Ricoh hopes to enter 3D printing market by 2016

Ricoh, Japan’s leading multinational imaging and electronics will set up two offices in Kanagawa Prefecture by the end of September, one in Yokohama and the other in Atsugi, to sell 3D printers supplied by global leader Stratasys, 3D Systems and others. Ricoh will also offer prototype services, where they use 3D printing to create objects based on customer data.

Ricoh hopes to bring its own 3D printers to the market in 2016. The printers are expected to be priced at around 5 million yen to 20 million yen ($46,900 to $187,670) and targeting at the small and medium businesses.

Ricoh aims to reach annual sales of $2.8 billion for its new 3D printer business, including its own products. The company said that it will start research and development of 3D printing technology based on its inkjet and other printing technologies.

Ricoh isn’t the only imaging and electronics company in Japan with big plans for 3D printing; both Canon and Seiko Epson plan to roll out 3D printers within the next five years. Canon has already developed a 3D printer prototype, and is pursuing a high-precision technology for producing complex shapes. Canon Marketing, part of the Canon group, has also joined 3D Systems’ network of resellers to market and sell its professional 3D printers, including its direct metal printers, in Japan.

Seiko Epson, a well-known brand for energy-saving and high-precision home printer, is likely working on developing industrial, multi-material 3D printers for commercial applications – such as in large-scale production environments. Epson expects that it will launch its first industrial 3D printer within 5 years.

Last day of display for these 3D printed Ganesha Idols

Lord Ganesha is a widely worshipped deity in the Hindu pantheon. His image is found throughout India and Nepal. Ganesha is widely revered as the god of beginnings, the deva of intellect and wisdom and honored at the start of rituals and ceremonies. Citizens of Bangaluru, India can treat themselves to a very distinctive display of Lord Ganesha. For the first time in India, a 3D Printed Ganesha idols are being displayed at M.G Road Metro Station’s “Rangoli – Metro Art Centre”. Today is the last day of the display – 7th Sept 2014.

The 3D printed Ganesha consists of 8 idols, inspired by temples in Maharashtra, like Ashtavinayak, Siddivinayak etc. All the idols were created exclusively through professional 3D printers, which are capable of capturing every intricate detail in the idol. The Ganesha models are created by 3D scanning the idols & then printed in Stratasys FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling) & Polyjet technology based 3D Printers. The project is initiated by Bangalore based Altem Technologies, a pioneer in professional 3D printers in India and a strategic vision partner of Stratasys. It was also awarded the India SME 100 Award for 2013-14 in the IT/ITES segment.

Mr. Prasad Rodagi, Founder Director of ALTEM Technologies said, “Lord Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, and as the god of intellect and wisdom. Being the god of beginnings, he is worshiped at the start of rituals and ceremonies. 3D Printing is a technology used right in the beginning of the engineering design cycle to overcome flaws in design & development of new products. Invariably, any product takes 3D Printed form before taking its commercial avatar. Additionally, an idol of Ganesha is one of the most intricate idols in India, which can give the viewer can excellent idea about the possibilities of 3D Printing. Hence, Lord Ganesha is being 3D Printed in this scale for the first time in the country.”

Sintratec – Affordable SLS 3D printer to be launched soon…


A few days ago, we reported the launch of Ice9 and Ice1 3D printers by Norge Systems, these SLS 3D printers, as proclaimed by Norge Systems – “are the first truly affordable SLS 3D printers for small and medium businesses”. However, as it seems, Norge is not the only contender on the affordable SLS 3D printers, stable.

Sintratec – a Switzerland based company is currently developing a desktop DIY SLS 3D printer, and the forecasted price is almost ½ of the Ice1, which is Norge Systems cheapest model.

What is a SLS 3D Printer?

“Selective Laser Sintering” is one of the oldest 3D printing technology around. It uses laser as the power source to sinter powdered material to create a solid structure. Unlike some other additive manufacturing processes, such as fused deposition modeling (FDM), SLS does not require support structures and can produce parts with fine details.

While there are many desktop 3D printers on the market, most of these printers use a FDM method, not SLS. SLS is often more expensive than FDM machine: a professional SLS 3D printer starts at around 200,000€.

