There is still time to make a nomination in the 2019 3D Printing Industry Awards. There are 20 categories in total, spanning the additive manufacturing ecosystem of materials, hardware and software.
This year, as always, 3D Printing Startup of the Year is shaping up to be one of the most competitive categories. To date 3D Printing Industry readers have submitted almost 100 budding businesses for this accolade, with plenty more yet to come. Here we take a look at a selection of this year’s nominees, working in everything from post-processing, materials and design, to medical models, workflow optimization and 3D bioprinting.
If you don’t see your company or a startup you think deserves an award listed below – it’s not too late! Make your nominations here to get the name on the list before nominations close on March 1st 2019.
Post processing, services, consumables and more
As the 3D printing industry matures we are certainly starting to see a rise in the number of companies with products and platforms designed to support and supplement areas such as post processing, services and consumables. In 2019 especially, our reader’s nominations reflect that.
Another big part of 3D Printing Startup of the Year nominations is materials. Returning for a second year is DimensionInx, the company that creates 3D-Paints including the ink for hyperelastic bone research.
Of the many 3D bioprinting startups out there, we have also received nominations for Swedish company CELLINK, and the Philadelphia-headquartered Allevi.
You decide the 2019 3D Printing Start-up of the Year
All of the companies mentioned in this article and more have already been nominated for our 2019 3D Printing Startup of the Year Award, but they still need your support. If you’re a company looking to get involved in the 3D Printing Industry Awards this year it’s time to start sharing this nomination with your network. As for our readers – if there’s anything missing from the list above, now’s your chance to get your voice heard.
Deemed “The Future of SLS Powder” Structured Polymers’ specialism is color, with their TrueBlack powder described as “the world’s first SLS ink with inherent color”. As such, these powders do not require any recoloring, i.e. painting or dyeing, after 3D printing.
By adding Structured Polymers to its material portfolio, Evonik continues to grow its presence in the additive manufacturing sector.
Dr. Ralph Marquardt, head of Strategy and Growth Businesses for Evonik Resource Efficiency GmbH, comments, “The acquisition of Structured Polymers’ technology excellently complements our existing activities with high-performance polymers for additive manufacturing,”
“Thanks to our decades of expertise in polymer chemistry, this means we will expand our portfolio of customized, ready-to-use polymer materials for the highly attractive, rapidly growing 3D printing market, thus giving us a key role in shaping development of that market.”
Working with the inventors of SLS
An offshoot of restructuring at RAG AG, Germany’s largest coal mining corporation, Evonik was formed in 2007.
On the other hand, Structured Polymers was founded in 2013. In May 2014 the company received $1.5 million in seed funding through online equity platform Microventures. Its CTO, Dr. Carl Deckard, and adviser, Dr. Joseph Beaman, are credited as the inventors of SLS technology from the University of Texas at Austin in the mid-1980s.
Structured Polymers patented technology
Structured Polymers uses patented technology to manufacture materials for additive manufacturing. Its first product is True Black Nylon 12, an SLS powder that promises superior surface finish and color to plain, 3D printed powders. Though proved with this polymer, the technology is applicable to a wide variety of thermoplastics.
Thomas Grosse-Puppendahl, head of the Additive Manufacturing Innovation Growth Field at Evonik, explains, “The new technology allows us to take virtually any semi-crystalline thermoplastic, such as polybutylene terephthalate, polyether ketone (PEK), or polyamide 6, or polymer powders with specialized properties like color, conductivity, or flame protection, and produce them for common powder-based 3D printing processes, such as selective laser sintering, high-speed sintering, or multi-jet fusion,”
“In addition, we anticipate that Structured Polymers’ technology can be scaled up easily and economically.”
Terms of the acquisition
Evonik first placed its interest in this acquisition through a venture capital investment in Structured Polymers dating back to fall 2017.
Vikram Devarajan, CEO of Structured Polymers Inc., concludes, “We are very pleased to harness the power of Evonik to expand our innovative technology platform even further,”
“In the near future,” he adds, “this will allow us to diversify the 3D printing materials market to a significant degree and to work with our customers on developing new business opportunities.”
