Dec 2, 2016 | By Benedict

During a week in which many people opened up the first two doors of their advent calendar, we were busy opening up press release after press release concerning the latest 3D printing news and innovations: a 3D printed magnet breakthrough, a 3D printed robotic arm for $450, and much more.

1. Magnet Applications creates high-performance 3D printed NdFeB magnets with BAAM

As lovers of 3D printing, we felt a strong and irresistible pull towards the news that Magnet Applications, North America’s sole manufacturer of compression bonded magnets, had announced a breakthrough in 3D printed neodymium iron boron (NdFeB) magnets. The company declared on Tuesday that its 3D printed permanent magnets were outperforming bonded magnets, and producing less waste too, thanks in part to the assistance of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

The new 3D printed magnets are composed of starting composite pellets mixed with 65 volume percent isotropic NdFeB powder and 35 percent polyamide nylon-12 binder in a precise ratio, blended to a consistent texture. They were 3D printed on the Big Area Additive Manufacturing 3D printer (one of the biggest 3D printers in the world) at ORNL, and researchers say that the 3D printing method could be used to create magnets of specific strengths and direction of magnetization.

“With rapidly advancing technologies, the ability to manufacture the strongest magnet available in any shape without tooling, in any quantity, unleashes so many design opportunities,” said Dr. John Ormerod, Senior Technical Advisor at Magnet Applications. “The work has demonstrated the potential of additive manufacturing to be applied to wide range of magnetic materials and assemblies.”

2. Ricoh, Solvay combine for PA6 laser sintering

3D printed magnets are an exciting proposition, but sometimes you just need a solid 3D printed part for your car or aircraft. Luckily, two companies have the answer. Ricoh and Solvay have joined forces to enable Ricoh’s AM S5500P 3D printer to print with Solvay’s Sinterline Technyl PA6GB, a material widely used in the automotive and aerospace industries. The Ricoh AM S5500P is one of a handful of 3D printers capable of printing high temperature polyamides, and printing with PA6GB will enable it to produce 3D printed parts with a similar performance level to injection molded ones.

“The rapid prototyping of demanding parts that are closer to the final materials used for serial production provides OEMs and tiers an overwhelming design advantage when facing global competition to get products to market,” said Ralph Rissé, Sinterline Global Business Development Manager at Solvay.

3. Celprogen develops 3D printed human pancreas

PLA is the most common 3D printing material used by most users of affordable, consumer-level 3D printers. It is perhaps surprising, therefore, to hear that the ultra-common plastic is being used to create a 3D printed human pancreas. Celprogen, the company behind the 1:5 scale fabricated organ, announced on Wednesday that it had successfully created an ECM-coated PLA pancreas scaffold populated with three T225 human Pancreatic Stem Cells 36097-24-T225 and human adult pancreatic cells 3002-04-T225.

According to Celprogen, the 3D printed PLA scaffold will allow the seeded pancreatic stem cells to potentially differentiate into an adult functional pancreas, and is an example of the company’s broader goal to create a portfolio of therapeutics products and life science research tools. Celprogen has also used PLA to create a 3D printed heart, which could be used to screen drugs for toxicity and which will be presented at the American Society of Cell Biology Annual meeting next week in San Francisco.

4. Materialise launches 3D printed model service AnatomyPrint

While Celprogen’s 3D printed pancreas won’t be transplanted into any human patient just yet, 3D printing is still required for other applications in the medical world. 3D printing software specialist Materialise announced on Wednesday the launch of AnatomyPrint, a service for medical professionals that delivers 3D printed anatomical models via mail order. The medical 3D printing service was launched during the 2016 RSNA Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting at McCormick Place in Chicago.

To obtain a high-quality, 3D printed anatomical model, medical professionals need only upload an STL file and choose their preferred material, after which the Class 1 medical devices can be used for visualization, communication with patients and physicians, and educational purposes. The service allows doctors, radiologists etc. to 3D print medical models without investing in their own 3D printer.

“AnatomyPrint offers a fast and easy way to order and print models from STL files that can be generated from the DICOM images that medical professionals work with on a daily basis,” said Materialise Founder and CEO Wilfried Vancraen. “This is an important service for medical professionals working in organizations without in-house 3D printing capabilities, as it allows them to access these models and stay up to date with the latest industry technology without making a major investment.”

5. Concept Laser, Swisslog developing automated solutions for metal 3D printing

Integrating 3D printing into the production line is becoming a key focus for many additive manufacturing companies, two of which have joined forces to bring that task closer to completion. Concept Laser and Swisslog, a member of the KUKA Group, have entered into a strategic development partnership to deliver an innovative Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) system for metal 3D printing. In line with its AM Factory of Tomorrow vision, Concept Laser will thus become the first manufacturer of machines and installations for metal 3D printing to use an automation solution for moving modules between different machine units within production environments.

Swisslog’s AGV system is, according to the two companies, a key part of the M LINE FACTORY from Concept Laser, with Swisslog in charge of integrating a driverless transport system with smart software. Concept Laser will be responsible for the set-up on top of the AGV (in order to move powder or parts in an autonomous way) and the docking, including the receipt and transfer of the modules.

“The ambitious concept of the M LINE FACTORY ensures a high level of automation and flexibility in 3D metal printing,” said Dr. Florian Bechmann, Head of Research & Development at Concept Laser. “The AGV system from Swisslog is the next stage in the development toward consistent automation of the processes embracing the basic idea of ‘Industry 4.0.’”

6. Schaeffler, DMG MORI to 3D print rolling bearing components

Technology company Schaeffler and machine tools manufacturer DMG MORI are another pair of companies to have linked up this week in order to advance their own particular 3D printing ventures. The pair signed an agreement on Wednesday that will see them develop additive manufacturing processes for parts of rolling bearings—bearings which carry a load using a ball or other rolling device sandwiched between two bearing rings. The companies will use a Lasertec 65 3D, an all-in-one additive manufacturing, welding, and machining hybrid made by DMG MORI.

“Both partners complement each other perfectly to drive the future of machine tools as well as the continuing development of rolling bearing technology,” said Dr Stefan Spindler, CEO Industrial of Schaeffler AG. “Our joint ‘Machine Tool 4.0’ development project has already demonstrated this with great success.”

7. Kickstarter launched for $450 3D printed robotic arm

Last but not least, there was some exciting DIY activity going on at Kickstarter this week, proving that important things are happening at all levels of the 3D printing industry. Startup Slant Robotics recently launched a crowdfunding campaign for ShopArm, a 3D printed, Arduino-based robotic arm that can be bought in kit form for just $450 (or $525 with electronics). Inspired by the rise of ultra-affordable DIY 3D printers like the RepRap, Slant decided it would apply similar principles to the creation of a 3D printable robotic arm.

“Early in 2016 we were working with a large industrial robot for a client—a behemoth that could kill you if you got too close at the wrong time,” Slant explains on its Kickstarter. “While working with this arm and others like it we realized that we could make an arm 10x cheaper and 100x easier to use. Working on that premise, we started developing the ShopArm. A robot for basically anyone who would like a little physical automation in their life.”

Slant believes its 3D printed robotic arm could be used for projects in education, research, small businesses, kitchens, workshops, and for many other applications besides. Best of all, it’s cheap: just $525 for a kit complete with electronics, or $450 if you think you can source the electronics yourself. Part of the reason for this affordability is the use of 3D printing, with every plastic component of the arm 3D printed, making the device light but strong.

The ShopArm project will be funded if $3,000 is pledged by January 2. With nearly half that figure already raised, backers should be confident that the kits will be delivered by their estimated date of March 2017.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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