LulzBot releases 3D Aerostruder Micro Tool Head for “penny-scale” 3D printed parts

Aleph Objects, the Colorado-based manufacturer of the LulzBot range of desktop 3D Printers, has unveiled a new, high-precision tool head at SIGGRAPH 2018 in Vancouver –  the LulzBot Aerostruder v2 Micro.

With the ability to 3D print penny-scale parts, the LulzBot Aerostruder v2 Micro tool head can be used with both flexible and rigid filament for precise and miniature parts. The expanded functionality of this tool head intends to give engineers and designers a higher level of detail and surface quality within their 3D printed parts.

“The Aerostruder v2 Micro Tool Head—paired with the LulzBot Mini 2 3D Printer—has changed my perception of what is possible with filament 3D printing,” explains Adam Straight, Product Specialist at Aleph Objects.

“In terms of resolution and surface finish, the prints from this new tool head are very impressive.”

A penny-sized skull printed using the new Aerostruder v2 Micro Tool Head. Photo via Aleph Objects.
A penny-sized skull printed using the new Aerostruder v2 Micro Tool Head. Photo via Aleph Objects.

Advanced open source 3D printer hardware

As a result of a manufacturing partnership with award winning 3D printer system developer and marketplace E3D Online, the Lulzbot Aerostruder v2 Micro Tool Head includes an E3D Titan Aero 2-in-1 HotEnd and Extruder.

An integral component in the production of high-precision, miniature 3D printed parts, the Titan Aero features a 0.25mm nozzle and a 360-degree part cooling fan which improves overhang and bridge performance. Straight added, “The precision of E3D Titan Aero extruders and hot ends complements the premium quality built into every LulzBot 3D Printer.”

Now in its second year, the partnership between Aleph Objects and E3D was formed due to the companies’ shared focus on developing open source hardware for 3D printers. “Free, Libre, and Open Source development respects user freedom drives better products, accelerates innovation, and strengthens user communities,” stated Harris Kenny, President of Aleph Objects.

Sanjay Mortimer, Co-Founder and Director of Research and Development at E3D Online, added, “Aleph Objects probably [has]the most useful and interesting array of tool heads for their 3D printers, and E3D is excited to contribute its expertise to a tool head that really pushes the limits of the technology,”

“It’s a lot of fun collaborating with a like-minded company that also trusts their users to really engage openly and freely with the technology. There’s a lot more to come from this collaboration, and we feel like we’re just getting started.”

The new Aerostruder v2 Micro Tool Head. Photo via Aleph Objects.
The new Aerostruder v2 Micro Tool Head. Photo via Aleph Objects.

Lulzbot enables user freedom

Late last year, LulzBot released a variety of 3D printing software, hardware and 3D printing materials for its printers. This included the version 3 of the LulzBot TAZ Dual Extruder, which was created to allow more geometric freedom for designers so that they may focus on form and function, rather than the printability of a design. The new Aerostruder v2 Micro Tool Head is expected to be available for purchase next month and is currently on display with its micro art gallery at SIGGRAPH 2018.

A 3D printed banana fabricated using the new Aerostruder v2 Micro Tool Head is set next to a real banana for scale. Photo via Aleph Objects. Clip via Aleph Objects.

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Featured image shows a penny-sized octopus printed using the new Aerostruder v2 Micro Tool Head. Photo via Aleph Objects.

New 3D Printing Industry Index reports first data

The 3D Printing Industry Index, launching today, is the latest addition to our expanding suite of analytical tools and databases for the additive manufacturing sector.

Every quarter, the 3D Printing Industry Index will be compiled and published. The index is constructed using a survey of leading enterprises in the 3D printing industry. It is intended to be a measure regarding past, present and future sentiment towards several key metrics from the perspective of industry leaders.

In coming months, our survey results for the current quarter end of June 30 will be joined by corresponding data points for future quarter end dates. This will allow analysis of trends in the 3D printing industry to be conducted.

What is a sentiment index?

