May 6, 2017 | By David

Lots of news in the 3D printing world recently, as America's first 3D printed home won a Design Award, and 3D Systems released their financial results for the first quarter of 2017, amongst other things. Here's a round-up of those and other stories that you might have missed:

1. 3D printing company 3D Systems reports financial results for first quarter of 2017

3D Systems has announced financial details for business conducted in the first quarter of 2017, painting a generally positive overall picture of the company’s dealings. It reported revenue of $156.4 million, a 3 percent increase compared to the $152.6 million raised in the first quarter of last year. This was attributed to an increase in consumer demand and a particular growth in the healthcare sector.

According to Vyomesh Joshi (VJ), Chief Executive Officer of 3D Systems, “We are pleased with the continued growth in healthcare and strong demand for our production printers and materials...We are delighted with early positive industry and customer feedback received during the quarter on our breakthrough Figure 4 technology platform and expansion in the healthcare market with the acquisition of Vertex.” GAAP loss was $0.09 per share, compared to $0.16 for the same quarter in 2016, and non-GAAP earnings were $0.06 per share. Gross profit margin was 51.3 percent for this quarter.

2. 3D printed Rampage model building system by Printable Scenery wins design award

A 3D printed scale-model building system known as Rampage has won an industry design award for its creator, 3D design studio Printable Scenery. Based in New Zealand, the studio provides innovative 3D printable models for the tabletop game and hobbyist market.

Its latest creation, the Rampage system, is a model building system that can be assembled and reassembled as many times as a user wants to, without any extra adhesives involved. It is themed after fantasy-fiction, and the parts were made using a rusa i3 Mk2 home 3d printer. The award it was given was the A’ Design Award, in the Product Design- Toy, Games and Hobby category.

3. Konica Minolta launches Dremel 3D printers to advance STEM education

Technology company Konica Minolta has today announced its further expansion into the world of education, particularly focused on the STEM subjects. Its MyStemKits curriculum will now be available for educators to incorporate into the classroom, and they can also make use of the unique range of Dremel 3D printers. The Dremel 3D printing technology will allow students to learn more about design processes. In combination with the MyStemKits program, they will learn about the abstract concepts as well as getting practical, hands-on experience of building models.

According to Kay Du Fernandez, vice president of Marketing, Konica Minolta, ‘’The easy-to-use Dremel 3D technology and curriculum offers a hands-on learning approach to STEM. We are excited to add this to our educational offerings and proud to assist in helping students become technological innovators."

4. America’s first 3D printed home wins design award

Leading architecture site has given America’s first 3D printed home its prestigious A+ award for design. Several other buildings received this award, and they will be handed out in a gala in NYC later this month. A jury of industry luminaries and other big names select winners based on excellence in form, function, innovation, intent and reality, and the 3D design made by architect Adam Kushner was one of them.

Kushner founded the company D-Shape Enterprises with 3D printed concrete innovator Enrico Dini, famous for his massive sculptures and military bunkers, amongst other things. The five-bedroom estate Kushner has designed for himself in upstate New York was intended to harmonize with the natural surroundings, and it will be built using a huge D-Shape 3D printer. It is poised to be a major milestone in architecture and 3D design.

According to Kushner, “This technology—3D-printing concrete structures in various shapes, without forms or molds—fascinates me and most everyone who hears about it. We’re excited to be on the brink of this cutting-edge project. Our home design contrasts the rustic with slick modernist—the rough texture of raw 3D-printed concrete forming a sharp juxtaposition against large expanses of glass.”

5. Tripodmaker’s Tintin-themed 3D printed rocket launched into space

The Belgian 3D printing company Tripodmaker publicized the release of its latest FDM 3D printer, the Black Edition V2, with an impressive stunt. It used the machine to 3D print a full-size rocket, which was modelled after a similar rocket in Belgian artist Herge’s Tintin comic book series. The rocket was then launched into space with the help of a helium-filled weather balloon.

Footage of the red and white rocket’s successful 4 hour flight is available online. The initial helium-powered ascent reached 30 km altitude, after which point the air pressure surrounding the weather balloon was so low that it could no longer hold the 2000 liters of helium gas inside and it burst, starting the descent.

The rocket eventually landed around 300 km away from the initial launch site. This was the highlight of the whole stunt, according to Tripodmaker’s founder Pieter-Jan Vandendriessche: "We found our space module in an open field and were quite lucky that is was not in a tree, on the road, or on a roof of a building.  Finding it back was the most exciting part."

Vandendriessche started the company in 2014, and Tripodmaker has mostly sold to the Dutch and Belgian markets. Its latest Black Edition V2 has a completely redesigned print head from the original Black Edition 3D printer. A blower fan creates a vastly improved cooling system for extrusion, so more dramatic curves and overhangs can be 3D printed, and stringing is almost completely eliminated.  The robust design of the 3D printer now comes with transparent doors as standard, and the spool system has also been redesigned. The machine will be available for around 1499 Euros, or $1650.

