Aug 27, 2016 | By Benedict

Summer is nearly over, so expect a sharp increase in 3D printing developments, new products, and additive-related stories over the coming months as the industry puts away its beach towels and piña coladas and gets back to work. Before then, here are eleven 3D printing stories you might have missed from the tail-end of the sunny season:

1. Mouser Electronics posts video update on ISS Design Challenge for 3D printed space objects

The International Space Station (ISS) Design Challenge, part of Mouser Electronics’ Empowering Innovation Together program, is encouraging participants to design an object that can be 3D printed in space and used by astronauts aboard the ISS. The challenge has been organized in collaboration with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Made In Space, Hackster, and MacroFab. The winner will receive a 3D printer, a consultation with Made In Space, and will get to see their 3D printed design made in space. The contest is open until October 7.

The Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) is a 3D printer being used aboard the ISS to create tools and spare parts for astronauts. The 3D printer is also being used as a kind of remote print shop for businesses, researchers, and individuals who wish to have an object 3D printed in space. The unique facility already has a long backlog of requests from customers on Earth, but Mouser will have the opportunity to print the winning design from its contest on the ISS machine.

“In the video, we discuss some of the challenges astronauts face and the kind of tools they need,” said Colonel Chris Hadfield, former commander of the ISS. “Anyone designing for this competition is going to be able to share in the powerful feeling of being part of a global community of innovation. I look forward to reviewing the entries!”


2. ZVerse presents LAYR 3D printing solution to Konica Minolta Dealers

ZVerse, a company specializing in turning 2D content into 3D printable material, announced the release of LAYR, a cloud-based 3D printable content creation platform, for Konica Minolta Dealers at the annual dealer show in Aspen, August 30. LAYR enables businesses to quickly turn 2D content such as images and logos into 3D printable objects, with the partnership between ZVerse and Konica Minolta first announced in February. “The latest release of LAYR makes it easier than ever for organizations to go from idea to 3D printed object thanks to our patent pending technology," said Shams Syed, ZVerse CTO. LAYR will now be available to all Konica Minolta Dealers. Under the reseller agreement, partners will be able to sell LAYR and ZVerse capabilities “with seamless integration.”

New features on the latest version of LAYR include:

  • Industry-specific modules for 3D content automation
  • Improved user interface
  • Advanced roles and user management
  • Access to ZVerse Customer Acquisition tools

The LAYR 2D-to-3D platform is currently used by professionals in healthcare, architecture, manufacturing, education, and other areas. ZVerse also offers other 3D printing solutions for other stages of the 3D printing workflow.

3. Photos emerge of Flashforge 3D printer factory in China


Founded in 2011, Chinese 3D printer manufacturer Flashforge has been responsible for a number of popular FDM 3D printers such as the Finder, Dreamer, and Creator Pro. This week, photographs emerged of the company’s production facility in Zhejiang, China, showing endless stacks of its additive manufacturing machines. Rumor has it that the company is planning to release a new DLP resin 3D printer this fall.

4. Maker creates 3D printed No Man’s Sky multi-tool

No Man’s Sky, a much-hyped action-adventure video game for PS4 and PC, was released earlier this month. While the critical and general reception to the No Man’s Sky has been somewhat mixed, some gamers have been sufficiently impressed by the game to pay homage to it with some 3D printed props. Tuong Nguyen, a skilled 3D designer, recently exercised his CAD skills to create this 3D printed multi-tool, a replica of a device found in the game.

Nguyen’s recommended 3D printer settings:

  • Nozzle size: 0.3 mm
  • Layer height: 0.2 mm
  • First Layer : 0.3 mm
  • Shell: 0.9 mm 
  • Top and Bottom layers: 0.9 mm 
  • Infill: 15% 
  • Adhesion Type: None 
  • Support Type: Lines/Everywhere

For those without a 3D printer, Portuguese 3D printing duo TwoMakers is selling a printed version of the prop for $174. Their version of the 3D printed multi-tool has been modified so that it can be printed in a single piece, eliminating the need for gluing and assembly. The Portuguese pair are offering the prop either painted or unpainted, with the unpainted version printed in a random color PLA and primed in white.

Dimensions of TwoMaker’s 3D printed No Man’s Sky multi-tool:

  • Length: 300mm
  • Width: 100mm
  • Height: 200mm

5. More 3D printed Pokémon Go battery cases arrive

A few weeks ago, we looked at three 3D printed Pokémon-themed battery cases, ideal for carrying a spare smartphone battery for extended Pokémon Go gaming. This week, people are still playing the addictive monster-hunting game and—luckily for us—makers are still creating 3D printed accessories for it. The latest addition to the collection is this Poké-mi case from Syncky3DP, an artist and designer from Korea.

The 3D printed Poké-mi case, described as a work in progress by its creator, has all the attributes of a Poké Ball minus the classic spherical shape. This design is more like a cigarette case, making it a lot more pocket-friendly than the fully spherical designs you can find online, and is built to house a Xiami 10400mAh battery. The maker used an Atom 2.0 3D printer, and recommends printing with supports and 20% infill.

6. Fenner Precision and NinjaTek release new high-torque timing belts and fuser rollers

Fenner Precision, a global engineered solutions company, and NinjaTek, a 3D printing materials company which is also part of the Fenner family, recently announced the release of a new line of products. According to the two companies, its new NinjaTek Curvilinear profile timing belts transmit more power than other timing belt profiles. As well as increasing accuracy and reducing maintenance down-time in 3D printers, these belts are quiet, non-dusting and long-lasting, which helps 3D printers perform better for longer. Timing belt drives represent a cost-effective, low-maintenance drive solution that is suited for the linear movement and positioning required by a 3D printer.