About Sintratec and the Launch:

Sintratec is a Switzerland based company, founded by electrical engineers Joscha Zeltner, Christian Von Burg, and Dominik Solenicki. The Trio have been working on this DIY SLS 3D printer project since 2012.

Sintratec plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo in October 2014, with a price that everyone can afford: 3,999€ ($5,277) for backers. Their goal is to raise money to ship at least 60 of the SLS 3D printer kits worldwide.

Do they have a DIY SLS 3D Printer Prototype?

Sintratec does have a working DIY SLS 3D printer prototype, up its sleeves. The current prototype, code named –”Bobby”, is built in sturdy aluminium, foam glass and steel and features 130mm cubed print volume. One main feature to keep the cost down is that they use a compact diode laser intead of CO2 laser commonly used in current SLS 3D printers. Sintratec’s prototype DIY SLS 3D printer uses a diode laser (445nm, blue) with an output power of over 2W. To get a good laser spot they use also beam correction optics. The compact diode laser is much cheaper than CO2 laser and pumps solid-state lasers in the visible spectral region for a more safe operation.

This is all we have for now, for more updates on Sintratec and their new DIY SLS 3D printer, please follow their website.

Note: URL links above have been shortened with “p.pw” – URL Shortening Service. They are clean and safe to browse.

Worlds first 3D printed elbow replacement

A new medical application for 3D printing technology was recently successfully implemented in the academic hospital of the Jilin University in Changchun, Northern China. In this case, a specifically developed 3D printed elbow was surgically implemented in the arm of a 48-year-old woman suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. This is the first case ever where 3D printing technology has been successfully used in elbow replacement surgery.

The 48-year-old Leng Cai Feng, a farm worker, had been living from this condition for more than twenty-five years. She explained that this did not bother her at all when it was first diagnosed. ‘It is common for farm workers to have rheumatoid arthritis, and I did not really care about it in at the beginning. It was not a serious handicap, and while I always had sore joints during spring and autumn, it did not affect my work.’

However, her condition worsened considerably three years ago. Leng explained that she suddenly became completely unable to move her knee and elbow, while her entire right her arm became stiff and almost impossible to move. Her left side, meanwhile, became only capable of performing very simple movements and activities. Furthermore, her left elbow and knee became covered in lesions. All this severely affected the quality of her life, as it left her almost entirely paralyzed and unable to take care of herself. She spent her days lying bed, relying on her family to feed her.

Having ran of options, she was admitted to the orthopaedic department of Changchun’s academic hospital of Jilin University. There, doctor Chen Bingpeng diagnosed her and arranged for her to undergo bilateral knee replacement surgery. While this several elevated her walking difficulties –she was able to walk again within twenty days – her arms seemed like a hopeless case. Damage to her elbows and bone structure was severe, which made it virtually impossible to properly implement conventional prosthetic joints.

As Leng explained, she thought it was simply ‘game over’ for her arms. However, she came into contact with Orthopaedic Hospital Professor Wang JinCheng soon afterwards, who convinced her to cooperate in a 3D printing experiment. He explained to her that ‘3D printing technology can achieve the positive postoperative results for a bilateral elbow replacement surgery that conventional prosthetics can’t.’

After repeated testing with prostheses in practise scenarios, her bilateral elbow replacement surgery was successfully completed in early May of this year. The 3D printed elbow prosthesis exactly matched Leng Cai Feng’s bone structure, and all the steps the surgeons practised were a success.

Surgery began in the patient’s right arm, with an incision of approximately 10 cms across her elbow. Professor Wang Jincheng carefully separated the patient’s anconeus and triceps muscles, before removing the distal end of her humurus and the upper end of her ulna. The surgeon explained that these parts of the elbow were seriously deformed due to the patient’s condition. These where then replaced with the 3D printed prosthesis. After some stitching, the surgery was complete.

Her recovery was also quick. ‘Just five days after the surgery, I could drink from the cup I could hold myself.’ Leng said. She has since recovered completely and the quality of her life has severely been improved. As she excitedly explained, ‘I can freely move my arms, I can work and cook!’

This successful surgery is another pioneering step that 3D printing technology has brought to the medical profession. As Professor Wang explained, ‘The success of the operation was not only the first time 3D printing technology was used in this academic hospital, but also the first time this technology was every used for artificial joint elbow replacement surgery. It’s a world record.’

