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.”

The Catalyst Frame Microscope – another miracle of 3D printing

3D printing is revolutionizing the standards of living by a great degree, and here we have another example, to show the true power, might and potential of 3D printing. Jing Luo, an American entrepreneur, who also hold a Graduate degree from University of California (Berkeley), is in the process of producing a portable, user-friendly and accurate microscope that works through your smartphone.

Does Jing Luo, have a Working Prototype?

Luo is currently on the fourth prototype of the Catalyst Frame Microscope, as he has called his creation. This simple construction attaches to the back of your smartphone and works through your camera software. The lens incorporated in this microscope has a magnification range of 30/50/170 or 30/170/340, dependent on the quality of your camera.

What is the Range of Magnification?

As Luo explains – ‘Magnification combines with a multiplicative effect, so if you were to combine a 2x lens with a 3x lens you’d get a total of 6x. The same applies here, the 340x optical magnification combines with the 4.5x digital magnification to get a total of 1530x magnification.’

This means that the range of magnification truly depends on the maximum digital magnification potential of your smartphone’s camera. Looking at ongoing trends in the Smartphone market, every other day new phones are arriving with better cameras, so that makes the range of this Catalyst Frame Microscope, virtually infinite!

However, the images cannot be infinitely magnified; past the maximum resolution the sight will just become blurry, but the creator hopes that this will change, with future models.

The current construction, does however, enable just about the best magnification a portable microscope can offer. It is aimed at (biology) enthusiasts, doctors, scientists in developing countries, and people working outside laboratories, and runs on two AAA batteries which are just about universally available.

For more information and to be a part of the Crowdfunding campaigns, please follow the links below;

Kickstarter Campaign

Indiegogo Campaign

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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.

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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.

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.

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.”

 

U.S. Army using 3D printing to create safer helmets

Using 3D printing technology, ARL researchers are developing the skull simulant using synthetic materials. Researchers have used images from a CT scan to get the geometry and structure of the skull right, and will use these images and 3D printing technology to produce models of bone-like surrogates which will be used to test new helmet padding materials in simulated blast and impact conditions.

U.S. Army helmets provide the best known defense against ballistic weapons but no one knows how well they can stand up against combat’s shock waves. Army Research Laboratory scientists are using different approaches to study the impact of shock waves inside, on and outside of the skull, and one of them is 3D printing.

In a battlefield, high-order explosive such as C4 or TNT produces overpressure shockwaves and can cause significant brain injuries. To discover how, and to what degree, these waves cause brain damage, and what’s needed to make Army helmets go beyond protecting the head to protecting the brain, ARL researchers are creating synthetic cranial bones that look and behave like the skulls of 20- and 30- year old Soldiers. These synthetic cranial bones will be tested in laboratory experiments that mimic combat-like blast events to develop new prototype of military helmet pads, shells, and other protective equipment.

More information on this latest development, can be found here.

Makerbot launches new Makercare Protection Plans

Makerbot, one of the major 3D printer manufacturer’s, have come up with major changes to their premium Makercare protection plans. It seems that the company is trying to re-image its after sales reputation by offering more services to its existing customers. It is a well-known fact that a large number of individuals and startup groups are using their Makerbot 3D printers for professional prototyping and service delivery.

How does it work?

Customers, who purchase any Makerbot 5 gen 3D printer, can also buy a one, two or three year comprehensive support plan. The prices vary as per the model of the Makerbot 3D printer purchased. A 3 year plan for the Makerbot Replicator series might cost you anything between $1,000 to $1,600. Looking at the prices, they are definitely not cheap; however Makerbot claims to provide Top-Notch support for any issues, via Internet or call. Customers who already own a MakerBot 5 Gen 3D Printer can extend their support plan until September 2014. Those who have a previous gen MakerBot 3D printer can also extend their current MakerCare support plan for a year or – if not already done so – purchase a new one-year plan from Makerbot.

Is this required?

This is definitely not a necessity, but is only a luxury. We all know that a DIY enthusiast might never purchase a Makerbot in the first place; they would rather get an Open Source 3D printer and tweak it to their own likings or vice-versa. However, Makerbot 3D printers were designed for the no-nonsense 3D printing enthusiast, who would just like to make a design and print is with the click of a button. If you belong to this group of enthusiasts, we would suggest getting your Makerbot printer registered for these support plans. Because, Machines are just that, Machines; and no matter how much you polish it, it may stop working, causing you to (maybe) lose an important project.

Indian company develops new 3D printing App for building objects larger than the build volume


There are actually many desktop 3D printers rising on the market, however most of them have terribly little build volume that limits the sort of elements that may be 3d printed. Earlier, Makerbot has found a technique or a way to build an object larger than the build volume of a 3D printer, and filed a patent. However another company, the Indian startup Centre for Computational Technologies Pvt. Ltd. (CCTech), a CAD and CAM development company, has come back up with a replacement application “3DPrintTech” that helps the maker to create objects larger than the build volume of any 3D printer.

3DPrintTech is a free app and works as CAD plugin with Autodesk discoverer 2014, AutoCAD 2014 and SolidWorks 2014. 3DPrintTech is meant to print larger objects on a desktop 3D printer quickly. The application will divide the style of enormous object into little connectable parts, in a jiffy. The App additionally provides the user, a choice to manage the cylindrical connectors as per his demand. User will outline the connective in terms of radius, length and taper angle. User additionally manages the space between the connectors, distance between connective and object surface.

The 3DPrintTech app additionally provides the practicality to pack little objects in one print batch. 3DPrintTech app features a feature referred to as ‘3D Packing’ that collects those little parts and packs them in a given build volume. “In our benchmark testing, we found that for several cases our 3D packing technology helped to scale back the 3D printing batches from ten to one. This is positively aiming to facilitate manufacturers to print a lot of objects in less time and by investing lesser cash.” notes the team.

In addition, the app additionally provides associate interface to feature your custom printer and lots of utility functions like exportation processed objects to 3D printable STL file, Explode objects for fast examination, scaling the item for unit conversion or fitting into printer.

Sandip Jadhav, (Co-Founder & Business Executive, CCTech) says, “3DPrintTech was built to facilitate Makerbot ‘s to boost productivity by a nice degree. It’ll additionally facilitate the 3D print club to push the envelope by creating massive 3D objects.”