Interview with David Cawley

Posted by Fred Kaplan On March - 30 - 2017Comments Off on Interview with David Cawley

Designing the future at ArtCenter College of Design

By Fred Kaplan

Interview with David Cawley

Digital manufacturing becomes one more tool in the tool box of design

ArtCenter College of Design, located in Pasadena, California, is one of the best-rated industrial design and transportation design colleges in the country. Alumni include designers of the Corvette Stingray, the new Volkswagen Beetle, the Mini Cooper and members of the band Linkin Park. (Less famously and, for full disclosure, the author is an alumnus of ArtCenter’s photography department. –ed.)

The 3D printing industry is currently exploding with new technologies, new materials and more accessible than ever. There is increased attention in defining how 3D printing fits in with manufacturing best-practices compared to traditional manufacturing methods. ArtCenter is on the leading edge of 3D printing for its efforts in refining new approaches in design and prototyping.

Among the tools students use to design the cars and other visionary objects of the future are seven large-format laser cutters, a five-axis CNC machine, six desktop mills, traditional wood working and clay sculpting tools, and 15 3D printers. David Cawley, ArtCenter’s Director of Prototyping & Model Services has been working with 3D printers since 1990. He started as a journeyman master pattern maker, and spent ten years as a director at Solid Concepts prototyping prior to his past nine years at ArtCenter.

Interview with David Cawley

3D Printer Magazine: How does ArtCenter use its 3D Printers?

David Cawley: ArtCenter is primarily a design school. Our students use a blend of craft and technology to design and create their projects using the traditional shop, and more recently digital manufacturing like CAD and 3D printers. I see additive manufacturing as just another tool in the tool box.

3D Printer Magazine: Which 3D printers are you using?

David Cawley: We are using a variety of printers. Many of the students have their own printers. ArtCenter was an early adopter of 3D printer technology more than ten years ago, starting with wax printers, since then we have evolved with StrataSys FDM, 3D Systems ColorJet X60 series binder-jet printers, Objet polyjet printers as well as desktop units. We have kept pace with printing technology.

3D Printer Magazine: What percentage of the shop work is created on a 3D printer?

David Cawley: I don’t think the traditional shop will ever go away but we have been seeing an increase in 3D printing versus the traditional shop. It’s a matter of having the knowledge to choose the right tool for the job. You want to 3D-print complex geometries, whereas with bulky heavy items should be taken to the shop to save time and money due to the price of the materials. Obviously, a big chunk of wood is cheaper than a big chunk of 3D printing material.

ArtCenter is primarily known for transportation design so we are often working in one-fifth scale. A 3D-printed car at one-fifth scale could be thousands of dollars in printing costs. We find that the students are often combining the two techniques. Students will 3D-print the wheels, the grills, the lights for better details and use clay or other materials for the larger car parts.

Interview with David Cawley

3D Printer Magazine: We have seen a lot internet stories about car manufacturers using 3D printers. Has 3D printing technology changed how classes are taught or how the students create?

David Cawley: We put effort into being on the leading edge of technology and think we should be ahead of the studios. We are teaching the students who will be working in these studios in a couple of years. The designers who are teaching our classes are ArtCenter alumni who have come back from these design studios tell us what the auto design studios are looking for; particularly regarding the equipment the studios are using. They are using very large industrial 3D printers. We recently had someone here from Jaguar who said that they 3D-print the prototypes of their cars as much as they can, the interiors, and all kinds of things. 3D printing is really making a big impact on transportation design.

3D Printer Magazine: Do you think these students need a high-end 3D printer, or do you see a role for desktop printers?

David Cawley: I think they need access to the technology, we may not have every tool in the tool box but it is important to know what the tools are, and how to use a service bureau for that metal part or whatever technology you don’t own. We are not going to bring a metal printer into the school in the short term so it’s about teaching the students about what is available. Of course, many students are doing great work with desktop and hobbyist printers.

3D Printer Magazine: Have you seen a difference in the work of students who have more access to a 3D printer?

David Cawley: The faculty here see it more as an aspect of understanding design. A student’s creativity is often limited to their CAD knowledge. The student’s imagination is limitless, a 3D printer’s job is to realize that vision as a physical form in the real world. So, a 3D printer could limit creativity due to a student’s CAD knowledge as opposed to a student’s ability to sculpt clay. Sculpting in clay and other traditional methods are still very important in transportation design.

