Dec 17, 2016 | By Benedict

Christmas is just around the corner, but this was a subdued mid-December week, with news headlines dominated by fighting in Syria, Russian hacking scandals, and an explicable meeting between Donald Trump and Kanye West. Luckily, goings-on in the 3D printing world provide slightly more cause for optimism: NASA and Vector Space have tested a 3D printed engine injector, XYZprinting has announced that its 3D printers will be stocked in Best Buy stores, and Nano Dimension has supplied a Dragonfly 2020 PCB 3D printer to a leading defense company.

1. Vector Space and NASA test 3D printed injector

We all know that 3D printing can be out of this world, but the technology is now occasionally used to send things into space. On Wednesday, NASA and Arizona satellite developer Vector Space posted a video showing a jointly developed engine, featuring a 3D printed injector, being tested in Mojave, California. Earlier this year, NASA provided a grant to Vector to design and test the injector as part of the NASA Science, Technology, and Mission Directorate (STMD) Flight Opportunities, a program which extends research labs into space-relevant environments by partnering with small satellite launch companies.

2. Nano Dimension delivers PCB 3D printer to two companies

Israel’s Nano Dimension, world leader in circuit board 3D printing, has been busy shipping its Dragonfly 2020 PCB 3D printer to customers over the last few months. On Thursday, the 3D printing pioneer announced it had sold and delivered one of its machines to “one of the top 10 largest defense companies in the world.” The unnamed customer, headquartered in the United States, purportedly posts annual revenues of more than 20 billion dollars and supplies some of the world's most advanced defense systems.

The deal with the US defense company was the fifth shipment of a Nano Dimension DragonFly 2020 3D Printer, while the previous shipment, announced December 5, was to a Fortune 100 company, also based in the US. The other current recipients of a Nano Dimension 3D printer are FATHOM, an American advanced manufacturer with expertise in 3D printing; PHYTEC, a German company in the microprocessor-based solutions industry; and an unnamed Israeli defense firm. The deliveries are being made as part of Nano Dimension’s beta program.

3. Metal 3D printer manufacturer Concept Laser joins ADAPT

While Nano Dimension focuses on printing the finest slivers of metal with its silver nano inks, German additive manufacturing company Concept Laser is dealing with all metal shapes and sizes—while simultaneously getting used to working with its new owner, GE. On Thursday, it was announced that Concept Laser had joined ADAPT, the Alliance for the Development of Additive Processing Technologies, a research consortium focused on developing technologies to accelerate the certification and qualification of 3D printed metal parts.

ADAPT Technical Director Aaron Stebner said that the addition of Concept Laser to the alliance would help “extend [its] focus beyond helping businesses qualify parts to include helping manufacturers of 3D metals printers improve their technologies.”

4. MachineWorks partners with Stratasys on Polygonica 3D printing software

In one of two 3D printing stories from the UK in this roundup, Sheffield-based software developer MachineWorks announced on Thursday that it would be partnering with 3D printing giant Stratasys to integrate MachineWorks’ Polygonica software inside Stratasys GrabCAD Print. The Stratasys software will now incorporate Polygonica mesh libraries, enabling automatic mesh repair, mesh offsetting, Boolean operations, and analysis functions.

“GrabCAD and Polygonica share the same philosophy of enabling a single ‘click-to-print' methodology for 3D models, in the same way we do with 2D printing,” said Dr Fenqiang Lin, MachineWorks Managing Director. “The user doesn't want or need to know about what software is used to prepare the file, they just want their CAD model printed with the minimum of fuss.”

Polygonica's mesh repair functions ensure models are closed and watertight, free of self-intersections, badly oriented triangles, noise shells and non-manifold edges. The algorithms can be applied either fully or semi-automatically to ensure minimal disruption to the printing workflow. "MachineWorks has set an industry standard for CNC simulation and verification software,” added Jon Stevenson, Senior Vice President of Global Software at Stratasys.

5. Inkjet printer company Xaar to open 3D printing center in Nottingham

Staying in Britain for a moment, Cambridge-headquartered Xaar, a listed group that supplies industrial inkjet printheads, announced on Thursday that it will open a 3D printing facility in Nottingham, UK. The new Xaar 3D Centre will open in January 2017 and will provide 3D printing services and equipment to manufacturers, materials suppliers, and end users. Xaar has also hired extra engineers to improve its 3D printing operations in Copenhagen, Denmark. “As we build our business in 3D it is vital that we have the in-house resources to support our partners,” said Professor Neil Hopkinson, director of 3D printing at Xaar. “The acquisition of the team in Denmark further extends our expertise.”

6. Best Buy to stock XYZprinting 3D printers

Two months ago, it was announced that major toy retailer Toys R Us would begin stocking XYZprinting 3D printers, specifically the family-friendly da Vinci miniMaker, which costs just $249. XYZprinting has now announced that consumer electronics retailer Best Buy will stock the slightly more advanced da Vinci Mini 3D printer, $289, bringing the hugely popular line of FDM 3D printers onto the high street.

“Our partnerships with Best Buy and Toys R Us are designed to bring this innovative product experience to a whole new subset of customers, while also delivering valuable tools to the educators, designers, professionals and tech enthusiasts that want and need them the most,” said Simon Shen, CEO of XYZprinting and New Kinpo Group. “These retail programs reflect XYZprinting’s dedication to ensuring 3D printing technology is attainable on a national scale.”

7. CRP to show off 3D printed golf club with motion sensors at CES

Less than a month ago, we published a story about the 3D printed KD-1 driver, a golf club made by Krone Golf and CRP Group that can supposedly outperform anything else in its category. CRP Group and CRP USA this week announced it will be showcasing the futuristic club at CES, in partnership with Energica Motor Company INC. Of course, golf clubs don’t usually qualify as consumer electronics, but one version of the KD-1 will be integrated with a dual 9-axis motion sensor, Launch Monitor, and a Professional Instructor. The 3D printed “Smart Club,” which is made from 100% Windform high-performance composite materials, will be released worldwide in 2017.

The innovative KD-1 driver shows that—even just before the festive season—3D printing is still in full swing across a number of industries. Don’t believe it? Other major stories this week included Chinese doctors successfully implanting 3D printed blood vessels into monkeys, Adidas releasing new 3D printed running shoes, and the unveiling of a mobile concrete 3D printer that moves around on caterpillar tracks. Come back next week for more.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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