Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Chase Uses 3D Printing for Mainstream Advertising

Posted by Editor On June - 12 - 2018

Chase Bank has recently spun a customer success story into a national advertisement for desktop 3D printing.

Launched in late 2017, the Chase Bank advertising campaign, “The Completely Adaptable Financial Strategy,” describes Annie, a Chase Bank customer, through her mid-career job change from tech guru to animal prosthetic designer using 3D printers to make her dream happen.

The commercial features close-up visuals of both CAD use and FDM 3D printing complete with the whirring of the step motors. Until now, few have witnessed 3D printing outside of sparse news reports. Now with this commercial, featured recently in the advertising pocket of the U.S. and North Korean Summit on major channels, Americans will now get an up close exposure to the capabilities and ease-of-use of desktop 3D printers. Let alone figure them in possible career changes.

View the commercial campaign online here at and

Metal Wars! MarkForged and Desktop Metal Go Head to Head

Posted by Editor On March - 27 - 2018

An explanation of the processes in 3D printing in metal by Desktop Metal, who has sued MarkForged for patent infringement.

With allegations of corporate espionage already bandied about in an ongoing legal battle between the 3D printing industry’s two largest metal printer providers, this metal war bears nothing but gloom for an eager market. MarkForged CEO Greg Mark has issued a statement rebutting the accusations of spying made by Desktop Metal as “far-fetched.” MarkForged also announced a forthcoming countersuit.

The legal battle is over proprietary processes being invented to bring 3D printing in metal to an affordable range as moderately sized machines. The patents in question are U.S. Patent number 9833839 and U.S. Patent number 9815118. The court filing made by Desktop Metal is a preliminary injunction against MarkForged to prevent them from continued infringement of the patents. The request for a jury-based civil trial is also asking for compensation from MarkForged for twice the amount of their damages to the sum of nearly $1 billion.

The main point of contention is due to a sacrificial support layer added in the printing process that facilitates post production. For Desktop Metal, that separation layer is referred to as an “interface layer” while MarkForged uses the term “release layer.”

Both MarkForged and Desktop Metal began limited production roll-out of 3D metal printers late in 2017, with Desktop Metal planning a release of their production studio sintering oven manufacturing suite in 2019.

Enthusiasm for these devices is already frothing the surface of the 3D printer market and the prospect of desktop printing in metal is bringing many new buyers into the fold. Such an economic driver is bound to make people do dramatic things. According to Beau Jackson, a seasoned reporter for, “With several 3D printing systems seeking to compete in this market it is not unwarranted to speculate that the current legal challenge may be part of an aggressive marketing strategy. Indeed, 3D Printing Industry first heard about the case in mid-2017.”

While such speculations are not without merit, there are factors in the case which beg some investigation. Former Desktop Metal technician Matiu Parangi is the brother of Abraham Parangi, director of technology & creative at MarkForged. The filing of the lawsuit by Desktop Metal alleges Matiu Parangi “downloaded documents unrelated to his work on the print farm, including documents containing Proprietary Information such as a document titled “Engineer Status and Goals -160912.” The matter is further complicated by Desktop Metal’s CEO Ric Fulop being an early investor and board member at Markforged who is quoted as saying, “We believe Markforged products clearly utilize technology patented by Desktop Metal and we will do what is necessary to protect our IP and our company.”

Stay tuned. This metal war could get loud.

For more on the story please see

The Changing Autopart Industry: Bosch Invests in Ultimaker

Posted by Editor On February - 26 - 2018

The Changing Autopart Industry: Bosch Invests in Ultimaker

German industrial part producer Bosch has purchased Ulitmaker 3 Extended 3D printers for autopart manufacture.

All3DP has recently reported on a deal German company Bosch GmbH has made in buying The Netherland’s Ultimaker 3 Extended 3D printers to produce end-use parts for their multitude of industrial products, including autopart components.

According to the article, Anne Freier of All3DP writes, “As part of the deal, Bosch will be implementing the desktop 3D printer models across its global locations in Germany, Hungary, China, India, the US, and Mexico. Bosch develops a wide range of prototypes of tools and fixtures. The company is one of the largest suppliers of automotive components globally. In addition, Bosch supplies industrial technologies, consumer goods and energy as well as building technologies.”

The Changing Autopart Industry: Bosch Invests in Ultimaker

Jos Burger, CEO at Ultimaker was also quoted saying, “We are very happy that this well-respected, leading supplier of technology and services chose our desktop 3D printers after an intensive selection procedure by its Additive Manufacturing department.”

The full report can be read at

Researchers Go Beyond Holograms to 3D-Print Images in the Air

Posted by Editor On January - 25 - 2018

Researchers Go Beyond Holograms to 3D-Print Images in the Air

A 3D image of a BYU student from research conducted to create a projection on dust particles in air. Photo by Dan Smalley Lab, Brigham Young University via AP.