The successful surgeon went on to emphasize the many positive aspects attached to 3D printing technology. ‘Bilateral elbow 3D printing is a customized order. Just like tailor-made cloths are a better fit than store-bought mass productions, prosthetics are the best match.’ To achieve this, they made a three-dimensional CT scan of the patients limbs, and sent that data to a Beijing-based prosthesis production factory. There, the data was entered into the computer and titanium powder was precisely crafted to fit the patient’s bone structure.

‘Another advantage of 3D printed joints is that we can use a skeletal model of the 3D printed joint to examine all stages of the surgery. We effectively carried out the operation in vitro. This greatly shortens the operation time, and reduces patient pain and the number risks involved’, Wang said.

However, he goes on to emphasize that using 3D printing technology is still quite expensive to use in medical situations. ‘because it is a new technology, pricing will be involved in all aspects of the process, such as machine costs, production time, design, etc. In general, it is still more expensive that the traditional technologies that are used for prostheses.’

The professor nonetheless feels that this technology very useful and will be extensively used in the future, as it is very suitable for diseased joints that are usually uniquely shaped in every particular situation. Furthermore, Wang believes that surgery costs for operations that involve 3D printing will likely be reduced as the technology matures.

The new Alta 3D printer from Polarworks

Polarworks, the company behind the Alta 3D printer, is the collaborative effort of Norwegian production and design company Bengler, mechanical engineer Thomas Boe-Wiegaard and industrial design students Hans Jakob Føsker and Alexandre Chappel. The launch of Polarworks was announced in early 2014, along with its intention of developing an ‘extravagantly simple and efficient 3D printer’. Things have been quiet since then, until a promising prototype was revealed at last weekend’s Maker Faire Trondheim.

What was shown, was the prototype of a simple but elegantly designed printer, that is quiet and unorthodox. There is no X and Y axis, as it shifts all the mechanical complexities that accompanies their movement to software. Instead, those movements are all executed by a single linear arm and a rotational disk. And interestingly, the Alta Polarworks should be compatible with all usually used software and STL formats.

The ambition to build this printer grew out of the simple but highly adaptable software GRBL, written by Bengler’s in-house ‘tinkerer’ Simen Svale Skogsrud. This software quickly became a staple for various ‘maker machines’ like laser cutters and writing hardware, but is also used for operating various CNC mills and the popular and open source 3D firmware Marlin. ‘It [GRBL] worked for us – it ran a little CNC mill we used to have in our office – and has also worked for hundreds of other DIY projects that shape by cutting with metal, burning with lasers or laying down minute quantities of molten plastic.’

However, Simen has long since wanted to incorporate it into 3D printers which could be, or so he felt, constructed much easier. ‘He came upon the idea of using two rotational axis instead of a gantries for the X and Y axis. This cuts part count radically and makes the printer nearly silent. No linear bearings, no timing belts, no gears. Just a few slabs of solid metal and precision motors. It also looks excellent when the printer draws a completely straight line by twisting around.’

In the past few months, the team behind Polarworks have been silently trying to realize this printer, after students Føsker and Chappel, along with engineer Boe-Wiegaard blew new life into their ambition.

And while both the design and the promises made are certainly drawing our attention, we’ll have to wait for more pictures and promotional videos before we can endorse the Alta Polarworks’ innovations. Their Kickstarter – that will be aiming for approximately $1500 – will start within the next few months, so we hope to be able to present an update on this interesting 3D printer in the near future.

HP to enter 3D Printing Market soon…

Hewlett Packard, one of the leading manufacturers of Computers and peripherals is all set to enter the marketplace of 3D printing, by the fall of 2014. HP has nearly 40% of market share of 2D printing, so it is a natural progression for HP to enter into 3D printing business. As a lot of core patents have expired or are expiring this year, it will be a good timing for HP to enter the market so they won’t have to spend time and huge amount of money on developing the technology.

HP is one of the largest computer companies in the world, with 317,000 employees and $112 billion in annual sales. In the past years, Meg Whitman – Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – HP, has focused on reducing costs and has now returned the company to profit. HP has also focused on introducing new products, such as water-cooled servers and 3D printers. Whitman announced earlier this year that company is planning to enter the 3D printer space by the end of this Fiscal year (31st October.), so many people have been waiting for HP’s entry into this market.