Sentiment indexes are powerful and widely used macro-economic tools. Central bankers, economists, financial analysts, VCs, investors, financial managers and journalists use them for forecasting, trend analysis and generally to gain insights.

Well known indexes include the IFO Business Climate Index, GfK Consumer Climate Index, Michigan Consumer Sentiment, and the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index.

Our approach with the 3D Printing Industry Index is similar.

The data for our index is collected by surveying a representative sample of the additive manufacturing ecosystem on a quarterly basis.

As a global industry, enterprises from across the world are represented. These range from operations with fewer than 10 employees to much larger enterprises. Hardware manufacturers, 3D printing material producers, 3D scanning companies, resellers, bureaus and the other enterprises that comprise the 3D printing industry are all represented.

This panel will be reviewed and updated as necessary to ensure the Index is a valid representation of the industry.

We will publish highlights and insights from the 3D Printing Industry Index for readers. Companies who participate in the panel survey will have access to a wider dataset.

Methodology for the 3D Printing Industry Index

The 3D Printing Industry Index is based upon the responses to a 5 question survey.

The questions address trading activity for the past and coming quarter, past and future hiring plans and changes to the gross margin. The full questions are as follows.

1. How was trading activity at your company during the past 3 months?

2. How do you expect trading activity to be during the coming 3 months?

3. Has your company expanded its 3D printing workforce in the last 3 months?

4. Does your company intend to expand its 3D printing workforce in the next 3 months?

5. How do you expect gross margin to change in the next 3 months?

There are 3 parts to the Index, the Global, Present and Future.

From the responses to the survey the index is calculated as follows.   

Global Index: S = (n+ – n-)/(n+ + n- + no)

n+ the number of positive answers, n− the number of negative answers and n0 the number of neutral answers.

We also calculate the Present Index from the answers to questions 1 and 3, and the Future 3DPI Sentiment Index from the answers to questions 2, 4 and 5.

The resulting value of the Index will range between -1 and 1. A negative figure indicates that a majority of the panelists are pessimistic. While a positive value  indicates that a majority of the panelists are optimistic. The closer the value is to 1 indicates just how positive sentiment is among the panelists.

We intend to publish the 3D Printing Industry Sentiment Index quarterly in July, October, January and April. Once several quarters worth of data is collected trend analysis will be possible.

Results of the June 2018 3D Printing Industry Sentiment Index

For the quarter ending the 30th of June 2018, the Global 3D Printing Industry Sentiment Index is 0.69. This value indicates a strong optimism among the panelists.

The value for the Present 3D Printing Industry Sentiment Index  stands at 0.75. This demonstrates a healthy state for our sector. The Future 3D Printing Industry Sentiment Index is calculated at 0.65 for June 2018. This is a strong result. It bodes well for the sector in the months to come.

While the graph below only contains data for June 2018, in coming quarters it will be used to track trends in the 3D printing industry.

The survey will be conducted again for the quarter ending on 30 September. To join the panel please contact us.  

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University of Sydney awarded $1.15 million for iFix 3D printing Biopen

The University of Sydney’s Save Sight Institute has been awarded a $1.15 million (AUD) grant from the New South Wales (NSW) Government’s Medical Devices Fund (MDF) to progress commercialization of its 3D corneal biopen.

The iFix Pen, a hand-held co-axial 3D printer, extrudes bioink directly onto an eye to aid in the regeneration of cells on corneal ulcers. The pen also creates a biological barrier towards ongoing cornea damage caused by infections.

Brad Hazzard, the New South Wales Minister for Health and Medical Research, announced the recipients of the MDF, last Wednesday at the Parliament House in Sydney, Australia.

“Since the Medical Devices Fund began in 2013, the NSW Government has awarded more than $50 million in grants to 31 technologies,” said Hazzard.

“We are committed to supporting innovators in the medtech industry in getting their brilliant ideas off the ground and ultimately saving millions of lives around the world.”