Like a scene out of Star Wars, researchers at Brigham Young University have managed to project a moving image, viewable from all angles, by projecting laser light onto dust particles in the air.

According to a study in the journal Nature published on Jan. 24, the results are far more sophisticated than holograms, which despite their apparent three-dimensionality, are actually two-dimensional and only viewable from a singular location. Daniel Smalley, the lead author of the study, said the new technology is “printing something in space, just erasing it very quickly.”

Despite the similarities to the 3D-projected image of Princess Leia from the original Star Wars film, Smalley was inspired by a scene from Iron Man where Tony Stark is using a holographic workspace to perform tasks. According to Smalley, under the logistics of holograms, such a scene would be impossible as Stark’s hand would be disrupting the projection.

According to the AP story reporting on the study, “Going from holograms to this type of technology — technically called volumetric display — is like shifting from a two-dimensional printer to a three-dimensional printer.”

For more on this story, see the report by AP at

Additive Manufacturing Americas Event Report

Posted by Editor On December - 12 - 2017

The future of healthcare, aerospace, and automotives brought to life in Pasadena

By Gregory van Zuyen

Additive Manufacturing Americas Event Report

The Additive Manufacturing Americas 2017 Conference brought a lot of talent and innovation to the Pasadena Convention Center on Dec.6-8

Additive Manufacturing Americas Event Report

Moderator Chris Young takes a question from the audience during the Dec. 7 panel discussion on aerospace. Seated from left to right: Dr. Steven Schmid of the National Science Foundation, Dr. Raymond “Corky” Clinton of NASA, Dr. Youping Gao with Aerojet Rocketdyne, Gregory Hilbert with Dassault Falcon Jet, followed by Young.

The Additive Manufacturing Americas Conference held Dec. 6-8 in Pasadena was a stellar opportunity to meet a host of dignitaries and a display of new inventive technologies. Hosted at the Pasadena Conference Center, the conference offered three days of talks and exhibitions centered on the industries of healthcare, aerospace, and automotives. The talks were revelatory and provided key insights in how these industries will be changing in the future.

Additive Manufacturing Americas Event Report

Gregory Hilbert of Dassault Falcon Jet describes additive manufacturing on a massive scale to compete in the military jet market with China

Speakers included Daniel Hale Williams Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Surgery for Northwestern University, Dr. Guillermo Ameer, Mayo Clinic’s Professor of Plastic Surgery Dr. Samir Mardini, the Edward R. Clark Chair of Advanced Manufacturing for the Dept. of Industrial Engineering for the University of Louisville Dr. Kevin Chou, Program Director for Manufacturing Machines and Equipment for the National Science Foundation Dr. Steven R. Schmid, Associate Director for the Technical Science and Technology Office of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center Dr. Raymond “Corky” Clinton, Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Technical Fellow and Discipline Chief Dr. Youping Gao, Dassault Falcon Jet’s Gregory Hilbert, Co-Founder of Hack Rod Felix Holst, Stratasys Senior Applications Engineer Chas Sullivan, BRCHN Design House Founder Sam Birchenough, Scott Martin from Boeing, GE Healthcare’s Bill Whitford, and Jordan Noone of Relativity; all leaders of industry and research.

Additive Manufacturing Americas Event Report

Sam Birchenough of BRCHN Design House speaking at the Additive Manufacturing Americas Conference on the use of Autodesk Fusion 360’s sculptural and parabolic qualities for the use in designing ergonomic equipment

Additive Manufacturing Americas Event Report

A highlight of the show was hearing Felix Holst of HackRod discuss how they were using VR, AI, and additive manufacturing to produce a lightweight yet incredibly durable chassis for their car called La Bandita

Additive Manufacturing Americas Event Report

The LUMEX System using both selective metal sintering and CNC finishing in a layer-by-layer process to produce high-precision metal tooling

LUMEX Systems
Technologies revealed at the event included the LUMEX System by Matsuura USA. LUMEX uses both CNC and powder bed fusion – selective laser melting additive manufacturing functions together in the same machine, comfortably creating a print bed space operating at a warm 50c. The result is a finished metal product with the capacity for finished deep pockets and cavities like water cooling systems and heat venting. In some cases, no post production because the hybrid metal 3D printers finish the print with a CNC process every ten layers. The Avance-60 is their biggest machine with a 600 X 600 X 500mm build space and retails for approximately $1.6m.