3D Printer Magazine: Does the typical ArtCenter student start with CAD knowledge?

David Cawley: When students are introduced to the shop we talk about what they will be experiencing in the shops and in the digital labs. I take a show of hands to see who has used CAD and created STL files. We ask, “Who has been in a shop, who has used a band saw, etc?” Shop has been in decline in high schools so we don’t see as many hands going up for shop, but we also don’t get that many hands up for CAD. Most of the computing that students come in with tends to be social networking computing, most haven’t made a CAD file and 3D-printed it; but the number is increasing.

3D Printer Magazine: How about 3D scanners?

David Cawley: Scanners and 3D printers go hand-in-hand. We have seen an increase in scanning activities since the price of scanners has come down. The faculty aren’t that interested in scanning. They want the students to create, not copying something that already exists. Right now, what’s holding scanning technology back is that the output of the scanners need so much post processing and the learning curve to get the best output is steep.

3D Printer Magazine: Which of ArtCenter’s departments tend to use the 3D printers most?

David Cawley: Everyone is using 3D printers – transportation design, product design, even fine art students. The fine art students don’t usually have CAD files – that’s where we may see the bridge to scanning. I think scanners will encourage fine art students to create digital art.

3D Printer Magazine: Do you feel the need to instruct students on the specific techniques of CAD to achieve the best 3D printer results?

David Cawley: The way that 3D printing has been portrayed is that it can make anything, no matter how complex. You can print any object in “one go” which all sounds really cool, but the reality is that most items are made from multiple components. 3D printing allows you the freedom of design, to make more complex geometry, but in the real world of manufacturing one has to define what the best approach is. If you are a good designer and you have a good background on fit, assembly and how things work, then 3D printing is really powerful to express unique ideas; but ultimately an engineer will be engineering your item. There is no way around that.

3D printing has always been a material’s game. There is a lot of talk about DDM, (Direct Digital Manufacturing) using full metal parts – that’s going to be the future of manufacturing for a lot of industries. Where we are using 3D printing is in prototyping. ArtCenter students are creating 3D-printed items for visual presentation, not functionality.

A lot of our students’ work is in ideas, concepts of what something is going to look like. The engineers will put the reality check to the design and make it work. What I love about 3D printing is that it allows students to express themselves. Whether the object could be manufactured or not – it’s still cool. ArtCenter is about making a lot of stuff including furniture, scale car models, toys, wearables and more.

3D Printer Magazine: If you started a 3D printer department in a small- to middle-sized school today, what would you start with?

David Cawley: For an educational environment, it is vital to get as much variety of technology as possible. There isn’t one printer that can do everything, so as an educational institution you want to have a few different technologies, we have the 3D Systems Colorjet 650 printer which prints in a gypsum powder – capable of printing hundreds of thousands of colors, and the Objet which is best for refined details and high resolution printing, as well as the other printers.

3D Printer Magazine: If you had to choose between quality or quantity of 3D printers what would you choose?

David Cawley: All the 3D printers companies are battling for faster throughput. If you think about it, 3D printing is a pretty slow way of making something, layer by layer. Obviously the thinner the layer the better the resolution but the longer the print time. The thinner layer is all about higher quality unless you can do it really fast like the CLIP technology from Carbon3D. [Printing speed] can be a painful experience. We need to stay on the edge of developing technology. It has really been an exciting time over the last five years – it’s really been revolutionary.

Interview with David Cawley

3D Printer Magazine: What do think the next five years of 3D printing will look like?

David Cawley: I expect, during the next five years, developments in the consumer hobbyist area of 3D printing will slow down. I think CAD software has advanced beyond the capabilities of 3D printers, so I hope that 3D printers will catch up.

3D Printer Magazine: Do recommend that students who want to learn 3D printing approach it with strong CAD knowledge?

David Cawley: You have brought up an interesting point. The barrier to creating an interesting 3D-printed part is the ability to create an appropriately printable STL file. The students who know CAD are going to get more interesting files quicker. The point may be, how easy is it to learn CAD? There are open-source CAD programs that are easier to access than ever before. The whole design process is changing. CAD is now married to 3D printing like never before. There are more embedded features [in CAD] that are beneficial to 3D printing. The education gap between those who are proficient in CAD and those who aren’t will close as the software becomes easier to use and more accessible. I expect that in the next five years, we will see CAD programs that will make it easier to design and refine files for 3D printing.