Professor Gordon Wallace, Professor Gerard Sutton and NSW Minister for Medical Research, Brad Hazzard, receiving the NSW Government at Parliament House on Wednesday night. Photo via the University of Sydney.
(Left to right)Professor Gordon Wallace, Professor Gerard Sutton and NSW Minister for Medical Research, Brad Hazzard at the Parliament House. Photo via the University of Sydney.

The iFix Pen project

The iFix Pen Project is led by Gerard Sutton, ophthalmologist and Professor of Corneal and Refractive Surgery at the Sydney Eye Hospital, University of Sydney and Professor Gordon Wallace, Founder and Director of the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute, University of Wollongong (UOW).

According to the Save Sight Institute, corneal ulceration, a painful open sore on the clear front surface of the eye which can lead to blindness, is a common problem in Australia and developing countries. Approximately 55,000 Australians with corneal ulceration present themselves to hospitals for treatment each year.

Thus, Professor Sutton and Professor Wallace began developing the iFix Pen Project as an alternative treatment that will potentially reduce the number of patients afflicted with corneal ulceration. The team’s research, which was first reported in the journal Biofabrication in 2016, has shown that the iFix Pen can accelerate feeling, minimize pain and reduce patient recovery time, through the deployment of antibiotics.

The project also collaborates with Professor Peter Choong, Sir Hugh Devine Chair of Surgery, and Head of Department of Surgery at the University of Melbourne, and the NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service.

The BioPen, developed by researchers from the UOW-headquartered Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES), will give surgeons greater control over where the materials are deposited while also reducing the time the patient is in surgery by delivering live cells and growth factors directly to the site of injury, accelerating the regeneration of functional bone and cartilage. Photo shows Dr. Stephen Beirne of the Australian National Fabrication Facility with the bio pen.
Dr. Stephen Beirne of the Australian National Fabrication Facility with the iFix Pen. Photo via Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES).

The Big Idea Grant

In 2017, the iFix Pen project was awarded $45,000 (AUD) in pre-seed funding through Sydney Local Health District’s Big Idea grant which the research team used to commence surgical tests on sheep.

“Winning the Big Idea last year gave us two things,” Professor Sutton says. “It gave us credibility when we were applying for other grants and the self-belief that we had a great idea worth developing.

“The iFix pen is one part of an overall corneal bioengineering project and, with the support from The Big Idea and the Medical Devices Fund, we are also hoping that within the next five to 10 years, we will be able to develop a 3D bioengineered cornea.

Last year, Professor Wallace’s UOW research team was also awarded a $347,070 (AUD) LIEF grant for a 3D Additive Bio-Fabrication Facility to create the next generation of bioprinting methodologies and 3D fabrication tools.

The iFix Pen is expected to undertake a phase 1 human trial in 2019.

(Left to Right)Professor Gerard Sutton, Dr. Jingjing You, Dr. Simon Cooper, PhD student Hannah Frazer and Dr. Li Wen receiving the Big Idea Grant at the Vision Eye Institute. Photo via the University of Sydney.
(Left to Right)Professor Gerard Sutton, Dr. Jingjing You, Dr. Simon Cooper, PhD student Hannah Frazer and Dr. Li Wen receiving the Big Idea Grant at the Vision Eye Institute. Photo via the University of Sydney.

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Featured image shows Dr. Stephen Beirne of the Australian National Fabrication Facility with the iFix Pen. Photo via Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES).

 

Innovate UK grants £6M to national aerospace additive manufacturing project

Independent research and technology organisation TWI, also known as The Welding Institute, has announced that it will lead the Open Architecture Additive Manufacturing (OAAM) project. With the contribution of several regional research institutions and global organizations, OAAM is an initiative set to provide the UK aerospace sector with large scale metal 3D printed components.

The government’s Technology Strategy Board Innovate UK is funding the program, and has so far granted contributors over £6.5 million ($8.27 million approx.).