Worldwide, Matsuura has sold 40 plus of the Avance-60 and Avance-25 models, four in the U.S. including two to the University of Nebraska where researchers are working with exciting new metal powder formations. Matsuura is also particularly proud of introducing the LUMEX System to Gillette. Tom Houle, Director for Matsuura USA, showed us the math for another customer application. Because of a ten-second savings on an 18-second production cycle, the superiority of the LUMEX System additive manufacturing technology is saving Gillette upwards of $5,000,000 annually. “That guy is going to get a raise for buying this machine,” smiled Houle.

Houle was also proud of the service centers and distributors of the LUMEX System across the U.S. ready to promptly respond to client requests. He is looking forward to being at the AMUG Conference in St. Louis and at RAPID in Fort Worth next year for those interested in seeing the machines in operation and examining samples. They can be found at

Additive Manufacturing Americas Event Report

ACEO has been able to achieve the hitherto impossible with the 3D printing of silicone, samples of which are shown here

Additive Manufacturing Americas Event Report

The ACEO team members present at the Additive Manufacturing Americas 2017 event are from left to right: Judith Distalrath, Johanna Judas, and Dr. Florian Liesener


Another key discovery unveiled in the Americas event was the 3D printing of silicone. Not silicone-like. Silicone, pure and made simple by ACEO, the 3D printing brand division of Germany’s 103-year-old chemical company Wacker Chemie AG.

A hitherto impossible feat (silicone prints like toothpaste), ACEO has formulated a method via super-secret water-soluable support material that makes the most complex of silicone prints as easy as CAD.

“We have the most amazing team, all brought together by being really good at what we do. That is why we are able to do this,” said Dr. Florian Liesener, materials engineer for ACEO. He described how all members of ACEO have used their diverse expertise to produce the software and engineering in combination with the material to make this break-through in additive manufacturing. “It was unbelievable to see it happen; it was like being in a movie.”

Additive Manufacturing Americas Event Report

Narine Tigranyan of Junction3D displays the unique operating system of the Solus 3D printer

Additive Manufacturing Americas Event Report

The resolution and detail maintained by the Solus — at the micro scale — had to be seen to be believed


Solus is a new way of looking at DLP, no doubt about it. In a system already establishing a base in Latin America, the Solus 3D printer uses convention overhead projection systems as the light-source for the layer-by-layer scripting of the print. A solution to difficult to repair light systems, the Solus goes a step further. It has unbelievable resolution. The booth display for Solus, sponsored by Junction 3D, had step-by-step samples of the same model descending in size, with the smallest of their prints, the size of a pencil lead, had all the detail of the original. The Solus produced truly remarkable results, worthy of attention. See more at

Additive Manufacturing Americas Event Report

An example of what a full-size WASP 3D printer can do

Loren Boburg, industrial designer for Impresión3D, is doing research and development of additive manufacturing for low-income housing in Guatemala. As far as difficult terrains and environmental dangers go (read volcanos), Guatemala presents the impossible. Also, there’s the spotty electrical component, adding one more problem to implementing this great idea that would bring low cost structures with maximum safety to thousands of people. So Ms. Boburg was in Pasadena primarily to interface with a company uniquely qualified to provide Guatemala with an answer. Enter WASP.

World’s Advanced Saving Project (WASP) makes large-scale 3D printers, on the magnitude of being able to print furniture. They have also revolutionized architectural additive manufacturing techniques, capable of 3D printing cement with 1.5 kilowatts of power. With a business consciousness devoted to helping the planet through all manners of environmental concern, WASP is proving to be a welcome member of the 3D printing community.

WASP was not the only large-scale 3D printer on display at the Additive Manufacturing Americas event. 3D Platform was there with the 3DP Workbench featuring a meter by meter by meter build-envelope, and the Titan from was also on display.

Additive Manufacturing Americas Event Report

The Additive Manufacturing Americas 2017 Conference included on site display of Titan Robotics by Chemson

Additive Manufacturing Americas Event Report

Dan McFarlane of 3D Platforms demonstrates the versatility of the 3DP Workbench

Additive Manufacturing Americas Event Report

Brent Reisender of Choice Technical Services, a licensed MarkForged distributor

Service bureaus such as Choice Technical Services (CTS) and Hawk Ridge Systems were in attendance demonstrating MarkForged and 3DEO was on hand to provide low-cost metal 3D printing options.

Raise3D, a San Diego-based 3D printer, presented a new development by their software engineers to allow a stop-start feature for 3D printing. Marc Franz of Raise3D was so delighted that at the end of the day when the convention center had to shut down power, his 3D printer was ready to resume the previous night’s print the next morning as soon as power was restored. They will have more to say at CES.

Stratasys, a principal supporter of the Additive Manufacturing event was on hand to promote the successful use of the J750. Their 3D printer received praise from a number of panelists, whose challenging use of the technology impressed attendees. One of these attendees, Merrick Campbell, an engineer for Tanner Research in Monrovia, Calif., commented, “I came away from the show with a few things that were useful.”

