Archive for the ‘Editorial’ Category

The Daily 3D Detail: Structure Synth create incredible 3D objects

Posted by Taila Rodrigues On August - 6 - 2017
Structure Synth complexy

Even if you who have never coded before, and even if you are terrible at math, you are able to use this tool and generate surprising and complex 3D structures.

Structure Synth is an open-source, multiplatform system for manipulating 3D structures.

Instead of using the mouse to position objects and modify structures, you position them with command lines written in the EisenScript code.

EisenScript is a programming language designed by Mikael Hvidtfeldt, pure mathematics, basic and simple.


EisenScript codes

This system has a full set of features that allow you to create generative 3D scenes. There are a lot of commands operators to explore, but with just a few commands you can quickly and easily generate 3D artwork that looks impossible or almost impossible.

The generated files can be saved in .obj format compatible with 3D slicer software and can then be printed in 3D.

The system is completely free, available for Mac, Windows and Linux – download here.

To read the full content and learn more about Structure Synth visit their website.

The Daily 3D Detail: Can you tell the future?

Posted by Franka Schoening On July - 9 - 2017

Crystal ball to predict the 3D future?


No one has a reliable crystal ball, can read coffee grounds effectively, or actually predict the future through cards. If we could, we would all be stock market millionaires. At least, I would be…

However, there are some smart people that can analyze a market and make predictions that are very possible to come true. Read this amazing article on on predictions about ease of design, resolution, materials, colors and more. Will it all be reality one day? Who knows. But it sounds amazing!

The Six Steps to a New Manufacturing Paradigm

Posted by Fred Kaplan On July - 8 - 2017

Can additive manufacturing deliver on a $12 trillion promise?

By Fred Kaplan

Delivering on Additive Manufacturing's $12 Trillion Promise

The quality and clarity of SL-printed parts gives the additive manufacturing a definitive advantage

The manufacturing world is in transition to additive manufacturing.

The promise of this transition is $12 trillion worth of goods. Trillion. With a T.

Recent advances in technology by HP’s (multiJet fusion), Carbon3D (CLIP technology) and Desktop Metals, have all successfully employed FDM production for short-run end-use parts with at the enterprise level of 3D printers. At the DIY level, desktop model manufacturers such as Markforged, Roboze, and AirWolf3D offer commendable end-use production with the same FDM method.

Stephen Nigro, HP’s President of 3D printing, speaking at the 2017 RAPID + TCT show, described the areas where the additive manufacturing industry can optimize the transformational future of additive manufacturing. While Nigro’s presentation was framed around HP’s multiJet fusion technology, it is a useful look at how these key points are being addressed across many technologies industry-wide.

Following are six essential keys that Nigro believes will transform additive manufacturing toward this $12 trillion goal:

    • World-Class Product and Technology Capabilities: Additive manufacturing has never been more innovative. HP, Carbon 3D, and Desktop Metals are at the very beginning stages of developing technologies that offer the possibility of disruptive short-run manufacturing. Improvements they to chose to address included printing speed, printer “up” time, and higher percentages of acceptable finished parts. While these new technological innovations are getting the media’s attention, another manufacturer, UnionTech entered the U.S. in a new product category showing great promise in both resolution and material strengths. Since 2000, this company’s large-format open source printers have been using stereolithography to produce unheard-of build times with impressive results.SL technology, as seen in the graphic below from, is shown on the very far right in the “Plateau of Productivity” as opposed to the newer technologies which could be located in either the bubble of “Inflated Expectations”or the “Trough of Disillusionment” before they are on their way to the “Slope of Enlightenment.”

Delivering on Additive Manufacturing's $12 Trillion Promise

  • Open Materials Platform to Drive Down Costs: The cost of proprietary 3D printing materials has made it almost impossible to calculate a profitable ROI in manufacturing end-use 3d printed parts. The traditional razor blade method that has been employed by 3D printer manufacturers doesn’t work in an environment in which OEM manufacturers need the broadest portfolios of available materials from the 3D printer. HP began a program to qualify open source material partners at the K2016 plastics and rubber trade show. DSM Somos, has a complete portfolio of SL materials designed to go with open source SL printers such as UnionTech. Since the late 1980s, DSM’s Somos group has earned a global reputation for stereolithography material innovation. Prototypes made from Somos resins closely replicate the functionality of engineered thermoplastics, but are delivered with increased speed and accuracy.Delivering on Additive Manufacturing's $12 Trillion Promise

    UnionTech printers, made in China, have developed a reputation for quality prints

    Another aspect of additive manufacturing materials that has to be considered is the difference in part construction which varies from one technology to the next. Processes such FFF which depend on the adhesion of one layer to next tend to have little strength in the Z axis versus isotropic construction of stereolithography.

  • Materials Diversity: A wide array of material availability is the foundation of successful manufacturing whereas the promise of new materials in the future is an innovation driver. Open-source desktop printers have broken down the barriers closed-source manufacturers have attempted to use to control their market. Open-source printers have brought us PET-G, TPE, and ASA polymers and a variety of other filaments. Matterhackers’ matter guide is a good example of the material range and Somos lists 14 open-source stereolithography resins currently available.
  • New Design Methods for Additive Manufacturing: The development of CAD programs has increased the functionality and provided ease of use for new users. Through these applications, successful designers and engineers are creating geometries optimized for additive manufacturing. The future of CAD is in algorithm-based design that is able to iterate using tradition CAD and 3D-scanned data with programs such as SolidThinking’s Inspire that optimize topology for strength, economic material usage, and weight of printed parts. Another example is Materialise Magics, which optimizes data preparation for 3D printing intended for casting applications.
  • The Reinvention of Supply Chains: As Additive manufacturing is being perfected by organizations looking at the possibility of emailing CAD files versus shipping parts across the globe. While that reality is here, the advance of this prospect waits for the resolution of other issues on this list. Local Motors is a business whose model is built around four microfactories creating automobiles from locally sourced components. The capacity to accommodate the demand for individual vehicles through localized production is an example of the way the future supply chain is headed.