Full terms of the transaction between Evonik and Structured Polymers remain undisclosed.
Sigma Labs, the computer-aided inspection (CAI) software company behind PrintRite3D software, has received a Test and Evaluation Program contract from an undisclosed global materials and service provider in additive manufacturing.
Under this contract, Sigma Labs is installing its PrintRite3D INSPECT 4.0 in-process quality assurance software into several additive manufacturing systems in the customer’s German and U.S. facilities.
“Sigma Labs is deeply committed to our In-Process Quality Assurance tools, supporting and moving forward with them,” said John Rice, CEO of Sigma Labs.
“I am confident that this initiative, which marks our fifth customer signed from diverse industries in the past four months, will validate our PrintRite3D technology in commercial-industrial serial manufacturing settings.”
PrintRite3D INSPECT 4.0
Launched last year at Formnext, PrintRite3D INSPECT 4.0 is the latest version of Sigma Labs’ In-Process Quality Assurance (IPQA) software. This technology works in tandem with the company’s SENSORPAK hardware, which features off-axis and on-axis in-process sensors to, collect real-time data on additive manufacturing processes.
Furthermore, some of PrintRite3D INSPECT 4.0 features include objective evidence of compliance to design intent; Early defect detection; Scrap reduction and increased yield; Melt pool spectral data evaluation; And tools for reporting melt pool relative temperature.
Rice adds, “We believe that going forward, AM technology will play an increasingly prominent role in the aerospace, medical, power generation/energy, automotive and tooling/general industries, all areas which are served by this customer.”
The Sigma Rapid Test and Evaluation Program
The Sigma Rapid Test and Evaluation Program aims to demonstrate the value of PrintRite3D. As such, the technology is assessed on its product capabilities and performance as well as its ability to validate and quantify the repeatability of industrial 3D printing processes.
As the fifth customer of the program, the undisclosed company will receive hardware, software, training, engineering and metallurgical consulting, and support services from Sigma Labs.
The New Raw, aDutch research and design studio, has launched its first zero waste lab in Thessaloniki, north Greece. As part of the Print Your City project, citizens can utilise ordinary household plastic waste to design and 3D print benches, using specialised customisation software.
To promote the project to locals, The New Raw showcased its project with temporary installations of 3D printed chairs made from household plastic waste, placed around the city. The founders, Panos Sakkas and Foteini Setaki, believe that this project will help people understand the various uses of these materials.
“Plastic has a design failure,” they said. “It is designed to last forever, but often we use it once and then throw it away.”
“With Print Your City, we endeavour to show a better way of using plastic in long lasting and high value applications.”
Cutting out plastic waste
Compared to traditional subtractive processes, additive manufacturing creates less material waste. Moreover, recycling used plastics to make 3D printer feedstock continues to be an active area for material development companies. In March 2018, Texas printer provider re:3D launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Gigabot X, which prints with pelletised feedstock made of recycled materials. And in 2017, the Australian not-for-profit organisation GreenBatch began crowdfunding to remove plastic bottles from landfills and turn them into filament, for use in schools throughout Western Australia.
Through the Print Your City project, The New Raw aims to recycle four tons of plastic waste, approximately the quantity produced by 14 family households in Greece.Last year, the company printed its initial prototypes but a standard model needed 12 hours to turn 100kg of plastic into a pot. Thus, the designers decided to improve the quality of the materials to reduce production time for the second phase.
Customisation of 3D street furniture
With the “Print Your City”, The New Raw has created a software that citizens can use to modify the shape and colour of a piece of urban furniture, as well as specific integrated functions, such as a built-in bookshelf, bike rack, mini-gym or dog feeding bowl. Users can also choose which public space will house their piece.
These base objects with integrated functions are intended to promote a healthy lifestyle – designs for seating are ergonomic, improving sitting posture. The New Raw has a dedicated website for submitting “Print Your City” designs. Since its launch in December 2018, more than 3,000 have been submitted so far. The company is currently reviewing the first wave of designs, but website visitors can still experiment with customization online and view the most popular variations.