3D Printer Magazine: What kind of educational tools would you recommend to those unable to attend ArtCenter.

David Cawley: There is always the internet. It’s all on the internet you just have to find what you need.

3D Printer Magazine: Are there any common mistakes that you see 3D-printer students make?

David Cawley: People starting with 3D printers often see the printers as a one-size-fits-all panacea, thinking the printer can do everything in one print. It’s later that students realize why things are assembled in separate pieces. It might be as simple as paint required in an area that may be unpaintable if the part is printed in one piece. 3D printing cuts through some of the manufacturing conventions, but students quickly realize that the parts printed in one-piece assemblies may not function or fit like they do on the CAD screen. It’s one of those things you got to keep doing until you figure out what you need to know. The students pick it up really quick.

3D Printer Magazine: Is there any other information you want to give us?

David Cawley: At ArtCenter, we try to be on the leading edge of the technologies – whether it be 3D printing, photography or everything else. It’s interesting to see how the labs have changed to become more integrated like a traditional model shop with a digital area. This is something the new ideas are challenging – when we are used to making something one way and now it’s better to use a newer process. Part of the education is to explain why we are doing it this way or that way. Digital manufacturing and 3D printing are opening up new concepts of manufacturing. It’s an exciting time.

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.

Baselworld Announces 2017 3D-Printed Jewelry Awards

Posted by Editor On March - 29 - 2017Comments Off on Baselworld Announces 2017 3D-Printed Jewelry Awards

Baselworld Announces 2017 3D-Printed Jewelry Awards

The Baselworld Design Competition awards are the height of acclaim in jewelry artistry

Designer Anna Popovych of IE Popovych in the Ukraine created “Drop of Freedom” ring, winning the Platinum Award for CAD jewelry design. The Baselworld Design Competition award, offered by Baselworld and Solidscape, honors CAD designers of jewelry and watches. Solidscape, a Stratasys subsidiary, manufacturers top-grade 3D wax printers for the jewelry, medical, orthopedic, and precision engineering trades.

To read the full story, and see the remaining award winners, see

Nature Holds Clues to Improving 3D Design

Posted by Editor On March - 28 - 2017Comments Off on Nature Holds Clues to Improving 3D Design

Presenting a two-part series on how biomimicry paves the way for new, improved structures

Nature Holds Clues to Improving 3D Design

The orange puffball sponge is showing researchers how to build structures that can resist increased pressures without buckling

The thing about learning from nature is that it is a recipe proven in time. Evolution is life’s own method of reiteration, and it does a significant job in refining design to fit needs and circumstances.

Gleaning information from what nature has provided is the essence of biomimicry, the engineering of man-made objects whose engineering was first formed in living creatures.

A number of organisms have been the subject of biomimicry scrutiny for good reason. A good example is the sea turtle. Examination of its interlocking jigsaw shapes of its shell is already lending technique to 3D printing design.

The advent of additive manufacturing has made it easier to replicate these oftentimes complex biological structures. Through the process, scientists are fashioning new insights into object construction and functionality. All of this is leading to better designed helmets and protective gear, lighter and stronger building materials, and even challenging our notions of how we reproduce colors.

Underwater Armor

Nature Holds Clues to Improving 3D Design

The mantis shrimp is providing a treasure trove of engineering design

A keen favorite of biomimicry is the mantis shrimp, of the order Stomatopoda. An unique member of the crustacean family, the mantis shrimp is unlike other shrimp, crabs and lobsters due to the development of dactyl clubs in lieu of claws on its forward legs.

These dactyl clubs operate together like a pair of scissors, giving the mantis shrimp the ability to slice its prey like a ocean floor sushi chef. The mantis shrimp dactyl club is so efficient, in fact, a mantis shrimp can cut through a human finger or glass rod in one strike.

When scientists began studying the mantis shrimp dactyl club up close, they discovered a whole new way of building tensile strength into materials. The herringbone lattice of the calcium-rich cells have shown researchers how the mantis shrimp is able to exert thousands of pounds of punch without fracturing or denting the appendage. This herringbone lattice is now being duplicated in protective gear for motorcycle riders and military with encouraging results.