Delivering on Additive Manufacturing's $12 Trillion Promise

An example of the quality of SL prints

  • Regulations and Standards: One of the obstacles to the adoption of additive manufacturing is the uncertainty regarding 3D printing materials. There are currently few certifications for 3D printing materials due to the expense of certifying proprietary materials and the absence of regulatory groups. Typically 3D printer materials are referred to as “ABS-like,” as opposed to being actually ABS or any specific material. This lack of definition can lead to unexpected parts failure if produced without significant testing. Companies such as 3D Systems, Envisiontec, StrataSys and Somos are leading the industry with medical-grade and aerospace-approved materials. In order for manufacturing to embrace additive manufacturing, the industry needs to provide better materials information and a standardized rating system of material properties from the additive material suppliers.

There are a couple basic points to look at when choosing a 3D printer or a new 3D printing material:

  • Heat Deflection Temperature (HDT): which is the temperature at which a material deforms under a specific load. The importance of the number is a reflection on the functionality of the 3D printed part; such as whether the part will be functional under the hood of an automobile. Carbon- or silica-filled materials have a high HDT while PLA has a low HDT which makes easier to be printed on an FFF printer.
  • Tensile Modulus is the measurement of stresses that a material can take along an axis and return to its original shape or the measurement of the stiffness or brittleness of a solid material. Rubber is an example of a material with a low tensile modulus and glass or ceramics have a high tensile modulus.
    • Flexural Strength: is depicted in the graphic below. The “F” arrow is the force at the fracture point when factoring the length and width of the material. Flexural Strength is the stress a material can tolerate before yielding. ABS has a flexural strength of 75 MPa compared to StrataSys’ Nylon12 PA flexural strength of 47 MPa.

Delivering on Additive Manufacturing's $12 Trillion Promise

While Additive Manufacturing is experiencing one technology breakthrough after another, the prospect of one 3D printer being replaced by the fleet of 3D printers will take the combination of 3D printer reliability, along with material functionality, to provide a dependable and predictable manufacturing process. As the industry awaits the roll out of HP’s, Desktop Metals’, and Carbon3D’s new printers, time will show if they are pushing the envelope of dependability and functionality. While open-source 3D printers provide more functionality by being able to print multiple materials, there may an additional benefit: the competition which open-source provides can only result in more user-friendly operations and more reliable 3D printers.

Fred Kaplan is a 3D printing material specialist, who has worked with SLA, SLS, FDM, ColorJet, ADAM, DLP, LOM, FFF, MultiJet, Polyjet, and SDL 3D printers. Specializing in matching the best technology to a particular 3D printing application, he has also worked with many brands of 3D scanners and many CAD packages.

Prior to his work in additive manufacturing, Fred received a Los Angeles-area Emmy and other awards for documentary filmmaking.

The Obsidian is the latest 3D printer with a below $100 price tag that is raising funds through Kickstarter. It will be assemble-free, available in two colors and promises a printing quality comparable to printers with a higher price tag. Focusing on user experience, the Obsidian claims to make “3D printing easy and accessible to everyone, from students to design professionals” and uses a video to proof it.

Despite the failure of multiple cheap 3D printer fundraising campaigns in the past, this project has already exceeded its $100.000 goal significantly. Find more information and the link to the Kickstarter campaign here if you are interested in joining the nearly 3000 existing backers of the Obsidian.

3D Printing – The Solution to Trumpcare? A (not so serious) DIY guide

Posted by Franka Schoening On July - 2 - 2017

How to get the healthcare you need with a 3D printer

By Franka Schoening

If you are 50+, non-rich and living in the U.S., you have probably been following the news regarding the proposed health care bill lately. A bill, which aims to increase your insurance cost by around $3,600 annually, while the top 1% receive much-needed tax breaks. The notion of paying $600+ a month on insurance on a $40,000 a year salary, living in a non-rent-friendly city like New York or Los Angeles and feeding a family of four leads to the prediction of a lot of Top Ramen in your future. Best-case scenario: you will feel like you are back in the best time of your life like when you were in college. Worst-case scenario: the increase in sodium in your diet might further deteriorate your already precarious situation: your blood pressure will go up and lead to heart disease; you will feel bloated and probably gain weight. Your medical bills will skyrocket even more. The only good thing (every story needs a positive angle) – these are not pre-existing conditions, since you were forced to alter your diet after the I-could-lease-a-Porsche-for-this-premium insurance bill was introduced.

By now, you are probably wondering why this article is in a publication for 3D printing, right?

Everybody is fascinated by 3D printing for different reasons. Some people like to be amazed by how it advances the medical industry; others enjoy being thrifty by fixing appliances at home through printing spare parts; and then others see the potential this manufacturing technique has when it comes to solving environmental and social issues. What if I told you that my proposal could satisfy every single one of these enthusiasts?

All you need is:

1. A medical problem. Let’s use arthritis for this example.
2. Trumpcare.
3. A 3D printer.
4. A med student (recommended), or if unavailable, a few mirrors that help you see the area, some X-acto knives and a
YouTube video for instructions.
5. Lots of courage and some good pain killers, or alternatively, a stupid amount of alcohol.

