost-effective automotive part while drastically reducing lead times from 444 hours to 34 hours.

Production build of automotive LED heatsinks. Image via Progressive Technology.
Production build of automotive LED heatsinks. Image via Progressive Technology.

3D printing product releases

McGowans, an Irish 3D printing service bureau, has installed Ireland’s first Massivit 1800 3D printer and is planning to launch a new brand next month that will offer large-format 3D printing services throughout the UK and Europe.

Historically, we have always been known as early adopters of new technology,” said Mal McGowan, Owner of McGowans. “I have been watching Massivit develop its machine for a few years now – I have always been keen on their passion, and now they have a machine ready to serve the different, growing markets that we are positioned to address.”

Massivit 1800 3D printer. Photo via Massivit.
Massivit 1800 3D printer. Photo via Massivit.

FARO, 3D measurement technologies developers based in Florida, has announced the launch of its Design ScanArm 2.5C, which includes high resolution, 3D color scanning capabilities.

Following the launch of the ScanArm 2.0., this improved 3D scanning device was created to address design challenges within computer graphics, industrial machinery, auto manufacturing and engineering services.

“By integrating exceptional quality color into the design process, we have created a best-in-class 3D reality experience by allowing users to capture more information, in true-to-life detail richness and color, in less time than ever before,” said Thorsten Brecht, Senior Director of Product Design at FARO Technologies.

The FARO Design ScanArm 2.5. Photo via FARO.
The FARO Design ScanArm 2.5. Photo via FARO.

Wiiboox, a Chinese 3D printer manufacturer, has introduced its second metal 3D printer, the SLM250. With a build size of 250x250x300mm, the SLM250 is the larger version Wiiboox ’s first metal 3D printer, the SLM150.

The SLM250 features include a 200W laser and a high-accuracy scanning galvanometer with speeds of 8 m/s. The printer is also said to deliver strong metal parts (including stainless steel, and nickel-based alloys) with a layer thickness of 0.02 to 0.1 mm.

The SLM250 3D printer. Photo via Wiiboox.
The SLM250 3D printer. Photo via Wiiboox.

German 3D printing software company, 3YOURMIND, who recently established an online on-demand 3D printing portal with Swedish communications company PostNord Strålfors, has announced the launch of the AM Summit, a one-day virtual conference for businesses integrating 3D printing technologies.

The AM Summit will host talks from 3D printing experts in four sessions on August 28th, 10 am – 3.30pm CEST. Register for the AM Summit here.

3D printing and the healthcare sector

CoreLink, a Missouri-based spinal implant manufacturer, has announced 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market its 3D printed Foundation Anterior Lumbar (ALIF) Interbody device.

“The Foundation 3D ALIF demonstrates our increasing capabilities with 3D printing titanium alloy which will allow surgeons to maximize endplate contact area and hold up to 8cc’s of graft,” said Jay Bartling, CEO of CoreLink.

3D printed Foundation Anterior Lumbar (ALIF) Interbody device. Image via CoreLink.
3D printed Foundation Anterior Lumbar (ALIF) Interbody device. Image via CoreLink.

Earlier this month, at the Invisalign conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, Dr. Faline Davenport of Gainesville Dental Associates (GDA) was recognized as a top “Platinum Plus” Invisalign provider. The Invisalign range of clear-aligner orthodontics is manufactured using 3D scanning and printing to adapt to each of its wearers.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded 28 projects with funding totaling $38 million to support early-stage research and development of new hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

As a result, Clemson University in South Carolina has received $1,600,000 to support its research into “Laser 3D Printing of [a]Highly Compacted Protonic Ceramic Electrolyzer Stack”.

“As an energy carrier, hydrogen can help unite all of our nation’s abundant fossil, nuclear, and renewable energy resources. It’s part of the Department’s diverse energy portfolio focused on providing affordable, reliable energy to American families and businesses,” said Rick Perry, U.S. Secretary of Energy.

View the full list of selected projects here

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Featured image shows Sliced logo over the RS-25 Engine Test at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center. Photo via NASA Stennis.

RSA Global enters 3D printing Virtual Warehouse partnership with Immensa Technology Labs

Dubai’s RSA Global has become the latest logistics company to adopt on-demand 3D printing services. In a new partnership with Immensa Technology Labs, a company dedicated to the advancement of 3D printing throughout the United Arab Emirates (UAE) RSA Global plans to develop a ‘Virtual Warehouse’ for 3D printable parts.