LEGO Considering 3D Printing at Home

Posted by Editor On December - 5 - 2017

LEGO Considering 3D Printing at Home

LEGO considers 3D printing at home by releasing blueprint designs

According to a report published Dec. 1 by World Intellectual Property Review LEGO is open to the selling of official LEGO blueprints.

This information comes from a address made by Mette Andersen, corporate counsel for LEGO System, LEGO’s main division of building models and figurines on Nov. 30 at INTA’s (International Trademark Association) Brand Authenticity Conference in Berlin. Denmark’s LEGO company is currently celebrating its 85th anniversary. The company is listed by Forbes as the most powerful brand of 2017.

According to World Intellectual Property Review, “The Washington Post described 3D printing as potentially Lego’s ‘biggest test ever,’ but Andersen disagreed, adding that Lego welcomes free competition as long as rivals don’t use any of LEGO’s trademarks, copyright and patents.”

Andersen mused on the questions over whether people print their own bricks at home, and whether other companies may pick up special projects including military models. Andersen concluded her statement by saying, “As long as they do it fairly, we [LEGO] accept it.”

John Hornick, a partner at Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, was also addressing the conference.

“Business models will be forced to evolve… It has the ability to take us back to being makers again, and not buying,” said Hornick. “As democratization increases, the ability to make things away from control increases and IP eventually becomes irrelevant.”

For more on what others at the conference had to say about 3D printing and intellectual property rights, read the full story at World Intellectual Property Review.

For more on 3D printing of LEGOs, see our 3D Printr Magazine’s story on Matt Denton and oversized LEGOS published in August.

The Big 3D Printer Secret Behind SprintRay

Posted by Editor On November - 30 - 2017

The Big 3D Printer Secret Behind SprintRay

SprintRay, located in Highland Park, California, makes top-of-the-line DLP 3D printers. Unfortunately, the demand for their product exceeds their current output. This, they say, is “a good problem.”

Founded with a Kickstarter campaign, the company began to deliver their printers several years back. While other DLP machines held the market share of the makerspacers, SprintRay went in a different direction. With the MoonRay’s resolution higher than most hobby printers may need, and faster at that, it has gained the appreciation by a group of people who truly need these assets.

Some would say SprintRay found a gold mine in people’s mouths.

Yes, their secret is in dentistry. SprintRay sells almost exclusively to dental clients, providing both mold creation and end-use applications for the specific resins dentists require in their trade. That resin would be NextDent by 3D Systems, which is biocompatible and CE-certified to be used in dental work and human implantation.

The MoonRay does all that and more. Because of their resolution and print speed, the company has gained an underground reputation among the gamer and character modeling crowd. Owen Bradbury, marketing director for SprintRay, explained that while the team spends nearly all its time marketing to the dental trade, the company makes the time to respond to its comic book fan base, as in its attendance to the recent ZBrush conference held by Pixologic in October.

“We were recently picked up with Patterson Dental to provide them with our devices,” said Bradbury, “So right now, we have a good problem.”

For more on the MoonRay 3D printer, visit

Toyota Signs Deal for 3D Printing Materials

Posted by Editor On November - 11 - 2017

Toyota Signs Deal for 3D Printing Materials

In an another much publicized event, Toyota provides the German Polizei with Priuses

According to a recent report by Royal DSM, a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and materials, they have signed a “One DSM” framework technology partnership agreement with Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG), a 100% subsidiary of the Toyota Motor Corporation. The agreement involves all DSM businesses active in supplying materials and technology to the automotive sector — Engineering Plastics, Dyneema® (ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene fiber), and 3D Printing including Somos for stereolithography (SLA), and other technologies like Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF).

TMG is a high performance development, testing and manufacturing company, offering a wide range of technical services as well as its involvement in various motorsport disciplines. One of its specialty areas is in the manufacture of products by additive manufacturing (often referred to as 3D printing), both for motorsport use and for external customers.

Under the non-exclusive agreement, DSM will have the opportunity to act as TMG’s preferred material and product provider. TMG will develop and pilot new engineering solutions using DSM’s high performance materials and products for potential application in the automotive industry. TMG will also test and evaluate DSM products and act as a test user for defined projects.

“We are very excited about this new agreement,” said Golnar Motahari Pour, President of DSM Dyneema. “DSM offers an array of materials that are ideally suited to high performance applications in the automotive arena, and we believe that working together with TMG we will be able to expand our horizons even further. Everybody at DSM is looking forward to being able to work with such a front-runner in automotive engineering from the initial design phase onwards.”