Step 1: Print the joint that needs replacement e.g. knee. Make sure you measure the existing one carefully so your knees stay symmetrical.

Step 2: Flush your insurance card down the toilet. It is most useless.

Step 3: Have your med student friend replace your knee. Alternatively, attempt home surgery while highly doped up.

Step 4: Self-medicate and heal. You flushed your insurance card, because you couldn’t afford the copay on any prescription meds as it was so no worries.

Congratulations! You have officially beaten the system, saved thousands of dollars, and shown the government who is boss. After healing, proudly walk in the next march that is protesting whatever policy that might discriminate against you next!

On a serious note, while this is clearly an increasingly attractive option, with any luck it will never be necessary and the Senate rethinks the bill and its effect on everybody in the U.S., regardless of their age, gender, social standing, sexual orientation, race, religion, hair color, height, shoe size, food preferences… (you get the point).

In the meantime, it would be wise to practice 3D printing — just in case.

A German native, Franka Schoening moved to sunny Southern California in 2011 to attain her Masters of Communications Management at the University of Southern California. Since graduating she has worked in operations in the medical industry and as group events coordinator in eco-tourism.

In her free time you can find her in the rabbit room at the South Los Angeles Animal Shelter, cooking vegan feasts, treasure hunting at estate sales and thrift stores, or picking up a random new hobby, lately sewing. She also organizes events and fundraisers for LA Rabbit Foundation and has a small rabbit boarding business.

The $200 3D Printer That Rocks

Posted by Editor On June - 6 - 2017

Chinese-made 3D printer may be the best buy on the internet

By Taila Rodrigues

The $200 3D Printer That Rocks

Are you looking for a great 3D printer under $200? How about the Anet A8.

The Anet A8 is a useful, yet affordable, 3D printer that is perfect for beginners — a completely do-it-yourself 3D printer anyone can put together. Produced by the Anet company based in China, the A8 is priced at around $160-$200. The design can be compared to a Prusa i3 3D printer — a sturdy, reliable model.

As a good entry-level 3D printer, the assembly is technically easy, in that all the steps are fairly simple to follow and straight-forward in direction with the provided Youtube videos clearly showing how to do everything in a way that eliminates all guesswork. There is no soldering or any advanced assembly knowledge required. It is mostly screws — but there are a lot of steps which makes it a big project. When fully-assembled, it enables one to print 3D objects from a large array of different kind of materials and provides an impressive build envelope.

It is fun to build your own printer and rewarding in that, in case something brakes, you can tinker with it yourself. It took me five days to assemble the 3D printer — around 20 hours in all including the reading of instructions and the watching of videos. The key to success is everything needs to be perfectly level. The building process is intuitive, and it is not too difficult but it does require concentration and patience.

When calibrated and upgraded properly, it can print like the more expensive printers producing really good results. The quality of the prints is amazing. You can find a list of upgrades online for the A8 that you can download for free from Some of the new parts provide better performance for the A8 and are recommended first prints. Interestingly there is no glass provided for the bed, but that is a simple and cheap addition made possible by using the glass from a photography frame from Ikea.

Building this printer not only helps keep the cost down for the aspiring printr but it also gives one a great sense of accomplishment. Understanding all the components will help one truly understand 3D printing at a personal level.

The user interface driving the 3D printer is very simple. There is an easy-to-read screen and five buttons (up, down, left, right, and select).

The recommended software to run with the printer is Cura or Repetier-Host for Windows, Linux, or Mac OS.

The community support for the A8 is amazing. There is a lot of crowd-sourced options for improvements, mods, upgrades, tweaks, and maintenance tips, as with all the upgrades. Also, the Facebook group helping with advances and sharing experiences.

So far so good, in terms of using this printer after two months since assembly everything is running well. It certainly exceeded my expectations.

The $200 3D Printer That Rocks

This printer is great for anyone who has interest in 3D printing and can not spend that much.

● Hot Bed Size: 220 x 220 x 240mm
● Frame material: Acrylic
● Platform board: Aluminum Base
● Nozzle quantity: Single
● Nozzle diameter: 0.4mm
● Layer thickness: 0.1-0.3mm
● Memory card / offline print: SD card
● LCD screen: Yes
● Print speed: 100mm / s
● Supported Printing Material: ABS, Luminescent, Nylon PVA, PLA, PP, Wood
● Filament diameter: 1.75mm
● Supported File format: G-code, OBJ and STL

Taila Rodrigues is the Portuguese Editor for 3D Printr Magazine. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from Ourinhos Integrated Faculties (FIO) in Sao Paulo. In Paraná, she served in the Office of Social Services as director of the Municipal Department of Psycho-Social Assistance, helping people in situations of social vulnerability. She moved to Los Angeles, California in search of a personal development in technological skills.

Adventurous and inspired by curiosity, her motivation is her belief that technology can be accessible for people worldwide. Besides a passion for 3D modeling, her loves are photography, music, nature, yoga, and cats.

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

Posted by Editor On May - 30 - 2017

Companies looking to be in space include GoEngineering, THK, Additec, Proto Labs, Purple Platypus, Airwolf3D, Splunk>, and more

By Gregory van Zuyen

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

The talking robot at the THK booth was an international hit

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

Next year’s event only promises to be more engaging

The most important thing you need to do right now is book travel and lodging to be in Pasadena, California between the dates of May 22-24, 2018. That is when SpaceTech Expo is happening at the Pasadena Convention Center and you will not want to miss it. Bring the kids. This event deserves the Governor’s Award for STEM Development. It’s the closest thing anyone can get to hanging out with astronauts themselves. All the people there are all qualified geniuses. And they are developing technology you want to discover. It’s nothing short of awe-inspiring.