Directed energy deposition (DED) metal 3D printing technology. Photo via TWI
Directed energy deposition (DED) metal 3D printing technology. Photo via TWI

Industrial DED

The OAAM program focuses on the development of large-scale directed energy deposition (DED) additive manufacturing, a technique commercially marketed by companies including FormalloyOptomec and AddUp. The abstract suggests that multiple DED based technologies will be developed throughout the duration of the project, advancing the current capabilities of arc-wire/laser-wire at Cranfield University, and TWI’s electron beam wire and laser-powder/laser-wire processes. Cranfield’s wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) method in particular has already proven an ability to create potentially record-breaking large-scale metal parts.

In addition to TWI and Cranfield, the project will rely on contribution from 8 other bodies: global aerospace giant Airbus, award winning software company Autodesk, Scottish engineering and manufacturing specialist the Glenalmond Group, the University of Bath, University of ManchesterUniversity of Strathclyde, and engineering consultancy firm Isotek Oil & Gas Ltd.

Funding from Innovate UK has been shared out between each body with TWI receiving the lion’s share of $2 million. With an estimated project cost of $1.7 million, Cranfield University was granted 100% of the proposed from Innovate UK. Further numerations are detailed below.

Distribution of the Innovate UK $6 million grant. Image via GTR UK.
Distribution of the Innovate UK $6 million grant. Image via GTR UK.

Scaleable, integrated, metal additive manufacturing 

The various technologies developed through the project are required to be scaleable; work with common CAD/CAM interfacing; and integrate four traditionally isolated steps of production: non-destructive testing (NDT), machining, inspection and cold-work. Necessarily, the technologies must also conform to aerospace level standards.

Innovate UK’s funding period for OAAM has been initially set to run until December 2020. The goal over the next two-three years it to develop the technologies to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6, i.e. a functioning demonstration of the method’s capabilities, or Manufacturing Capability Readiness Level (MCRL) 4/5, “Capability to produce the technology in a laboratory environment” or “Capability to produce prototype components in a production relevant environment.” Following this, OAAM technologies will have to pass through three further TRLs or 5/6 MCRLs before they are considered the “highest level of production readiness,” and fully validated for a commercial market.

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Featured image shows components manufactured using electron beam melting at TWI. Photo via TWI

XYZprinting’s affordable full-colour 3D printer: the da Vinci Color mini – technical specifications and pricing

XYZprinting, the Taiwanese manufacturers of the da Vinci range of desktop 3D printers, has unveiled a new full-color 3D printer, the da Vinci Color mini.

Designed to produce realistic prototypes, this consumer-oriented 3D printer uses Color Jet Printing (CJP) technology, which combines inkjet printing with the fused filament fabrication (FFF), to create a range of colorful prints that allow designers to vividly envision their final product without having to paint it.

“Desktop full-color 3D printing is here,” said Simon Shen, CEO of XYZprinting. “Now, consumers can purchase an easy-to-operate, affordable, compact full-color 3D printer for $30,000 less than market rate.”

“This is revolutionary because we are giving the public access to technology that was once only available to industry professionals.”

A full-color print from the da Vinci color mini. Photo via XYZprinting.

Color 3D printing for a lower price tag

XYZprinting, launched the da Vinci Color Mini’s predecessor, the da Vinci Color 3D printer, in 2016 Now, with STEM students, film model makers, and toymakers in mind, XYZprinting have created a smaller, more convenient, user-friendly 3D printer.

The da Vinci Color mini includes a hands-free auto calibration, an EZ removable print bed, WiFi connectivity, and a 5-inch color LCD screen.  Its “full-color” 3D printing abilities reportedly provides over 15 million color combinations from new 3-in-1 CMY ink cartridges. Using its 3DColorJet technology, the da Vinci Color mini mixes and spreads droplets of colored ink from printer ink cartridges between designated layers of PLA, creating a multi-colored 3D printed model.

An upgradable laser engraving function for wood, leather, and more materials and mono-color 3D printing in PLA, PETG, and Tough PLA have also been added to the printer.

With lighter hardware and automated settings, XYZprinting believe that the da Vinci Color mini is best suited for “small business owners seeking cost-effective solutions or starting their own full 3D printing businesses; educators interested in incorporating full color 3D printing into classrooms and curriculums; fans and collectors who love geek culture; and day-to-day consumers.”