Meg Whitman said HP’s in-house researchers have resolved limitations involved with the quality of substrates used in the process, which affects the durability of finished products. She said that the company is solving a number of technical problems that have hindered broader adoption of the 3D printing process, including the slow speed at which things print, and the quality.

Is this the first Announcement?

This is however not the first time, HP has decided to foray into the 3D printing market. The company had an agreement in 2010 to market HP-branded Stratasys 3D printers, but the deal dissolved in 2012. More recently, HP has provided inkjet print heads to Z-Corp, a 3D printing company that is now owned by 3D Systems. Meg Whitman also acknowledges that 3D printing as an industry has some areas it needs to improve before it goes main stream. She further pointed out that the quality of the 3D prints were not as good as it should be, however, she also noted that HP’s late entry into the 3D printing market may be a turning point, as she thinks HP has been able to finally solve the above problems. Although Meg Whitman, did not disclose exactly what is the “Big announcement”, but she did say that whatever HP offers will focus on large scale manufacturing primarily, before HP enters the consumer 3D printing market.

“We think the bigger market will be in enterprise space, that is, helping companies manufacture parts and test prototypes rather than helping regular folk’s 3D print Hershey Kisses at home.” said Meg Whitman, President and CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

French Man uses 3D printing to steal money of innocent ATM users

A man in southern France used 3D printed fake cashpoint facades and stole thousands of euros from bank users. The thief, named Hamid P, used the 3D printer to make fake fronts for ATM machines which could clone the card details of other people. He was recently arrested with his girlfriend at his home in Marseille.

The case is dated back to September 2013 when Caisse d’Epargne discovered two false fronts on bank machines in the towns of Nimes and Saint-Ambroix, Southern France.

Skimmers (credit card readers) which register card details were found behind the fake machine fronts. The machine would then dispense cash as normal, so nobody was aware that their bank details were stolen. A local policeman said: ‘The fake fronts were of a good quality and were different to those we normally see.’

Hamid P was on the run with €30,000 of stolen money before the bank discovered the fake fronts. The fact is, he had made a mistake by using his own card in one of the machines to test whether it worked. Police then tracked him down, and when they found the 3D printer at his home he admitted to the scam. He has been charged with fraud. Back in September 2011 an American gang was prosecuted for stealing more than $400,000 using the same 3D printed fake ATM fronts. And in 2013 Sydney police reported that a gang of suspected Romanian criminals used 3D printers and computer-aided design (CAD) to manufacture ATM skimming devices to steal Sydney residents’ funds.

Aerojet Rocketdyne gets U.S defence contract

Aerojet Rocketdyne announced on August 18, 2014 that the company was recently awarded a contract by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base through the Defense Production Act Title III Office. Under the contract, Aerojet Rocketdyne will make parts ranging from simple, large ducts to complex heat exchangers, and include metals such as nickel, copper and aluminum alloys. The program scope is expected to replace the need for castings, forgings, plating, machining, brazing and welding.

The contract will secure multiple large selective laser melting machines to develop liquid rocket engine applications for national security space launch services. Aerojet Rocketdyne and its subcontractors will design and develop larger scale parts to be converted from conventional manufacturing to 3D printing.

“We have developed and successfully demonstrated additive-manufactured hardware over the last four years but the machines have been limited in size to 10-inch cubes,” said Steve Bouley, vice president of Space Launch Systems at Aerojet Rocketdyne.

“These next generation systems are about six times larger, enabling more options for our rocket engine components. We are extremely honored to have received this contract, and foresee the day when additive-manufactured engines are used to boost and place important payloads into orbit. The end result will be a more efficient, cost-effective engine.”

 

LeWihe 3D printer launches on IndieGoGo

Spanish Company LeWihe , announced their new Indiegogo campaign for their latest 3D printer, today. Lewihe has been founded by Juan Tendero, Jordi Tendero and Jose Manuel Quiles, who have been working hard in the last 14 months to make an affordable 3D printer capable of producing high quality 3D prints.