The dactyl club isn’t the only advantage the mantis shrimp has lent science. In addition to superior shell construction, the eyes of the mantis shrimp have proven beneficial to cancer researchers, as it has been shown that the shrimp is able to see refracted polarized light in a way to visually recognize cancer cells in other animals.

The mantis shrimp isn’t the only animal with its own special protective gear. Scientists are looking at mammals like the pangolin (Phataginus tetradactyla) for insights on how it is able to fashion keratin into dense, lightweight plates. Another animal with a serious coat of armament is the alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula). A ferocious and well-defended type of fish, the gar has ganoid scales of such tensile density they have been known to deflect steel knives. Ganoid scales, found in sturgeons, paddlefishes, gars, bowfin, and bichirs, are made with a layer of dentine and a layer of inorganic bone salt called ganoine which give the fish scales an enamel-like surface.

Strong and Light

An exciting development in ideal construction shapes was recently uncovered by researchers at Brown University. Studies of the orange puffball sponge (Tethya aurantia) have uncovered the ideal shape of thin and flexible rods that resist buckling. It is believed these structures will lend greater industrial strength of everything from building columns to bicycle spokes to arterial stints.

Inside the internal structure of the sponge, which must weather the churn of ocean currents, are the tiny rod-shaped structures that keep the sponge from being crushed.

According to the report: “The rods, called strongyloxea spicules, measure about 2 millimeters long and are thinner than a human hair. Hundreds of them are bundled together, forming stiff rib-like structures inside the orange puffball’s spongy body. It was the odd and remarkably consistent shape of each spicule that caught the eye of Brown University engineers Haneesh Kesari and Michael Monn. Each one is symmetrically tapered along its length — going gradually from fatter in the middle to thinner at the ends.”

Complementing their discovery were structural models found in obscure mathematic journals. Monn and Kesari were able to correlate the engineering ratios of the puffball sponge spicules to designs first uncovered more than 100 years ago.

“This is one of the rare examples that we’re aware of where a natural structure is not just well-suited for a given function, but actually approaches a theoretical optimum,” said Kesari, an assistant professor of engineering at Brown. “There’s no engineering analog for this shape — we don’t see any columns or other slender structures that are tapered in this way. So in this case, nature has shown us something quite new that we think could be useful in engineering.”

The researchers investigated the material composing the spicules and realized that they were nearly pure silicate, making them nothing stronger really than glass. It was the shape of the spicules that were helping the sponge hold its shape.

What substantiated their studies was designs found published more than 150 years ago by a German scientist named Thomas Clausen. According to the article: “In 1851, Clausen proposed that columns that are tapered toward their ends should have more buckling resistance than plain cylinders, which had been and still are the primary design for architectural columns. In the 1960s, mathematician Joseph Keller published an ironclad mathematical proof that the Clausen column was indeed optimal for resistance to buckling — having 33 percent better resistance than a cylinder. Even compared to a very similar shape — an ellipse, which is slightly fatter in the middle and pointier at the ends — the Clausen column had 18 percent better buckling resistance.”

“The spicules were a match for the best shape of all possible column shapes,” Monn said. “It would be easy to 3D-print the Clausen profile into these materials, and you’d get a tremendous increase in buckling resistance, which is often how these materials fail.”

“This work shows that nature can hit an optimum,” Kesari said, “and the biological world can still be hiding completely new designs of considerable technological significance in plain sight.”

The work was supported by the National Science Foundation (1562656). The findings are published in the journal Scientific Reports.

To be continued in Part Two of biomimicry: the structural printing of colors.

Math Now Has a 3D Language

Posted by Editor On March - 4 - 2017Comments Off on Math Now Has a 3D Language

Math Now Has a 3D Language

New graphic language may lead to developments in teleportation

Mathematicians at Harvard University have developed a new set of symbols and grammar to describe mathematical formulas, and that new language is graphed in 3D.

Arthur Jaffe is the Landon T. Clay Professor of Mathematics and Theoretical Science. Along with postdoctoral fellow Zhengwei Liu and researcher Alex Wozniakowski, Jaffe developed this pictorial language for mathematics called quon.

What is Quon?