 

Technical specifications and Pricing

Build volume: 5.1” x 5.1” x 5.1”
Weight: 53 lbs
Print technology: 3DColorJet
Printing software: XYZ maker
Layer resolution: 100-400 microns
Calibration: Auto-Leveling
Materials: 3D Color inkjet PLA, PLA, PETG
Filament diameter: 1.75mm
Nozzle diameter: 0.4mm
Print bed: Ez removable metal
User interface: 5” LCD touch panel
Ink type: 3-in-1 CMY ink cartridge
Wifi connectivity: Yes
Print speed: 180mm/s


The da Vinci Color mini retails for a price of $1599.95. Early adopters of XYZprinting’s
Indiegogo campaign can pre-order the da Vinci Color printer for $999.95. The 3D printer is set to ship to backers in October.

XYZprinting’s da Vinci Color mini will also be on display at IFA 2018, August 31 – September 5, at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds, in Berlin, Germany.

A full-color printed helicopter model from the da Vinci color mini. Photo via XYZprinting.

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Featured image shows the Da Vinci Color Mini. Photo via XYZprinting.

Hobbyist 3D prints open source CNC machine for under $200

Hobbyist and Reddit 3D printing community contributor Marioarm has built an “almost fully” 3D printed CNC machine for milling electronic chipboards.

Marioarm built the Cyclone PCB CNC machine with 3D printed parts downloaded from file sharing sites such as Thingiverse and the GitHub repository Cyclone PCB Factory. With minimal, prefabricated parts, the project in total cost Marioarm under $200 to build.

Marioarm's 3D printed CNC machine. Photo via Imgur
Marioarm’s 3D printed CNC machine. Photo via Imgur

The Cyclone CNC machine

Marioarm’s machine is a combination of 3D printed and non-3D printed parts. Non-3D printed parts include precision sliders for controlling the drill, a solid wood base, three stepper motors, cables, power supply, drill bits, screws, a CNC controller, and a rotary tool.

The rest of the parts including, holders, frame, gears for axis etc., were 3D printed.  

The cost breakdown is as follows:

– CNC controller: $5-6

– a rotary tool: $50

– three Nema Stepper Motors (17HS3401): $30-36

– 5 steel rods: $25-30

– a rubber hose for vacuum: $3

– drill bits: 10 pieces cost $3

The cost of these parts adds up to $126. Adding $50-$70 for the cost of minor bits and pieces, and 3D printed parts, the total amount reaches only $176-$196.

The original Cyclone design had problems with backlash and wobbling, but Marioarm solved the problem by replacing threaded rods with lead screws and adding spring tensioners. According to the creator, the machine is specifically designed to mill Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) for surface-mounting.

A PCB milled with marioarm's 3D printed CNC machine. Photo via Imgur
A PCB milled with Marioarm’s 3D printed CNC machine. Photo via Imgur

Open source 3D printing and the maker movement

The open source culture of 3D printing has provided hobbyists with cost-efficient alternatives to many problems and develop their ideas. In Marioarm’s case, some of the shortcomings of the original open source Cyclone PCB machine were overcome by making minor modifications.

In recent years, open source culture has had a significant impact on humanitarian aid projects. In 2016, Mohammed Abu Mattar, a Glia project member working in Gaza, circumvented a ban on 3D printer imposed by the Israeli government. He made a 3D printer using spare parts and open source designs. The open source 3D printer was used to make medical hardware which is otherwise expensive and unavailable in war zones.

The same year, a Fab Lab project brought WiFi to Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

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Featured image shows marioarm’s 3D printed CNC machine. Photo via Imgur

Facebook bans 3D printed guns in news feed, messenger and Instagram

Despite Cody Wilson’s assertions, the debate over 3D printed guns is not over yet. Last week, social media giant Facebook became the latest organization to weigh-in on the discussion in an update to its Community Guidelines.