Metal additive manufacturing takes another step forward as Hill Air Force Base announces the successful installation of a 3D printed titanium part for the F-22 jet.
The F-22 Raptor fighter jet has a maximum speed of 1500 mph and costs $412M. Manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, says “The F-22 is the world’s most dominant fighter.”
A total of 187 of the fifth-generation fighters were procured, primarily by the U.S. Air Force, with an additional 8 built as test jets. The total cost of the program is estimated at $66.7 billion, whereas flight costs per hour are reported as $68,362. These high costs have proved a roadblock to reactivating production of F-22s.
Robert Lewin, 574th AMXS director, notes another concern, “One of the most difficult things to overcome in the F-22 community, because of the small fleet size, is the availability of additional parts to support the aircraft”.
A 3D printed Titanium bracket
A titanium bracket made using the powder bed fusion metal additive manufacturing process will replace the current aluminum part. The benefits of using AM include faster procurement, lower cost and, by manufacturing the bracket in titanium, corrosion is no longer a concern. The component is part of a kick panel assembly of the cockpit that is “replaced 80 percent of the time during maintenance.”
The new part was installed on a operational F-22 Raptor by the 574th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintainers. Robert Blind, Lockheed Martin modifications manager commented, “We had to go to engineering, get the prints modified, we had to go through stress testing to make sure the part could withstand the loads it would be experiencing – which isn’t that much, that is why we chose a secondary part.”
The 3D printed bracket will be closely monitored, and once proven the replacement program rolled out to the wider fleet of F-22s. At least another five F-22 parts are currently under consideration for validation on the fighter jet.
574th AMXS director Lewin said, “Once we get to the more complicated parts, the result could be a 60-70 day reduction in flow time for aircraft to be here for maintenance.”
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Featured image shows a 574th Aircraft Maintenance Sqaudron maintainer performs depot maintenance on F-22 fighter jet at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Jan. 16, 2018. The 574th installed the first metallic 3D printed part on an operational F-22 in December. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)
Frustrated by the unresponsiveness of traditional supply chains, Marines from the 29 Palms base generated the concept of converting standard utility vehicles into customizable transport suited for a diverse range of missions.
The MLV originated from an international challenge on the Launch Forth platform to prove the value of crowd-sourcing ideas instead of traditional product development practices.
Arnab Chatterjee, a freelance mechanical engineer influenced by the capabilities of 3D printed cars, submitted the winning design, the Hybrid Adaptive Transport (HAT) 2.0. The HAT 2.0 leverages additive manufacturing to create a vehicle that can transform into a marine base while having enough room for a variety of marine supplies.
Pleased with this concept, members of the USMC worked to realize a fully functional prototype. The Launch Forth platform also aided in the creation of the 3D printed autonomous bus, Olli.
A 3D printed Modular Logistics Vehicle
FATHOM’s engineering and design team were responsible for fabricating the MLV prototype. The team used additive and traditional manufacturing processes to produce the vehicle, which took 10 weeks.
Using Siemens’ Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software, the team created a cloud-based digital thread where FATHOM’s designers could access the 3D CAD files for further refinement before production. The MLV prototype included over 1800 components and took approximately 2000 project hours to produce.
MIT’s online course Additive Manufacturing for Innovative Design and Production begins on February 25, 2019. To learn more, 3D Printing Industry got in contact with one of the course instructors – Professor John Hart, MIT Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity.
Through his career, Professor Hart has been recognized by prestigious awards from the United States National Science Foundation (NSF), ONR, AFOSR, DARPA, ASME, SME, and twice for the R&D 100 awards. Recently, he was granted the MIT Ruth and Joel Spira Award for Distinguished Teaching in Mechanical Engineering, and the MIT Keenan Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Education.
Professor Hart has also co-founded three companies, including Massachusetts 3D printer manufacturer Desktop Metal, and is co-inventor on approximately 50 pending and issued patents.
3D Printing Industry: Why did you decide create Additive Manufacturing for Innovative Design and Production?