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

The show had something for everyone at any age

Why Pasadena? Because that’s where Caltech resides. And anyone who knows will tell you that you have a satellite’s chance in the sun of getting into JPL without having graduated from Caltech with honors. Space exploration lives here.

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

Every aspect of space exploration was displayed for people to experience first-hand

SpaceTech Expo is expanding like the universe. The vast number of booths and offerings of this year’s expo were too numerous to mention in full. We had to limit this article to 3D printing specifically. We begin with GoEngineering.

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

GoEngineering’s 3D printing specialist Glen Chancellor demonstrates the Creaform’s ease of use

GoEngineering displayed their HandyScan Creaform scanner integrated with their editing software VX Elements to maximize their position in the scanning market, and frankly, they may be succeeding. Their device is barely over a pound and scans an object to within 30 microns of accuracy. Perfect for reverse engineering any spacecraft. It’s like waving around a baggie ziplocked with air. It’s LASER beams are precise, producing 480,000 measurements a second which is harmless to human exposure, and amazingly accurate. Patching the holes in the VX Elements software was a piece of cake. If I was running a city crime lab looking for the best means of recording forensic evidence, I would snag two for busy days. Price? $35,000.

The scanner market is huge. Huger than huge and few have grasped the importance of it’s impact on the future economy. Read driverless cars. Companies that get that will succeed for sure. SpaceTech taught us that this year.

Contributing Editor Fred Kaplan on scanning: “3D scanners produce point clouds of positional data. The point clouds are geometric samples of the object being scanned and often contain billions of points which require software to optimize the data and to export the data to a solid model such as a .STL file. 3D scanner software can smartly interpolate the point cloud to fill holes, merge meshes, optimize meshes, decimate meshes and create water-tight models ready to be 3D printed.

“3D scanners divide into two types of technologies. Laser Scanners that use a laser source that defines space by emitting laser light from two sources and recorded on camera in a process called triangulation and Touch probes or contact scanners recording positional data in 3D space by touching the surface of the object and clicking the device. Another technology that is used to record the surface imagery and the geometry of an object is call photogrammetry. Photogrammetry used an array of still cameras all pointed at an object or person. Software aligns the images, creates a visual reproduction of the surface and interpolates the geometry. Photogrammetry is used to create human reproductions because the process is recorded the duration of still camera shutter. There are also a variety of medical applications such as CT scans that are scans based upon the volume of an object.”

To be specific, understanding the scanning market takes foresight:
3D scanning is used in:
1) Inspection: to measure the size of an actual part to compare to the CAD that was original designed to increase the accuracy of the part and quality control.
2) Engineering: Creating CAD from an existing part to re-create something no longer being produced or to adapt something new from something old or replace old parts
3) Product Development: Feet and faces are commonly scanned for sizing shoes or eye glasses
4) Medical applications
5) GIS, mapping
6) LIDAR in autonomous cars

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

GoEngineering’s William Huertas shows how their software makes Creaform so effective

Kaplan went on: “Creaform scanners are hand-held that are fast and easy to use. The HandyScan scanner is made to scan the interior or the space stations as well as the auto, healthcare and manufacturing applications. The company originated as a scanner service provider but the HandyScan and GoScan packages have set the standard as the highest quality handheld scanners on the market. Creaform’s robotic mounted optical system is MetraScan which are 3D scanners that have been seamlessly integrated into automobile and other manufacturing assembly line operations.”

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

Additec — one of the many companies present at this year’s show

Technical Editor Tsion Asmamaw had this to say about the show: “Proto Labs was the company to visit at the show. This company provides injection molding, CNC machining, and 3D printing for customers who wish to budget themselves conservatively. They can see the proto type design before going ahead with any production or large scale manufacturing. I think the flexibility of this company will quickly create a good stream of customers exploring their vision in no time.”

Asmamaw also pointed out that GoEngineering wasn’t the only company sponsoring Stratasys products: “The second company I was interested in was PurplePlatypus. They displayed the impressive machines from Stratasys. The preciseness of the prints displayed at the booth were handheld examples of accuracy. One example was a human hand displayed with all the blood vessels in true color — all done with injection polyjetting by these incredible machines — the level of detail and realism can only help the medical education industry beyond measure.”

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

Julie from Airwolf3D in a brief moment between speaking with the many aerospace engineers who visited the booth in the busy three days of the expo

Airwolf3D also presented at the show and, as has been written previously, is a company worthy of taking into space. Their Axiom made a hit with engineers, who although celebrated in their mechanics, have yet to experience 3D printing. Credit goes to Airwolf3D for speaking to this awe-inspiring level of genius it takes to do rocket science. This company is closer than most to being in space. That’s all I go to say.

Lastly, I want to bring your attention to a company that, by all aspects, is not 3D printing related. It is my hope 3D printing companies will seize upon this aspect of technological innovation to improve their products at exponential rate. That company is called Splunk>.

3D Printing at SpaceTech Expo

Devon Bolton, account manager for aerospace & defense for Splunk>

Splunk> does data-mining and analytical feedback on levels that make one ponder what cannot be done. Their team has grown steadily in their application of brilliance in what they are achieving. Keep in mind, this is SpaceTech Expo. This is NASA-grade data-mining analysis. Talking to the team at Splunk> is like trying to have a conversation with a genius cousin on scholarship to MIT. These guys see data in ways that make the notion of cosmic-shift likely. Their story on developing better subway braking systems makes me proud to have met them. Remember you heard of them here first.

