Jun 16, 2017 | By Benedict

It’s Friday: you’ve had your bowl, you’ve had cereal, now it’s time to get your 3D printing news roundup. Today sees EnvisionTEC announcing a partnership with Ricoh Japan, Desktop Metal forming an alliance with Fisher Unitech, and more.

Ricoh Japan signs dealership agreement with 3D printer manufacturer EnvisionTEC

EnvisionTEC, a manufacturer of desktop and full-production 3D printers and materials, has signed a dealership agreement with The Ricoh Japan Co., Ltd., part of the Tokyo-based imaging and electronics company. Ricoh Japan will begin selling EnvisionTEC 3D printers and materials, as well as training and support, in Japan later this year.

Ricoh Japan says it decided to partner with EnvisionTEC because of the high precision and smooth surface finish delivered by EnvisionTEC’s 3D printers using the company’s patented DLP and 3SP technologies. EnvisionTEC 3D printers include the company’s 15-year-old Perfactory line, which is now in its fourth generation, as well as printers with large build envelopes such as the Ultra and Vector.

Ricoh is currently focused on developing a wide-ranging 3D printer business that builds upon its know-how in prototyping and molds.

Fisher Unitech to sell Desktop Metal 3D printers in Midwest, New England, Mid-Atlantic regions

Fisher Unitech, a provider of 3D design software tools and 3D printers, announced yesterday that it has partnered with Desktop Metal to add metal 3D printing solutions to its portfolio. Fisher Unitech will sell and service Desktop Metal 3D printing systems across the Midwest, New England, and Mid-Atlantic regions to “provide affordable engineering and manufacturing 3D metal printing solutions covering the full product lifecycle—from prototyping to mass production.”

Desktop Metal CEO and Co-Founder Ric Fulop commented that the partnership will help make metal 3D printing “more accessible.”

Fisher Unitech CEO Matt Wise added that the deal will allow Fisher customers “to improve their time to market by providing technologies for both plastics and metals."

Desktop Metal launched a pair of exciting new 3D printers earlier this year. The DM Studio and DM Production 3D printing systems both offer a fast and effective means of 3D printing metal parts.

Thermwood tests uncoated 3D printed PPS panels

Indiana-based manufacturing company Thermwood has 3D printed 50% carbon fiber-filled PPS panels using its LSAM additive manufacturing machine, an achievement that marks a “major step toward its goal of 3D printing autoclave capable tooling from high-temperature carbon fiber-filled thermoplastic materials.”

The company says the part underwent successful vacuum testing, despite having no coatings. This testing was conducted by the Fleet Readiness Center, located at MCAS Cherry Point in North Carolina, as part of its CRADA deal with Thermwood.

Thermwood says that other unaffiliated companies have tested actual tools printed by Thermwood from 20% carbon fiber-filled ABS and found that those tools held vacuum to an acceptable level without the use of any sealer or coating. This latest test demonstrates the vacuum-holding ability of a material containing even more carbon fiber.

Thermwood adds that it has also 3D printed a 50% carbon fiber PPS mold which has not yet been tested.

Australia-based professor develops cocoon silk 3D printing material for medical use

Professor Alan Lau, a materials scientist at Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology, has developed a 3D printable mix of cocoon silk fibers and biodegradable polymers that may one day “hold bones together and help heal them from the inside out.” The material could replace steel in certain surgical procedures.

Faced with the problem of ultra-printable PLA being too weak to support human bone, Lau stumbled upon a solution—somewhat by accident. After an avian flu epidemic broke out in Lau’s native Hong Kong in 2007, the professor wondered why the feathers of slaughtered chickens were not salvaged. Upon witnessing the waste, Lau mused on how he might have used animal fibers for practical use.

Although he never got his chicken feathers, Lau found a better alternative: silk from a silkworm’s cocoon. Lau’s team at Hong Kong Polytechnic University combined cocoon silk fibers with PLA and found that the natural stuff made the 3D printable polymer harder.

Adding around six per cent silk fiber made the biodegradable polymer as strong as bone, but there were other advantages to mixing the two materials too: Lau’s team found that cells could grow around the silky material as it degrades, making it potentially very useful in medical situations.

The professor is now looking to start animal trials using the special 3D printing concoction. Eventually, he hopes that 3D scanning and 3D printing could be used to create personalized implants for patients made from the silk polymer material.

“At this stage we have a great accomplishment,” said Lau. “But there’s still a long way to go.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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