Quon is to mathematics today what Rene Descartes did for mathematics in 1637 by giving it the cartesian graph of x and y coordinates. Quon gives mathematics the capacity to extend its problem-solving capacity across the z-access.

The capacity of quon to formulaically graph equations across another dimension is lending new light to the physical sciences already.

Math Now Has a 3D Language

In an article by the Harvard Gazette, Jacob Biamonte of the Quantum Complexity Science Initiative after reading the research stated: “It’s a big deal. The paper will set a new foundation for a vast topic.”

“This paper is the result of work we’ve been doing for the past year and a half, and we regard this as the start of something new and exciting,” Jaffe said. “It seems to be the tip of an iceberg. We invented our language to solve a problem in quantum information, but we have already found that this language led us to the discovery of new mathematical results in other areas of mathematics. We expect that it will also have interesting applications in physics.”

“An image can contain information that is very hard to describe algebraically,” Liu said. “It is very easy to transmit meaning through an image, and easy for people to understand what they see in an image, so we visualize these concepts and instead of words or letters can communicate via pictures.”

According to their published report, the name quon came as a reference to quantum information:

“This language is based on an inherently 3D pictorial representation of particle-like excitations (quons) and of transformations acting on them. Mathematical identities and quantum information protocols are expressed through deformations of these pictures. We explore our language, highlighting conceptual insights, 3D visualizations, and suggestive intuition that it motivates for understanding algebra and quantum information.

“We present a 3D, topological picture-language for quantum information. Our approach combines charged excitations carried by strings, with topological properties that arise from embedding the strings in the interior of a three-dimensional manifold with boundary. A quon is a composite that acts as a particle. Specifically a quon is a hemisphere containing a neutral pair of open strings with opposite charge. We interpret multi-quons and their transformations in a natural way. We obtain a new type of relation, a string-genus “joint relation,” involving both a string and the 3D manifold. We use the joint relation to obtain a topological interpretation of the C∗ Hopf algebra relations, that are widely used in tensor networks. We obtain a 3D representation of the Controlled NOT or CNOT gate (that is considerably simpler than earlier work) and a 3D topological protocol for teleportation.”

For those not familiar with tensor network theory, Wikipedia describes it as a “theory of brain function (particularly that of the cerebellum) that provides a mathematical model of the transformation of sensory space-time coordinates into motor coordinates and vice versa by cerebellar neuronal networks. The theory was developed by Andras Pellionisz and Rodolfo Llinas in the 1980s as a geometrization of brain function (especially of the central nervous system) using tensors.”

To read the full report on the development of quon, please visit

Why 3D Printing Makes Space Exploration Possible

Posted by Editor On February - 26 - 2017Comments Off on Why 3D Printing Makes Space Exploration Possible

Why 3D Printing Makes Space Exploration Possible

The recent NASA discovery of seven (yes, seven!) planets that reside in the habitable zone only 40 light years away (read 180 human years to get there) has prompted a surge of new interest in extraterrestrial colonization. This discovery above all others is promise enough for the U.S. to invest in interstellar travel as a reality within our own lifetime. That is to say that people alive today will be, in the very near future, on spaceships traveling to other planets for the purpose of extending human life across the galaxies.

This news about planets orbiting the TRAPPIST-1 dwarf system is ground-breaking in every sense of the term. We now have places to go. That means the means to get there needs to be within our grasp.

To get there is going to require the applied acumen of a multitude of disciplines: mathematics, aeronautics, astronomy, physics, biology, chemistry, and, of course, 3D printing.

Now that NASA has located possible venues within a three-generation enterprise to acquire, the matter of getting there is more about logistics than location. And that is precisely why 3D printing plays such a crucial role.

The reason why is that a key condition in this enterprise is the reproduction of broken parts. Ships taking generations of humans to arrive at a place need the guarantee that they can support their space travel all the way there. Getting to any place over a conditional expanse of space requires this nihilistic expectation for failure to occur and what will need to be done in its event. This statement perhaps bears repeating. Getting from here to there depends on expecting the variety of problems that can occur and one of those realistic problems is the replacement of vital parts. In fact, the more complex the operations, the more critical the whole system depends on the functioning of all its parts. In other words, without 3D printing, long-term space travel is null and void.

in 2016, NASA successfully testfired a 3D-printed rocket engine, culminating in a major step forward in their plans to send humans across vast transverses of space.