“DSM thermoplastics like Stanyl®, ForTii® and Akulon® already have an important place in automotive, especially under the hood”, Motahari Pour points out, “but we are also moving quickly into thermoset composites. Last year, for example, we introduced Dyneema Carbon, which we believe represent a leap in the evolution of carbon. Dyneema® the world’s strongest fiber™ significantly improves the performance of pure carbon composites and makes further lightweighting and durability possible.”

Visit here the rest of the text of the story.

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

Posted by Editor On November - 7 - 2017

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

Ford dominated the SEMA show with an upstage venue of classic and future cars

SEMA gives 3D printing industry a nitro boost

By Gregory van Zuyen

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

Chevrolet displayed a Corvette on its side to allow close-up views

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

Beautiful productions of nearly every car imaginable were on display

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

Hypertech ran a slot car track for scholarship fund donations

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

A lucky few were able to put brand new Camaros through their paces on nearby race tracks

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

A beautiful example that all is not shiny and gloss, as in this popular ratrod.

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

Serenaded by a nonstop chorus of revving motors and squealing tires, the megalithic SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) car show overtook Las Vegas the week of Oct. 31 through Nov. 3 with a vengence. Packed with new car accessories and manufacturing developments in automotives, SEMA remains the largest, most well-known car show in the world. Joined by Thai Editor Ratthakorn Niramitmahapanya, 3D Printr Magazine was on hand to witness the innovations 3D printing has made to the automotive industry.

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

Some cars were entirely handmade, like this 32-ish Dodge-ish creation by Phil Endicott of LizardSkin, a producer of sound control and heat insulation linings for cars

With more than 2,400 booths, and hundreds of thousands of attendees, and representing a $41.2 billion automotive aftermarket industry, the SEMA show is impossible to imagine for the uninitiated. The conference overtakes every single square inch of the massive Las Vegas Convention Center with thousands of cars, spilling out across numerous parking lots turned into test tracks and pop-up tent communities, where various television shows interview impressive arrays of race car drivers, custom car designers, and celebrity car buffs like Jay Leno. It’s a sprawl. If there were a large city purely devoted to all things that go vroom and move fast, SEMA is what it would look like and Leno would likely be mayor.

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

Lexus ran a booth offering visitors a chance to drive on a virtual reality track

The takeaway of our experience of the SEMA show this year was customize, customize, customize. Consumers don’t want the same old thing anyone else can buy. They want a signature brand, a vehicular statement worthy of respect. Take the “3D-Printed Hellcat Project,” a 2016 Dodge Challenger SRT customized with 3D-printed modifications and presented at the show by Airwolf 3D.

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

Airwolf3D Sales Manager Tyler Caros getting behind the wheel of a Hellcat while Airwolf 3D Art Director Ruben Zeledón looks on

The brainchild of Airwolf 3D‘s president Erick Wolf and fashioned by his innovative team in Fountain Valley, California, the “World’s Most 3D-Printed Hellcat” is a customized car with 3D-printed features that make it a one-of-a-kind show piece highlighting what 3D-printed customization can do for the aftermarket industry. In addition to a number of interior modifications like customized rear speaker covers, safety handles, coat hooks, and a redesigned center shift console, Airwolf 3D also 3D-printed a full-size spoiler to show off what the company often heralds as its claim to fame: large-volume desktop 3D-printers capable of printing in high-temperature engineering grade materials like ABS and polycarbonate.

The spoiler was printed in four parts on the Axiom 20, the largest desktop 3D printer in its class with a 12x12x20-inch build volume. To drive home the point that 3D printing represents true cost savings for an automotive shop, all custom parts on the car were printed for less than $250.

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

Close up of the Hellcat 3D-printed hood vents

“This is the first time real, functional parts can be made in large format for minimal cost,” explained Wolf. “We 3D-printed a full-size spoiler and functional engine vents in ABS. That’s obviously something you can’t do with PLA, which can’t be used near heat — PLA also can’t be sanded or drilled to produce these parts.”

There’s a history to the 3D-printed Hellcat and its inception. Wolf got involved in 3D printing because of automotive design. Back in 2011, while still working as a patent trial attorney in Los Angeles, Wolf spent his free time pursuing his true passion: cars.

As a lifelong car lover with a degree in mechanical engineering and over 20 years of hands-on automotive experience, Wolf had a vision of the car he always wanted to design. Frustrated with using everything from clay and wood to build his prototype, Erick decided to try an inexpensive 3D printer. As the story goes, the printer failed miserably and Wolf decided to build his own. Wolf and his wife, Eva, eventually listed the 3D printer on Craigslist and got responses in minutes. The pair continued to sell their 3D-printers on Craigslist and, realizing there was a true demand for the machines, the two decided to start their own company and Airwolf 3D was born.