Abhishek Ajay Shah, Co-Founder and Group CEO at RSA Global stated, “Technology has been one of the three pillars of RSA’s business strategy, aside from focusing on niche markets and being a value driven solutions provider,”

“RSA Global prides itself in adopting technology quickly to create advantage for our customers.”

Digital warehousing

RSA Global offers physical storage, distribution, transportation, and international freight with multiple locations around the world. With Immensa Labs’ ‘Virtual Warehouse’, RSA Global will be able to provide customers with on-demand inventory production capability.

Additionally customers will be able to experience a greater scope for customization in the production line. With the ‘Virtual Warehouse’, only the necessary number of parts are printed which could reduce material waste for RSA Global.

“We are proud to be working with leading groups such as RSA Global and their forward thinking leaders,” said Fahmi Al Shawwa, CEO of Immensa.

“RSA Global has positioned itself at the forefront of this technological evolution by choosing to adopt this game-changing solution, which will provide impressive added value by freeing up cash and reducing shipping and storage costs through a virtually managed inventory.”

Immensa used its proprietary post-processing methods to produce black parts for a client. Image via Immensa Labs.
Immensa used its proprietary post-processing methods to produce black parts for a client. Image via Immensa Labs.

3D printing changes logistics

The partnership between Immensa Technology Labs and RSA Global marks a growing trend for logistics companies implementing 3D printing into its stores.

Earlier this year, Swedish logistics company, PostNord Strålfors partnered with Stratasys to provide 3D printing bureau services and delivery to customers in the Nordic region. In 2016, UPS partnered with 3D printing bureau Fast Radius, to implement 3D printers into UPS stores.

Similarly, in January, FedEx announced a new, 3D printing oriented, company named FedEx Forward Depots which will provide same-day delivery for local 3D printed parts.

On the partnership with RSA Gloabl, Immensa’s Al Shawwa reinforces this trend stating, “[3D printing] is catching the attention of logistics companies on a global level, with companies like UPS, FEDEX and many others taking steps to integrate it into their business.”

RSA logistics warehouse. Photo via RSA
RSA logistics warehouse. Photo via RSA

The future of digital storage

Immensa has a similar arrangement with Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), creating a digital inventory of CCC’s spare parts for the construction industry.

Other companies have also made the leap to digitalization, such as the German railway company, Deutsche Bahn, which plans to have 13,000 parts digitized by 2019. And in 2017, German automobile company, Volkswagen, also announced plans to begin digitizing and 3D printing spare parts.

Shah concludes, “Immensa is a leader in its field and we are delighted to have this exclusive partnership with them as it comes to support our vision of being a third party supplier with the ability to offer customers a complete and seamless, integrated solution.”

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Featured image is RSA warehouse. Image via RSA

NASA awards $127,000 to ASU and PADT for biomimicry 3D printing research

NASA has awarded a $127,000 Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I grant to the Arizona State University (ASU) and Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies (PADT), an engineering service company based in Tempe, Arizona for advanced 3D printing research.

ASU and PADT are currently cooperating to accelerate the development of bioinspired 3D printed structures which will ultimately enable strong and lightweight parts for use in spacecrafts.

“We’re honored to continue advanced research on biomimicry with our good friends and partners at ASU,” said Rey Chu, Principal and Co-Founder of PADT.

“With our combined expertise in 3D printing and computer modeling, we feel that our research will provide a breakthrough in the way that we design objects for NASA, and our broad range of product manufacturing clients.”

3D printed prototypes of honeycomb structures. Photo via PADT.
3D printed prototypes of honeycomb structures. Photo via PADT.

Bioinspired 3D printing

The ability to mimic the natural strength and composition of biological materials through additive manufacturing has enabled novel structures such as a 3D printed oyster-inspired  “brick-and-mortar” construct and a 3D printed alligator-inspired armour gloves.

Now, ASU and PDAT, are looking to replicate the hexahedron structures found in honeycombs and bamboo using additive manufacturing. Which will provide lightweight strength within carbon fiber composite aircraft and spacecraft components.

“New technologies in imaging and manufacturing, including 3D printing, are opening possibilities for mimicking biological structures in a way that has been unprecedented in human history,” said Dhruv Bhate, Associate Professor of Additive Manufacturing at ASU.

Our ability to build resilient structures while significantly reducing the weight will benefit product designers and manufacturers who leverage the technology.”