Plan now for next year’s SpaceTech. Make a family trip of it and develop a love of science in even the youngest of keen investors.

Gregory van Zuyen is managing editor of 3D Printr Magazine and an instructor is 3D printing at Santa Monica College.

RAPID + TCT 2017 Event Report

Posted by Fred Kaplan On May - 21 - 2017

Confessions of a 3D printing nerd at 3D printing’s biggest show of the year

By Fred Kaplan

RAPID + TCT 2017 Event Report

I admit it, I have an unhealthy obsession with 3D-printer tradeshows but the 2017 Rapid + TCT show, held May 8-11 in Pittsburgh, signaled the next iteration of 3D printing. All right, so what’s the big deal? How about a seemingly endless supply of new functional end-use 3D-printing technologies, and materials that had to be seen to be believed.

Carbon 3D
The best example of 3D-printing end-use parts was at the Carbon 3D booth. Carbon 3D burst onto the 3D-printing scene with a 2015 TED talk that has been viewed more than 700,000 times. After two years of anticipation and speculation during which Kodak announced that it would be providing materials for the printer, Carbon 3D is now leasing printers to end users.

Carbon3D Shoe Lattice

Carbon 3D recently partnered with Adidas to develop the first  3D-printed part that will be mass produced for consumer use; the midsoles of Futurecraft 4D shoes. Midsoles of shoes traditionally can’t be injection or compression molded in one piece with variable flexibility in a single piece. Carbon 3D experimented with a variety of lattices that were printed with a variety of production grade elastomers that don’t require support or excess materials — which reduce the manual post-processing steps of traditional 3D-printing. Adidas will have 5,000 pairs available in the fall/winter of 2017.

Carbon3D Shoe

Desktop Metal
All the buzz at Rapid + TCT 2017 was about the Desktop Metal printers whose booth was at the geographic center of the David L. Lawrence Convention Hall. Desktop Metals used some of the $97 million funding it received from Google, BMW, Saudi Aramico, GE, and others to sponsor the nametag lanyards, the convention hall wireless, and everything else that held still long enough to be branded. The anticipation for a desktop printer capable of printing in metal materials has hit an all-time frenzy.

Desktop Metals announced two systems the Studio and the Production systems. The Studio printer will be available in the fall of 2017, is designed to print individual metal parts. The Production system, designed for large-scale production, will be available in 2018.

Along with the announcement of the Studio Printer, Desktop Metals has announced an office-friendly sinter oven that reaches a peak temperature of 1400 celsius to post-process printed parts. With a price tag more than $120K, the printers promise to safely and easily print many metal alloys at a fraction of the cost of previous metal 3D printers. Among the advantages, Desktop Metals offers the raw material encased in a rod of metal and binder, instead of powdered metals that are possibly flammable — and definitely dangerous — and the ability to affordably and easily print a wide variety of different alloys. I was excited to see sample parts in all three stages of the process.

The first step in the process is the extrusion of metal and binder that is printed larger than the final product. The next step is the binder is removed, and the third step is the part is sintered in a sintering oven which shrinks the printed part to the expected size. The temperature of the sintering will vary depending on the metal alloy,but the temperature could be as high as 1400 C. Markforged also offers a similar product, the Metal X which has been said will be available in the fall of 2017.

The HP booth featured their Jet Fusion 3200 and 4200 printers which leverage HP’s history of jetting inks and fluids in traditional 2D desktop printers. The build area of the HP printers is 2,440 cubic inches (15″ x 11.2″ x 14.6″) and its ability to print on a voxel by voxel basis (the 3D equivalent of a screen pixel) simultaneously on the X and Y axis which yields high-quality printed parts ten times faster than a traditional FDM 3D-printer. HP have used the advantages of printing in powder (speed plus printing with no attached support structure) to create a profitable return on investment on 3D-printing projects similar to mid-size injection molded runs.

The HP Jet Fusion printers use a new series of processes developed by HP which include thermal control, fusing, and detailing agents printed in the X-Y axis on a layer of the printing material which is currently a low-cost nylon, PA12 powder. Future material developments will include full color parts and a variety of materials including ceramics.

The theme of producing functional end-use part has expanded and the UnionTech booth showed all four of their SLA printers. The largest build size is the RSPro 800 which has a build platform of 31.5″ x 31.5″ x 19.7″.

What I find most interesting about the UnionTech printers is that they offer the highest quality SLA printing with open source materials — which means that there is an almost endless selection of material options, including DSM materials, BASF and any other SLA printing materials on the market. The printers are assembled in China with globally-sourced parts. By increasing their laser power, UnionTech is able to increase the print speed of their 3D printers by 100% over competitive printers.

What makes a trade show like Rapid + TCT 2017 so great is the opportunity to see a technology, and feel the sample part of that technology that hitherto seems to be internet lore. XJET is an Israeli company whose CEO was the CTO of Objet Geometries — the original PolyJET 3D printer. XJET uses the concept of jetting microscopic particles of material to form an object, replacing thermoplastics with solid metal nanoparticles, suspended in a liquid ink, in a process called “NanoParticle Jetting.” The sample parts I felt were completely smooth with no visible or tactile evidence of layer lines on the sample parts.

