Mar 31, 2017 | By David

The 3D printing world continues to go from strength to strength, and this last week or so has seen exciting mergers and new industrial solutions announced, as well as the world's first 3D printed swimming prosthetic and much more besides. Just in case any of it passed you by, here's a quick rundown of some of the most recent news in brief:

ProtoLabs adds PolyJet 3D printing technology to its range of manufacturing solutions

Digital manufacturing company ProtoLabs has recently announced the addition of the PolyJet 3D printing system to its range of products. PolyJet is an industrial 3D printing solution that will allow designers and engineers to manufacture with both rigid and elastomeric materials, in a choice of colors. The parts produced with the PolyJet method boast impressively smooth surface features and the technology can handle complex geometries with ease. PolyJet will be added to the other three 3D printing processes that ProtoLabs offers its clients- stereolithography, selective laser sintering, and direct metal laser sintering.

“The addition of PolyJet is a testament to our effort to further expand our capabilities in a technology-agnostic manner,” said Rich Baker, CTO at Proto Labs. “We firmly believe in providing a variety of manufacturing options so that our customers can choose the best process for their particular application.” ProtoLabs' uniquely digital approach to manufacturing allows its clients to upload a CAD file on their website and receive an immediate quote for the print job, which is usually finished within a few days. The PolyJet announcement was made at this year’s Advanced Design & Manufacturing Expo in Cleveland, which runs from March 29-30.

Creaform’s HandyScan 3D metrology scanner certified by Airbus

Canadian company Creaform, an industry leader in portable 3D measurement solutions and engineering services, has announced today that its flagship portable 3D scanner has been certified by aviation giants Airbus. The HandyScan 3D is a metrology-grade scanner whose specifications were recently recognized by the French National Laboratory for Metrology & Testing (LNE), and it is now going to be added to Airbus’s next Technical Equipment Manual release.

The HandyScan 3D’s point-and-shoot functioning, in combination with the onboard VXElements software, means that measurement times for the quality of aircraft parts can be cut by up to 80% compared to traditional methods. The learning curve for users is incredibly short with no 3D technology expertise required, and the portable 3D scanner can be used to test any kind of part in any environment. Maximum accuracy is 0.030 mm and the device offers a resolution of up to 0.050 mm. According to Jérôme-Alexandre Lavoie, Product Manager at Creaform, “This certification by an industry leader like Airbus symbolizes Creaform’s commitment to helping the aerospace as much as the automotive industries address their high-level of GD&T (Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing) requirements”.

SLM publishes fiscal summary for 2016, announcing 22 percent growth

SLM Solutions AG has announced some positive financial news today, declaring a 22 % revenue increase for the 2016 fiscal year. The 3D metal printing company succeeded in achieving an impressive amount of growth in what was an unusually difficult year, global events considered. Its consolidated revenue of TEUR 66,137 rose to TEUR 80,707. The majority of this revenue was generated by the company’s main business, the sale of direct laser metal sintering systems. 130 new orders were received for 3D printers in 2016, compared to 102 in the previous year.

SLM Solutions is based in Lubeck, Germany and currently employs over 320 million staff worldwide. According to Henner Schöneborn, CTO of SLM Solutions:, "We believe that we are excellently positioned for further growth with our multi-laser technology. Our newly introduced machines which can be fitted with multiple 700-watt lasers are excellently suited for the series production of parts.’’ The growing popularity of 3D technology means that even more growth can be expected for the forthcoming year. The Management Board anticipates consolidated revenue of between TEUR 110,000 and TEUR 120,000 for 2017.

Amputee veteran receives new 3D printed prosthetic to help him swim

The world’s first fully functional swimming prosthetic has been produced for a military veteran. 33 year-old Dan Lasko lost a leg in combat in Afghanistan, and has been using a prosthetic leg for some years now. However, like many amputees he has been unable to go swimming, due to not being able to use his regular prosthetic in the water and not wanting to go in unsupported. New York hospital and healthcare network Northwell Health have now provided him with a new 3D printed prosthetic that will allow him to enjoy swimming with his family again.

Northwell Health’s venture arm, Northwell Ventures worked with an industrial 3D printing company and a prosthetic design firm to create the prosthetic. Advertising agency JWT also got involved with the project, and a documentary was produced showing Lasko’s first venture back into a swimming pool since losing his leg. Dubbed the Fin, the 3D printed prosthetic is designed to allow users to move in and out of water freely. It will now be mass produced to be ready for commercial sale in about 6 months’ time.

SLM partners with SAP to improve use of 3D printing in manufacturing

SLM Solutions is set to form a partnership with SAP, a business-oriented software company. SAP’s early access program was designed to help out manufacturers, industrial 3D printing companies and providers of services and materials, and was produced in conjunction with logistics firm UPS.The shared goal expressed by SLM and SAP is to strengthen the applications of 3D printing in industrial manufacturing.

SLM in particular is looking to co-operate with as many suitable businesses as possible as part of its long-term growth strategy, and in exchange, will perform extensive testing of SAP’s early access software. This practical feedback will be crucial in the further development of its distributed warehouse software. Using SAP’s program gives companies an optimized interface that allows them more room to implement changes in various areas, from product design to manufacturing processes. As the software improves, SAP intends for more and more businesses to explore innovation opportunities wherever they may arise.

Techmer collaborates with ORNL to develop 3D printed tools

Materials expert Techmer has recently contributed to the development of a new range of high-performance 3D printed tools. Most of these large tools will be used for the aviation and automobile industries. Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s 3D printing team was in charge of the print job, using Cincinnati Inc’s Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine and the materials provided by Techmer. These are custom-made, carbon fiber enhanced plastics specifically designed for 3D printing. Among the tools produced was a huge assembly tool built for the Boeing 777 aircraft, set for completion by 2020.

“We are very pleased with the results of this collaboration, which demonstrated how 3D printing generates significant time and cost savings, operational efficiencies, and design freedom and enables minimal touch labor,” says Tom Drye, vice president of emerging markets and innovation at Techmer PM. The use of 3D printing technology cut the production time down to a fifth of what it would have been with conventional techniques. Not only are they made a whole lot quicker, the 3D printed parts are of an incredibly high standard. During testing, the tools were able to withstand temperatures of more than 355° F as well as pressures of 90 pounds per square inch.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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