This week, one of the principal members of NASA’s advanced exploration team, Acting Manager of Science and Technology Office at Marshall Space Flight Center Raymond ‘Corky’ Clinton, commented on 3D printing in space. In an article on the talk, Clinton described the contingencies necessary for advanced space colonization efforts. Part of the success NASA is looking to achieve is based on achievements already accomplished in their 3D printing trials.

According to the 3D Printing Industry story, “In-space manufacturing is already possible, thanks to space company Made in Space’s 3D printer. This 3D printer is currently on the International Space Station, and there are plans to use it to create fiber optic cables. Using the zero-gravity 3D printer, Made in Space will manufacture fiber optic cables that are too difficult to manufacture back here on earth.”

Using Regolith

Regolith is the bedrock material found on a planet. NASA is already looking at the prospects of using Mars regolith to support future travel elsewhere, and again, this prospect is hinged entirely on the use of 3D printing to manufacture “as you go.” Clinton commented in his talk that there are metals on Mars that can be used as regolith. Reporting in 3D Printing “According to Clinton, NASA views in-space manufacturing as a necessity for advancing space exploration. Clinton states that, “ISM (interspace manufacturing) is a necessary paradigm shift in space operations, not a ‘bonus.’” If the goal is to get to Mars by 2035, Clinton says we, “Have to shift the paradigm right now.”

NASA isn’t the only organization seeking profit from deep space exploration. Companies like are looking at regolith as a exploitable resource.

For those interested in being the first to habitat Mars or other Earth-like planets, this is the link for you. We, at 3D Printr Magazine, applaud your courage.

How 3D Printing at Home Pays for Itself

Posted by Editor On February - 16 - 2017Comments Off on How 3D Printing at Home Pays for Itself

How 3D Printing at Home Pays for Itself

The peer-reviewed scientific journal Technologies has recently printed an analysis of the overall cost savings of having a 3D printer at home. Study participant Emily Petersen recently posted about her contributions to the study on and its partner site to encourage others to begin getting involved with 3D printing following the enlightening information in the report.

Conducted by Michigan Technological University Associate Professor Joshua Pearce, the study follows the prospects of cost savings an average family can forsee by having a 3D printer in their home. Pearce initiated the study by introducing Petersen, an engineering student, to 3D printing with no previous training or experience.

“I’d never been up close and personal with a 3D printer before,” Petersen says. “And the few printers I had seen were industrial ones. I thought learning to operate the printer was going to take me forever, but I was relieved when it turned out to be so easy.”

With the unboxing of a Lulzbot Mini, Petersen was soon downloading files off to simulate home-use of the printer and the items that might be printed at home. Pearce and Petersen extended their experiment and their 26 printed items against a hypothetical six-month use of a home printer to derive their cost savings for an average home, assuming a modest expectation of one necessary household item per week coming out of the printer.

“With the low-cost estimates, the printer pays for itself in three years and all the costs associated with printing—such as the price of plastic and electricity—are not only earned back, but provide a 25 percent return on investment. After five years, it’s more than 100 percent,” Pearce says. “With the high-cost estimates, the printer pays for itself within six months. And after five years, you’ve not only recouped all the costs associated with printing, you’ve saved more than $12,000.”

How 3D Printing at Home Pays for Itself

Petersen’s experience in the study has fueled her drive to get more people involved in 3D printing. “Basically all you beautiful people should invest in 3D printing; it’s the way of the future, but way more affordable than a flying car and surprisingly easy,” said Petersen.

To read the published paper, see Technologies Vol. 5 Issue 1. For the Michigan Tech story on the study, visit

Hydrofill Makes Printing the Impossible Happen

Posted by Editor On February - 3 - 2017Comments Off on Hydrofill Makes Printing the Impossible Happen

Airwolf3D launches a game-changing support material solution

Hydrofill Makes Printing the Impossible Happen

It’s only one month into the year and Hydrofill has already won a spot on the list of Top Ten Innovations of 2017.

A welcome creation by the team at Airwolf3D, Hydrofill fulfill’s the company’s slogan of being able to print the impossible by being the only water-soluable printable support material available to be used alongside all other FDM printing process materials.