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

Details of the Hellcat’s 3D-printed customization

According to Airwolf 3D, the SEMA Show is simply the first “heat” in what the company is describing as its “Race to Innovation.” The Southern California company promises an even bigger reveal at CES 2018 in Las Vegas, NV.

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

Industrial Designer Nick Maffey and his custom BMW motorcycle for Ultimaker

3D printer manufacturer Ultimaker, a first-time attendee to SEMA, also showed off automotive customization in a big way at SEMA. Ultimaker impressed the crowd with a customized BMW motorcycle made to order in 30 days by master craftsman Nick Maffey. Maffey customized the bike in a streamed-down minimalist approach, featuring uniquely designed parts made of nylon, ABS, and PLA, that screamed “Bladerunner” in style and grace.

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

Close up of the ABS 3D-printed brake housing on the Maffey Moto BMW for Ultimaker

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

Maffey was effusive on the reliability of the Ultimaker3 which features an independently positioning dual-print-head function

They weren’t the only ones there to represent 3D printing to the auto trade. Formlabs was there to display new additions to their service line of rapid prototyping and end-use production. Their new cleaning stations and curing ovens are making DLP happen on an even broader scale. They were also announcing the launch of Fuse, their new SLS 3D printer with a 7x7x12 inch print bed due out in June of 2018.

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

Steven Thomas of Formlabs

The staff at Formlabs are always a pleasure to talk to and Steven Thomas was no exception. The conversation came around to Kickstarter and Thomas had some interesting facts to point out. “Did you know,” said Thomas, “collectively, Kickstarter campaigns made possible by the Form2 have raised more than our original Kickstarter promotion. People are using our machines to enable their own technology. We’re very happy about that.”

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

The Vector 3SP 3D printer by EnvisionTec is a new improvement in stereolithography

EnvisionTec was at SEMA to display their new Vector 3SP stereolithography printer capable of a 20 percent speed improvement with a temperature increase to 400 fahrenheit. The print speed improvement is to due to the addition of a second laser and a moving gantry.

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

Andrew Toft of FARO demonstrates scanning technology to SEMA attendees

Also making appearances at SEMA were Stratasys and MarkForged, along with 3D-scanning companies Creaform and FARO Technologies.

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

Avery Dennison presented vinyl wrap techniques by Wrap Institute’s Justin Pate to packed crowds at their impressive SEMA booth display

Not all customization was in 3D. Longtime paper product supplier Avery Dennison started off only a few years ago at SEMA with a 10×10 ft. booth. Now they command a center ring of a circus of events detailing how easy and rewarding vinyl wrapping can be for companies and individuals alike.

As we have covered in past events, there is always a stand-out discovery. In the case of SEMA 2017, that accolade belongs to Jay Thornton of Vibrant Professionals at

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

Jay Thornton (center, in white) fields a host of visitor questions at the Vibrant Performance SEMA booth

Vibrant provides quality aftermarket parts for a variety of top-tier shops in the automotive industry, and sometimes packaged under private label. Working in specialty materials like stainless and titanium, Vibrant makes many of the needed components to help one complete an exhaust system, turbo kit, intake, and much more. As a fabrication components company, they also design and complement other companies in their efforts to bring new products to market.

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

3D Magic Mike’s obsessively diligent CAD work resulting in printed parts

3D Printr Magazine had sought out Vibrant at SEMA because we had received news that they were working with 3D Magic Mike (aka Mike O’Brien from Roadstershop) and his amazing 3D CAD work. In this case, Magic Mike had recently designed an entire car, with every separate part, in 3D model. In our search for Magic Mike and Vibrant, we caught up with Thornton at the SEMA booth and were able to learn more about how Vibrant was incorporating 3D printing into their work stream.

One of the facets of 3D printing Thornton was avid about was the printing of jigs for inspecting production parts. His ability to quickly iterate a soft-surface jig that won’t scratch finished surfaces or a negative of a part to test tolerances has made their production go fluidly.

“We’ve been to SEMA more than ten years now and in the last four to five years we’ve seen more and more people understand the benefits of 3D printing, and how it can benefit the development of new parts” said Thornton, who also commented they use Solidworks for their design work. They have also recently added the flow simulation suite and are extremely happy with its performance. For scanning, they rely on an Artec Eva with translation to Solidworks through a DezignWorks add in9.

Thornton has been pursuing this career path since 1999, where his craftsman skills eventually led him to laying welds in an F1 shop midway in his career. In speaking with Thornton, one becomes engaged in the broad range of expertise he brings to the Toronto-based Vibrant’s design and engineering team. When asked about his educational background, Thornton admits he is essentially self-taught through a hands-on background with everything he does.