As a result of further biomimicry research, ASU and PADT will design and manufacture high-performance materials for use in heat exchanges, lightweight structures, and space debris resistant skins. Depending on the success of this initial research first phase, the partners will be eligible for a second, larger grant from NASA.

Analysis simulation of honeycomb cell structures. Image via PADT.
Analysis simulation of honeycomb cell structures. Image via PADT.

Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies aids the Orion Mission

Recently, PADT, Lockheed Martin, and Stratasys partnered to help NASA develop over 100 3D printed parts for its manned-spaceflight to Mars, the Orion MissionThis collaboration leverages advanced materials from Stratasys, such as the ULTEM 9085 a flame-retardant high-performance thermoplastic, its high-performance, PEKK-based thermoplastic Antero 800NA. The materials used are well-suited for NASA’s heat and chemical resistance requirements and can withstand high mechanical loads.

Commenting on the ASU and PADT partnership as well as NASA’s STTR grant, Ann McKenna, School Director and Professor, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, ASU stated:

“PADT has been an excellent partner to ASU and its students as we explore the innovative nature of 3D printing. Between the STTR grant and partnering to open our state-of-the-art Additive Manufacturing Center, we’re proud of what we have been able to accomplish in this community together.”

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Featured image shows 3D printed prototypes of honeycomb structures. Photo via PADT.

UC San Diego researchers develop 3D smart bandage to wirelessly monitor body signals

Mirroring the process of additive manufacturing, engineers from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) have created a 3D stretchable electronic device, dubbed as the “smart bandage”, that wirelessly monitors human body signals such as eye movement, temperature, and heart and brain activity.

By fashioning elastomer films on top of each other, the smart bandage, which is the same size and width of a U.S. dollar coin, is able to accommodate more circuitry for a variety of functions.

“Our vision is to make 3D stretchable electronics that are as multifunctional and high-performing as today’s rigid electronics,” said Sheng Xu, a Professor in the Department of NanoEngineering and the Center for Wearable Sensors, both at the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering.

The 3D smart bandage is the same size and width of a U.S. Dollar coin. Photo via UCSD.
The 3D smart bandage is the same size and width of a U.S. Dollar coin. Photo via UCSD.

3D stretchable electronics

According to the UCSD research paper, stretchable electronics, an emerging technology, create devices with the ability to conform to dynamic surfaces such as the human body.

Standard stretchable configurations are limited to single-layer designs due to the lack of material processing capabilities in soft electronic systems. Therefore, the Xu Research Group, inspired by the process of additive manufacturing, built a four-layer silicone elastomer substrate 3D integrated stretchable electronic device. Professor Xu stated:

“Rigid electronics can offer a lot of functionality on a small footprint—they can easily be manufactured with as many as 50 layers of circuits that are all intricately connected, with a lot of chips and components packed densely inside. Our goal is to achieve that with stretchable electronics.”

Each layer is patterned with an “island-bridge”, a small, rigid electronic connecting component including sensors, antennas, a Bluetooth chip, an amplifier, an accelerometer, a resistor, a capacitor, and an inductor.

The islands-bridges are supported by thin, spring-shaped copper wires, which allows flexibility within the circuits while maintaining electronic function. To create the smart bandage, the Xu Research Group used 3D microfabrication which uses laser beam soldering on elastomeric substrates to create electrical connections between layers – vertical interconnect accesses (VIA).

The four elastomeric layers of the 3D smart bandage. Image via UCSD.
The four elastomeric layers of the 3D smart bandage. Image via UCSD.

The multi-purpose 3D smart bandage

The smart bandage sticks onto various parts of the human body to monitor different electrical signals. When worn on the chest or stomach, the bandage records heart signals – much like an electrocardiogram (ECG) machine.

On the forehead, it records brain signals, mimicking the functions of an electroencephalography (EEG) sensor, and when placed on the side of the head, it records eyeball movements. Placing the smart bandage on the forearm will record muscle activity and can also be used to remotely control a robotic arm.

“We didn’t have a specific end use for all these functions combined together, but the point is that we can integrate all these different sensing capabilities on the same small bandage,” said Zhenlong Huang, co-author and visiting Ph.D. student in the Xu Research Group.

3D printing and dynamic surfaces

Similar to the smart bandage, UCSD researchers have previously used 3D printing methods to conquer dynamic, non-planar (asymmetrical) surfaces, outside of the human body.