I was pleased to see technological surprises in every row of vendors at the show. I have been anxious to see the Roboze 3D printer that prints in Ultem/PEI and PEEK, as well as 14 other industrial grade materials with more to come. Printing in PEEK and Utem requires extremely high temperatures which triggered my expectation of seeing a 3D printer reminiscent of a Soviet-era monstrosity, but instead, I found the Robooze printers to be sleek and elegantly designed. They are office-friendly printers that emit no heat on the exterior surface of the printer despite internal temperatures. Roboze is a completely gear-driven FDM printer that is accurate to within 25 microns across the print bed.

Do you think the world of additive manufacturing materials is limited to thermoplastics and metals? Wrong! Admatec, a Dutch company has combined DLP (digital light projection) 3D-printing with ceramics in their new Admaflex 130. The materials that the Amdaflex print are alumina, zirconia and fused silica. The advantages of ceramics include extreme hardness and excellent electrical insulation. They are also lightweight parts that are functional in high temperature, and under high pressures.

After walking the Rapid + TCT 2017 show, my head was exploding with the brilliance of the technological and material options at all price points of 3D printing. The fall of 2017 promises to be an amazing time, in which we will see the amazing new printers hit the streets. The original technology of the SLA system that Chuck Hull developed 30 years ago is being adapted to be perhaps the most functional technology yet.

I left Pittsburgh knowing that rate of innovation is not slowing down and looking forward to next trade show with enthusiasm.

Fred Kaplan is a 3D-printing material specialist, who has worked with SLA, SLS, FDM, ColorJet, ADAM, DLP, LOM, FFF, MultiJet, Polyjet, and SDL 3D printers. Specializing in matching the best technology to a particular 3D printing application, he has also worked with many brands of 3D scanners and many CAD packages.

Prior to his work in additive manufacturing, Fred received a Los Angeles-area Emmy and other awards for documentary filmmaking.

Matterhackers Matter about Matter

Posted by Fred Kaplan On May - 16 - 2017

3D printing is all about what will work best for the part

By Fred Kaplan

Matterhackers Matter about Matter

Matterhacker’s lab where products are tested and used

The first 3D printer company I worked for sold printers that made objects out of a refined and expensive form of gypsum. Gypsum has been called “Plaster of Paris” due to the proximity of the Montmartre quarries to the City of Lights. Gypsum is also the main ingredient of sheetrock or drywall — not exactly the strongest or sexist material that one would expect from a 3D printer but it worked well for its purpose at the time.

From humble plaster beginnings, 3D printing has always been a materials game. One cannot say what material is the best because every printing need is different. For many, PLA is the best material because it is easy and inexpensive. For the aerospace community, Ultem /PEI or PEEK are considered the holy grail of 3D-printable materials.

SPOILER ALERT // There will be a rash of new desktop metal printers coming out in the next twelve months which will produce fully dense metal part on what is comparably inexpensive $120,000 printers. //

The best materials are subject to what your intended use is for your 3D-printed part. Which can be divided into three groups.

  • Rapid Prototype: a geometric representation of the object to be viewed, held or snap fit to test the shape of the object perhaps in relationship to another object
  • Functional Prototype: The printed part may be subject to heat or stress to determine if the geometry fits and functions under specific conditions I would put 3D printed part that will be a casting in this category.
  • End Use Pars: which includes Tooling, Aerospace, Automotive, Medical, Dental, Jewelry, Food, Bioprinting, Clothing and more

Given the wide variety of uses for 3D-printed objects — everything from toothbrush holders to a functioning kidney — it’s crucial to know what materials you want before you purchase a 3D printer because the material you print with will affect the geometry of the part.

Matterhackers Matter about Matter

We spoke to MatterHackers’ Director of Marketing Dave Gaylord to get a greater understanding what 3D-printable materials are being used and why would one choose any particular material. Granted, we could have taken a six-year degree program in chemistry to get our answer but we figured asking Dave was like the same thing. MatterHackers opened in 2012 and currently represents over 70 manufacturers of 3D printers as well as a large assortment of filament materials including PLAABSnylonNylonX, SLA resins, Flex, PETG and more.

Matterhackers Matter about Matter

“sets MatterHackers apart is that they test and use the products they sell, much the way you would expect an innovative lab to work. Matterhackers’ website provides sought-after user forums where customer’s questions are answered by MatterHackers’ trained staff.

3D Printr Magazine: Can you tell me about MatterHackers?

Dave Gaylord: “MatterHackers is the largest 3D printer retailer in the United States. We are known for our customer service and we feel confident in our ability to provide all the information our customers need in order to use their 3D printer successfully. Our website features how-to guides on many subjects including how to calibrate your extrude, use cases that illustrate 3D printing applications, and generally inspire our customers with interesting designs. We write features stories about new products and accessories. There are 3D printer reviews and it’s a go-to resource for 3D printing. Recently we have been adding video content.”

3D Printr Magazine: Tell me about Matterhackers’ customers.

Dave Gaylord: “We have three distinct types of customers:

  • Hobbyist and Do It Yourself customers who are the root of the open source movement and our primary customer
  • The education community.
  • Professional Engineers. We have been selling into the professional market such as engineers what makes these customers unique they require greater geometric tolerances and the absolute best user experience. These customers will use 3D printed parts as an end use part.”

3D Printr Magazine: What materials are being used?

