The Daily 3D Detail: The pitfalls of metal printing

Posted by Franka Schoening On July - 11 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

Surface finish – a common pitfall

3D printing with metal is mostly accomplished using selective laser melting (SLM) or electron beam manufacturing (EBM). Lasers fuse powdered metal together layer by layer to create the desired object. To improve this process – and other metal printing techniques – engineers are working to avoid common problems, such as: porosity, residual stress, density, warping, cracking, and surface finish.

Michael Molitch-Hou from compiled a fascinating report on seven issues and also offers suggestions on how to avoid them. If you are new to metal printing you will furthermore certainly enjoy his compact, but thorough, introduction to the subject and its various techniques.

The Daily 3D Detail: Will 3D printing enable life on Mars?

Posted by Franka Schoening On July - 10 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

While Matt Damon made living on Mars look like fun, assuming you have the right soundtrack and degrees, reality is still very far from the movie The Martian.

NASA's 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge

NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge

NASA is trying to change this by launching its 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, which encourages inventors to create habitats for Mars explorers out of recyclable materials and simulated Martian soil. The ability to have robots fly to Mars and build habitats on location, as supposed to transporting houses from Earth, will allow for larger sizes and a reduction in transportation cost. Space explorers would arrive to established housing, hence have immediate shelter from the harsh conditions present on the red planet.

Read the whole story here.

Stratasys is offering new insides on how to combine additive and traditional manufacturing, based on the company’s extensive experience in either industry. The paper is titled “How Additive and Traditional Manufacturing Mix” and can be downloaded here. It is completely free – after filling out a quick survey.

Stratasys White Paper on Traditional and Additive Manufacturing

The paper points out how both forms of manufacturing are complementary, as supposed to mutually exclusive. If you are wondering how to incorporate 3D printing into your existing manufacturing processes, this is a great read!

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

Posted by Franka Schoening On July - 9 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

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 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

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.

Fly trapped in polymer creates modern fossil

Fly trapped in 3D honeycomb structure

While tree sap historically trapped unsuspecting insects, there might be a new player in town to preserve fossils for coming generations. While printing a honeycomb structure at Swansea University in Wales, Senior Lecturer in Engineering Eifion Jewell found an unlucky fly trapped in the polymer. Why the bug chose that uninviting spot to take a break will forever be a mystery. Unless, of course, some future scientist’s autopsy reveals the reason why… Read the whole article here.

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.

curve ups free-form objects

A team of Austrian computer scientists has advanced the way of creating 3D objects on a 2D printer, calling it CurveUps. By inserting small tiles between stretched layers of latex, this technique allows for free-form objects featuring curves and round shapes. Formerly, similar objects were limited to sharp edges.

Get the whole article with video here before catching the official release at this year’s SIGGRAPH conference in Los Angeles.

Even if you are not a regular subscriber, it might be worth picking up the latest copy of the Economist. Multiple articles on 3D printing are featured, covering additive manufacturing for mass production; economies of scale; Carbon’s plans regarding digital light synthesis and more. Find more details here.

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.