Last year, UCSD bioengineers presented a research paper demonstrating a robot capable of walking over uneven surfaces as a result of 3D printed leg actuators.

Following this, UCSD researchers used nanoscale 3D printing on dynamic surfaces to replicate the radiant color patterns distributed by male Peacock Spiders.

The research paper “Three-dimensional integrated stretchable electronics” is co-authored by the Xu Research Group.

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Featured image shows the 3D smart bandage. Photo via UCSD.

 

Sigma Labs continues commercialization with Q2 2018 financial results

Industrial 3D printing process control developer Sigma Labs (NASDAQ:SGLB) has reported its financial results for the second quarter and first half of 2018. For Q2 2018 the company has reported a headline revenue of $98,633, compared to over $290 thousand in the same period in 2017. For the first half of the 2018, total revenue was reported at $202,078, compared to H2 2017 revenue of $405,075.

Though a noticeable hit has been taken to company’s revenue John Rice, Chairman and CEO of Sigma Labs, assures that the reduction is part of the company’s progress from an R&D company through to commercialization.

In a supporting statement with the results, Rice said, “We had an active quarter of strength building as we continued to transform ourselves from an R&D company with a high potential R&D product into a commercialization company with reliable high-performance market-ready products to sell,”

“I am proud of what we have achieved so far in 2018 internally strengthening Sigma’s product, operations, and balance sheet. Now, going forward we must thrust our product effectively into the marketplace.”

Sigma Labs activity 

Sigma Labs’ flagship product is the PrintRite3D additive manufacturing quality assurance package combining SENSORPAK hardware and sofware for reading the print bed, with software features: INSPECT, CONTOUR and ANALYTICS. The package is third party independent, and offers layer by layer analysis of 3D printed parts, to asses potential faults, strengths, and areas for process optimization.

With an EOS M290, Sigma Labs also offers PrintRite3D assured direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) metal 3D printing services.

Throughout Q2 2018, which ended June 30, the company completed a private placement financing of $1 million and closed a public offering of $2,390,000. Expressing its sentiments to expand throughout Europe, the company hired its first employee in the continent, and has been granted a patent relating to a “Method and System for Monitoring Additive Manufacturing Processes.”

Inspection graphic via Sigma Labs
Part inspection graphic via Sigma Labs

Summary of Condensed Balance Sheets

The cost of revenue in Q2 2018 was reported at $68,568, with the comparative in Q2 2017 at $111,41,.

Gross profit for Q2 2018 was $30,095, and net loss for the same period was reported at -$988,741. For comparison, in Q2 2017, gross profit was reported at $179,141, with a net loss of -$1,388,804.

Brief Summary of Condensed Balance Sheets

Q2 2018 Q2 2017 H2 2018 H2 2017
Revenue 98,663 290,553 202,078 405,076
Cost of Revenue 68,568 111,412 142,363 185,946
Gross Profit 30,095 179,141 59,715 219,130
Net Loss -988,741 -1,388,804 -2,559,680 -1,815,373

 

As hinted by Rice’s statement, operating R&D costs have decelerated in this period, from $131,908 in Q2 2017 to $95,045 in Q2 2018. Total operating expenses for Q2 2018 were reported at $1,422,511 and, for the same period in 2017, operating expenses were $1,108,234.

Operating Expenses
Q2 2018 Q2 2017 H2 2018 H2 2017
Operating R&D Costs 95,045 131,908 217,022 186,413
Total Operating Expenses 1,422,511 1,108,234 2,599,641 2,114,717
R&D as % of Total Operating Expenses 7% 12% 8% 9%

 

A “mixed year”

This second quarter of 2018 marks a full year since Rice joined Sigma Labs as CEO. In a letter issued to company shareholders, Rice highlights the challenges the company has faced in the past 12 months, including the recruitment of new team members.

“Overall, the past year is certainly one of mixed results, and we hope and believe that we did get the mix right,” comments Rice,” In exiting the R&D business, we caused a reduction in company revenues for the period from which we have not yet emerged. We traded those lost revenues for a major overhaul of the company: reworking our culture, rapidly advancing our technology from its bench R&D characteristics and high potential into a rapidly evolving high performance commercially deployable product.”

Full Sigma Labs Second Quarter 2018 Financial Results can be accessed online here.

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Featured image shows a metal 3D printing test palette. Photo via Sigma Labs on Facebook