According to numerous sources, Facebook released a statement saying: “Sharing instructions on how to print firearms using 3D printers is not allowed under our Community Standards,”

“In line with our policies, we are removing this content from Facebook.”

Thoughts? Answers in an email please, or via Twitter. Post reactions graphic via Facebook
Thoughts? Answers in an email please, or via Twitter…or an appropriate emoji. Post reactions graphic via Facebook

The so-called age of the downloadable gun

Though 3D printed guns remain a critically impractical and convoluted way of obtaining weapons, as one of the most “hot topics” of 3D printing, in the public eye at least, we have been closely monitoring the rise of the “3D Downloadable Gun”.

The idea was first conceived in 2012/2013 when crypto-anarchist and gun-rights activist Cody Wilson designed and began the digital distribution of files to make the Plastic Liberator handgun.

Recently, the debate over availability of these files reached a new peak when Wilson and gun rights non-profit group the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) succeeded in a legal battle at a court in Texas.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun ViolenceEverytown for Gun Safety and the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence tried, and subsequently failed, to acquire an injunction on the ruling, and a number of 3D printing stakeholders have spoken out against the decision.

In the weeks following this decision made by the Department of Justice, Wilson’s site for sharing the files (Defense Distributed) was taken offline by an order from a federal judge in Washington, and the issue has served to inflame further discussion over the general terms of gun control in the United States.

However, since the files were shared by Wilson, they have remained online through sources outside of Defense Distributed.

The Plastic Liberator 3D printed gun. Photo by Lorenza Baroncelli
Banned from Facebook: The Plastic Liberator 3D printed gun. Photo by Lorenza Baroncelli

Facebook prohibits downloadable guns

Sites known to contain files for 3D printing the Plastic Liberator and semi-automatic firearms, have now been prohibited by Facebook.

Sharing such links and files fall under the site’s Regulated Goods Policy that prohibits “the purchase, sale, gifting, exchange and transfer of firearms, including firearm parts or ammunition, between private individuals on Facebook.”

The policy affects all posts made to Facebook news feed, friend timelines, private messenger exchanges and Instagram, with any attempt automatically flagging as spam.

In response to the move, the Firearms Policy Coalition has created a call to action asking Facebook to lift the ban on one affected site, CodeIsFreeSpeech.com that advocates: “Information is code. Code is free speech. Free speech is freedom.”

According Buzzfeed, a Facebook spokesperson has said “the company is currently working on scaling up its anti–3D gun policy.”

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Featured image shows the Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson holding the 3D printed Plastic Liberator. Photo by Lorenza Baroncelli

Four Thieves Vinegar Collective debuts 3D printed chemical reactor for homemade medicine

Dr. Michael Laufer, Founder and Chief Spokesman of the Four Thieves Vinegar Collective, an anarchist biohacking network, debuted a 3D printable kit for homebrewing medication at the Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE) Conference in New York City, last month.

Acting as an accessible alternative to industrial chemical reactors, this Apothecary Mircolab is capable of synthesizing homemade medication for HIV, opiate overdoses, and pharmaceutical abortions.

This chemical reactor “can synthesize household poisons into literally a life-saving drug,” said Dr. Laufer in a recent interview.

Dr. Michael Laufer with the 3D printed chemical reactor kit at the HOPE conference. Image via Michael Laufer/Youtube.
Dr. Michael Laufer with the 3D printed chemical reactor kit at the HOPE conference. Image via Michael Laufer/Youtube.

A 3D printed chemical reactor for “homemade free drugs”

Founded in 2015, the Four Thieves Vinegar Collective began clandestine chemistry (chemistry carried out in secret) to “defend people’s right to attempt their own medical treatment.” With this concept, the Collective has developed and published instructions for a 3D printed Epipen, i.e, the EpiPencil, and the Apothecary MicroLab, an automated DIY device designed to make a variety of medications.

During the 11th HOPE conference in 2016, the Four Thieves Vinegar Collection went public and debuted the first generation of the Apothecary Microlab and EpiPencil. Since then, its DIY chemical reactor has developed, and been involved in hacking medical hardware and more complex drug production processes. 