6. NTU partners with ST Aerospace and Evonik to develop new 3D printing technologies

The Nanyang Technological University in Singapore has announced that it will be partnering with two leading technology companies in order to further advance their use of 3D printing technology. The university’s 3D printing center will be conducting research in collaboration with prominent aviation company Singapore Technology Aerospace, as well as German healthcare pioneer Evonik. The ST collaboration will be focused on two principal research projects. One will be looking into how a 3D printed polymer aerospace part can be affected during printing, identifying key factors that need to be addressed to optimize production. The other research project will be looking at the use of DED (Directed Energy Deposition) as a way to reliably and consistently produce 3D printed aerospace parts from metals and alloys.

With Evonik, the research collaboration is intended to develop a new type of bio-ink. Bio-ink is made of living cells and nutrients, and it can be used to 3D print living tissue and organs for medical treatment and research. Evonik is a world-leader in the development of this kind of speciality chemical, with a presence in over 100 countries.

The Center for 3D Printing at the NTU was first established last year, funded by Singapore’s National Research Foundation, and it has a wide range of significant industry partners as well as smaller businesses and start-ups. It is led by Professor Chua Chee Kai, the world's most cited scientist in 3D printing technologies, and is home to over 100 researchers. According to NTU chief of staff and vice-president (research) Professor Lam Khin Yong: "Combined with industry expertise from ST Aerospace and Evonik Health Care, NTU will help translate 3D printing technologies for mainstream manufacturing processes, contributing to Singapore's standing as a leading research and development hub for additive manufacturing."

7. Materialise broadens metal offering and launches Materialise Inspector software

Materialise announced this week its new quality control software in the market: Materialise Inspector and its latest enhancements to the Materialise Magics 3D Print Suite.

Materialise Inspector is a control tool that allows users to analyze data during all stages of the production process in order to meet predetermined quality standards. Inspector optimizes image processing for efficiency in post-build analysis and is capable of processing more than 4,000 images in minutes – making big data analysis easier and more efficient. This is a big step forward for users to predict production errors and assure repeatable quality.

Materialise also now offers Magics Print Metal software, an easy-to-use 3D printing solution that will facilitate access to metal 3D printing. This software combines basic build preparation and straight-forward job file generation, streamlining the 3D printing process. Metal machine manufacturers can tailor the lay-out and bundle it to their machines. Customers that need advanced data preparation tools can still rely on the complete version of Materialise Magics software.

Materialise made the following enhancements to the Magics 3D Print Suite that will allow users to take full control over their additive manufacturing workflows.

  • Materialise e-Stage 7.0, the latest version of this software for automated support generation for all resin-based 3D printers will be released soon. It improves efficiency, both in build time and material consumption. An improved algorithm and new features were added to have a dedicated solution for all DLP 3D printers.
  • Materialise's Robot 5.1 software update offers a 3D Nesting module, optimizing part positioning to save time, money and materials within automated 3D printing workflows.
  • Materialise's 3-matic 12 software update includes new ways to manipulate and optimize CAD designs for 3D Printing, and accepts a wider variety of FEA file formats to create improved lightweight structures and save users time and money.

"Demand for 3D printed metal products and components is increasing across several industries, and manufacturers need the tools to adapt and meet this demand," said Bryan Crutchfield, Vice President and General Manager of Materialise North America. "Magics Print Metal extends our existing metal offerings. The Magics 3D Print suite represents the full digital thread, giving metal machine manufacturers the ability to develop, implement and manage each step of the 3D printing process. Now, with the new Inspector software, users can also efficiently analyze data during each step to ensure workflows and products will fit their needs as well as the needs of their customers and partners."

Materialise is also committed to embedding simulation technology into its 3D printing software, allowing users to simulate builds before production to avoid costly defects in designs, materials and processes.

8. BASF and Essentium team up to propel 3D printing of functional parts

Plastic 3D printing continues to struggle with moving beyond the prototype phase due to a lack of durability and strength of the printed parts. BASF and Essentium are teaming up to enable the creation of more robust parts for use in mass production leveraging fused filament fabrication (FFF) technology. BASF brings to the partnership the most comprehensive portfolio of innovative materials in the chemical industry while Essentium provides its FlashFuse electric welding technology, which enhances layer to layer adhesion of 3D printed parts.

Both companies are combining their core strengths to provide a range of polymer solutions that overcome the traditional interlayer weakness of 3D printed parts. Essentium's FlashFuse technology, engineered to the highest levels of safety and compliance, performs in-situ welding which can be applied to multiple open system FFF printer platforms. This electric welding technology helps boost isotropy, an indicator for the homogeneity of a structure, and ramps up vertical strength and mechanical toughness of the printed parts.

The companies are focusing on FFF 3D printing technology because of its ability to use a wide range of thermoplastics, fabricate large, complex parts rapidly and efficiently, and easily combine multi-modality materials in the same print. In addition, FFF is uniquely suited to provide 3D printed parts that are both structural and composed of filaments loaded with functional fillers.

"BASF is committed to advancing 3D printing to the next level across all major additive manufacturing technologies," said Kara Noack, Head of BASF's 3D-Printing business in North America. "I am confident that our collaboration with Essentium will enable the creation of 3D printed functional parts and make the technology accessible to a broader range of industrial customers."

"Essentium Materials' distinctive FlashFuse technology addresses one of the prevalent challenges for achieving isotropic 3D printed parts," said Dr. Blake Teipel, Essentium's President and CTO. "Our partnership with BASF will provide robust and strong 3D printing solutions for extremely demanding applications."



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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