3D Printing Industry review of the year October 2018

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For the 3D printing industry, October 2018 was a month of progress and milestones. This month brought an extinct species back to life, and Apple’s 3D printer closer to birth.

Flying higher with 3D printing

October was a big month for GE Additive. The company announced a landmark event in the history of aviation and 3D printing. GE Additive 3D printed and shipped 30,000th fuel engine nozzle tip. The 3D printed part is manufactured in GE Additive plant in Auburn, Alabama. The nozzle is an integral part of the CFM International LEAP, a turbofan engine used on commercial jets such as the Boeing 737.

America Makes, an additive manufacturing accelerator based in Youngstown, Ohio, received special attention. The Maturation of Advanced Manufacturing for Low-cost Sustainment (MAMLS) project under America Makes received a further investment of $9 million to oversee the completion of MAMLS. Tim Ryan, the Congressman who helped secure the grant believes that the money will go a long way in making Youngstown, a leading center of additive manufacturing in the U.S, the Silicon Valley of additive manufacturing.”

GE's fully 3D printed LEAP fuel nozzle. Photo via GE
GE’s fully 3D printed LEAP fuel nozzle. Photo via GE

Slicing through

Researchers from the University of Arkansas, have found a new approach to slicing which can be used to 3D print with multiple printers working on one object. In the paper titled, “A chunk-based slicer for cooperative 3D printing” researchers showed how a CAD model can be sliced into chunks, and each chunk assigned to a single 3D printer.

And pushing biomedical research forward, the U.S Food and Drug Authority (FDA) granted five research institutions a grant of $2.6 million. The money was awarded to advance biomanufacturing.

Chunker based 3D printing with mobile robots. Image via Rapid Prototyping Journal

Chunker based 3D printing with mobile robots. Image via Rapid Prototyping JournalIncreasing production with 3D printers

In October, Amann Girrbach, a German dental company acquired 3D Systems’ award-winning NextDent 5100 to increase production capacity. The printer is powered by the Figure 4 technology and is used for precision manufacturing such as hearing aids, jewelry and dentures.

The 3D Systems NextDent 5100 dental 3D printer. Photo via 3D Systems.
The 3D Systems NextDent 5100 dental 3D printer. Photo via 3D Systems.

An Apple 3D printer?

Apple Inc. has been granted a patent for the ‘triangular tessellation’ technology, which enables faster FFF/FDM printing. Michael R.  Sweet, Apple’s Senior Printing System Engineer,  is listed as the inventor of the patent filed under the name “Using triangular tessellation in 3D printing“. The latest patent arrives on the shoulder of previous research conducted by Apple.

Digitalizing zinc

EverZinc, a Netherlands-based Zinc materials provider, announced the formation of EverZinc Digital in collaboration with XponentialWorks, a venture investment company specializing in 3D printing and other advanced technologies. EverZinc Digital is backed by the Former CEO of 3D Systems Avi Reichental. Zinc is used in additive manufacturing as a conductive material, especially in 3D printed micro batteries.

Bringing smart extruders to factory

Leading into Industry 4.0, Ai Build, a London-based robotics and Artificial Intelligence company, exhibited its ‘smart’ factory solution. At the Digital Design Weekend 2018 exhibition in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Ai Build brought Ai maker, an extruder equipped with AI algorithm, to the show.

The AiMaker 3D printing inside the AiCell. Photo via Ai Build
The AiMaker 3D printing inside the AiCell. Photo via Ai Build

Digging up the past

Materialise resurrected an extinct species. The Belgian additive manufacturing software company 3D printed a skeleton of a mammoth found in Lier, Netherlands. The extinct mammal’s skeleton replica was 3D printed on a Materialise resin-based large-format ‘mammoth’ printer. The skeleton was shipped to the newly opened Stadsmuseum Lier.

Another pioneering application of 3D printing came from Delft University of Technology, Netherlands. Researchers 3D printed a lounger which responds to the posture of the user. This is achieved by some clever design work. The chaise-longue changes its shape when the pressure is applied or released. The mechanism behind is the distribution of material and the flexible plastic TPU.

Nominations for 3D Printing Awards 2019 are open. Please take moment to tell us about the best applications in the industry.

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Featured image shows the 3D printed replica of the Lier Mammoth. Image via Materialise.

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