The new and improved Apothecary Microlab consists of a small mason jar mounted inside a larger mason jar with a 3D printed lid. Furthermore, the kit contains a 3D printed stepper motor, syringe pump, coupler and shredded shaft which are connected using small plastic hoses.

A thermistor is then attached through the lid to circulate fluids to induce the chemical reactions necessary to manufacture various medicines. The whole process is automated using a computer.

According to the Collective, the 3D printed chemical reactor kit has successfully produced Naloxone (aka Narcan), a drug for opiate overdoses, Cabotegravir and Daraprim, drugs used to treat infections in people with HIV, and Mifepristone (aka RU486), and misoprostol, two chemicals needed for pharmaceutical abortions.

Instructions for the 3D printed EpiPencil. Image via the Four Thieves Collective.
Instructions for the 3D printed EpiPencil. Image via the Four Thieves Collective.

Open-source medical 3D printing solutions

Additive manufacturing enables a cost-effective alternative to traditionally expensive laboratory equipment. Whether it is used amongst biomedical researchers, or more recently, the general public (as a result of groups such as the Four Thieves Vinegar Collective), the presence of 3D printed customized labware and reaction vessels has increased.

Recently, researchers from Imperial College London (ICL) created an inexpensive open-source 3D printable membrane feeder to facilitate a wider range of laboratories with customizable tools for scientific malaria experimentation.

Prior to this, researchers from New York Genome Center and New York University developed the open-source 3D printed microfluidics control instrument for cell analysis which is 20 to 200 times cheaper than its traditional counterpart.

In addition, new research published in Additive Manufacturing, outlines the potential of 3D printed customizable toolkits and reaction vessels for chemically resistant lab equipment using affordable material and FFF/FDM 3D printers.

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Featured image shows Dr. Michael Laufer with the 3D printed chemical reactor kit at the HOPE conference. Image via Michael Laufer/Youtube.

Materialise €45 million Q2 revenue driven by strong medical performance

Belgian software and 3D printing service provider Materialise NV (NASDAQ:MTLS) has reported its financial results for the second quarter of 2018.

Headline revenue is reported at €45.07 million, a 34.1% increase on the same period in 2017 which was €33.6 million. The company credits strong performance in its medical segment for part of the rise.

According to executive Chairman Peter Leys, “The past several months have been an especially exciting period” for the company.

“We delivered another set of good results for the second quarter, with particularly strong performances from our Materialise Medical segment and the ACTech business we added to our Materialise Manufacturing segment last October,” adds Leys:

“This performance again demonstrates the benefits of our company’s diversified business model.”

Materialise revenue by division 

Materialise revenue is segmented in three divisions Software, Medical, and Manufacturing. Revenue for the Software division, e.g. sales of Magics platform and related services, was reported at €9.1 million, up from the comparative of  €8.3 million. Medical saw a revenue increase of 14% to €12.4 million, on Q2 2017 revenue of €10.6 million. In the Manufacturing division, revenue was €23.4 million in Q2 2018, an increase of €8.9 million on the same period in 2017.

Revenue by division (in € millions)

    Variance  
  Q2 2017 Q2 2018 € millions %
Materialise Software 8,305 9,131 8,26 9%
Materialise Medical 10,646 12,400 1,754 14%
Materialise Manufacturing 14,455 23,387 8,932 38%
Total 33,406 44,918 11,512 26%

The company also reported €158 thousand of unallocated revenue in Q2 2018, less than the previous period’s unnallocated revenue of €206 thousand.

Gross profit for the three months ended June 30 2018 was €24.8 million, 55% of total revenue, with a net profit of €369 thousand. Comparatively, for period ended June 30 2017, gross profit was €19.4 million, 57.7% of total revenue, with a net loss of €955 thousand.

Research and development costs increased over the period totaling €5.8 million in Q2 2018, up from €5.1 million in Q2 2017.