“Fenner Precision has supplied high quality products to printer manufacturers globally for over 30 years,” said Tony Carter, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Fenner Precision. “With our new NinjaTek line, we can further expand our capabilities in the 3D printing market space with a brand that offers quality and performance.”

Fenner’s FHT timing belts are available in 1 mm, 2 mm, 2.032 mm, 3 mm and 5 mm pitches, and can be reinforced with Kevlar, polyester, or fibreglass, depending on the customer’s needs.

7. Chinese 3D printing firm Shining 3D terminates agreement with unnamed partner

Shining 3D, a Chinese 3D printing company making strides in the field of 3D bioprinting, announced this week that it was ending a purchase-and-sale agreement with an unnamed consumer goods company, first disclosed on June 20, 2016. The agreement was initially made so that the two companies could together embark upon a “3D printing in the home” project, with the unnamed party intending to purchase consumer-level 3D printers from Shining 3D.

On June 17, the unnamed company ordered 8,300 units of Shining 3D 3D printers and 19,200 rolls of 3D printing material. Shining 3D has now cancelled the agreement, attributing the termination to the unnamed company failing to meet software development targets and the product needing more time for testing. The unnamed company has postponed the launch date of its project to 2017, and will reportedly compensate Shining 3D for its losses. The two companies are still in discussions over a potential future deal.

Despite the termination of this particular business agreement, Shining 3D posted encouraging financial results for the first half of 2016, reporting revenues of 95.7789 million RMB, up 57.03%, and profits of 1.9199 million RMB, representing an increase of 117.57%.

8. Hackaday contributor creates super-cool 3D printed fan tower

The hot days may soon be over, but that hasn’t stopper [davedarko], a regular Hackaday contributor, from creating a minimalistic 3D printed tower frame for some budget 120 mm case fans. With the maker’s impressive setup, the €3 fans can be controlled via an Arduino, while the 3D printed parts can be assembled with M4 35mm screws and nuts. Best of all, the entire stack can be controlled remotely via MQTT, a messaging protocol for small sensors and mobile devices. The project contains four 3D printable STL files: clamps, fan base mount, fan mount handle, and fan mount.

9. Sigma Labs introduces PrintRite3D INSPECT Software v1.3.2, announces upcoming events

Sigma Labs, a provider of quality assurance software, this week announced the launch of its next-generation In-Process Quality Assurance (IPQA) software for additive manufacturing. The new version of INSPECT purportedly provides an enhanced user experience, incorporating feedback from Early Adopter Program customers. New features include the addition of alloy-specific temperature correction algorithms, improved reporting, and enhanced layer-by-layer and part-by-part graphics.

“I’m excited to announce the latest generation of our PrintRite3D INSPECT software, which incorporates input from our Early Adopter Program,” said Mark Cola, President and CEO of Sigma Labs. “Our software is web-based and designed to reside in the Cloud of the Industrial Internet of Things (‘IIoT’), enabling customers to assure product quality layer-by-layer and part-by-part on a real-time basis while providing for statistical process control.”

According to Cola, the new INSPECT software can harvest, aggregate, and analyze 'Big Data' from in-process and post-process results, letting customers achieve rapid process qualification and part certification.

Sigma Labs also announced that it will be participating in two upcoming industry events:

  • The American Welding Society’s Lasers Conference, August 29-30 (San Francisco)
  • The Smartindustry 2016 Exhibition, September 26-28 (Chicago)

10. EOS concludes pilot phase for additive manufacturing process monitoring and analysis solution

In late 2015, additive manufacturing solutions developer EOS (Krailling, Germany) introduced its EOSTATE MeltPool solution as an add-on to the company's M 290 direct-metal laser sintering (DMLS) system. The tool paves the way for complete part traceability, as well as an automated surveillance and analysis of the melt pool during the DMLS build process.

After market introduction, EOS chose a handful of pilot customers to participate in a subsequent testing phase, which recently completed. The EOSTATE MeltPool Monitoring allows to move part quality assurance from post- to in-process, as such not only supporting a better risk management, but as well reducing time and costs for quality assurance and as a consequence overall costs per part, explains Lukas Fuchs, application development consultant - MeltPool for Monitoring Solutions at EOS.

The EOSTATE MeltPool monitoring tool. (Courtesy: EOS)

Aviation engines maker TUSAS Engine Industries (TEI) was one company involved in the pilot phase. According to Semih Pilatin, technology programs manager at TEI, the company is planning to use the tool for aerospace engine parts manufacturing, where tight tolerances and high performance are expected. "With this tool, we can capture potential part defects online at an early stage and with minimal effort to assess the part quality."

11. Addaero Manufacturing announces the addition of an Arcam Q20 Plus 3D printer

Addaero Manufacturing announced this week that it has completed the installation of the next generation Q20 Plus electron beam melting (EBM) machine from Arcam. The Q20 Plus is a complimentary version of the A2X currently being used by Addaero to build metal parts additively. It was designed specifically for the efficient production of aerospace components and boasts a larger build area to accommodate a wide variety of components. 

Addaero provides components to a variety of markets including aerospace, marine, medical and industrial components. The additional machine expands their capacity to support growing demand for production runs of additively manufactured aerospace components.

According to Rich Merlino, President of Addaero, "by having both the A2X and the Q20 Plus we are able to fit the right machine to the job and ensure customers receive exactly what they require, in the most efficient manner possible." Over the coming weeks the system will be tested and run through a series of qualifications to ensure the equipment is production ready.

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