“I attended a few years of design in college but found it wasn’t teaching me anything about hands-on automotive fabrication and parts development. I found quickly this is where my true interest lied. I could have gone back to school for engineering, but I was too eager to start learning real life skills and applying them. Looking back on it, now working with a few engineers, I can definitely see the difference in my education versus theirs. My learning curve and success has not suffered though, from not pursuing an engineering degree. I found being hands-on early in my career was the best way to know how to design and execute any sort of part or product,” said Thornton, a senior technical member of Vibrant. The company also employs a team of select fabricators and engineers whose own principled manner of problem-solving complement Thornton’s approach.

It was also clear from the ever-present crowd at Vibrant’s booth that many other people knew about Vibrant’s great product line and their accomplishments in private label manufacturing, but that is the draw and importance of being a part of SEMA. That these companies seek to promote themselves here speaks well of their outreach and forward-looking thinking. How 3D printing will change the auto industry depends on what comes of this show and future ones.

2017 SEMA Show Event Report

Paintcolors in mesmerizing display

2017 SEMA Show Event Report
2017 SEMA Show Event Report

The scope of SEMA is unbelievable with products for every vertical of the auto industry, as in these booths for apparel leader Lethal Angel and the classic aftermarket specialty item provider Mooneyes

Stereolithography Turns 30

Posted by Fred Kaplan On November - 7 - 2017

Stereolithography—Staying relevant in the 21st Century

By Jim Reitz

Turning 30 invites a time of reflection. The landscape of additive manufacturing has changed dramatically since the 1988 commercialization of stereolithography (SL) as the first viable 3 D printing technology. In fact, the terms “3D printing” and “additive manufacturing” only entered the popular vernacular in recent years.

The scope of additive manufacturing has changed dramatically in recent years. Technologies encompassing thermoset and thermoplastic materials, as well as metal, have proliferated.  The 2017 Wohlers Report lists 96 different AM equipment suppliers across a broad range of technologies. Advances in equipment, software, and material have been substantial since the early days of SL, concurrent with increasing computer power and growth in the 3D CAD installed base. Competition within the early technology supply base has increased as patents expire and new players come to the international market. So, what’s in store for this young technological grandfather?

Stereolithography (SL) like all additive manufacturing processes provides a means to translate 3D computer models into a physical shape without machining. Material performance characteristics combine with 3 D printing methodology to shape application capabilities. Today, the inherent characteristics of 355 nm laser based SL technology characteristics leverage ever-expanding material capabilities to facilitate maturation into one of the widest used and highest utility AM processes. The term SLA, a registered trademark of 3D Systems, is often used by some to encompass a variety of 3D printing processes that fall within the ASTM grouping of AM processes as “Vat Polymerization.”

Stereolithography in this discussion will be focused on “industrial SL “, as the original technology has evolved and is differentiated from all other vat polymerization processes by:

  • Platform sizes ranging from 250 mm (9.5 in.) square to over 800 mm (31.5 in.) square.
  • Ultraviolet laser (355 nanometer wavelength) light source
  • Materials specifically formulated for 355 nm UV including clear, pigmented and composite systems
  • Imaging from above (build platform travels downward) 
    UnionTech High Resolution Part

    Metal Plated High Accuracy Sample Part Demonstrating Resolution and Precision of 355 nm Stereolithography

    The use of a laser to instantly cure a photopolymer with a UV laser with a nominal spot size less than 0.2mm provides one of the highest combinations of accuracy and resolution of any AM process, especially considering the range of part sizes the process is capable of. Today’s 355nm SL materials can produce parts that have excellent dimensional consistency and surface aesthetics ranging from transparent to a variety of colors resembling typical injection molded parts.  These materials have overcome robustness and aging issues encountered in earlier generations, allowing for parts manufacture with a broad range of mechanical properties allowing functional applications in prototyping, patterns, and beyond.

    Aerosport is successfully producing highly accurate parts that need very little finishing at the end of the process in the UnionTech™ RS Pro600, a recent entry to international markets.

    Additive Manufacturing (AM) processes utilizing thermoplastic materials are often cited for robust mechanical properties. Current generation SL materials can be selected to significantly overlap the performance range of many of the commonly used thermoplastics in other AM processes while retaining all the accuracy and aesthetic benefits of the SL process.

    Stereolithography is often typecast as a prototyping process sometimes based on an outdated understanding of material capabilities. The attributes of 355nm SL equipment in combination with the latest generation of photopolymers enables applications that extend prototyping capabilities as well end uses.  Significant opportunities in patterns for secondary forming operations ranging from large scale mass customization (dental aligners), low volume urethane part production, tooling for low volume injection molding, and metal clad composites are now being actively pursued. These applications are practical examples of how innovation can be attained via integration of SL with other conventional processes.

    Innovation via Technology Integration 

    The 3D printing process is often positioned as a disruptive technology but it is better thought of as an enabling technology.