Recent activity at Materialise

In the second quarter of 2018, Materialise became the first company to be granted FDA clearance for software designed to create 3D printed anatomical models. With global IT service firm HCL Technologies, the company expanded its manufacturing capabilities with a hybrid additive manufacturing/CNC machining service.

As mentioned by Leys, the quarter also demonstrated revenue contributed by metal part casting specialist ACTech after Materialise acquired the company in October 2017. And software revenue was supported by increased third party integration.

Most recently, the company received a $25 million investment from global chemical giant BASF. The long term goal of the two companies is to create a wider choice of materials to increase the adoption of 3D printing technologies.

CT images viewed in Materialise's Mimics software. Image via Materialise.
CT images viewed in Materialise’s Mimics software. Image via Materialise.

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

BMW receives Altair Enlighten Award for metal 3D printed roof bracket

BMW Group, the German multinational automotive company, has received the 2018 Altair Enlighten Award In the Module category for its 3D printed metal convertible roof bracket.

The Altair Enlighten Awards, presented at the CAR Management Briefing Seminars, in Michigan, recognizes admirable advances in lightweight technology. Said to be the first 3D printed metal component used in a production series vehicle, the roof bracket has reduced the overall weight of the BMW i8 Roadster by 44%.

“When the judges looked at this part, we said, ‘this is the tip of the iceberg for manufacturing,’” explained Richard Yen, a judge for the Altair Enlighten Awards and Senior Vice President of Altair’s Global Automotive and Industry Verticals team.

BMW Group's metal 3D printed roof brackets. Photo via Altair Enlighten.
BMW Group’s metal 3D printed roof brackets. Photo via Altair Enlighten.

Raising the 3D printed roof bracket

Maximilian Meixlsperger, Head of Additive Manufacturing Metal at BMW Group, spent ten years developing the design for a roof bracket, before implementing 3D printing technology. Following the adoption of additive manufacturing, specifically Selective Laser Melting (SLM) technology,  the metal roof bracket was produced within a three-month period for the BMW i8 Roadster.

The 3D printed roof bracket is attached to the i8 Roadster’s convertible roof-cover, which is several times heavier than the bracket, using a spring-loaded hinge to enable it to fold and unfold over the vehicle. With this functionality, Meixlsperger and his team used topology optimization software to generate a “load path”—a design distributing the load of a component using the least amount of material possible.

According to BMW Group, with a complex sculptural structure, “the optimized bracket supports the roof-cover and successfully keeps displacements to a minimum to prevent the cover from collapsing during the opening process.”

Typically, such complex components require supports during the 3D printing process to maintain structural integrity; this reduces the efficiency of the component’s design as well as its production due to post-processing procedures such as support removal and additional part refinishing.

“What BMW did is get this done without support,” added Yen. “Now they can print one batch at a time for mass production. They can print more than 600 of these brackets in one batch.”

Furthermore, the SLS 3D printing improved the bracket’s stiffness tenfold when compared to a traditional injection-molded version.

Starting small - components of BMW's i8 Roadster have been made using 3D printing. Image via BMW Group
Starting small – components of BMW’s i8 Roadster have been made using 3D printing. Image via BMW Group

3D printed automotive components

BMW Group is no stranger to additive manufacturing. The company adopted metal 3D printing technologies in order to create a 3D printed chassis and individualized 3D printed radiator covers for its sports motorcycles.

Not to be outdone, Bugatti, the French car manufacturer of high-performance automobiles, have 3D printed a metal brake caliper for its latest hypercar, the Bugatti Chiron. This titanium component was 3D printed using an SLM 500 machine in a job lasting 45 hours.

General Motors, Daimler-Benz, and Faurecia also received Altair Enlighten Awards for their work in lightweight automotive manufacturing. Yen added:

“It’s a rewarding experience each year to witness how simulation-driven design strategies, new materials and advanced manufacturing processes are advancing automotive lightweighting by offering new opportunities to innovate weight-efficient products from the start.”

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Featured image shows BMW Group’s metal 3D printed roof brackets. Photo via Altair Enlighten.