Airwolf3D is the brainchild of husband-and-wife-team Erick and Eva Wolf. They formed the company in 2011. It began with Erick’s necessity in crafting a personal 3D printer to resolve his passion of custom-car design. It was only when Wolf sold his first hand-built 3D printer within minutes of posting it on Craiglist that he and Eva realized they may be on to things. With her savvy in business operations, they have produced a world-renown reputation in the industry with a broad open-source attitude. One of the points to their credit is their use of a 3mm filament size. Combined with a .5mm nozzle on their devices, the filament size makes for dazzling print speeds. Located in Costa Mesa currently where they manufacturer both printers and filament materials, they have made plans to expand to Las Vegas to house the amount of business they are handling. No wonder really, given the release of Hydrofill.

Hydrofill is truly water-soluable. They proved it to people at CES this year and, having personally seen an ocarina (downloadable of give up the entire inner core of it’s Hydrofill support material in 45-minutes of a room-temperature-water soak, we can attest to its magical powers. The mystery behind all this magic is due to Airwolf 3D’s collaboration with Miodrag ‘Mickey’ Micic, a professor in chemistry at Cerritos College in Norwalk, CA. Part of a team of other brilliant people, Airwolf3D has been able to provide this wonderful product that is safe to use and does not hurt the environment. Now everyone can print the impossible.

Everyone with a two-head 3D printer, that is. Although the ingredients in Hydrofill are patented and proprietary, Airwolf3D makes Hydrofill in both 3mm and 1.75mm filament sizes. Once all the clean-up of the print is reduced down to a 45-minute bath soak, the design results will be unlimited. Even the craziest of prints will not be a challenge ever again over whether it can even be done.

Hydrofill Makes Printing the Impossible Happen

For more on Hydrofill and Airwolf3D, and their new Axiom series 3D printers, please see their site at

Markforged Goes Metal

Posted by Editor On January - 7 - 2017Comments Off on Markforged Goes Metal

Markforged Goes Metal

Markforged announced at CES their breakthrough technology in desktop metal 3D printers

You want stainless steel in a per item basis? You got it. You can also have it in titanium or even more exotic metals. At a price that will change how you think about manufacturing.

Markforged revealed their newest creation the Metal X, which is an ingenious solution to desktop metal 3D printing. By creating filament spools of metals wrapped in plastic, Markforged has devised a 3D printer that is able to FDM print objects which, upon release of the lining in post processing, creates fully metal objects. Not just any metal, mind you. Hard, shiny, rustproof metals.

How the world is changing

One of the key faculties of additive manufacturing is in new material creation. Not only are we able to 3D print objects that could have never before be created, we are also fusing new materials in the processes of 3D layer-by-layer sinterings. Markforged’s team of material experts have been working in this direction with considerable results. Check out the video and visit the Markforged web site to find out more about how affordable it has become to print metal on a small business budget.

Here Comes Collider

Posted by Editor On December - 28 - 2016Comments Off on Here Comes Collider

Here Comes Collider (Photo by Sarah Anderson Goehrke)Collider Founder Graham Bredemeyer alongside “Orchid.”

If there is a given about 3D printing, it is that we will continuely be surprised by new creations.

Such is the case for Collider, which launched at the Inside 3D Printing Expo in San Diego on Dec. 14. Collider has done what no one else has thought to do. They integrated 3D-printed tool making and automatic reaction-injection molding operations into one machine.

A student of Fort Wayne, Indiana’s forward-thinking high school engineering program and community makerspaces, Bredemeyer developed his abilities in business management through the GIGTank accelerator program in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In January of this year, Asimov Ventures announced financial backing of Collider. Housed in a revitalized industrial space of the new cool of the south, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Collider is bringing to life the fundamental spirit of American ingenuity on a shoestring budget and a great idea. They found that intregal link between mass- and micro-production requirements to serve the broad span of companies that fall into the donut-hole of production scales; too little capital to ejection mold, too much potential to miss out.

Founder Graham Bredemeyer’s first brainchild for Collider is “Orchid.” Orchid is a machine that 3D-prints the tooling needed to produce on scale a variety of products in materials hitherto unavailable in additive manufacturing. Send the STl file of a mold and the machine and Orchid DLP prints the resin casting structure of your new great thing, after which the new great thing is reaction-injection molded into the cast. Orchid then dissolves the casting and produces your new great thing — like a robot. They call it programmable tooling but that’s what it is — it’s a tooling robot.