Matterhackers Matter about Matter

Dave Gaylord:“PLA is the most popular material, it’s easy to use so everybody uses it — unless there is some specific case requiring a more robust material. PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate) is going to overtake a good bit of the market in the next year or two. PETG is easy to print with and it’s more durable. Our more advanced users are printing in nylon. MatterHackers’ in-house engineers are using nylon almost exclusively. It’s a stellar material that makes really strong parts and the layer adhesion of nylon is remarkable. Last year we announced our NylonX material which is a chopped carbon filled nylon. It’s a super strong, super stiff material that looks great right off the print bed. About a month ago we launched a PRO Series nylon that offers seven different color materials. Prior to this nylon was only available in the natural off-white color.”

3D Printr Magazine: What do you think is the best support structure method?

(3D printers add what’s called “support structure: when printing overhangs and to void the problems when the geometry would have plastic printing in mid-air. The most common form of support structure is a lattice of the printing material that is broken away in a post-printing process.)

Dave Gaylord: “Well that depends. If you don’t have dual-extrusion, the only option is printing in one material and breaking away the support material. If your 3D printer has dual-extrusion — meaning that the printer can print two different material in the same build — an additional material can be printed to physically support the build material. There are two soluble support materials — PVA (Polyvinyl alcohol) which dissolves in water when used with PLA plastic — and HIPS (high impact polystyrene), used with ABS plastic and removed using D-Limonene which is derived from citrus oils. We find that same material break-away supports work just fine. MatterHackers’ slicing software MatterControl has really great features that make easy-to-remove break-away support.”

3D Printr Magazine: Can you tell me more about the MatterControl software?

Matterhackers Matter about Matter

Dave Gaylord: “MatterControl software is free open source software that organizes and manages your 3D prints. It’s designed to help you get the most out of your 3D printer and its available for all operating systems including MatterControl Touch which is an Android-powered touchscreen controller that turns your 3D printer into an independent internet-connected device. Matter Control ships with many 3D printers as the original slicing software including SeeMeCNC and Robo3D. The slicing engine is continually being updated by our in-house software engineers. How can you beat free software that is easy to use?”

3D Printr Magazine: What’s your dream 3D printable material?

Dave Gaylord: “The material chemists in the 3D printing space have been very busy. New 3D printer materials are constantly being developed. We find the problem with many materials is that they are cost prohibitive for our market. PETG checks off a lot of the boxes on my checklist, particularly ease of use, strength, and durability. PETG is used to make water bottles, food packaging, and countless other plastic items. It combines the durability of ABS plastic with ease of use of PLA. Anything that PETG lacks as a 3D printable material, nylon fills the gap. It’s our primary material at MatterHackers.

“Nylon filament is incredibly strong, durable, and versatile. It warps a little if you don’t handle it properly and it is perceived to be a hard material to print but if you know how to handle it — it is an amazing tool. It is flexible when printed thin with very nice inter-layer adhesion. It’s low friction coefficient and high melting temperature makes nylon an excellent choice for 3D printing gears. Printing nylon requires temperatures higher than 240 degrees C. Most 3D printers come standard with hot ends made of PEEK and PTFE which begin to breakdown above 240 C, burn and emit noxious fumes. Make sure you check with your 3D printer manufacturer or email us your 3D printer information if you are unsure if you can print nylon safely.

“Most 3D printers can be upgraded with metal hot ends to print nylon safely and successfully. Nylon is also hydroscopic which means that it can absorb 10% of its weight in 24 hours so it is best if the Nylon material is dried in an oven at a temperature of 160-180 F for 6-8 hours. Store nylon in an airtight container.

“You can prevent the Nylon from warping by printing on a glass bed. We suggest a bed heated to 75 C with a thin layer of glue. To sum up, nylon is a great material that some people perceive to be difficult to print but if you use the tips I just mentioned or look at the information on the MatterHackers website you will enjoy the superior material characteristics of nylon. So I guess my dream material is either nylon or PETG.”

3D Printr Magazine: What’s MatterHackers bestselling material?

Dave Gaylord: “Our Pro series materials are our best sellers. The Pro Series filaments are engineered to highlight the strength of each type of material. Made to the highest tolerances in the USA. The PRO series includes PLA, ABS, PETG, nylon and Flex. MatterHackers stick behind the Pro series material like all the rest of the products we sell but you can use the pro materials with full confidence that you are getting the finest 3D printer material.”

3D Printr Magazine: Does MatterHackers sell material to print metal?

Dave Gaylord: “We sell thermoplastics filament infused with metal powders. The finish looks like bronze or stainless steel when you sand and polish it. They are not as strong as a fully dense metal part but it doesn’t require a $100,000 printer and a Hazmat suit.”

3D Printr Magazine: How have the 3D printer manufacturers improved their printers?

Dave Gaylord: “3D printer manufacturers have really dialed in user experience to the point that you can be 3D printing five minutes after the box is opened. Matter Controls is focusing on improving the user experience by creating presets to get the user printing quickly and having those settings match the different materials.”

3D Printr Magazine: How can you sell 70 printers? Does that confusion people?

Dave Gaylord: “It’s awesome! We have great conversations with our customers. We ask about their expectations and what their needs are. We ask questions such as, ‘Do you need a large build volume?’ ‘Are you focused on print speed?’ ‘Do you care about the visual aspect of what the printed part looks like?’ ‘How many printers do you want — one or a fleet?’ We can really dial in the needs of the customer because we have so many options, and each printer we sell is extensively tested by our team. We know the printers intimately and we can make strong recommendations based on our personal experiences.

“Having a great experience with a 3D printer really comes down to making sure that you — as the 3D printer user — understand what you need and what you can expect from the printer you buy. This is where MatterHackers excels. We regularly send out informative emails. Each printer we sell excels in different areas so it is important to make sure the customer gets all the information about the printers or the materials. People trust us because we aren’t a printer manufacturer. We have a broader vision of the whole 3D printing landscape.”