    In the late 1990’s, the founders of Align Technology imagined a different business model for correcting the alignment of teeth with a series of retainers. Today, this application is possibly the highest volume application example of mass customization. Converting the CAD images of individual patients to patterns used to thermoform the final aligners enabled what most would call a disruptive business model.

    SL patterns for a secondary thermoforming process remains the dominant technology of this application today, based on the rapid processing times on large format machines optimized for this single application of mass customization.

    Investment casting, one of the oldest known metal forming processes, has used the SL process for over twenty years. The ability to manufacture hollow smooth walled patterns for use in a foundry process that coats the pattern with ceramic, then fully burns out the pattern in preparation for molten metals to be cast in the hollow form. While molded wax patterns dominant most high-volume applications, SL eliminates tooling costs for lower volume casting but also facilitates sizes and part features not readily obtained in a molded pattern process. The latest generation of SL photopolymers for this application have excellent dimensional consistency and contain no heavy metals found commonly in 355nm photopolymers. This combination ensures accurate patterns as well as minimal ash after burnout that can cause casting defects.

    Investment Casting Pattern Manufactured With Somos® Element

    Similar hollow part methodologies used for investment casting can be applied to large parts, creating “lightweight” parts with tailored mechanical properties and reduced weight (less material cost). Materialise, a global AM software company based in Belgium, has developed multiple software options for hollowing and reinforcing lightweight structures. This development has facilitated the cost-effective manufacture point-of purchase displays, architectural model, and other art applications.

    The ability to manufacture full density highly-accurate patterns also facilitates another well- established molding process known as urethane molding, RTV or silicone molding. After careful secondary finishing, the pattern is embedded in a silicone rubber casing that becomes a 2-part mold for the casting of urethanes. Polyurethane materials can be formulated to achieve properties consistent with levels of performance from injection molded thermoplastics. The silicone tool can be used for low volume series when either multiple prototypes or low volume production is required. Many service bureaus have developed specialized methodology for supporting regular low volume part production capabilities that can both shorten supply chains as well as allow for iterative improvements as a low volume design ages.

    Creation of injection molding tooling has been an area of development interest since the earliest days of SL. The principal impediments to this potentially high-volume application for prototype and bridge parts include strength and temperature resistance of the 3D printed tool, predictability of tool life (durability), compatibility with a large range of injection molding materials including glass filled systems (abrasion resistance) . Also, high speed CNC machining of soft metal (typically aluminum) tools , a parallel technology , provides the potential of short lead times and predictable tool life. In just the last 2 years, the convergence of SL part build accuracy, material capability (heavily silica filled photopolymers and business models that combine SL tool building expertise with injection molding know-how has led to increased use of SL tooling.  Successful integrators of SL 3D printing and injection molding typically recognize that the goal is an injection molded prototype. Injection molders lacking an internal CNC machining operation can readily print mold sets for prototype production in actual end-use designated thermoplastics. This avoids the difficulties that can arrive with a pass-the –baton methodology that marked early efforts to equip service providers with injection molding tooling know-how.

    Dr. Sean Wise of RePliForm (left) and colleague Rick Dunlap are holding new electroplated stereolithography parts including a copper plated wave guide and nickel coated flexible mesh at the 2017 AMUG (Additive Manufacturing Users Group) conference in 2017.

    Like investment casting, electroplating of a substrate material to improve physical or mechanical properties is well known. Dr. Sean Wise of RePliForm, Inc has actively optimized electroplating techniques for 3D printed parts using copper and structural nickel since the year 2000. All 3D printed materials can be electroplated to improve strength, wear resistance, EMI/RFI shielding, flammability resistance, and aesthetics. Photopolymer based printers; however, offer smooth, non-porous surfaces that plate readily with basic parts preparation.  355 production SL machines and state of the art materials combine to provide the largest range of part size and substrate options. The same highly filled silica photopolymers used for injection molding tools can create extremely thin (0.010 to 0.040 in) substrates for a Nickel/copper/SL composite with mechanical properties approaching die cast nickel. This level of mechanical performance creates a significant bridge of opportunity between the gap of polymer AM and direct AM metal. Aside from mechanical properties, the design flexibility of SL combined with a copper coating can create a cost-effective wave guide or “antennae configuration.” There are other parts currently in production where the structural nickel creates a renewable wear surface.

    The stereolithography process is successfully being used to create tooling for short runs.

    Turning 30 does bring changes. 355 nm SL, inclusive of equipment, materials , and software ;has matured into one of the most widely used 3 D printing technologies not only for prototyping but for use in end-use production processes. The trajectory of current developments and utilization in a broad range of direct and  indirect manufacturing techniques, as well new prototyping capabilities bodes well for a long life.