Collider now released, due credit goes to the talent behind the machine. Bringing “Orchid” to life along with Bredemeyer is Matt Barron, whose technical and chemical prowess cannot be overstated in making Collider happen. On a whole other level of operation are the gifted software and graphic designers Luke Bechtel and Darren Case, whose skills give the GUI of Orchid a certain allure — it looks fun to use. Cacky Calderon as COO fills out the wheelhouse of five people making it all happen. From the look of what Collider has done in a year, all the members must have worked very hard to get Orchid here. They clearly see the value of what Collider is offering: Short-run digital manufacturing with great results.

The reaction-injection molding material being laid in Orchid is standard stuff, and the company is open to allow open source fulfillment in terms of material supplies, so that’s a good sign. Collider feels strongly about the launch of a garage style revolution in product making. This is the kind of thing that will revitalize the corporate-dominated stream of supply and bring individual innovation back to the marketplace. Think punk rock era for product manufacturers. The long tail of future retail sales has met the machine to make it get there.

Right now, Collider can produce objects in these end-use materials through the reaction-injection molding process: Rigid and flame-retardant polyurethane, firm urethane rubber, and medium softness silicone, all in an assortment of colors. Find out more about ordering an Orchid or directing inquiries through their site at

Sweden Makes It Big

Posted by Editor On November - 10 - 2016Comments Off on Sweden Makes It Big

Sweden Makes It Big

Swedish company BLB proves they can 3D-print the world in full size at record speeds — Story updated with comments from BLB Industries CEO Tomas Burman

Trying to determine the most amazing thing to say about BLB is difficult, given how many amazing things there are to say about them.

For starters, the company is only one year old. Secondly, they are printing enormous objects; wheels, T-rex skulls, Roman columns, you name it — all at 1:1 ratio.

Thirdly, they are doing it at unheard-of speeds.

Sweden Makes It Big

Cim Bergdahl and Jacob Lundin fine-tuning the extruder of their creation, The Box

The company formed when principals Cim Bergdahl and Jacob Lundin were trying to solve the prospect of 3D-printing a terrarium. This led to a conglomeration of like-minded souls, Tomas Burman, Anders Alrutz and Claes J, to join the mission. The result was machine the size of a shed they have dramatically called “The Box.”

Sweden Makes It Big

The Box on display at the Elmia Automation Fair

The Box is a granular deposition modeling (GDM) printer that is capable of printing six kilos of plastic an hour. In terms of 3D printing, this is like breaking the sound barrier.

3D printing times are based on the limitations of how fast the melted plastic can be laid. The kind of plastic and the resolution setting of the printer are factors in determining speed. The Box is able to print a full-size auto wheel in under six hours. The resolution may not be as tight as standard 3D printers are able to achieve, but the collapse in printing time is phenomenal. Estimates of 24 to 1 improvement in size to size production is seemingly possible in some cases.

Sweden Makes It Big

A full-size auto tire with rim printed in under six hours

Sweden Makes It Big

BLB Industries CEO Tomas Burman

BLB Industries CEO Burman commented on the developments their team has made in crunching printing speeds:

“Our printing speed is up to 1,200mm a second thanks to a Bosch Rexroth linear system with servo motors instead of stepper motors. Six kilograms per hour is the official value, but we have successfully made tests with both seven kilograms and ten kilograms an hour with our existing motor as the limiting factor. We also have on order a new motor with double the capacity.”

Burman also addressed the considerations made in having a reduced resolution based on nozzle sizes:

“We can print with nozzle sizes between 0.4mm up to 8mm, depending of the purpose of the finished product. The surface quality is according to customer demands. Thanks to our system we have the ability to print ‘good enough’ and the customer can choose the price tag themselves. What we aim for with this system is focus on the structural function and not surface quality. Instead of spending 30 hours printing with 1.0mm nozzle you can print the model in five hours with a 3.0mm nozzle. That gives you 25 hours of more time you can devote to post processing. Post processing is mandatory in any lathe or milling process, so why not for a 3D-printed product?”

Sweden Makes It Big

The above list describes BLB Industries’ cost-saving measures by reducing printing resolution

For more about BLB, visit their website at