Professor Hart: The course was inspired by the confluence of my research, teaching, and industry interactions based at MIT. Though for over 20 years, industry has been using the cornerstone processes of additive manufacturing for prototyping, I’ve increasingly come to realize its transformative potential across the product lifecycle.
Additive manufacturing facilitates on-demand production without dedicated equipment or tooling; unlocks the power of digital design tools; and enables parts to have new levels of performance with reduced risk. Yet this ambition is not matched by the pace of industrial implementation of additive manufacturing. Though many factors play a role, one repeatedly identified by academia and industry is a sizeable skills gap. In particular, adoption is hamstrung by the lack of a “critical mass” of actionable, technical knowledge across organizations.
Confidence in additive manufacturing’s potential can be enriched by engineers and designers well-versed in the technology, its applications and implementations, and with digitally-enhanced skillsets to design for additive manufacturing (DfAM).
Myself, the new AM center, the team at MIT xPRO, and colleagues at MIT, felt that we needed to produce a high-quality, skills-driven course to enable rigorous, yet practically focused professional education about the technology; and to likewise enable companies an opportunity to bridge the skill gap in a flexible, needs-centric manner.
3D Printing Industry: What makes this course unique?
Professor Hart: Additive Manufacturing for Innovative Design and Productionis an innovative educational experience. The course emphasizes both breadth and depth, and provides learner-specific pathways for navigating the content. This includes three cases studies – two spanning digital design, and one on business strategy – that learners may choose from to suit their interests.
We emphasize practical intuition and theoretical knowledge. Technical lectures on advanced design tools are accompanied by detailed examinations of test components that reflect process capabilities and limits. This is complemented by instruction in generative design and topology optimization software, and an open-ended methodology to use additive manufacturing to rapidly generate new design concepts. The same is true of cost-modeling activities, which feature an MIT-developed cost model for additively manufactured parts.
In addition to the core content, the course offers more than 40 hours of rich, technical content that is optional for learners looking to enhance their experience. This includes a library of over 30 application stories tailored to specific audience and industry segments, as well as multimodal content presentations – from interactive course graphics on mechanical properties of AM parts, to more than 40 expert interviews featuring industry leaders and MIT faculty.
3D Printing Industry: What is the impact of delivering this course online, as opposed to in-person?
Professor Hart: The delivery method of Additive Manufacturing for Innovative Design and Productionallows learners more flexibility and accessibility. Though the course spans 12 weeks, and includes more than 60 hours of instruction and assessment activities, the content can be completed at any time, with few exceptions.
There are no regular meetings, and each learner’s approach to material can be different based on their specific interests. The key to this course is modularity. Feedback from our online learners has shown that the capstone case studies are especially valuable in enhancing the learning experience.
We also offer frequent, live, interactive online office hours (which are posted for later viewing), and our staff manages a large discussion board, which is open to all learners.
3D Printing Industry: Has the course changed over time?
Professor Hart: As the field of additive manufacturing changes, we continuously update the course content to align with the latest stories, technologies, and needs of industry. The course was first offered in May 2018 and has been completed by 2,000 learners from around the world. After each run of the course, the team works to enhance the learner experience with new material, and by refining our instructional methods to accommodate learner feedback and improve the program.
3D Printing Industry: Who should take this course?
I would highly recommend this course to any engineer, designer, executive or manufacturing professional. Though additive manufacturing has yet to penetrate the entire industrial landscape, its applications are broad and span the entire product lifecycle. While many of the goods may never be mass-produced using AM, applications from rapid prototyping, to tooling, to spare parts fulfillment will increasingly add value to diverse manufacturing communities across the globe. Regardless of your industry, if you want to learn more about the processes, business applications, or design elements of additive, I encourage you to consider our course.
3D Printing Industry: What advice would you give someone who is interested in taking Additive Manufacturing for Innovative Design and Production?
Professor Hart: MIT has outstanding online resources that can demonstrate the world-class material more illustratively than I can speak to it. Prospective students should take advantage of these resources to determine of Additive Manufacturing for Innovative Design and Production is a good fit for them, or for their organizations.