Oct 12, 2015 | By Christopher Barnatt

As reported in my recent article, on 30 September and 1st October 2015 the TCT Show + Personalize was held in Birmingham, UK. With around 200 exhibitors, this is a massive showcase for the 3D printing industry and community, and I decided to pick out my top 10 3D prints. This was a difficult and inevitably highly subjective exercise, with my selection criteria including originality, design, the technical complexity of both the involved fabrication and post-processing stages, and finally the overall 'wow' factor. You can watch my countdown in this video report, in addition to reading and viewing more below.

10. BCN3D Dinosaur Skull

At 10 on my list is this amazing Dinosaur skull, 3D printed in PLA sections by BCN3D Technologies on their Sigma desktop hardware. Like many other prints on the list, this has received some serious post processing, and I include it as a great example of the kind of item that can be fabricated on desktop printer if enough time and effort are invested.

9. ExOne Sand Print

At 9, we have a casting form 3D printed in sand by ExOne. At TCT, both ExOne and voxeljet were showcasing the potential to produce metal casting molds and cores by additively manufacturing them in sand, and this particular print stood out as a great example of kind of complex and highly detailed casing forms that can be created.

8. citim Distributor Housing

Many companies were showing direct metal prints at TCT, and one of the most impressive was the distributor housing on the citim stand. This was fabricated in aluminum using SLM, and provides a powerful example of a large, complex engineering component that could not be produced in one piece by any traditional casting or machining technique.

7. Mass Portal Motorbike

Over on the Mass Portal stand were several of their aluminum-bodied Pharaoh 3D desktop printers, which can produce very high quality material extrusion output. The prints on display, included this motorbike, which is assembled from a wide range of 3D printed parts (and a few additional springs, nuts and bolts). Two things really impressed me about this print -- the very wide range of filament materials used (include CopperFill, BronzeFill, Ninjaflex, a carbon fiber composite and polycarbonate), and the quality of the polishing applied to the final CopperFill and BronzeFill parts in particular. As with the BCN3D Technologies dinosaur skull, this print demonstrates just what it is now possible to achieve with a desktop 3D printer and a lot of hard work.

6. IPF Hand

At 6 is this full-size human hand 3D printed by IPF. This was fabricated in multiple materials using an Objet 500 Connex 3 from Stratasys, and showcases very nicely and the kind of objects that can be made with the Stratasys Polyjet technology. It really is a printout that just speaks for itself.

5. Mcor Fruit Bowl

I have long been an admirer of the full-colour 'selective deposition lamination' (SDL) 3D printing process created by Mcor Technologies, and entry number 5 showcases just what it is capable of. Here a bowl and every item of fruit in it has been 3D printed, and the quality of the output is absolutely first class.

4. 3D Print Bureau Spacecraft

As we move to the last few entries, we come to objects that are not just impressive 3D prints, but things that are impressive regardless of their production method. At 4, the first of these is this highly detailed spacecraft made by Gary Miller's new company the 3D Print Bureau in the UK. The model was designed by David Lewis of Hawk Wargames, for whom 3D Print Bureau normally print miniature mold masters. But here they fabricated a much larger craft in resin sections on a Connex 3D printer.

3. LPE Delorean

Over on the Laser Prototypes Europe (LPE) stand, they were going back to the future with this highly detailed Delorean model. Here, aside from the bulbs and the wiring, every single part of the model is 3D printed, including an SLA windscreen. Other technologies employed include SLS, with some direct metal parts being a particularly nice touch.

2. Tri-Tech3D Alien

At 2, we have this alien head from Tri-Tech3D, and which is a true work of art for any Sci-Fi movie buff. The bulk of the model is fabricated in ASA plastic on Fortus hardware, and took 160 hours to print. To smooth the surface, the model was given a 30 second solvent bath. The translucent skull shell was then made in resin on an Objet 500 Connex 3 in a material called Tangerine.

1. James Bruton R6 Droid

Finally, as my number 1 print, is this R6 astrodroid from Star Wars, as featured on the 3DFilaprint stand. This full-size and fully-motorized, radio controlled prop replica was created by James Bruton, who runs an amazing YouTube channel called XRobots where you can see how R6 was created. As in several other entries in my list, there are some non-3D printed parts featured in this model, here including motors and other electrical and electronic hardware. But all of the plastic parts were 3D printed in 3DFilaPrint ABS filament on Lutzbot 3D printers, so once again demonstrating a talented individual can achieve with desktop technology.

All images credit: Christopher Barnatt

To close, I would like to thank all of those exhibitors who let me film their amazing prints, whether or not they are featured here. There were many thousands of really nice additively manufactured items on display at TCT, and they left me with a very strong and positive impression of the sheer variety of things that can now be 3D printed in plastics, plastic composites, resins, paper, metal and sand. I really cannot wait to see what items I might feature in my Top 10 3D prints of the 2016 TCT + Personalize Show!


* Christopher Barnatt is the author of 3D Printing: Second Edition. You can watch more of his 3D printing videos on his ExplainingTheFuture YouTube channel.



Posted in 3D Printers



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Phillip G. Pitts Sr. wrote at 10/13/2015 4:12:13 PM:

I have been a dental professional for 40+ years, medical device developeram inventor. I see 3D printing as the future in every area of medical, dentistry consumer and industrstrial applications. I would very much like to be involved in this technology inside the company in a development and marketing.

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