Fred Kaplan is a 3D-printing material specialist, who has worked with SLA, SLS, FDM, ColorJet, ADAM, DLP, LOM, FFF, MultiJet, Polyjet, and SDL 3D printers. Specializing in matching the best technology to a particular 3D printing application, he has also worked with many brands of 3D scanners and many CAD packages.

Prior to his work in additive manufacturing, Fred received a Los Angeles area Emmy and other awards for documentary filmmaking.

GABA Industry 4.0 Event Report

Posted by Franka Schoening On May - 14 - 2017

GABA Industry 4.0 Event Report

Industry 4.0 — Is a future without warehouses and trucks an imminent reality?

By Franka Schoening

On Wednesday, May 10, 2017, the German American Business Association hosted their Industry 4.0 event “A Future without Warehouses and Trucks?” exploring the impact of 3D printing on manufacturing and supply chains.

Hosted by Georg Fischer in Irvine, attendees were able to gain an insight into the piping systems industry, explore the warehouse and discuss how 3D printing is supplementing milling and laser texturing. As a global player, the Swiss company thrives to be a first mover on emerging technologies to provide superior products at competitive prices.

GABA Industry 4.0 Event Report

Georg Fischer provided the Industry 4.0 venue with tours of its operations

The main event featured a panel of five industry professionals sharing their perspectives on additive manufacturing and its applicability to management consulting, marketing, manufacturing, software, and cyber security. Moderated by Charlie Duncheon, acting general manager North America of AP Works, an informative discussion emerged.

GABA Industry 4.0 Event Report

GABA Industry 4.0 panel from left: Charlie Duncheon, Klaus Brisch, Frank Speck, Chris Langdon, Oliver Schuh, and Max Eils

Dr. Oliver Schuh, managing director of Real Difference Management Consulting, pointed out the importance of managing people when introducing new technologies. Change management is crucial for a successful design evolution, as engineers are functionally fixated and need help to let go of their old ways and embrace a new way of thinking. Frank Speck, IG chair of Industry 4.0, GABA Southern California Chapter and Business Development Manager at Authentise added that Authentise is providing software solutions that are highly tailored. These solutions allow clients to tackle one specific problem and seamlessly integrate into companies’ existing systems. Most employees get overwhelmed by too many concurrent changes, which can lead to unexploited software. To foster successful technological changes, Speck stressed the importance of creating custom-made solutions, as supposed to pushing large software packages. Max Eils, area sales manager West at EOS of North America, furthermore agreed that learning opportunities have to be readily available for engineers.

Chris Langdon, PhD, president of Pacific Coast Research Inc. and a research associate professor at Claremont Graduate University’s Peter F. Drucker and Masatoni Ito Graduate School of Management stressed the importance of data analysis to create smart products. These products “adapt themselves to fit customers and sell themselves based on knowing/understanding the customer.” In his opinion, the products that are the most convenient and easiest to use will be the most successful. Collection of real-time feedback is a challenge, however crucial as 3D printing allows for immediate adaptation in the manufacturing process.

Using data can improve all processes, the product itself, and even make recommendations on which printer to use. CAD files are already entirely constructed of data and can be quickly and easily improved through the analysis of collected statistics. Traditional manufacturing on the other hand is not digitized and slow to improve.

The statement of immediate product improvement was also supported by Max Eils, who added that data received during the printing process can decrease the waste of resources, as well as needed warehouse space as less unnecessary parts are created.

Not surprisingly, audience questions regarding personal privacy arose, as data sharing goes hand in hand with personal consumer information being collected and stored. Klaus Brisch, Partner and Certified IT Lawyer at DWF Law, was quick to point out that cyber security is essential for the commercial practice of additive manufacturing. Sensitive date and knowhow are constantly floating through the cloud with most consumers unaware this is happening. He admitted that ensuring datatheft protection will be an ongoing challenge.

After Frank Speck summarized the prominent advantages of additive manufacturing, namely: higher accuracy, faster production, adaptability, and part reduction the question of potential monetary savings was posed. Charlie Duncheon used an example from current developments at Airbus, where AP Works is using 3D printing to manufacture armrests and partitions. Interestingly, while the production cost is initially higher for either part respectively — the armrest as much as 75% — the reduced weight will result in millions of savings in fuel costs over the lifetime of the Airbus 320. Max Eils supplemented this observation by sharing that a fuel nozzle that used to be assembled of 19 parts can now be printed as one, which does not only signify time savings, but also facilitates fuel injection. This consequently enhanced engine performance and is reflected in millions of dollars saved over a jets lifespan.

As a closing thought, Speck touched upon the potential of the industry as a whole. While the growth might look linear at the start, and while we are still only touching the surface of possibilities, he is certain that developments in additive manufacturing will exponentially grow over the years. Don’t we all hope for that?

To find out more about membership in GABA, visit the German American Business Association.

Franka Schoening, a German native, moved to sunny Southern California in 2011 to attain her Masters of Communications Management at the University of Southern California. Since graduating she has worked in operations in the medical industry and as group events coordinator in eco-tourism.

In her free time you can find her in the rabbit room at the South Los Angeles Animal Shelter, cooking vegan feasts, treasure hunting at estate sales and thrift stores, or picking up a random new hobby, lately sewing. She also organizes events and fundraisers for LA Rabbit Foundation and has a small rabbit boarding business.