The Lewihe 3D printer features aluminum chassis and a large print area of 185 x 185 x 185 mm (7.28 x 7.28 x 7.28 in). It uses SAV MKI electronics developed by Francisco Malpartida, a one stop electronics to get your 3D printer up and running. This affordable 3D printer electronics has multiple interfacing possibilities: it features high speed native USB interface connectivity going up to 8Mbps so that there is no lag on your prints. It includes 12V built-in fan controller for hot end cooling, micro SD reader for autonomous printing, expansion bus to connect a keyboard and LCD. It supports for 4 standard pololu compatible stepper motor drivers. The Lewihe 3D printer is capable of printing with FilaFlex with the speed of 150mm/sec, and according to its creators, their next goal is to increase the print speed to 200mm/sec.

One unique feature is that the printer is designed to work directly with flexible filament such as FilaFlex. The Lewihe stainless steel extruder can print with both flexible and rigid materials and is compatible with other printers such as Prusa i3.

The team is offering 50 units of Lewihe 3D printer kit for $499 on indiegogo to super early brid adopters. The Lewihe kit version will cost $799 and an assembled Lewihe 3D printer is priced at $995. In addition the company also offers a Lewihe Pro version ($1,195) which includes WiFi and webcam, a useful feature to remote control and get visual feedback, when you are not in front of the 3D printer.

Ice1 & Ice9 – new SLS 3D printers from Norge Systems

While there are many desktop 3D printers on the market, most of these printers use a FDM method, not SLS. SLS is often more expensive than FDM machine: a professional 3D SLS printer starts around 200,000€. However there are some inventors out there who want to build their own affordable laser sintering 3D printers. “Selective Laser Sintering” is one of the oldest 3D printing technology around. It uses laser as the power source to sinter powdered material to create a solid structure. Unlike some other additive manufacturing processes, such as fused deposition modeling (FDM), SLS does not require support structures and can produce parts with fine details.

UK based company Norge Systems started working on their project two years ago. Their goal is to build “the world’s first low-budget but high quality SLS printer that even a small or medium design studio can afford. Easy to use, small and with a nice design.” In the last eight months, team member Lica Venri, Design, electronics and laser optics experts; Alessandro Facchini, 3D artist and software developer, and Stefano Rebecchi have been working hard on developing software and optimizing supply chain and assembling process. They have finally come up with two new SLS 3D printer: Ice9 and Ice1. What makes their SLS printers interesting, apart from price/technology ratio, is the build volume. The Ice9 has a working area of 30x30cm, and a “z-axis” of 45cm, and the small Ice1 has a 20x20x25cm build volume which are big enough to print lots of full-scale prototypes without the need to resize them to fit the printers volume limits.

The Ice9 SLS 3D Printer

The Ice9 is a low-budget SLS 3D printer designed for printing plastics models (nylon or Ployamide based materials). One interesting feature of the Ice9 SLS printer is the engraving/cutter function. You will be able to draw or cut materials such as wood, paper, foam, or even felt.

Features:

SLS 3D Printer with 40W tube laser
Works with polyamide or nylon powder
30x30x45cm build volume
Arduino 2 powered controller
Multifunction display for quick operations
USB port
SD card reader
Sleek design, solid rock build, UK assembled
Navigator software for sending prints to the machine

Specifications:

Printer size: 1500x1025x410mm
Layer thickness: 0.1 – 0.15mm
Average print speed: 10 to 30mm/hour
Powder feeding mode: Two-way powder feed system
Scanning system: Theta lens focusing, high-accuracy magnetic encoder
Scan speed during build process: up to 4 m/s
Laser power control system: PWM Digital signal
Power Supply: 230VAC50/60Hz5KVA
Software: Manual and automatic control mode; Real-time build parameters modification; Three-dimensional Visualization; Open Source Platforms

The Ice1 SLS 3D Printer

The Ice1 the desktop version of Ice9 SLS 3D printer and will be priced lower.

Specs:

Printer size: 900x300x350mm
Layer thickness: 0.1 – 0.15mm
Average print speed: 8 to 25mm/hour
Scanning system: Theta lens focusing, high-accuracy magnetic encoder
Scan speed during build process: up to 3 m/s

SLS printing technology allows a wide range of materials to be used to build your prototypes. Norge Systems has up to now tested their Ice9 and Ice1 with Arzauno PA2200 Polyamide, Windform,XT,Duraform serie material and CastFormTM PS plastic.

The company is currently planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign for Ice1 and Ice9 on August 18, 2014, to bring high quality 3D printing to your desktop. The SLS printers will be available on the market on the third quarter of 2015.